Front Page Titles (by Subject) Oriental Sources - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 8
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Oriental Sources - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 8 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 8.
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[An excellent list of Arabic historians and their works will be found in Wüstenfeld’s Die Geschichtschreiber der Araber, 1882.]
For the Life of Mohammad
(1) For the life of Mohammad the only contemporary sources, the only sources which we can accept without any reservation, are: (a) the Koran29 (for the early traditions of the text, see below, vol. ix. p. 41-3). The order of the Sūras has been thoroughly investigated by Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorâns, 1860, and by Weil; and (from the character and style of the revelations, combined with occasional references to events) they can be arranged in periods, and in some cases assigned to definite years. (Periods: (1) written at Mecca, (α) early, (β) late: (2) Medina, (α) early, (β) middle, (γ) late.)30
(b) A collection of treaties: see below.
(2) The other source for the life of Mohammad is tradition (Hadīth). The Ashāb or companions of Mohammad were unimpeachably good authorities as to the events of his life; and they told much of what they knew in reply to the eager questions of the Tābiūn or Successors, — the younger generation who knew not the Prophet. But it was not till the end of the first century of the Hijra or the beginning of the second that any attempt was made to commit to writing the knowledge of Mohammad’s life, which passed from lip to lip and was ultimately derived from the companions, few of whom can have survived the sixtieth year of the Hijra. The first work on Mohammad that we know of was composed at the court of the later Omayyads by al-Zuhri, who died in the year 742. It is deeply to be regretted that the work has not survived, not only on account of its relatively early date, but because a writer under Omayyad patronage had no interest in perverting the facts of history. Zuhri’s book, however, was used by his successors, who wrote under the Abbāsids and had a political cause to serve.
The two sources which formed the chief basis of all that is authentic in later Arabic Lives of the Prophet (such as that of Abū-l-Fidā) are fortunately extant; and, this having been established, we are dispensed from troubling ourselves with those later compilations. (a) The life by Mohammad ibn Ishāk (ob 768, a contemporary of Zuhri) has not indeed been preserved in an independent form; but it survives in Ibn Hishām’s (ob. 823) History of the Prophet, which seems to have been practically a very freely revised edition of Ibn Ishāk, but can be controlled to some extent by the copious quotations from Ibn Ishāk in the work of Tabarī. Ibn Ishāk wrote his book for Mansūr the second Abbāsid caliph ( 754-775); and it must always be remembered that the tendency of historical works composed under Abbāsid influence was to pervert tradition in the Abbāsid interest by exalting the members of the Prophet’s family, and misrepresenting the forefathers of the Omayyads. This feature appears in the work of Ibn Ishāk, although in the world of Islam he has the reputation of being an eminently and exceptionally trustworthy writer. But it is not difficult to make allowance for this colouring; and otherwise there is no reason to doubt that he reproduced truthfully the fairly trustworthy tradition which had been crystallised under the Omayyads, and which, in its general framework, and so far as the outer life of the Prophet himself was concerned, was preserved both by the supporters of the descendants of Alī and by those who defended the claims of the family of Abbās. [The work of Ibn Hishām has been translated into German by Weil, 1864.]
(b) A contemporary of Ibn Hishām, named (Mohammad ibn Omar al) Wākidī (ob. 823), also wrote a Life of Mohammad, independent of the work of Ibn Ishāk. He was a learned man and a copious writer. His work met with the same fortune as that of Ibn Ishāk. It is not extant in its original form, but its matter was incorporated in a Life of Mohammad by his able secretary Ibn Sad (Kātib al-Wākidī, ob. 845) — a very careful composition, arranged in the form of separate traditions, each traced up to its source. But another work of Wākidī, the History of the Wars of the Prophet (Kitāb al-Maghāzi), is extant (accessible in an abbreviated German version by Wellhausen, 1882), and has considerable interest as containing a large number of doubtless genuine treaties. The author states that he transcribed them from the original documents.31 Like Ibn Hishām, Wākidī wrote under the caliphate of Mamūn ( 813-833) at Bagdad, and necessarily lent himself to the perversion of tradition in Abbāsid interests.
Al-Tabarī (see below) included the history of Mohammad in the great work which earned for him the compliment of being called by Gibbon “the Livy of the Arabians.” The original Arabic of this part of the Annals was recovered by Sprenger at Lucknow. It consists mainly of extracts from Ibn Ishāk and Wākidī, and herein lies its importance for us: both as (1) enabling us to control the compilations of Ibn Hishām and Ibn Sad and (2) proving that Ibn Ishāk and Wākidī contained all the authentic material of value for the Life of the Prophet, that was at the disposal of Tabari. The part of the work (about a third) which is occupied by other material consists of miscellaneous traditions, which throw little new light on the biography.
[For a full discussion of the sources see Muir, Life of Mahomet; essay at the end of edition 2 — introduction at the beginning of edition 3. For the life of the prophet: Weil, Mohammed der Prophet, 1840; Sprenger, Das Leben und die Lehre Mohammads, 1851; Wellhausen’s sketch in the Encyclopædia Britannica (sub nomine). For his spirit and teaching: Stanley Lane-Poole, The Speeches and Table-talk of the Prophet Mohammad, 1882. Observe that Mr. E. W. Brooks has collected and translated the notices in Arabic writers bearing on Saracen invasions of Asia Minor between 641 and 750 (including some notices on Syria and Armenia): The Arabs from Asia Minor, from Arabic Sources, in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, xviii. p. 182 sqq., 1898; and in the same Journal, xix. p. 19 sqq., 1899, he has given under the title: The Campaign of 716-718 from Arabic Sources, translations of two accounts of the siege of Constantinople (see Gibbon, vol. ix. p. 242 sqq.) (1) that in the Khitab al-Uyun (an 11th century source); and (2) that of Al-Tabari.]
For the Saracen Conquests
The most important authority for the history of the Saracen conquests is Abū-Jafar Mohammad ibn Jarīr, born in 839 at Āmul in Tabaristān and hence called al-Tabarī. He died at Bagdad in 923. It is only the immense scale of his chronicle that warrants the comparison with Livy. Tabarī had no historical faculty, no idea of criticising or sifting his sources; he merely puts side by side the statements of earlier writers without reconciling their discrepancies or attempting to educe the truth. Though this mode of procedure lowers our opinion of the chronicler, it has obvious advantages for a modern investigator, as it enables him to see the nature of the now lost materials which were used by Tabarī. Later writers like al-Makīn, Abū-l-Fidā, Ibn al-Athīr, found it very convenient to draw from the compilation of Tabarī, instead of dealing directly with the numerous sources from which Tabarī drew; just as later Greek chronographers used to work on such a compilation as that of George Monachus. Our gratitude to Tabarī for preserving lost material is seriously modified by the consideration that it was largely to his work that the loss of that material in its original form is due. His work was so convenient and popular that the public ceased to want the older books and consequently they ceased to be multiplied.
The Annals of Tabarī were carried down to his own time, into the tenth century, but his notices for the last seventy years are very brief. The whole work has not yet been translated. We have already made the acquaintance of the part of it bearing on Persian history in the translation of Nöldeke (1879). A portion of the history of the Saracen conquests has been edited and translated by Kosegarten (1831). For the history of the caliphate from 670 to 775, Weil had the original work of Tabarī before him (in MS.), in writing his Geschichte der Chalifen. A complete Arabic edition of Tabarī is being published by Prof. de Goeje (1879-97) and is nearly completed.
In the year 963 Mohammad Bilamī “translated” Tabarī into Persian, by the order of Mansūr I., the Sāmānid sovereign of Transoxiana and Khurāsān. This “translation” (which was subsequently translated into Turkish) has been rendered into French by Zotenberg (1867-74). But the reader will be disappointed if he looks to finding a traduction in our sense of the word. Bilamī’s work is far from being even a free rendering, in the freest sense of the term. It might be rather described as a history founded exclusively on Tabarī’s compilation; — Tabarī worked up into a more artistic form. References to authorities are omitted; the distinction of varying accounts often disappears; and a connected narrative is produced. Such were the ideas of translators at Bagdad and Bukhārā; and Weil properly observes that Ibn al-Athīr, for instance, who does not pretend to be bound to the text of Tabarī, will often reproduce him more truly than the professed translator.
For Persian history, the chief ultimate source of Tabarī was the Khudhāi-nāma or Book of Lords (original title of what was afterwards known as the Shāh-nāma or Book of Kings), officially compiled under Chosroes I. (see above, vol. vii. p. 201), and afterwards carried down to 628, in the reign of Yezdegerd III. This work was rhetorical and very far from being impartial; it was written from the standpoint of the nobility and the priests. It was “translated” into Arabic by Ibn Mukaffa in the eighth century; and his version, perhaps less remote from our idea of a translation than most Arabic works of the kind, was used by the Patriarch Eutychius of Alexandria (see below). Tabarī did not consult either the Pehlevi original or the version of Ibn Mukaffa, but a third work which was compiled from Ibn Mukaffa and another version. See the Introduction to Nöldeke’s invaluable work.
For Tabarī’s sources for the history of Mohammad, see above.
For the successors of Mohammad, Tabarī had Ibn Ishāk’s book on the Moslem conquests and Wākidī (see above); and a history of the Omayyads and early Abbāsids by (Alī ibn Mohammad al) Madāinī ( 753-840).
An independent and somewhat earlier source for the military history of the Saracen conquests is the Book of the Conquests by Abū-l-Hasan Ahmad ibn Yahyā al Bilādhurī, who flourished in the ninth century (ob. 892) at the court of Bagdad. Among the sources which he cites are Wākidī, Ibn Hishām, and Madāinī. His work has been printed but not translated; and has been used by Weil and Muir for their histories of the caliphate. Weil has given an abridgment — very convenient for reference in studying the chronology — “Die wichtigsten Kriege und Eroberungen der Araber nach Beladori,” as an Appendix in vol. iii. of his Gesch. der Chalifen.
Another extant historical work is the Book of Sciences by (Abd-Allah ibn Muslim) Ibn Kutaiba (ob. c. 889), a contemporary of Bilādhurī. It is a brief chronicle, but contains some valuable notices.
Contemporary with these was Ibn Abd-al-Hakam, who died in Egypt, 871. He wrote a Book of the Conquests in Egypt and Africa. See below, vol. ix. p. 191, note 158.
A much greater man than any of these was the traveller Masūdī (Abū-l-Hasan Alī ibn al-Husain), born c. 900, died 956. He travelled in India, visited Madagascar, the shores of the Caspian, Syria, and Palestine, and died in Egypt. He wrote an encyclopaedic work on the history of the past, which he reduced into a shorter form; but even this was immense; and he wrote a compendium of it under the title of The Golden Meadows, which has come down to us (publ. in Arabic with French translation, 1861-77.) It contains valuable information respecting the early history of Islam, and the geography of Asia. He differs from contemporary Arabic historians in the multiplicity of his interests, and his wide view of history, which for him embraces not merely political events, but literature, religion, and civilisation in general.
The chronicle of Eutychius, patriarch of Alexandria, in the tenth century, is extant in the Arabic version edited and translated by Pocock, frequently cited by Gibbon.32 It comes down to 937. We have seen that Eutychius used Ibn Mukaffa’s version of the Khudhāi-nāma; but a thorough investigation of his sources is still a desideratum. His chronicle was used in the thirteenth century by Makin (Elmacin, ob. 1275), a native of Egypt, whose history (coming down to 1260) was also much used by Gibbon (ed. Erpenius, 1625).
John of Nikiu, Jacobite bishop of Nikiu, in the latter part of the seventh century, composed (in Greek or Coptic?) a chronicle from the creation to his own time. It is extremely important for the history of Egypt in the seventh century, and in fact is the sole contemporary source for the Saracen conquest. It has come down, but not in its original form. It was translated into Arabic, from Arabic into Ethiopian ( 1601); and it is the Ethiopian version which has been preserved. The work has been rendered generally accessible by the French translation which accompanies Zotenberg’s edition (1883).
Michael of Melitene, patriarch of Antioch in the twelfth century (1166-99), wrote a chronicle in Syriac, from the creation to his own time. The original work is preserved but not yet edited. An Armenian version, however, made (by Ishōk) in the following century (1248) has been translated into French by V. Langlois (1868); and the part of it which deals with the period 573-717 had been already published in French by Dulaurier in the Journal Asiatique, t. 12, Oct., 1848, p. 281 sqq. and t. 13, April to May, 1849, p. 315 sqq. In the preface to his work Michael gives a remarkable list of his sources, some of which are mysterious. He mentions Enanus of Alexandria (Anianos), Eusebīus, John of Alexandria, Jibeghu (?) Theodore Lector, Zacharias of Melitene [from Theodosius to Justinian], John of Asia (John of Ephesus) [up to Maurice], Goria, the learned (Cyrus, a Nestorian of sixth to seventh century) [from Justinian to Heraclius], St. James of Urfa [Edessa] (end of seventh century) [an abridgment of preceding histories], Dionysius the Deacon (of Tellmahrē) [from Maurice to Theophilus and Hārūn],33 Ignatius of Melitene, Slivea of Melitene, John of Kesun (first half of twelfth century; cp. Assemani, 2, 364). See Dulaurier, J. As. t. 12, p. 288. [Wright, Syriac Literature (1894), p. 250 sqq. H. Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus, ii. i. 402 sqq.]
(In connection with Michael of Melitene it may be mentioned that since this notice was written Mr. E. W. Brooks published the text, and an English translation, of A Syriac Chronicle of the Year 846, whose author used partly the same sources as Michael. Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, li. p. 569 sqq.)
Mar Gregor of Melitene, known as Bar-Hebraeus or Abulpharagius (Abū-l-Faraj), lived in the thirteenth century. He belonged to the Jacobite church, of which he was the maphriān (from 1264 to 1286), the dignitary second in rank to the patriarch. (1) He wrote in Syriac a chronicle of universal history, political and ecclesiastical, in three parts: Part 1, a political history of the world down to his own time. This was edited, with a Latin translation, by Bruns and Kirsch, 1789, Wright says that text and translation are equally bad (Syriac Literature, p. 278). Part 2, a history of the Church, which in the post-Apostolic period becomes a history of the Church of Antioch, and after the age of Severus deals exclusively with the monophysitic branch of the Antiochene church. Part 3 is devoted to the eastern division of the Syrian Church, from St. Thomas: “from the time of Mārūtha (629) it becomes the history of the monophysite maphriāns of Taghrīth” (Wright, op. cit. p. 279), up to 1286. These two ecclesiastical parts are edited, with translation, by Abbeloos and Lamy, 1872-7. (2) He also issued a recension of his political history, with references to Mohammadan writers, in Arabic, under the title of a Compendious History of the Dynasties, which, edited and translated by Pocock, 1663, was largely used by Gibbon. Bar-Hebraeus made considerable use of the chronicle of Michael of Melitene. [Best account: Wright, op. cit. p. 265 sqq.]
Modern Works. Finlay, History of Greece, vols. i., ii., iii.; K. Hopf, Geschichte Greiechenlands (in Ersch und Gruber’s Enzyklopädie, B. 85); G. F. Hertzberg, Geschichte Griechenlands, Pt. 1; F. C. Schlosser, Geschichte der bilderstürmenden Kaiser des oström. Reiches (1812); Bury, Later Roman Empire, vol. ii.; Gfrörer, Byzantinische Geschichten, vol. iii. (1877); A. Rambaud, L’empire grec au dixième siècle, 1870; Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, vols. v. and vi.; Ranke, Weltgeschichte, vols. iv., v. (H. Gelzer has written an able and original outline of Byzantine history for the second edition of Krumbacher’s Hist. of Byz. Literature. A bright brief sketch of the Byzantine Empire by C. W. C. Oman appeared in the series of the Story of the Nations.) For Chronology: Clinton, Fasti Romani, vol. ii. p. 149 sqq. (579 to 641); Muralt, Essai de Chronographie byzantine, two vols. (1855-1871). For Mohammad, see above, p. 416; for the Saracen conquests: Weil’s Geschichte der Chalifen, vol. i., Muir’s Annals of the Early Caliphate, and other works referred to in vol. ix. chapters l. and li. (especially p. 192 and 210). For Italy, besides Hodgkin’s work (see above): Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter (translated into English by Mrs. Hamilton), Diehl, Etudes sur l’administration byzantine dans l’exarchat de Ravenna (1888); M. Hartmann, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der byzant. Verwaltung in Italien (1889); J. Weise, Italien und die Langobarden-herrscher von 568 bis 628 (1887); C. Hegel, Geschichte der Städteverfassung von Italien (1847).
Special monographs have been mentioned in appropriate places in the notes and in the foregoing appendix.
THE AVAR CONQUEST — (P. 9)
The Avars having subdued the Uturgurs, Sabiri, and other Hunnic peoples between the Dnieper and Volga (Menander, fr. 5, p. 203, ed. Müller), and having either received the submission of1 or entered into friendly alliance with,2 the Kotrigurs, moved westward, and we find them attacking Austrasia, and fighting on the Elbe, in 562 (see above, p. 5). The subjugation of the Antae3 ( 560?) was evidently a stage on this march westward. It is clear that their incursions into Frank territory were not made from such a distant basis as south-eastern Russia, the banks of the Dnieper or Don; and it is also certain that they had not reached their ultimate home in Hungary before 562 or even before 566, for Hungary was at this time occupied by Lombards and Gepids. The question arises: Where were the Avars settled in the intermediate years between their triumphs on the Don and the Dnieper ( 559-60), and their occupation of Hungary ( 567)? Whence did they go forth twice against the Austrasian kingdom ( 562, and 566)? whence did they send the embassy which was rudely received by Justin ( 565)? whence did they go forth to destroy the Gepids? The statement of the Avar ambassador in Corippus (3,300): —
might seem to prove that the Avars had advanced along the shores of the Pontus and stationed themselves in Wallachia. In that case they would have entered Dacia by the passes of Rothenthurm and Buza, and attacked the Gepids on that side. But Schafarik4 has made it highly probable that they entered Upper Hungary from Galicia, through the passes of Dukla. His arguments are: (1) the Slavs of Dacia and the Lower Danube were independent until 581-4, when they were reduced to submission by the Avars; (2) the assumption of an advance through Galicia will explain the reduction of the Dudleby, in Volhynia. The record of this event is preserved only in the Russian Chronicle of Nestor (so called) but there seems no reason not to accept it as a genuine tradition. The passage is as follows (c. 8, ed. Miklosich, p. 6): —
“These Obrs made war on the Slavs, and conquered the Duljebs, who are Slavs, and did violence to the Duljeb women. When an Obr wished to go anywhere, he did not harness a horse or an ox, but ordered three or four women to be harnessed to his carriage, to draw the Obr; and so they vexed the Duljebs.”
The chronicler places this episode in the reign of Heraclius. But Schafarik plausibly argues that it belongs to a much earlier period, before the invasion of Hungary.
To these arguments I may add another. (3) The invasions of Austrasia almost demand more northerly headquarters for the Avars, than Wallachia. Nor does the passage of Corippus contradict the assumption that the Avar nation was settled in Galicia, or thereabouts, in 565. For the passage need imply only that an armed contingent had accompanied the embassy, through Moldavia, to the banks of the Danube, and pitched their tents there to await the return of the envoys.
On the whole therefore it seems probable that the Avars in their westward advance followed an inland route from the Dnieper to the Upper Bug (through the Government of Kiev, and Podolia), not coming into hostile contact with the Bulgarians who were between the Dnieper and the Danube (in the Government of Cherson, in Bessarabia and Wallachia).
In regard to the extent of the Avar Empire, after the conquest of Hungary, we must of course distinguish between the settlements of the Avars themselves, and the territories which acknowledged the lordship of the Chagan. The Avar settlements were entirely in the old Jazygia, between the Theiss and the Danube, where they dispossessed the Gepids, and in Pannonia, where they succeeded to the inheritance of the Lombards.5 These regions, which correspond to Hungary, were Avaria in the strict sense. But the Chagan extended his power over the Slavonic tribes to the north and east. It is generally agreed that his sway reached into Central Europe and was acknowledged in Bohemia, Moravia, Galicia; but it seems an improbable exaggeration to say that it was bounded on the north by the Baltic.6 Baian also subjugated, at least temporarily, the Slavs of Wallachia and Moldavia, but I doubt much whether his dominion extended in any sense over the Bulgarians of Southern Russia. We find Bulgarians apparently in his service; but, as Bulgarian settlements were probably scattered from the Danube to the Dnieper, we can draw from this fact no conclusion as to the extent of the Avar empire.
GEOGRAPHY OF ITALY IN THE LOMBARD PERIOD, AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE LOMBARD CONQUEST — (P. 14)
The following table will explain the divisions of Italy between the Empire and the Lombards about 600.
The following table exhibits chronologically the progress of Lombard Conquest (so far as it can be discovered from our meagre data) from the first invasion to the reign of Rothari.
These tables depend mainly on the notices in Paul’s History of the Lombards and on the notitia of George the Cypriote (ed. Gelzer).
THE ARMENIAC PROVINCES OF JUSTINIAN AND MAURICE — (P. 66)
Up to the time of Justinian there were two provinces entitled Armenia, forming part of the Pontic Diocese.
Justinian in 536 redistributed these districts, creating four provinces of Armenia, which were formed partly out of the two old provinces, partly out of Pontus Polemoniacus, and partly of new territory which had hitherto lain outside the provincial system.1
(1) First Armenia = part of old First Armenia (Theodosiopolis, Colonea, Satala, Nicopolis) + part of Pontus Polemoniacus (Trapezus and Cerasus).
(2) Second Armenia = rest of old First Armenia + part of Pontus Polemoniacus (Comana, Zela and Brisa).
(3) Third Armenia = old Second Armenia.
(4) Fourth Armenia = Sophanene, district beyond Euphrates, east of Third Armenia (capital, Martyropolis).2
The rest of Pontus Polemoniacus was united with the old Helenopontus to form a new Helenopontus under a governor with the title of moderator. Similarly Honorias and the old Paphlagonia were united into a new Paphlagonia under a praetor.
The Armenian provinces were reorganised and the nomenclature changed by Maurice, in consequence of the cessions made by Chosroes II. on his accession.
(1) Maurice’s First Armenia = Justinian’s Third Armenia.
(2) Maurice’s Second Armenia = Justinian’s Second Armenia.
(3) Maurice’s Great Armenia = Justinian’s First Armenia.3
(4) Maurice’s Fourth includes the districts of Sophene, Digisene, Anzitene, Orzianine, Muzuron.
(5) Maurice’s Mesopotamia includes Justinian’s Fourth Armenia + Arzanene.
See the Descriptio of George the Cypriote (c. 600 ), ed. Gelzer, p. 46-49, and Gelzer’s preface, p. l. and p. lix.-lxi., where the notices of Armenian writers are reviewed. The territories handed over to Maurice by Chosroes were (1) Arzanene and the northern part of Mesopotamia (including Daras) as far as Nisibis, and (2) part of Armenia, as far as Dovin. The former districts were added to Justinian’s Fourth Armenia, and the whole province named Mesopotamia; the latter were formed into a new Fourth Armenia. Thus the cities of Nisibis in the south, and Dovin in the north, were just outside the Roman frontiers.
THE RACE OF HERACLIUS AND NICETAS — (P. 85, 86)
The story of the friendly race for empire between Heraclius and Nicetas did not awaken the scepticism of Gibbon. It rests on the authority of Nicephorus (p. 3, ed. de Boor) and Theophanes (sub ann. 6101, p. 297, ed. de Boor), who doubtless derived it from the same source. On political grounds, the story seems improbable, but the geographical implications compel us to reject it as a legend. The story requires us to believe that Nicetas, starting from Carthage at the same time as Heraclius and marching overland, had the smallest chance of reaching Constantinople before his competitor’s fleet.
There can be no doubt, I think, that the elevation of Nicetas was not contemplated by the two fathers — if it were not as an “understudy” to Heraclius in case anything befell him. The part assigned to Nicetas in the enterprise was not to race Heraclius, but to occupy Egypt, and then to support Heraclius so far as was necessary; and doubtless Nicetas started to perform his work before Heraclius put forth to sea. The possession of Egypt, the granary of the Empire, was of the utmost importance for a pretender to the throne; and its occupation was probably the first care of the African generals.
In this connection it seems to me that a notice of Sebaeos deserves attention. This historian states that “the general Heraclius revolted against Phocas, with his army, in the regions of Alexandria, and wresting Egypt from him reigned therein” (c. 21, p. 79-80 in Patkanian’s Russ. tr.); and the order of his narrative seems to place this event considerably before the overthrow of Phocas. The statement of course is not strictly correct; Sebaeos himself probably did not distinguish the elder from the younger Heraclius; but the fact that Egypt was occupied (by Nicetas) at the instance of the elder Heraclius, seems to be preserved in this notice, uncontaminated by the legend of the race for the diadem.
PERSIAN KINGS FROM CHOSROES I. TO YEZDEGERD III. — (P. 11)
THE INSCRIPTION OF SI-NGAN-FU — (P. 190)
Gibbon showed his critical perspicacity when he accepted as genuine the famous Nestorian inscription of Si-ngan-fu, which was rejected by the scepticism of Voltaire and has been more recently denounced as a forgery by Stanislas Julien, Renan, and others. All competent specialists, both European and Chinese, now recognise it as a genuine document of the eighth century; and indeed it is impossible to believe that Alvarez Semedo, the Jesuit missionary who first announced the discovery of the stone, or any one else in the seventeenth century, could have composed this remarkable text. The stone was found at Si-ngan-fu, the old capital of the Tang dynasty, in 1623 or 1625. The Chinese inscription is surmounted by a cross (of the Maltese shape). Besides the Chinese text, there are some lines of Syriac at the side and at the foot; and the seventy signatures are given in both idioms. The first attempts at translation were those of Athanasius Kircher in his works entitled: “Prodromus Coptus” (1636) and “China illustrata” (1667); and of Father Semedo.1 There have been several improved translations in the present century. For the following summary, the versions of Huc (Le Christianisme en Chine, en Tartarie et au Thibet, two vols., 1857; in vol. i. chap. 2, p. 52 sqq.); A. Wylie (in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. v. p. 277 sqq., 1856); J. Legge (in Christianity in China, 1888); and, above all, of MM. Lamy and Gueluy (Le monument chrétien de Si-ngan-fou, 1897) have been used. See also Pauthier, L’inscription Syro-Chinoise, and the summaries in Colonel Yule’s Cathay, vol. i. p. xcii. sqq. and in Mr. Raymond Beazley’s Dawn of Modern Geography, p. 169 sqq.
The title at the head of the inscription is: —
“Stone-tablet touching the propagation of the luminous religion of Ta-tsin in the Middle Empire, with a preface; composed by King-tsing, a monk of the temple of Ta-tsin.”
The Chinese text may be divided into two parts: an exposition of the doctrines of Christianity, and an historical account of the introduction of the religion into China and its propagation there.
1. The nature of the divine Being — the admirable person of the Trinity, the absolute lord, Oloho [i.e. Eloha, Syriac for God] — is set forth; then the work of Sa-tan in propagating heresies, whereof the tale is three hundred and sixty-five; and then the coming of the Mi-chi-lo [Messiah], who is the “other himself of the Trinity,”2 born of a virgin in Ta-tsin [Syria] through the influence of the Holy Spirit.
2. In the days of the Emperor Tai-tsung, there came from Ta-tsin the Most virtuous Alopen (or Olopan),3 who was clothed with the qualities of the blue clouds,4 and possessed the true sacred books. In 635 he arrived at Chang-ngan [i.e. Si-ngan-fu]. The Emperor sent his chief minister, Fang-Huen-Ling, who conducted the western guest into the palace. The sacred books which the missionary brought were translated in the Imperial library; and the sovereign gave orders for the diffusion of the doctrine, by which he was deeply impressed. In 638 he issued a proclamation to the following effect: —
“Religion has no invariable name, religious observances have no invariable rites; doctrines are established in accordance with the country. Alopen, of the kingdom of Ta-tsin, has brought his sacred books and images from that distant part, and has presented them at our court. Having examined the principles of this religion, we find its object to be the admirable Empyrean and its mysterious action; investigating its original source, we find it expresses the sum of the perfect life.” The Emperor then applies to the new doctrine a quotation from a Chinese classic; and concludes with the command that a Syrian Church should be built in the capital, at E-Ning-fang, and be governed by twenty-one priests.
Then follows a description of Ta-tsin or the Roman Empire, thus given by Hirth:5 —
“According to the Hsi-yü-t‘u-chi and the historical records of the Hun and Wei dynasties, the country of Ta-ts‘in begins in the south at the Coral Sea [Red Sea], and extends in the north to the Chung-pan-shan [hills of precious stones]; it looks in the west to the ‘region of the immortals’ and ‘the flowery groves’;6 in the east it bounds on ‘the long winds’ and ‘the weak water.’7 This country produces fire-proof cloth, the life-restoring incense; the ming-yüeh-chu [moonshine pearl]; and the yeh-kuang-pi [jewel that shines at night].8 Robberies are unknown there, and the people enjoy peace and happiness. Only the king [‘luminous’ = Christian] religion is practised; only virtuous rulers occupy the throne. This country is vast in extent; its literature is flourishing.”9
There is a panegyric of the Roman Empire!
The Emperor Kao-tsung (650-683) succeeded and was still more beneficent towards Christianity. Every city was full of churches. Then “in 699 the Buddhists [the children of Che] gaining power raised their voices in the eastern metropolis”; and in 713 there was an agitation of Confucianists against Christianity in the western capital. The religion revived under Hiwan-tsung (714-755); the “image of perfection of the five” (which M. Gueluy explains as the quintessence of absolute power) was placed in the church ( 742). This Emperor established a convent called the Palace of Progress, in which the monks of Ta-tsin were confounded with other ascetics. The patronage of Christianity by the succeeding emperors, Su-tsung (756-762), Tai-tsung (763-777), and Kien-chung (780-783) is then described, and the minister Izdbuzid, governor of a district in Kan-su, who was gracious to the Church although a Buddhist.
After this, follows a metrical summary of the purport of the inscription, and then the date of the inscription: “This stone was erected in the second year of Kien-chung of the great Tang dynasty, in the Tso-yo of the cycle of years, in the month Tai-tsu, on the seventh day [i.e. Sunday], the day of the great Hosannas.” The Sunday of the Great Hosannas meant, in the language of eastern Christians, Palm Sunday; and thus the date is precisely fixed to 781, April 8.10 The name of Ning-chu, i.e. Hanan Jesus the Catholic patriarch of the Nestorians, is added, and the name of the scribe who drew up the document.
On the left of the monument are two lines of Syriac, which run: —
“In the days of the father of fathers, Mar Hanan Jesus [John Joshua], Catholic patriarch;
Adam, priest and chorepiscopos and papashi of Tzinistan [China].”
There is another Syriac inscription at the foot: —
“In the year 1092 of the Greeks, Mar Izdbuzid,11 Priest and chorepiscopos of Kumdan [that is, Si-ngan-fu], the royal city, son of Milis [Meletius] of blessed memory, priest of Balkh, city of Tokharistan, erected this tablet of stone, where is inscribed the life of our Saviour and the preaching of our fathers to the king of the Chinese.”
There follow the names of signatories in Syriac and Chinese.
Hanan Jesus was the Catholic Patriarch of the Nestorian Church from 775 to 780, as Lamy has proved from the Syrian historian, Elias of Nisibis. His successor Timotheus was appointed on April 11, 780, so that he was dead a year before the erection of the Chinese inscription. Thus a year had elapsed, and the news of his death had not yet reached Si-ngan-fu from Seleucia: a fact which shows at what rate news travelled then in central Asia. Catholic Patriarch was the title of the chief of the Nestorians since the end of the 6th century; in the 5th century the title had been simply Catholic.12
The stone of Si-ngan-fu is supposed to have been buried about 845, when Wu-tsung issued an edict, aimed at Buddhist and other monks, enjoining the destruction of monasteries, and commanding foreigners who had come from Muhupa13 or from Ta-tsin to cease corrupting China and return to secular life. In the following century Christianity was almost extinct in China.
THE LETTER OF NICETIUS TO JUSTINIAN — (P. 177)
The extant letter of Nicetius, Bishop of Trèves, to Justinian, of which Gibbon translates a passage, has been generally explained as referring to the Aphthartodocetic heresy which the emperor adopted shortly before the close of his reign. The meaning of the letter I must leave to theologians; but, without venturing to intrude on subtleties which, to adopt Gibbon’s phrase, must be retained in the memory rather than in the understanding, I may express my opinion that there is much force in the view of Rev. W. H. Hutton, who argues in his Lectures on the Church in the Sixth Century (1897), that the letter does not seem to touch upon the incorruptibility of Christ’s body, but to be concerned with some other heresy.
Mr. Hutton maintains a theory (which had been promulgated by Crackanthorpe at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and controverted by Hody towards the end of the same century), that Justinian never fell into the Aphthartodocetic heresy. He is compelled to reject the distinct evidence of contemporary writers (cp. above, p. 177, n. 101); and he rests his case, which he has defended with great ability, on the high character for orthodoxy borne by Justinian and his theological learning, and on the fact that his memory was not condemned by the Church. But the direct evidence is too strong, whatever opinion be held either of the sincerity of Justinian in theological matters, or as to the psychological probability of a theologian of seventy or eighty years of age lapsing into a christological heresy. As the edict was never issued, the Church was not called on to condemn him.
PERIODS OF THE LATER EMPIRE, 610 TO 1204 — (Ch. XLVIII.)
Many readers of the xlviiith chapter, having travelled over the long series of the later Emperors through a period of six hundred years, may come away with a bewildered feeling of having seen much and distinguished little, and with a conviction that it would require an arduous effort of the memory to retain the succession of the princes and the association of each with his own acts. The memory, however, will find the task considerably alleviated, when the whole period is divided into certain lesser periods into which it naturally falls; and it might have been well if Gibbon had added to his lucid exposition of the plan of his own work (in the introduction to this chapter) a brief survey of the six hundred years, according to its divisions. These divisions roughly correspond to dynasties.
(1) Heraclian Dynasty. Seventh century. 610-717.
In this period the Empire declines in power, and the boundaries retreat, through the encroachments of the Saracen and Slavonic invaders. It ends with twenty years of anarchy ( 695-717): Justinian II. being overthrown; followed by two tyrants; restored again to power; killed; and followed by three tyrants.
(2) Iconoclastic Period. Eighth and ninth centuries. 717-867.
This is the period of revival The territorial extent of the Empire is still further reduced, but, within its diminished borders, between the Haemus and the Taurus, it is consolidated and renovated. This is mainly the work of the two great Emperors Leo III. and his son Constantine V. (717-775). On the principle of dynastic division, this period falls into three parts: —
(a) Syrian (commonly called Isaurian) Dynasty. 717-802.
(b) Three Emperors who did not found dynasties. 802-820.
(c) Amorian Dynasty. 820-867.
But it may be more usefully divided into two parts, representing the two triumphs and defeats of iconoclasm.
(a) 717-813. Doctrine of iconoclasm established under the first three Emperors (717-780); reaction against it, and restoration of images, under Irene and Constantine (780-802).
The following Emperor (Nicephorus) is indifferent, and his successor (Michael I.) is an image-worshipper.
(b) 813-867. Iconoclasm re-established by three Emperors (813-842); reaction against it, and restoration of images, under Theodora and Michael III. (842-867). Thus the history of iconoclasm in the ninth century is a replica of its history in the eighth; and observe that in both cases the reaction was carried out under a female sovereign.
(3) Basilian, or Armenian (“Macedonian”), Dynasty. 867-1057.
This period is marked by a reaction against the policy of the Iconoclasts (cp. Appendix 10), and by a remarkable territorial expansion, rendered possible by the consolidation which had been the work of the great Iconoclasts. We may conveniently distinguish three sub-periods: (a) 867-959, marked by great legislative activity, and some attempts to recover lost provinces — successful only in Italy; (b) 959-1025, marked by large acquisitions of long-lost territory, both in Asia and Europe; (c) 1025-1057, stationary.
The succession of these three periods of decline, renovation, and expansion, is illustrated by an exact parallel in the succession of three corresponding but shorter periods, in the fifth and sixth centuries. There we see the decline and territorial diminution of the Empire, in the reigns of Arcadius and Theodosius II., under the stress of the Gothic and Hunnic invasions; the renovation, with financial retrenchment, under Zeno and Anastasius; the brilliant territorial expansion, under Justinian, rendered possible by the careful policy of his predecessors. It is also remarkable that the third period in both cycles is marked by great legislative activity. Further, the last part of the Basilian period ( 1025-1057) corresponds to the reigns of Justin II., Tiberius II., and Maurice.
(4) Comnenian Dynasty. 1057-1204.
At the very beginning of this period, the Empire, undermined by centuries of a pernicious economic system and strained to the utmost by the ambitious policy of the Basilian period, yields to the invasion of the Seljuk Turks and loses territory which it had never lost before. A series of able, nay, brilliant, princes preserve the fabric for another century and a quarter; but, when it passes into the hands of the incapable Angeli, it collapses at the first touch ( 1204).
This period of decline, following on the period of expansion, corresponds to the earlier period of decline in the 7th century, following on the expansion of the 6th. The Persian invasion under Phocas and Heraclius corresponds to the Seljuk invasion under Romanus Diogenes; while Heraclius, Constans II., and Constantine IV. correspond to Alexius, John, and Manuel: we have even a parallel to the wayward Justinian II. in the wayward Andronicus.
The two cycles might be presented thus: —
A CHRONOLOGICAL QUESTION OF THE EIGHTH CENTURY — (P. 234, 236)
From the year 726 to the year 774 there is a consistent inconsistency in the dates of the chronicle of Theophanes. The Anni Mundi and the Indictions do not correspond. Thus a.m. 6220 is equated with Ind. 12; but while a.m. 6220 answers to 727-8, Ind. 12 should answer to 728-9. It has been generally assumed that the Indications are right and the Anni Mundi wrong; and the received chronology (of Baronius, Pagi, Gibbon, Lebeau, Muralt, Finlay, Hopf, &c. &c.) is based on this assumption. But it was pointed out (Bury, Later Roman Empire, ii. 425-7) that the anomaly was not due to an error of Theophanes (of the same kind as that which he perpetrated in his annals of the preceding century, see above, Appendix 1), since a contemporary document (the Ecloga of Leo and Constantine) presents the same inconsistency; and that we must infer that the Anni Mundi are right and the Indictions wrong. For, while the Anni Mundi represented a chronological system based on historical data, with which the government could not conceivably have tampered, the Indictions were part of a financial system which might be manipulated by the Emperor. The conclusion was drawn (Bury, ib.) that Leo III. had packed two indictions into one year of twelve months, for the purpose of raising a double capitation tax; and that, nearly fifty years later, Constantine V. spread one indiction over two years of twelve months ( 772-4), so restoring the correspondence between Anni Mundi and Indictions according to the previous method of computation. This reasoning was confirmed especially by one fact (Bury, op. cit. p. 426) — the eclipse of the sun noticed by Theophanes under a.m. 6252, on Friday, Aug. 15, clearly the annular eclipse of 760 on that day of the month and week. The received chronology would imply that the eclipse took place in 761, Aug. 15; but astronomy assures us that there was no eclipse on that day, nor was that day Friday.
It follows that the dates of forty-seven years in the 8th century (from 726-7 to 773-4) are a year wrong. Thus Leo III. died, not in 741, but in 740; the Iconoclastic Synod was held, not in 754, but in 753.
These conclusions have been recently confirmed and developed by M. H. Hubert (Chronologie de Théophane, in Byz. Zeitschrift, vi. p. 491 sqq., 1897), who has gone through the Papal acts and letters of the period. He points out two important consequences of the revised dating. While the Iconoclastic Council of Constantinople was sitting, there were deputies of the Pope in that city, — though not necessarily as his representatives at the Council. More important still is the circumstance that the Council preceded the journey of Pope Stephen II. (in 754) to the court of Pippin and the famous compact which he concluded with the Frank king at Quiersy. The Council would thus appear to be the event which definitely decided the secession of Rome from the Empire.
(The chronological question dealt with in this Appendix has been since discussed by Mr. E. W. Brooks [in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, viii. p. 82 sqq., 1899; The Chronology of Theophanes, 607-775], who arrives at the conclusion that Theophanes has used two different schemes of chronology, and in the period under discussion dates sometimes by the one, sometimes by the other.)
GRÆCO-ROMAN LAW — (P. 261)
The general history of Byzantine law, from Justinian to the fall of the Empire, may be grouped under two epochs easily remembered: the attempt of the first Iconoclastic Emperors to legislate on new Christian principles, and the return to the Roman principles of the Justinianean law by the first “Macedonian” sovereigns.
A word must first be said of the substitution of the Greek for the Latin language in the domain of law. The great legal works of the Illyrian Justinian were composed in Latin, his native tongue. But the fact that to the greater part of the Empire ruled by him, and a still greater part of the Empire ruled by his successors, Latin was unintelligible, rendered a change of vehicle simply inevitable. The work of transformation began in his own reign. He issued most of his later laws (the Novels) in Greek, and in Novel 7 (15, ed. Zach.) expressly recognises the necessity of using “the common Greek tongue”; Theophilus prepared a Greek paraphrase of the Institutes; and Dorotheus translated the Digest. The Code was also, immediately after its publication in Latin, issued (perhaps incompletely) in a Greek form.1 After Justinian’s time the study of legal texts in Latin seems, at Constantinople and in the Greek part of the Empire, to have soon ceased altogether.
In the troubles of the 7th century the study of law, like many other things, declined; and in the practical administration of justice the prescriptions of the Code and Digest were often ignored, or modified by the alien precepts of Christianity. The religion of the Empire had exerted but very slight influence — no fundamental influence, we may say — on the Justinianean law. Leo III., the founder of the Syrian (vulgarly called Isaurian) dynasty, when he restored the Empire after a generation of anarchy, saw the necessity of legislation to meet the changed circumstances of the time. The settlements of foreigners — Slavs and Mardaites — in the provinces of the Empire created an agrarian question, which he dealt with in his Agrarian Code. The increase of Slavonic and Saracenic piracy demanded increased securities for maritime trade, and this was dealt with in a Navigation Code. But it was not only for special relations that Leo made laws; he legislated also, and in an entirely new way, for the general relations of life. He issued a law book (in 740 in the name of himself and his son Constantine), which changed and modified the Roman law, as it had been fixed by Justinian. This Ecloga, as it is called, may be described as a Christian law book. It is a deliberate attempt to change the legal system of the Empire by an application of Christian principles. Examples, to illustrate its tendency, will be given below.
The horror, in which the Iconoclasts were held on account of their heresy by the image-worshippers, cast discredit upon all their works. This feeling had something to do with the great reaction, which was inaugurated by Basil I., against their legal reforms. The Christian Code of Leo prevailed in the empire for less than a century and a half; and then, under the auspices of Basil, the Roman law of Justininan was (partially) restored. In legal activity the Basilian epoch faintly reflected the epoch of Justinian itself. A handbook of extracts from the Institutes, Digest, Code, and Novels was published in 879, entitled the Prochiron (or ὀ πρόχειρος νόμος), to diffuse a knowledge of the forgotten system. But the great achievement of the Basilian epoch is the Basilica — begun under Basil, completed under Leo VI. — a huge collection of all the laws of the Empire, not only those still valid, but those which had become obsolete. It seems that two commissions of experts were appointed to prepare the material for this work. One of these commissions compiled the Prochiron by the way, and planned out the Basilica in sixty Books. The other commission also prepared a handbook, called the Epanagoge, which was never actually published (though a sketch of the work is extant), and planned out the Basilica in forty Books. The Basilica, as actually published, are arranged in sixty Books, compiled from the materials prepared by both commissions.
The Basilian revival of Justinianean law was permanent; and it is oustide our purpose to follow the history further, except to note the importance of the foundation of a school of law at Constantinople in the 11th century by the Emperor Constantine IX. The law enacting the institution of this school, under the direction of a salaried Nomophylax, is extant.2 John Xiphilin (see above) was the first director. This foundation may have possibly had some influence on the institution of the school at Bologna half a century later.
To illustrate the spirit of the legislation of Leo III., an attempt to reconcile the discrepancies between civil and canonical law, we may glance at his enactments as to marriage, the patria potestas, and the guardianship of minors.
In the law of Justinian marriage had by no means the sacrosanct character which the Church assigned to it. Like all contracts, it could easily be dissolved at the pleasure of the contractors, and concubinage was legally recognised. The Ecloga enacted that a concubinate should be regarded as a marriage, thus legally abolishing the relation; and in this matter the Macedonian Emperors maintained the principle of the Iconoclasts; Leo VI. expressly asserting (Nov. 89) that there is no half-way state between the married and the unmarried.
Roman law had defined a number of hindrances to the contraction of marriage. The tendency of the Church, which regarded marriage as not an admirable thing in itself but only a concession to weakness, was to multiply hindrances. Justinian had forbidden marriages between Christians and Jews; the Ecloga recognises only marriages of Christians (and orthodox Christians are meant).3 But the chief obstacles lay in degrees of relationship. Justinian’s Code forbade marriage between blood relatives in the direct line of ascent and descent, between brothers and sisters, and between uncle and niece, nephew and aunt. The Trullan synod of 692 extended the prohibition to first cousins; the Ecloga went further and forbade the marriage of second cousins (δισεξάδελϕοι). These prohibitions were preserved by the Macedonian Emperors, and it was generally recognised that marriages within the 6th degree were illegal. It was even regarded as a question whether marriages in the 7th degree were permissible. They were forbidden by the Church in the 11th century, and this decision was confirmed by the Emperor Manuel. A similar progress in strictness can be traced in the case of relationships by adoption, by marriage, and by baptismal sponsorship.
In Justinian’s law “consent” was enough for the legal contraction of a marriage, and further forms were necessary only so far as the dowry was concerned. But under the ecclesiastical influence need was felt of giving greater solemnity and publicity to the marriage contract, and the Iconoclasts prescribed a written form of contract to be filled up and signed by three witnesses, but permitted this to be dispensed with by very poor people, for whom it would be enough to obtain the blessing of the Church (εὐλογία) or join hands in the presence of friends. The legislation of the Macedonian Emperors maintained the spirit (though not the words) of the Ecloga, in so far as it prescribed public marriages with penalties.
And, if the Church made the contraction of marriage more solemn, it made divorce more difficult. It was here that there was the most striking opposition between the law of the Church and of the State, and here the tendency of the Iconoclastic legislation is most strikingly shown. The Church regards marriage as an indissoluble bond, and for a divorced person to marry again is adultery. On the other hand, Roman law, as accepted and interpreted by Justinian, laid down that no bond between human beings was indissoluble, and that separation of husband and wife was a private act, requiring no judicial permission. And persons who had thus separated could marry again. The only concession that Justinian made in the direction of the ecclesiastical view was his ordinance that persons who separated without a valid reason should be shut up in monasterics, — a measure which effectually hindered them from contracting a new marriage. The spirit of the Ecloga is apparent in its full acceptance of the ecclesiastical doctrine in this point — the indissolubility of marriage. Divorce is permitted only in four cases, and this as a concession to the weakness and wickedness of human nature. The Basilian legislation returned to the Justinianean doctrine, and the antinomy between the canon and the civil law survives to the present day in Greece.
Another question arises when the dissolution of marriage is due to the hand of death; is it lawful for the survivor to enter again into the state of matrimony? More than once this question assumed political significance in the course of Imperial history. The Church always looked upon the marriage of widowers or widows as reprehensible, founding her doctrine on the well-known prescriptions of St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, chap. vii. A second marriage might be tolerated, but a third was distinctly unlawful, and a fourth — swinishness (so Gregory Nazianzen; see Zachariä, Gr.-rom. Recht, p. 82, note 200). The civil law recognised no such restrictions, and only interfered so far as to protect the interests of the children of the first marriage. But here the ecclesiastical view gained ground. The Ecloga affects not to consider a third marriage conceivable; the Empress Irene distinctly forbade a third marriage. Basil contented himself with recognising the ecclesiastical penalties imposed on persons guilty of a third marriage, but declared a fourth illegal. His son Leo committed this illegality (see above, p. 263); but after Leo’s death the “act of unity” (τόμος τη̂ς ἐνώσεως) of the synod of 920 confirmed the ordinance of Basil, with the additional restriction that a third marriage of a person who had children and was over forty years of age was illegal.
The influence of the ecclesiastical view of marriage as a consortium vitae can be seen too in the treatment of the property of the married partners. In the Justinianean law, the principle of the elaborate prescriptions for the property of the wife and the husband, for the dos and the propter nuptias donatio, is the independence and distinction of the property of each. The leading idea of the system developed in the Ecloga is the community of property in marriage, — the equal right of each partner to the common stock, however great the disproportion may have been before the contributions of each. Basil returned to the Justinianean system, but the doctrine of the Ecloga seems to have so firmly established itself in custom that Leo VI. found it necessary to make a compromise, and introduced a new system, which was a mixture of the Iconoclastic and the Justinianean doctrines.
The patria potestas still holds an important place in the Justinianean law, although the rights which it gave the father over the children were small indeed compared with the absolute control which he had enjoyed in ancient times. The tendency was to diminish these rights and to modify the stern conception of patria potestas by substituting the conception of a natural guardianship; a change corresponding to the change (promoted by Christianity) in the conception of the family, as held together by the duties of affection rather than by legal obligations. The two most important points in the later transformation of the patria potestas were (1) its conversion into a parental potestas, the mother being recognised as having the same rights and duties as the father (thus her consent as well as the father’s is necessary for the contraction of a marriage); and (2) the increased facilities for emancipation when the child came to years of discretion; emancipation seems to have been effected by the act of setting up a separate establishment. These principles were established by the Iconoclasts; but Basil revived the Justinianean legislation. Here, however, as in many other cases, the letter of Basil’s law books was not fully adopted in practice, and was modified by a Novel of Leo VI. which restored partly the law of the Ecloga.
In respect to the guardianship of minors the tendency in the later civil law had been to supersede the tutela by the cura — the tutor who was appointed in the interests of the family by the curator appointed in the interests of the public. The office of guardian came to be regarded as a public office for the good of the ward. Yet the old distinction of cura and tutela still subsisted in the Justinianean law books, though in use it was practically obsolete. The Ecloga logically developed this tendency; here tutela does not appear at all, only cura (κουρατωρεία). And, as on the death of one parent the children were under the care of the surviving parent, there was no question of guardianship except in the case of orphans. The Ecloga provides — and here we see the ecclesiastical influence — that, when the parents have not designated a guardian, the guardianship of orphans is to devolve on ecclesiastical institutions (e.g. the ὀρϕανοτροϕεɩ̂ον at Constantinople), and to last until the wards marry or reach the age of twenty. Here again the Basilica returned to the Justinianean law.
These examples will give some idea of the general character of the development of Byzantine civil law. Two interesting points may be added in connection with the law of inheritance. Constantine VII. enacted4 that if any one died intestate and childless, only two thirds of his property went to relatives (or the fisc), the remaining third going to the Church for his soul’s benefit. The other point is the institution of testamentary executors, for so we may best translate the word ἐπίτροποι in its Byzantine use.5 The institution was but incompletely developed, and ultimately fell into disuse, but Zachariä remarks that Byzantine law was “on the highway to an institution similar to the English trustees, executors, and administrators.”6
In criminal, as in civil law, the Iconoclastic legislators made striking innovations in the Justinianean system — sometimes entirely departing from it, sometimes developing tendencies which were already distinctly perceptible in the civil code of the 6th century. But, whereas in the case of the civil law the Basilian legislation was characterised as a return to the Justinianean system — a return sometimes complete, sometimes partial, but always tending to subvert, so far as possible, the Iconoclastic legislation, — it is quite otherwise in the case of the criminal law. Here, the system established by the Ecloga is retained in most cases, and sometimes developed further.
The criminal law of the Ecloga is very remarkable. It was intended to be, and professed to be, more humane than the old Roman law; but a modern reader is at first disposed to denounce it as horribly barbaric. Its distinguishing feature is the use of mutilation as a mode of punishment — a penalty unknown in Roman law. The principle of mutilation was founded on Holy Scripture (see St. Matthew, v. 29, 30: If thine eye offend thee, &c.). Since mutilation was generally ordained in cases where the penalty had formerly been death, the law-givers could certainly claim that their code was more lenient. The penalty of confiscation of property almost entirely disappears. The following table of penalties will exhibit the spirit of the Christian legislation: —
Perjury: amputation of the tongue (γλωσσοκοπεɩ̂σθαι).
High treason: death.
Theft: for the first offence: if solvent, payment of double the value of the thing stolen; if insolvent, flogging and banishment.
Theft: for the second offence: amputation of the hand.
Bestiality: amputation of the offending member (καυλοκοπεɩ̂σθαι).
For murder the penalty was death. But, while the Justinianean law excluded murderers, ravishers, and adulterers from the asylum privileges secured to those who took refuge in churches, the Ecloga does not make this exception; and, though the enactments of the Basilica follow Justinian, practice seems in the meantime to have secured for murderers the right of asylum, which was definitely recognised by Constantine VII. A novel of this Emperor enacts that a murderer who takes refuge in a church shall do penance according to the canon law, shall then be banished for life from the place where the crime was perpetrated, shall become incapable of holding office; and, if the murder was committed with full premeditation, shall be tonsured and thrust into a monastery. His property shall be divided; one part going to the heirs of the murdered man, another to his own relatives, and in case he becomes a monk of his own free will, a portion shall be reserved for the monastic community which receives him.
This enactment must have enabled most murderers to escape the capital penalty.
In general we can see that the tendency of the Ecloga was to avoid capital punishment so far as possible, and this tendency increased as time went on. Gibbon mentions the fact that under John Comnenus capital punishment was never inflicted (the authority is Nicetas); but this must not be interpreted in the sense that the death penalty was formally abolished, but rather taken as a striking illustration of the tendency of the Byzantine spirit in that direction. We may question whether this tendency was due so much to the growth of feelings of humanity as to ecclesiastical motives, namely the active maintenance of the asylum privileges of Christian sanctuaries, and the doctrine of repentance. The mutilation punishments at least are discordant with our notions of humane legislation. Zachariä von Lingenthal expresses his opinion that the cruelties practised in modern times in the Balkan peninsula are traceable to the effect produced by the practice of the criminal code of the Ecloga throughout the Middle Ages.
Finally it is worth while to observe in the Ecloga a democratic feature, which marks a real advance, in the interests of justice, on the Justinianean code. The Ecloga metes out the same penalties to poor and rich; whereas the older law had constantly ordained different punishments for the same offence, according to the rank and fortune of the offender.
[Zachariä von Lingenthal, op. cit., on which (ed. 3, 1892) the foregoing account has been mainly based. The same jurist’s Jus Græco-Romanum, pars 3, contains the extant laws of the Emperors after Justinian (1857). Mortreuil, Hist. du droit byzantin, 3 vols. 1843-7. W. E. Heimbach, Griechisch-römisches Recht, in Ersch and Gruber’s Enzyklopädie, part 86. The Ecloga was edited by Zachariä von Lingenthal in 1852; there is a more recent edition by Monferratus (1889). — His edition of the Basilica in 6 vols. (1833-70) is the opus magnum of W. E. Heimbach.]
THE LAND QUESTION — (P. 265)
In order to comprehend the land question, which comes prominently before us in the 10th century, it is necessary to understand the various ways in which land was held and the legal status of those who cultivated it. The subject has been elucidated by Zachariä von Lingenthal; but the scantiness of our sources leaves much still to be explained.
We have, in the first place, the simple distinction of the peasant proprietors who cultivated their own land, and the peasants who worked on lands which did not belong to them.
(1) The peasant proprietors (χωρɩ̂ται) lived in village communities. The community, as a whole, was taxed, each member paying his proportion, but the community, and not the individual, being responsible to the state. To use technical expressions, the lands of such communities are ὀμόκηνσα, and the proprietors are consortes. If one peasant failed to pay his quota, the deficiency was made up by an ἐπιβολή or additional imposition upon each of the other proprietors. This system, invented for the convenience of the fisc, was never done away with; but its injurious effects in overburdening the land were observed, and it probably was not always strictly enforced. When a piece of land went out of cultivation owing to the incompetence or ill-luck of its proprietor, it bore very hard on his neighbours that their more successful economy should be burdened with an extra charge. We consequently find the Emperor Nicephorus censured for insisting upon this principle of “solidarity” — the ἀλληλέγγυον as it was called. It seems, although we have not very clear evidence on this point, that the principle was now extended so as to impose the additional tax on neighbouring farms, which did not belong to the ὁμόκηνσα. Basil II. certainly imposed the extra charge on the domains of large neighbouring proprietors, whose lands were quite independent of the village community; but this unpopular measure — part of that Emperor’s warfare against large estates — was repealed by Romanus III.
Under this system of solidarity, each member of the community was directly interested in the honesty and capacity of his neighbours, and could fairly claim some right to interfere for the purpose of hindering any farm from passing into the hands of a person incapable of making it yield enough to pay his quota of taxation. This claim was recognised by Constantine the Great, and afterwards distinctly affirmed in laws of the 5th century which forbade the sale or alienation of a farm to any one except a farmer of the same village (vicanus). When in later times the fiscal responsibility was laid not upon the vicus, but upon the neighbours of the defaulting farm, the neighbours obtained a right of pre-emption; and in the 10th century the rights of pre-emption were strictly defined by a Novel1 of Romanus I.
(2) Opposed to these groups of small farms and the peasant proprietors who cultivated them, were the large estates (ἰδιόστατα) of rich owners and the dependent coloni who tilled them. Many of these estates belonged to churches and abbeys; others were crown estates (part of the res privata, or the patrimonium, or the divina domus); others were owned by private persons. The peasants who worked on these estates were of two kinds: —
(a) Free tenants (μισθωτοί, liberi coloni), who cultivated their holdings at their own expense, paying a rent (whether in gold or kind) to the proprietor. At the end of thirty years of such tenure, the tenant (and his posterity) became bound to the land in perpetuity; he could not give up his farm, and on the other hand the proprietor could not eject him. But except for this restriction he had no disabilities, and could enter into ordinary legal relations with the proprietor, who had no claims upon his private property.
(b) The labourers (ἐναπόγραϕοι, adscriptitii) were freemen like the tenants, and (like the tenants of over thirty years) were “fixed to the clod.” But their indigence distinguished them from the tenants; they were taken in by a proprietor to labour on his estate, and became his serfs, receiving from him a dwelling and board for their services. Their freedom gave these labourers one or two not very valuable privileges which seemed to raise them above the rural slaves; but we sympathise with Justinian when he found it hard to see the difference between servi and adscriptitii.2 For good or bad, they were in their master’s power, and the only hold they had on him was the right of not being turned off from his estate. The difference between the rural slave and the serf, which secmed to Justinian microscopic, was gradually obliterated by the elevation of the former class to the dignity of the latter.
As to the origin of the adscriptitii, it seems to have been due to the financial policy of the Constantinian period, which aimed at allowing no man to abandon the state of life to which he or his father before him had been called.
Such were the agricultural classes in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries — peasant proprietors on one hand, and on the other the cultivators of great estates, whether tenants bound to the soil or serf-labourers. And these classes continued to exist till the latest age of the Empire. If the Iconoclastic reformers had had their way, perhaps the history of the agricultural classes would have been widely different. The abolition of the principle which the first Christian Emperor had adopted, of nailing men to the clod, was part of the programme which was carried out by the Iconoclast Emperors and reversed by their successors.
The storms of the 7th century, the invasions of Slavs and Saracens, had made considerable changes in the condition of the provincial lands. The Illyric peninsula had been in many parts occupied by Slavonic settlers; in many cases the dispossessed provincials had fled to other parts of the Empire; and Emperors had transferred whole populations from one place to another, to replenish deserted districts. These changes rendered a revision of the land laws imperative; and, when an able sovereign at length came to the throne, he set himself the task of regulating the conditions of agriculture. The Agricultural Code (νόμος γεωργικός) was issued either by Leo III. or by his son, who worked in the same spirit as the father; it consists chiefly of police provisions in regard to rural crimes and misdemeanours, but it presumes a state of things completely different from that which existed in the 6th century and existed again in the 10th. In this Code no man is nailed to the clod, and we hear nothing of serf-labourers (adscriptitii) or of services owed by freemen to landlords. We cannot ascribe this radical change, the abolition of what we may call serfdom, to any other sovereign than the reformer Leo III.
The Agricultural Code shows us peasant proprietors in their village communities as before; but it shows us, too, — and here we get a glimpse of the new settlements of the barbarians — communities which own the land in common, no member possessing a particular portion as his own.
As for tenants — now fully free, no longer bound to the soil, — of these there are two classes, according to the agreement made with the landlord. There are the tithe-rent tenants, μορτɩ̂ται, and the métayer tenants, ἡμισειασταί. The μορτίτης paid a tenth of the produce to the landlord, as rent for the land. The ἡμισειαστής worked his farm at the landlord’s expense, and the produce was divided equally between landlord and tenant. (Thus the ground rent = of the yearly yield; the interest on capital = ; and the labour = .) The μορτίτης, then, corresponds to the μισθωτός or “free colon” of the Justinianean code, and the ἡμισειαστής corresponds to the ἐναπόγραϕος, in respect of the condition of tenancy; with the important difference that neither μορτίτης nor ἡμισειαστής is bound to the soil.
The abolition of serfdom and service of the Iconoclastic reformers was by no means agreeable to the great landlords, secular or ecclesiastical. Rich lords and abbots made common cause against the new system; and when the reaction came in the second half of the 9th century Basil’s legislation restored the old order of things. The tenants3 were once more nailed to the soil. Among other things the landlords were not satisfied with the ground rent of , fixed in the Agricultural Code; it was insufficient, they said, to make the estate pay, when the taxation was allowed for.
The failure of the land reforms of Leo and Constantine, and the reversion to the old system, close the history of the tenants; but there still remains an important chapter in the history of the peasant proprietors. In the 10th century we find the large estates growing still larger at the expense of the small proprietors whose lands they absorb, and these small proprietors passing by degrees into the condition of tenants. This evil has been briefly touched upon in connection with Romanus I. and Tzimisces; see above, p. 265, n. 46, and p. 273, n. 57. The decline of the class of small farmers was due to two causes: the influence of the ascetic ideal and the defective economical conditions of the time.
The attraction of monastic life induced many proprietors to enter cloisters, and bestow their property on the communities which admitted them, or, if they were rich enough, to found new monastical or ecclesiastical institutions. The cultivation of the lands which thus passed to the church was thereby transferred from peasant proprietors to tenants.
The want of a sound credit system, due to the ignorance of political economy, and the consequent depression of trade, rendered land the only safe investment for capital; and the consequence of this was that landowners who possessed capital were always seeking to get more land into their hands. Hence they took every occasion that presented itself to induce their poor neighbours, who lived from hand to mouth and had no savings, to pledge or sell their land in a moment of need. The farmer who thus sold out would often become the tenant of the holding which had been his own property.
The increase of large estates was regarded by the government with suspicion and disapprobation.4 The campaign against the great landlords was begun by Romanus I. in 922, when, in the law (already mentioned) which fixed the order of pre-emption, he forbade the magnates (οὶ δυνατοί) to buy or receive any land from smaller folk, except in the case of relationship. It was also enacted that only after a possession of ten years could a property acquired in this way become permanently the property of the magnate. But a few years later the magnates had an unusually favourable opportunity and could not resist the temptation of using it. There was a long succession of bad harvests and cold winters ( 927-932), which produced great distress throughout the country. The small farmers, brought to penury, standing on the brink of starvation, had no resource but to purchase bread for themselves and their families by making over their little farms to rich neighbours. For this was the only condition on which the magnates would give them credit. The distress of these years in the reign of Romanus formed an epoch in the history of peasant proprietorship. It was clear that the farmers who had pledged their land would have no chance of recovering themselves before the ten years, after which their land would be irreclaimable, had expired. The prospect was that the small farmer would wholly disappear, and Romanus attempted to forestall the catastrophe by direct legislation. His Novel of 934 (see above, p. 265) ordained that the unfair dealings with the peasants in the past years should be righted, and that for the future no such dealings should take place.
The succeeding Emperors followed up the policy of Romanus. They endeavoured to prevent the extinction of small farmers by prohibiting the rich from acquiring villages and farms from the poor, and even by prohibiting ecclesiastical institutions from receiving gifts of landed property. A series of seven laws5 on this subject shows what stubborn resistance was offered to the Imperial policy by the rich landlords whose interests were endangered. Though this legislation was never repealed, except so far as the Church was interested,6 and though it continued to be the law of the Empire, that the rich landlords should not acquire the lands of peasants, there is little doubt that the law was evaded, and that in the last ages of the Empire peasant farms were rare indeed. In the 11th century Asia Minor consisted chiefly of large domains.
It must be remembered that, though the formation of these large estates gave their proprietors wealth and power which rendered them dangerous subjects, they were formed not with the motive of acquiring political influence, but from the natural tendency of capital to seek the best mode of investment.
In studying the Imperial land legislation and the relations of landlord and tenant in South-eastern Europe and Asia Minor, it is of essential importance for a modern student to bear in mind two facts which powerfully affected that development in a manner which is almost inconceivable to those who are familiar with the land questions in modern states. These facts — both of which were due to the economical inexperience of ancient and mediaeval Europe — are: (1) the legislation was entirely based on fiscal considerations; the laws were directly aimed at filling the treasury with as little inconvenience and trouble as possible on the part of the state: the short-sighted policy of making the treasury full instead of making the Empire rich; (2) the lamentably defective credit-system of the Roman law, discouraging the investment of capital and rendering land almost the only safe speculation, reacted, as we have seen, in a peculiar way on the land question. Something more is said of this economical weakness in the later Empire in the following note.
INTEREST, CREDIT, AND COMMERCE — (THE RHODIAN CODE)
1. The interest on a loan of money was fixed by the two parties to the transaction, but could not, according to a law of Justinian, exceed (a) in ordinary cases, 6 per cent. per annum, (b) when the lender was a person of illustrious rank, 4 per cent., (c) when the lender was a professional money-changer or merchant, 8 per cent., (d) when the money was to be employed in a transmarine speculation, 12 per cent. (nauticum fænus).
This system of interest was calculated on the basis of a division of the capital into 100 parts, and each part into 12 unciæ. The new coinage, introduced by Constantine, led to a change in the rate of interest, to the disadvantage of the borrower. Seventy-two nomismata were coined to a pound of gold, and 24 keratia went to each nomisma. The practice was introduced of calculating the annual interest by so many keratia to a nomisma, instead of the monthly interest by the fraction of the capital. Thus the old trientes (= ⅓ of of the capital per month) = 4 per cent. per annum was replaced by 1 keration per 1 nomisma per annum = 4⅙ per cent. per annum. Similarly 6 per cent. became 6¼, 8 per cent. 8⅓.
In the 10th century the adjustment of the old unit of 100 to the new unit of 72 went farther, to the disadvantage of the borrower. Six per cent. was converted into 6 nomismata per pound, i.e. per 72 nomismata; or in other words, where 6 per cent. had been paid before, 8.33 was paid now. (So 11.11 replaced 8, and 5.55 replaced 4 per cent.) There was thus a considerable elevation of the legal maxima of interest.
2. The free circulation of capital was seriously impeded by the difficulty in obtaining good securities. The laws respecting mortgage were not calculated to secure the interests of the creditor; and it is significant that in the Ecloga no notice is taken of either mortgage or personal security. Another hindrance to credit was the defectiveness of the mode of proceedings1 open to a creditor for recovering his money from a defaulting debtor.
The defects of the credit-system of the Empire could not fail to react unfavourably on commerce; and the consequence ultimately was that the trade, which ought to have been carried on by the Greeks of Constantinople and the towns of the Aegean, fell into the hands of Italians. The settlements of Venetian and Genoese merchants in the East were due largely to the defects of the Imperial legislation.
On the condition of Greek commerce in the 8th century we have some slight information from the “Rhodian Nautical Code,” published by the Iconoclast Emperors.2 From this we learn that at this period it was not usual for a merchant to hire a ship and load it with his own freight, but a merchant and a shipowner used to form a joint-stock company and divide the profit and loss. All accidental injuries befalling ship or cargo were to be borne in common by skipper, merchant, and passengers. It has been remarked that these regulations point to the depression of maritime commerce, easily explained by the fact that from the 7th century forward the Aegean and Mediterranean were infested by Slavonic and Saracen pirates. In such risky conditions men did not care to embark on sea ventures, except in partnership. Although the nautical legislation of the Iconoclasts was not accepted in the Basilica, it seems that it continued to prevail in practice.
It is interesting to observe that a man with a small capital (c. £300 to £1000) could purchase, if he chose, a life-annuity, with a title into the bargain. Certainly titular dignities (even the high title of protospathar) were for sale, and an extra payment entitled the dignitary to a yearly salary (called ῤόγα), which brought him in 10 per cent. on his outlay.
There were also a number of minor posts at the Imperial court, with salaries attached, and these could be purchased outright, the purchasers being able to sell them again or leave them to their heirs. These investments produced about 2½ per cent. It is presumable, however, that there was some limit to the number of these posts, and that, although practically sinecures, they could be assigned only to residents at Constantinople.
These two institutions present the only analogy to a national debt in the Eastern Empire.
Cp. Zachariä von Lingenthal, op. cit. p. 300.
THE LETTERS OF GREGORY II. TO THE EMPEROR LEO — (P. 326)
It is incorrect to say that “the two epistles of Gregory II. have been preserved in the Acts of the Nicene Council.” In modern collections of the Acts of Ecclesiastical Councils, they have been printed at the end of the Acts of the Second Nicene Council. But they first came to light at the end of the 16th century and were printed for the first time in the Annales Ecclesiastici of Baronius, who had obtained them from Fronton le Duc. This scholar had copied the text from a Greek MS. at Rheims. Since then other MSS. have been found, the earliest belonging to the 11th, if not the 10th, century.
In another case we should say that the external evidence for the genuineness of the epistles was good. We know on the authority of Theophanes that Gregory wrote one or more letters to Leo (ἐπιστολὴν δογματικήν, suba.m. 6172, δἰ ἐπιστολω̂ν, suba.m. 6221); and we should have no external reasons to suspect copies dating from about 300 years later. But the omission of these letters in the Acts of the Nicene Council, though they are stated to have been read at the Council, introduces a shadow of suspicion. If they were preserved, how comes it that they were not preserved in the Acts of the Council, like the letter of Gregory to the Patriarch Germanus? There is no trace anywhere of the Latin originals.
Turning to the contents, we find enough to convert suspicion into a practical certainty that the documents are forgeries. This is the opinion of M. l’Abbé Duchesne (the editor of the Liber Pontificalis), M. L. Guérard (Mélanges d’Archéologie et d’Histoire, p. 44 sqq., 1890), Mr. Hodgkin (Italy and her Invaders, vol. vi. p. 501 sqq.). A false date (the beginning of Leo’s reign is placed in the 14th instead of the 15th indiction), and the false implication that the Imperial territory of the Ducatus Romæ terminated at twenty-four stadia, or three miles, from Rome, point to an author who was neither a contemporary of Leo nor a resident in Rome. But the insolent tone of the letters is enough to condemn them. Gregory II. would never have addressed to his sovereign the crude abuse with which these documents teem. Another objection (which I have never seen noticed) is that in the 1st Letter the famous image of Christ which was pulled down by Leo is stated to have been in the Chalkoprateia (bronzesmiths’ quarter), whereas, according to the trustworthy sources, it was above the Chalkê gate of the Palace.
Rejecting the letters on these grounds — which are supported by a number of smaller points — we get rid of the difficulty about a Lombard siege of Ravenna before 727: a siege which is not mentioned elsewhere and was doubtless created by the confused knowledge of the fabricator.
THE ICONOCLASTIC EDICTS OF LEO III. — (P. 319, 320)
Gibbon (who is followed by Finlay) states that the first edict did not enjoin the removal of images, but only the elevation of them to such a height that they could not be kissed or touched by the faithful. He does not give the authority for this statement, but he derived it from Cardinal Baronius (Ann. Eccl. ix., ad. ann., 726, 5), who founded his assertion on a Latin translation of a Vita Stephani Junioris. This document is published in the edition of the Works of John of Damascus, by J. Billius (1603), and differs considerably from the Greek text (and Lat. transl.) published by Montfaucon in his Analecta Graeca towards the end of the same century.3 The passage in question (p. 483 B) states that Leo, when he saw the strong opposition against his policy, withdrew from his position, changing about like a chameleon, and said that he only wished to have the pictures placed higher, so that no one should touch them with his mouth. It has been recognised that this notice cannot be accepted (Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, iii. 347; Bury, Later Roman Empire, ii. 432; Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, vi. 432; Schwarzlose, der Bilderstreit, p. 524 ). It is obviously inconsistent with the incident of the destruction of the image over the palace-gate, which happened immediately after the first edict (Theophanes, a.m. 6218).5
In 727 there was a revolt in Greece, but this revolt was probably caused not entirely by the iconoclastic edict, but also by heavy taxation (see Bury, op. cit. ii. p. 437). In the same or the following year we must place the First Oration of John of Damascus on behalf of image-worship.6 In the first month of 730 a silentium was held, the Patriarch Germanus who resisted Leo’s policy was deposed, and a new patriarch, Anastasius, elected in his stead.7 In the same year the Second Oration of John of Damascus was published. The second edict was issued after the election of Anastasius, and probably differed from the first chiefly in the fact that the Imperial policy was now promulgated under the sanction of the head of the church in Constantinople.8
Gibbon does not mention the fact that the chief ecclesiastical counsellor of Leo in the inauguration of the iconoclastic policy was Constantine, Bishop of Nacolia in Phrygia. For this prelate see the two letters of the Patriarch Germanus, preserved in the Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea (Mansi, Conc. 13, 99 sqq.).
SOME QUESTIONS CONNECTED WITH THE RISE OF THE PAPAL POWER IN THE EIGHTH CENTURY — (P. 337, 338, 342, 343, &c.)
An enormous literature has grown up in connection with the policy of the bishops of Rome and the rise of the papal power in the 8th century, especially concerning (1) the secession of Italy from the Empire, (2) the relations of the Popes to the Frank monarchy, (3) the donations of Pippin and Charles, and the growth of the papal territory. It can hardly be said that any final or generally accepted conclusions have been attained; and here it must be enough to call attention to one or two points which may be regarded as certain.
The attitude of Gregory II. is misrepresented by Gibbon. Gregory, though he stoutly opposed Leo’s iconoclastic policy, did not arm against the Empire; and the disaffection in Italy, which led to the elevation of tyrants under his pontificate, was not due to the iconoclastic decrees, but to the heavy taxation which the Emperor imposed.1 Gregory, so far from approving of the disaffection, saw that division in Imperial Italy would result in the extension of Lombard dominion, and discouraged the rebellion.2 This is quite clear from the Liber Pontificalis, V. Greg. II. It was because there was no prospect of help from Constantinople that Gregory III. appealed to Charles Martel in 739 to protect the Duchy of Rome against Lombard attacks. But the final breach (not indeed intended at the time to be a final breach) with the Empire did not come till fifteen years later. The exarchate had fallen, and Rome was girt about by the Lombard power; but Pope Stephen would hardly have decided to throw himself entirely into the hands of the Frank king if the Council of Constantinople in 753 had not set a seal on the iconoclastic heresy. It was when the news of this Council reached Rome that the Pope went forth on his memorable visit to King Pippin. The revision of the chronology of the 8th century (see above, p. 429) places this visit in a new light. But even now the Pope did not intend to sever Italy from the Empire; the formal authority of the Emperor was still recognised. Pippin made over to the Church the lands which the Lombard king, Aistulf, was forced to surrender, but this bestowal was designated as a restitution — not to the Church, for the Church never possessed them, but to the Empire. This of course was only the formal aspect. Practically the Pope was independent of the Emperor; his position was guaranteed by the Franks.3
The attempts to derive the territorial dominion of the Church from the patrimonies of St. Peter have been unsuccessful.4 The Church as a territorial proprietor is an entirely different thing from the Church as a territorial sovereign. The possession of large estates, in Corsica for instance, might be urged as a reason for the acquisition of the rights of sovereignty; but there was a distinct and a long step from one position to the other. In the ducatus Romae the Pope possessed the powers of political sovereignty in the 8th century; we have no clear record how this position was won; but it was certainly not the result of the patrimony of St. Peter.
In regard to the donation of Pippin it may be regarded as certain that (1) a document was drawn up at Ponthion or Quiersy in 754, in which Pippin undertook to restore certain territories to Peter,5 and (2) that Pippin did not promise the whole Exarchate and Pentapolis, but only a number of cities and districts, enumerated in the deed.
The fictitious constitution of Constantine the Great, making the Bishop of Rome secular lord of Rome and the west, was drawn up under Pope Paul I. not long after the donation of Pippin. But it is not certain that it was drawn up with the deep design of serving those ends which it was afterwards used to serve; it may have been intended merely to formulate a pious legend.6
In regard to the sending of the keys of St. Peter to Charles Martel in 739 and to Charles the Great in 796 there can be no question that Sickel is right in denying that this was a “pledge or symbol of sovereignty,” as Gibbon says, or of a protectorate. If it were a symbol transferring to the Frank king any rights of sovereignty it would have involved the transference of that which the keys opened. Thus the presentation of the keys of Rome would have made the king lord of the city. And if the presentation of the keys of the tomb of St. Peter had any secular meaning, it could only be that the Pope alienated the tomb from his own possession and made the king its proprietor. The act must have had a purely religious import — the mere bestowal of a relic, intended to augment the interests of the kings in the Holy See. Gregory I. had long ago given a key of the famous sepulchre as a sort of relic (Mansi, Conc. 13, p. 804). See Sickel, op. cit. p. 851-3.
[Some recent literature: Friedrich, die Constantinische Schenkung, 1889; Kehr, op. cit., and art. in Sybel’s Hist., Zeitsch., 1893, 70, p. 388 sqq.; Schaube, ib., 1894, 72, p. 193 sqq.; Schnürer, Die Entstehung des Kirchenstaates, 1894; Sickel, op. cit., and article in Deutsche Zeitsch. für Geschichtswissenschaft, 11, 12, 1894; Sackur, in the Mitteilungen des Inst. für oesterreichische Geschichtsforschung, 16, 1896; T. Lindner, Die sog. Schenkungen Pippins, Karls des grossen und Ottos I. an die Päpste, 1896. See also Oelsner’s Jahrbücher des fränkischen Reiches unter K. Pippin, and Simson’s Jahrb. d. fr. R. unter Karl dem grossen; Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, Eng. tr., vol. ii.; the notes in Duchesne’s Liber Pontificalis; Duchesne, Les premiers temps de l’Etat pontifical in the Rev. d’hist. et de litt. religieuses, i. (in three parts), 1896; Döllinger, Die Pabstfabeln des Mittelalters (Gregory II. und Leo III., p. 151 sqq.; Die Schenkung Constantius, p. 61 sqq.).]
Since this was written I have received from M. H. Hubert an important study: Etude sur la formation des états de l’église; les papes Grégoire II., Grégoire III., Zacharie et Etienne II., et leurs relations avec les empereurs iconoclastes (726-757). Published in the Revue historique, lxix., 1899.
[29 ]For translations see below, vol. ix. p. 41, n. 96.
[30 ]A translation of the Koran has been published with the Sūras arranged in approximately chronological order (by Rodwell, 2nd ed., 1876).
[31 ]The other works of Wākidī, which are numerous, are lost, including the Kitāb al-Ridda, which related the backslidings of the Arabs on Mohammad’s death, the war with Musailima, &c.
[32 ]Pocock’s translation of Eutychius is reprinted in Migne’s Patrol. Gr. (the Latin series), lvii. b.
[33 ]Dionysius was patriarch of Antioch from 818-845. His chronicle is extant, but only the early part has been edited. The publication of the later part, with a translation, is much to be desired. See Assemani, ii. 98 sqq. Wright, Syriac Literature, p. 196 sqq.
[1 ]So Schafarik, Slaw. Alterthümer, ed. Wuttke, ii. 57-8.
[2 ]Cp. Menander, fr. 6, ὁ Κοτράγηγος ἐκεɩ̂νος ὁ τοɩ̂ς Ἁβάροις ἐπιτήδειος, where Niebuhr proposed Κοτρίγουρος. It seems to me more likely that Κοτράγηγος was the name of a Kotrigur chief.
[3 ]Menander, fr. 6.
[4 ]Ib. p. 61.
[5 ]This is rightly emphasised by Howorth, The Avars, in Journal Asiat. Soc., 1889, p. 737.
[6 ]Howorth, ib. p. 786. The story of the Slavs from the “Western Sea,” in Theophylactus, vi. 2, does not warrant the inference.
[1 ]Novel xlv. (= xxxi.).
[2 ]Procopius speaks of this as ἡ ἄλλη Ἀρμενία (Æd. 3, 1). It was previously administered partly by native satraps, partly by Roman officers called satraps. On the limits of the province, see H. Kiepert, Monatsberichte der Berliner Akademie, 1873, p. 192 sqq.
[3 ]It is possible, but not certain, that (as the Armenian historian John Catholicus asserts) the parts of Pontus which Justinian included in his Armenia I. were separated and made a distinct province. See Gelzer, Georgius Cyprius, p. lvii., lix.
[1 ]Gibbon could use Visdelou’s translation in D’Herbelot, Bib. Or. iv. 375 sqq.
[2 ]Autre lui-même du Trine (Gueluy).
[3 ]This must be a Chinese corruption of a Syrian name. Assemani thought it was for Jaballaha. Panthier explains Alo-pano, “return of God.” Yule (p. xciv.) suggests Rabban. r of course appears as l in Chinese.
[4 ]That is, he was a sage. The metaphor is Buddhistic: Buddha is the sun, and the sage is the cloud which covers the earth, and makes the rain of the land fall. So Gueluy, p. 74. But Wylie, &c. translate “observing the blue clouds.”
[5 ]China and the Roman Orient, p. 61-2.
[6 ]La cité fleurie du pays des solitaires (Gueluy).
[7 ]A river in Kan-su (cp. Gueluy, op. cit. p. 5).
[8 ]It is uncertain what gem is meant. Cp. Hirth, p. 242 sqq. He refers to the emeralds shining at night, which are mentioned by Herodotus, 2, 44, and Pliny, 37, 5, 66.
[9 ]Tout y brille d’un ordre parfait (Gueluy).
[10 ]See Gueluy, op. cit. p. 67, 68.
[11 ]His name shows his Persian origin.
[12 ]See Lamy’s important explanations, p. 90 sqq.
[13 ]Gaubil supposes that the Ghebers of Persia are meant.
[1 ]Cp. Zachariä, Gr.-Röm. recht, p. 6.
[2 ]Ed. Lagarde in the Abhandlungen der Akad. zu Göttingen, xxviii. 195 sqq.
[3 ]Theophilus however recognised marriages between Romans and Persians as valid.
[4 ]This had been preceded by a similar law of Leo VI., applying to persons who died in captivity.
[5 ]In the old law ἐπίτροπος was the translation of tutor.
[6 ]Op. cit. p. 162-5.
[1 ]Nov. 2, p. 234 sqq., in Zachariä, Jus Græco-Romanum. 922.
[2 ]Cod. Just. 11, 48, 21.
[3 ]In the 9th century πάροικοι comes into use as the general word for the tenants on a landlord’s estate.
[4 ]It was a law of Justinian that high officials should not acquire landed property. Leo VI. however had repealed this law.
[5 ](a) 947, Nov. 6 of Constantine VII.; (b) 959-63, Nov. 15 of Romanus II.; (c, d, e) 964, 967, Nov. 19, 20, 21 of Nicephorus Phocas, (f) 988, Nov. 26 of Basil II.; (g) 996, Nov. 29 of Basil II.; all ap. Zachariä, Jus Graeco-Romanum, iii.
[6 ]Basil II. repealed the law of Nicephorus that Churches, &c. should not acquire real property.
[1 ]Zachariä, op. cit. p. 392 sqq.
[2 ]Ed. in Pardessus, Coll. des lois maritimes, i. c. 6. It is also printed in Leunclavius, Jus Gr.-Rom. ii. 265 sqq.
[1 ]Theoph., a.m. 6127. I do not see that we are justified in rejecting this date of Theophanes, as most critics are disposed to do. The First Epistle of Gregory to Leo says “in the tenth year” of Leo’s reign, but it is not genuine.
[2 ]Theoph., a.m. 6128.
[3 ]The relation of these documents deserves to be investigated.
[4 ]But Schwarzlose does not distinguish the older Latin translation from Montfaucon’s text and translation of the Vita Stephani. In his valuable article, Kaiser Leons III. Walten im Innern (Byz. Ztsch., v. p. 291), K. Schenk defends the view that Leo’s first edict ordered the pictures to be hung higher. He cites the life of Stephanus without giving any reference except “Baronius ad annum, 726,” and does not distinguish between Montfaucon’s edition and the older Latin version. Until the source of that old Latin version has been cleared up and its authority examined, it seems dangerous to accept a statement which depends on it alone. Schenk meets the argument that the mild character of the edict is inconsistent with the destruction of the picture by rejecting the latter fact. But his objections concern the account of the destruction of the picture in the 1st Letter of Gregory to Leo and do not touch the account in Theophanes; so that their only effect is to reinforce the arguments against the genuineness of the Pope’s letter.
[5 ]The Vita Stephani places it after the deposition of Germanus (in 730), and therefore Pagi placed it in 730 ( 726-9 and 730, 3, 5). Hefele refutes Pagi by the 1st Letter of Pope Gregory to Leo, which he (Hefele) regards as genuine. Cp. above, p. 441.
[6 ]Bury, op. cit. p. 436.
[7 ]Theoph., a.m. 6221 ( = 728-9). Theophanes gives the date of the silentium as “January 7th, Tuesday,” and the date of the appointment of Anastasius as “Jan. 22.” (1) According to the vulgar chronology, which refers these dates to 730, the day of the week is inconsistent with the day of the month. January 7 fell on Saturday. (2) According to the revised chronology there is equally an inconsistency, for January 7 fell on Friday. (3) Neither date could be reconciled with the length of the pontificate of Germanus as given by Theophanes (14 years 5 months 7 days, loc. cit.; Germanus was appointed on August 11, 715). Now if Germanus was deposed on January 17, 730, everything can be explained. That day was Tuesday; and January 22, on which Anastasius was installed, was the Sunday following. (Sunday was a favourite day for such installations.) The years, days, and months of the pontificate work out accurately. The emendation in the text of Theophanes is very slight — ιζ′ for ζ′. This highly plausible solution is due to Hefele. The difficulty lies in the year; for Theophanes assigns the events to the thirteenth indiction; whereas if 730 was the year he should have assigned it to the fourteenth indiction, according to his own reckoning (see above, p. 429). But notwithstanding this, I believe that Hefele’s correction is right, and that Germanus was deposed in 730.
[8 ]So Schwarzlose, p. 54, rightly.
[1 ]The discontent with the taxation and the dissatisfaction at the iconoclastic decrees must be kept quite distinct. Cp. Dahmen, das Pontifikat Gregors II., p. 69 sqq. (1888); Schenk, B.Z. 5, 260 sqq.; Duchesne, L.P. i. 412.
[2 ]Kehr, Gött. Nachrichten, 1896, p. 109, has brought out the point that owing to the Lombard danger the Pope represented the interests of Byzantine Italy.
[3 ]Cp. Sickel, Gött. Gel. Anz., 1897, 11, p. 842-3.
[4 ]Sickel, ib. 839.
[5 ]The Lib. Pont. makes no mention of a document, but the deed (donatio) is distinctly mentioned in a letter of Pope Stephen of 755 (Cod. Car. p. 493), civitates et loca vel omnia quae ipsa donatio continet.
[6 ]Cp. Sickel, op. cit. p. 845.