Friday, November 13, 2009

Post 177. III Instalment of " The Franks".

continuation of ' The Franks " from Post 176.
Milan.

Orestes ( died ca. 476), whose son was to become Emperor after Nepos, with the name of Augustulus ( 475-476), tried to curb the greed of his soldiers who demanded one third of all profitable Italian lands which would have resulted, together with their increasing wages, in the impoverishment of his subjects, and was executed by Odoacer, after the fall of Pavia where he had tried to resist.
Augustulus, Orestes’ son was compelled to resign the title of Emperor of the West, petition Zeno ( 474-491), the Emperor of the East to abolish the title and to exercise his imperial prerogatives as sole and only Emperor of the one empire, while Odoacer styled himself King of Italy, with the Emperor’s support and consent.
Orestes junior was Tatullus’ grand-son, Orestes senior’s son, and originated from Pannonia. Orestes junior’s father had served Attila as ambassador and secretary after Pannonia had been ceded to the Huns by the eastern Romans and Attila had risen to power. When Attila died, Orestes senior entered the service of Valentinian’s successors till, under Nepos, whom he betrayed, he was elevated to the honour of Patrician and to the rank of Master-General of the troops.
Odoacer was Edecon’s son, who belonged to the tribe of the Scyrri, and had been a colleague of Orestes junior’s father, sent, with Orestes senior as a joint-ambassador, to Theodosius II ( 408-450) at the court of Constantinople, to represent Attila and his Gallic secretay Costantius.

Before proceeding this Appendix on the Franks beyond the days of Odoacer, the first King of Italy , I would like to mention the unusual alliance formed, after the death of emperor Majorian (457-461) by Theodoric II, the king of the Visigoths of Gaul, who chose to forget the terrible insult offered to his sister by his traditional enemy, Genseric, King of the Vandals and Alani of Africa, and broke the alliance he had entered into with emperor Majorian after the latter had vanquished him, re-united Spain and Gaul and reconciled to Rome the remaining Bagaudae of Gaul and Spain. By thus breaking his treaty with the Romans, Theodoric II gained the control of Narbonne, and since count Ricimer, the despotic controller of Rome was also an ally of the Vandals, Theodoric II also received permission to wage war against Aegidius, the Roman Praefect of Gaul, whom the Franks had for some time elected their King, and who had been able to resist Theodoric’s attempts at the conquests of Orleans and Arles. At the death of Aegidius, after Euric’s murder of his brother Theodoric, the Visigoths extended their war to Spain and Lusitania, and I quote Gibbon I, p.586-: Their ambition was soon rekindled; and the design of extinguishing the Roman empire in Spain and Gaul was conceived and almost completed in the reign of Euric, who assassinated his brother Theodoric and displayed, with a more savage temper, superior abilities both in peace and war. He passed the Pyrenees at the head of a numerous army, subdued the cities of Saragossa and Pampeluna, vanquished in battle the martial nobles of the Tarragonese province, carried his victorious arms into the heart of Lusitania, and permitted the Suevi to hold the kingdom of Gallicia under the Gothic monarchy of Spain. The efforts of Euric were not less vigorous or less successful in Gaul; and throughout the country that extends from the Pyrenees to the Rhone and the Loire, Berry and Auvergne were the only cities or dioceses which refused to acknowledge him as their master. In the defence of Clermont, their principal town, the inhabitants of Auvergne sustained with inflexible resolution the miseries of war, pestilence, and famine; and the Visigoths, relinquishing the fruitless siege, suspended the hopes of that important conquest. The youths of the province were animated by the heroic and almost incredible valour of Ecdicius, the son of the emperor Avitus [ 455-456 ], who made a desperate sally with only eighteen horsemen, boldly attacked the Gothic army, and, after maintaining a flying skirmish, retired safe and victorious within the walls of Clermont. His charity was equal to his courage: in a time of extreme scarcity four thousand poor were fed at his expense; and his private influence levied an army of Burgundians for the deliverance of Auvergne. From his virtues alone the faithful citizens of Gaul derived any hopes of safety or freedom; and even such virtues were insufficient to avert the impending ruin of their country, since they were anxious to learn, from his authority and example, whether they should prefer the alternative of exile or servitude. The public confidence was lost; the resources of the state were exhausted; and the Gauls had too much reason to believe that Anthemius [ 467-472 ], who reigned in Italy, was incapable of protecting his distressed subjects beyond the Alps. The feeble emperor could only procure for their defence the service of twelve thousand British auxiliaries. Riothamus, one of the independent kings or chieftains of the island, was persuaded to transport his troops to the continent of Gaul; he sailed up the Loire, and established his quarters in Berry, where the people complained of these oppressive allies, till they were destroyed or dispersed by the arms of the Visigoths.
Unquote from Gibbon I, page 586.The rise of Clovis the Merovingian.

Odoacer (476-490) and his barbarian mercenaries were satisfied with the rule and possession of Italy, under the condescention of Zeno
( 474-491), the Emperor of Bizanthium. The Visigoths, led by king Euric and the Franks, a loose Federation of tribes belonging to thre three branches of Salii, Sicambrian and Ripuarii, led by independent princes of the Merovingians’ family, among whom Clovis appeared to be the most popular at the time, were the only forces beyond the barrier of the Alps, beyond the north of Italy, which could have threatened Odoacer, however the latter had relinquished to Euric his most immediate neighbour in Gaul, with the eastern Emperor’s approval, all Roman claims beyond the Alps, while Euric and the Franks existed in a precarious state of equilibrium, mutually waiting for any sign of weackness to attack the other.
In reality, Euric represented the greater power because Clovis the prince of the Salian branch was a very young man, however Euric died leaving an infant son Alaric, and this event allowed Clovis who had begun raiding his neighbours at this time of gothic weackness, to begin to attract the attention of all the other tribes and gather adherents and followers, coalescing the Federation into an armed Confederation at war.

Clovis defeats and has Syagrius executed.

The first target of Clovis was the Roman Syagrius, the son of Aegidius, the latter having died in the days of Ricimer, greatly respected by the Gauls and the Franks. Aegidius had been the Master-General of all Roman and provincial troops in Gaul at the times of Marjorian (457-461) and acted as a partner of Marcellinus, another capable Roman general who had learnt the arts of war under the great Aethius, but had been involved in the latter’s murder, had been proscribed in the days of Valentinian III (423-455), was pardoned by Marjorian, and given by the latter the government of Sicily to serve as a base against the Vandals of Africa. However, after Marjorian’s death, Aegidius refused to condone Ricimer’s manipulations of the imperial authority, and having occupied the province of Dalmatia, waged continuous war against Ricimer and his puppet-Emperors, together with Aegidius; the two did not however posses enough resources and military genius to totally defeat Ricimer and reform the Empire.
Syagrus’ legal skills had been favourably seeked by Burgundians and Franks alike, and he was relatively powerful since he had inherited from his father as his personal patrimony the city and dioceses of Soissons, which, in the time of Caesar would have supplied fifty thousand cavalrymen fully equipped by the three arsenals or manufacturing centres that existed in the city. In addition to the possession of Soissons, Rheims, Troyes, Beauvais and Amiens, the remnants of the second Belgic were subjected to his rule.
Clovis defeated Syagrus who fled to Toulouse, under the feeble protection of Alaric, who was still a child, and had to deliver the Roman to Clovis, who now controlled all Belgic provinces in addition to the dioceses of Tongres, toward the east.
Clovis had in the meanwhile married Clotilda, the niece of the King of Burgundy, who although belonging to the Arian Creed, had allowed his niece to be educated in the profession of the Catholic Faith. Clotilda eventually convinced her husband to be baptised at Rheims, at the age of thirty, and the Franks became the first barbarians in Gaul to accept the Nicene Creed, as a direct conversion from paganism, or as Sir Laurence Gardner claims in “ Genesis of the Grail Kings ”, at least in relation to the Sicambrian branch, from a Nazarene Creed professed by the Irish and Celtic peoples of Armorica and of the northern islands, since, while the Gauls and Gaul’s provincials were predominantly Roman Catholic, all barbarians still adhered to the Arian faith that had been preached in the times of their residence at the borders of the Empire, before the invasions by Sulpicius. It is important to note that even Anastasius I ( 491-518), the Bizantinian Emperor had been following at the time of Clovis’ conversion, Orthodoxy, an erethical faction of Roman Catholicism, while Odoacer and later, Theodoric of Italy had both been of the Arian Faith, and therefore Clovis was practically the only ruler at that time, holding Faith to the Nicene Creed.

Clovis conquers the Alemanni.

Clovis totally and completely defeated the Alemanni, slaying their King and pursuing them in their territories, taking possession of their lands in Gaul, allowing one of their nobles to rule their Germanic territories, under the suzerainty of Clovis, with the title of Duke. Eventually the Armorican republic joined Clovis supplying him with their outstanding bodies of cavalry, which made Clovis’ armies the most powerful in his times.
Clovis directed his attention next to the Kingdom of the Burgundians. Quoting from Gibbon, I, p.612-: The kingdom of the Burgundians, ...... was defined by the course of two Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhone, extended from the forest of Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marseilles.
Unquote.Clovis attacks the Burgundians.

In the days after the first permanent penetration of the Roman borders by the barbarians led by the Goth Radagaisus in ca. 407, King Gundobald, of the Burgundians, in order to seat on the throne, had murdered his two brothers, one of whom was Clotilda’s father, the wife of the King of the Franks, Clovis.. However a younger brother had been left alive, Godegesil, who ruled a small dependent principality near the Lake of Geneva, ( Lake Leman) in Switzerland.
Gundobald and his Kingdom were of the Arian faith, and saw with apprehension the increasing power of Clovis, who had embraced Catholicism, adopting his wife’s Creed, which she had been educated to profess, paradoxically in the midst of an Arianism-professing court. Gundobald was determined to resist conversion offered by the Roman Catholic Bishops of Gaul, while at the same time making them believe in the imminence of his change of heart, and eventually Clovis and he engaged in war. The Burgundians were formidable because of their popularity with the Gauls and Roman provincials, whom cunningly, Gundobald had elevated by his enlightened laws, almost to equal status as his own Burgundians, but Godegesil’s joining of Clovis’ side, apparently helped Clovis to win.
Clovis was contented with imposing a tribute, and having received assurance that Godegesil would be respected as his ally, having left him with a guard of five thousand Franks in the city of Vienne, retired within his own borders.
However Gundobald soon broke the treaty and resumed the war, after massacring Godegesil anf the Franks’ garrison, a situation which Clovis and his descendents endured until the times of Gundobald’s son Sigismond, who had embraced in the meanwhile Roman Catholicism. Sigismond was a very tragic character who, having killed his own son to please his son’s step-mother, repented and, although having a wife and two children, decided to live a monastic type of life. Clovis’ sons had in the meanwhile occupied Burgundy and, having discovered Sigismond’s retreat, buried him and his family alive in a deep well, also spurred on by Clotilda’s desire for revenge on Gundobald’s son for her father’s murder by the former. Yet, both Sigismond and Clotilda are regarded as saints, owing to the fact that, a conversion to Christianity by members of those barbaric races must always be considered a miracle, considering the wildernes of the times and of their background. The Burgundians were eventually subjected to Merovingian rule with the same privileges granted to the Alemanni in so far as they were allowed to be ruled by one of their own people as a Duke subjected to the King of the Franks.


Clovis defeats the Visigoths.

Having conquered the Burgundians, Clovis challenged the power of the Visigoths which was superior to his own, even when considering the support of his Burgundian and Alemanni vassals.
At first, after preliminary trials of strength, both monarchs decided for peace sanctioned in a small island on the river Loire, near Amboise. However, Clovis who had already made Paris his royal seat, found a pretext in the visigothic profession of the Arian faith, and declared war. Theodoric, the King of Italy, who ruled over the formidable power of the Ostrogoths, although related to Clovis through his marriage with Clovis’ sister, Albofleda, and had acquiesced with the subjection of the Alemanni and Burgundians by the Franks, decided at this stage to support Alaric and the Visigoths and sent an army to their relief. Clovis had the support of the local populations (Gauls), and Orleans let him cross the Loire unchecked, however, the next river, the Vigenna (Vienne) had been swollen by early-spring, heavy rains and the melting of mountain snows from the Auvergne ranges of mountains, and the Visigoths were camping on the opposite bank. Logistics pressurised both sides to action since foodstuff for both horses and men available in the area would be quickly exausted by the two armies which relied on the previous year’s reserves, since the new grass had not yet fully grown.
Alaric should have immediately retreated in such a way as to be joined to Theodoric’s army, which was marching to approach Alaric, in order to make his might irresistible, but, precious time was lost in arguing that, perhaps, the location was a strong one and battle should be engaged with the Franks trying to cross the river. Eventually, toward the evening, the Visigoths, who held a superiority in both numbers and armament with the exception of the cavalry arm, which was not essential in an action at a river’s crossing, and should have favoured resistance at the river location which made total encirclement by the armorican enemy cavalry impossible, hastily retreated in disorder while local peasants were showing Clovis an unknown fording place on the Vienne, which Clovis decided to use in order to attack with the element of surprise in his favour. He marched all night following, undetected, the retreating Visigoths whom he overtook ten miles beyond Poitiers, before dawn. Apparently the surprise was devastating to the Visigoths whose confusion and unpreparedness was transformed in terror and panick. Clovis personally slayed young Alaric, narrowly escaping from the dedicated pursuit of two guards of Alaric who had committed themselves to the revenge of their King’s death. The Roman Catholics of Auvergne, who were fighting on Alaric’s side, fought to the last man, forgetting their religious allegiance for the sake of their military honour, since they had been placed in the centre of the marching army, and Gregory of Tours, the historian decries the loss of Apollinaris, the valiant son of Sidonius Apollinaris, who died leading the forces of the Berry and Auvergne. These Epics must be remembered as they teach us the lesson that deeds and honour must be placed above ambiguous theological differences within the framework of the same society or civilisation. It is because of a lack of unity and honour that the same Visigoths lost Spain to the Moslems about 300 years later. Roman provincilas were still made of a different moral fibre though.
It is important to note that Auvergne and the Berry, perhaps because of the mountainous nature of the former and the hilly aspect of the latter, had acquired and preserved like Armorica, a high level of Roman civilization among the general fall and degeneration of the provincials and of the original celtic populations of Gaul.
These provinces of Gaul did in fact together with independent Brittany ( Armorica ) allow Romans, Roman provincials and Romanised Gauls sanctuary in the midst of the chaos and anarchy, that continued to exist in Gaul since the days of the first ( 407) permanent settlement of Radagaisus’ barbarian troops and their families in Gaul and Spain, until the days of Charlemagne ( ca. 800).
( This is an essential fact in my writing about the migrations of the De Ferrarii’s clan, the “gensferreria/ferraria ” whose migrating trek leading to their sanctuary in Armorica, their Holy Grail, in the midst of a barbaric world, passed through Lake Lemann, the Auvergne and the Berry since the days of the ancient migrations and the latest one that occurred in the times of Gaius Julius Caesar, from lake Lemann).

Clovis’ victory was total, due to the obstinate resistance of the Visigoths, including their Romanised Celts, who fought to the last man. Aquitaine was occupied, the Visigothic treasure removed to Paris, the borders with Spain secured, the Roman Catholic church re-confirmed as supreme, however, Clovis and the Burgundians were unable to push Theodoric’s armies out of Gaul and, after the loss of thirty thousand men at Arles, Clovis and Theodoric agreed to the terms of a peace-agreement, allowing the Visigoths control of Septimania, a strip of land which included access to the Mediterranean sea, from the Rhone to the Pyrenees, which straddled the Pyrenees, included the fortified town of Carcassonne, including a parallel strip of lands on the side of Spain and the Ostrogothic presence in the Provence, at Arles and Marseilles.

Clovis and all Merovingian claims in Gaul are sanctioned by Justinian, the Emperor of Bizanthium.

Anastasius I ( 491-518), the Emperor of Bizantium decided to honour Clovis with the title of Roman Consul, thus legitimating all of Clovis’ conquests.
Twenty-five years after the death of Clovis, Justinian I (527-565) and the sons of Clovis confirmed Anastasius’ decrees, more formally, giving the whole of Gaul to the Merovingians, including all Visigothic and Ostrogothic territories, thus freeing all Romans, provincials, and Gauls from their nominal allegiance to the Empire and to the Goths. In addition to the territorial concessions and legitimations, the Merovingians obtained the privilege that even the Persians had been refused, to have their gold coin impressed with their name and images allowed as legal currency in the Empire.

THE END.

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