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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 57 The Pragmatic Sanction of Justinian


the soft lute and the capacious

hogshead. [54] In a manly oration, not unworthy of a Roman censor, the eunuch reproved these disorderly vices, which sullied their fame, and endangered their safety. The soldiers blushed and obeyed; discipline was confirmed; the fortifications were restored; a duke was stationed for the defence and military command of each of the principal cities; [55] and the eye of Narses pervaded the ample prospect from Calabria to the Alps. The remains of the Gothic nation evacuated the country, or mingled with the people; the Franks, instead of revenging the death of Buccelin, abandoned, without a struggle, their Italian conquests; and the rebellious Sinbal, chief of the Heruli, was subdued, taken and hung on a lofty gallows by the inflexible justice of the exarch. [56] The civil state of Italy, after the agitation of a long tempest, was fixed by a pragmatic sanction, which the emperor promulgated at the request of the pope. Justinian introduced his own jurisprudence into the schools and tribunals of the West; he ratified the acts of Theodoric and his immediate successors, but every deed was rescinded and abolished which force had extorted, or fear had subscribed, under the usurpation of Totila. A moderate theory was framed to reconcile the rights of property with the safety of prescription, the claims of the state with the poverty of the people, and the pardon of offences with the interest of virtue and order of society. Under the exarchs of Ravenna, Rome was degraded to the second rank.
Yet the senators were gratified by the permission of visiting their estates in Italy, and of approaching, without obstacle, the throne of Constantinople: the regulation of weights and measures was delegated to the pope and senate; and the salaries of lawyers and physicians, of orators and grammarians, were destined to preserve, or rekindle, the light of science in the ancient capital. Justinian might dictate benevolent edicts, [57] and Narses might second his wishes by the restoration of cities, and more especially of churches. But the power of kings is most effectual to destroy; and the twenty years of the Gothic war had consummated the distress and depopulation of Italy. As early as the fourth campaign, under the discipline of Belisarius himself, fifty thousand laborers died of hunger [58] in the narrow region of Picenum; [59] and a strict interpretation of the evidence of Procopius would swell the loss of Italy above the total sum of her present inhabitants. [60]

[Footnote 54: (Agathias, l. ii. p. 48.) In the first scene of Richard III. our English poet has beautifully enlarged on this idea, for which, however, he was not indebted to the Byzantine historian.]

[Footnote 55: Maffei has proved, (Verona Illustrata. P. i. l. x. p. 257, 289,) against the common opinion, that the dukes of Italy were instituted before the conquest of the Lombards, by Narses himself. In the Pragmatic Sanction, (No. 23,) Justinian restrains the judices militares.]

[Footnote 56: See Paulus Diaconus, liii. c. 2, p. 776. Menander in (Excerp Legat. p. 133) mentions some risings in Italy by the Franks, and Theophanes (p. 201) hints at some Gothic rebellions.]

[Footnote 57: The Pragmatic Sanction of Justinian, which restores and regulates the civil state of Italy, consists of xxvii. articles: it is dated August 15, A.D. 554; is addressed to Narses, V. J. Praepositus Sacri Cubiculi, and to Antiochus, Praefectus Praetorio Italiae; and has been preserved by Julian Antecessor, and in the Corpus Juris Civilis, after the novels and edicts of Justinian, Justin, and Tiberius.]

[Footnote 58: A still greater number was consumed by famine in the southern provinces, without the Ionian Gulf. Acorns were used in the place of bread. Procopius had seen a deserted orphan suckled by a she-goat. Seventeen passengers were lodged, murdered, and eaten, by two women, who were detected and slain by the eighteenth, &c. * Note: Denina considers that greater evil was inflicted upon Italy by the Urocian conquest than by any other invasion. Reveluz. d' Italia, t. i. l. v. p. 247.--M.]


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