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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Accepted the invitation of Alboin


[Footnote 10: It appears from Strabo, Pliny, and Ammianus Marcellinus, that the same practice was common among the Scythian tribes, (Muratori, Scriptores Rer. Italic. tom. i. p. 424.) The scalps of North America are likewise trophies of valor. The skull of Cunimund was preserved above two hundred years among the Lombards; and Paul himself was one of the guests to whom Duke Ratchis exhibited this cup on a high festival, (l. ii. c. 28.)]

[Footnote 11: Paul, l. i. c. 27. Menander, in Excerpt Legat. p. 110, 111.]

The destruction of a mighty kingdom established the fame of Alboin. In the days of Charlemagne, the Bavarians, the Saxons, and the other tribes of the Teutonic language, still repeated the songs which described the heroic virtues, the valor, liberality, and fortune of the king of the Lombards. [12] But his ambition was yet unsatisfied; and the conqueror of the Gepidae turned his eyes from the Danube to the richer banks of the Po, and the Tyber. Fifteen years had not elapsed, since his subjects, the confederates of Narses, had visited the pleasant climate of Italy: the mountains, the rivers, the highways, were familiar to their memory: the report of their success, perhaps the view of their spoils, had kindled in the rising generation the flame of emulation and enterprise. Their hopes were encouraged by the spirit and eloquence of Alboin: and it is affirmed, that he spoke to their senses, by producing at the royal feast, the fairest and most exquisite fruits that grew spontaneously in the garden of the world. No sooner had he erected his standard, than the native strength of the Lombard was multiplied by the adventurous youth of Germany and Scythia. The robust peasantry of Noricum and Pannonia had resumed the manners of Barbarians; and the names of the Gepidae, Bulgarians, Sarmatians, and Bavarians, may be distinctly traced in the provinces of Italy. [13] Of the Saxons, the old allies of the Lombards, twenty thousand warriors, with their wives and children, accepted the invitation of Alboin. Their bravery contributed to his success; but the accession or the absence of their numbers was not sensibly felt in the magnitude of his host. Every mode of religion was freely practised by its respective votaries. The king of the Lombards had been educated in the Arian heresy; but the Catholics, in their public worship, were allowed to pray for his conversion; while the more stubborn Barbarians sacrificed a she-goat, or perhaps a captive, to the gods of their fathers. [14] The Lombards, and their confederates, were united by their common attachment to a chief, who excelled in all the virtues and vices of a savage hero; and the vigilance of Alboin provided an ample magazine of offensive and defensive arms for the use of the expedition. The portable wealth of the Lombards attended the march: their lands they cheerfully relinquished to the Avars, on the solemn promise, which was made and accepted without a smile, that if they failed in the conquest of Italy, these voluntary exiles should be reinstated in their former possessions.

[Footnote 12: Ut hactenus etiam tam apud Bajoarior um gentem, quam et Saxmum, sed et alios ejusdem linguae homines..... in eorum carmini bus celebretur. Paul, l. i. c. 27. He died A.D. 799, (Muratori, in Praefat. tom. i. p. 397.) These German songs, some of which might be as old as Tacitus, (de Moribus Germ. c. 2,) were compiled and transcribed by Charlemagne. Barbara et antiquissima carmina, quibus veterum regum actus et bella canebantur scripsit memoriaeque mandavit, (Eginard, in Vit. Carol. Magn. c. 29, p. 130, 131.) The poems, which Goldast commends, (Animadvers. ad Eginard. p. 207,) appear to be recent and contemptible romances.]


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