free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

3 and 177 of the Laws of Rotharis


soil, which, by every motive

of interest and honor, they were bound to defend. A Lombard was born the soldier of his king and his duke; and the civil assemblies of the nation displayed the banners, and assumed the appellation, of a regular army. Of this army, the pay and the rewards were drawn from the conquered provinces; and the distribution, which was not effected till after the death of Alboin, is disgraced by the foul marks of injustice and rapine. Many of the most wealthy Italians were slain or banished; the remainder were divided among the strangers, and a tributary obligation was imposed (under the name of hospitality) of paying to the Lombards a third part of the fruits of the earth. Within less than seventy years, this artificial system was abolished by a more simple and solid tenure. [42] Either the Roman landlord was expelled by his strong and insolent guest, or the annual payment, a third of the produce, was exchanged by a more equitable transaction for an adequate proportion of landed property. Under these foreign masters, the business of agriculture, in the cultivation of corn, wines, and olives, was exercised with degenerate skill and industry by the labor of the slaves and natives. But the occupations of a pastoral life were more pleasing to the idleness of the Barbarian. In the rich meadows of Venetia, they restored and improved the breed of horses, for which that province had once been illustrious; [43] and the Italians beheld with astonishment a foreign race of oxen or buffaloes. [44]
The depopulation of Lombardy, and the increase of forests, afforded an ample range for the pleasures of the chase. [45] That marvellous art which teaches the birds of the air to acknowledge the voice, and execute the commands, of their master, had been unknown to the ingenuity of the Greeks and Romans. [46] Scandinavia and Scythia produce the boldest and most tractable falcons: [47] they were tamed and educated by the roving inhabitants, always on horseback and in the field. This favorite amusement of our ancestors was introduced by the Barbarians into the Roman provinces; and the laws of Italy esteemed the sword and the hawk as of equal dignity and importance in the hands of a noble Lombard. [48]

[Footnote 38: Maffei (Verona Illustrata, part i. p. 310--321) and Muratori (Antichita Italiane, tom. ii. Dissertazione xxxii. xxxiii. p. 71--365) have asserted the native claims of the Italian idiom; the former with enthusiasm, the latter with discretion; both with learning, ingenuity, and truth. Note: Compare the admirable sketch of the degeneracy of the Latin language and the formation of the Italian in Hallam, Middle Ages, vol. iii. p. 317 329.--M.]

[Footnote 39: Paul, de Gest. Langobard. l. iii. c. 5, 6, 7.]

[Footnote 40: Paul, l. ii. c. 9. He calls these families or generations by the Teutonic name of Faras, which is likewise used in the Lombard laws. The humble deacon was not insensible of the nobility of his own race. See l. iv. c. 39.]

[Footnote 41: Compare No. 3 and 177 of the Laws of Rotharis.]

[Footnote 42: Paul, l. ii. c. 31, 32, l. iii. c. 16. The Laws of Rotharis, promulgated A.D. 643, do not contain the smallest vestige of this payment of thirds; but they preserve many curious circumstances of the state of Italy and the manners of the Lombards.]

[Footnote 43: The studs of Dionysius of Syracuse, and his frequent victories in the Olympic games, had diffused among the Greeks the fame of the Venetian horses; but the breed was extinct in the time of Strabo, (l. v. p. 325.) Gisulf obtained from his uncle generosarum equarum greges. Paul, l. ii. c. 9. The Lombards afterwards introduced caballi sylvatici--wild horses. Paul, l. iv. c. 11.]


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us