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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Victories And Triumph Of Heraclius


73: Baronius is unwilling to expatiate on the care of the patrimonies, lest he should betray that they consisted not of kingdoms, but farms. The French writers, the Benedictine editors, (tom. iv. l. iii. p. 272, &c.,) and Fleury, (tom. viii. p. 29, &c.,) are not afraid of entering into these humble, though useful, details; and the humanity of Fleury dwells on the social virtues of Gregory.]

[Footnote 74: I much suspect that this pecuniary fine on the marriages of villains produced the famous, and often fabulous right, de cuissage, de marquette, &c. With the consent of her husband, a handsome bride might commute the payment in the arms of a young landlord, and the mutual favor might afford a precedent of local rather than legal tyranny]

[Footnote 75: The temporal reign of Gregory I. is ably exposed by Sigonius in the first book, de Regno Italiae. See his works, tom. ii. p. 44--75]

Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.--Part I.

Revolutions On Persia After The Death Of Chosroes On Nushirvan.--His Son Hormouz, A Tyrant, Is Deposed.-- Usurpation Of Baharam.--Flight And Restoration Of Chosroes II.--His Gratitude To The Romans.--The Chagan Of The Avars.- -Revolt Of The Army Against Maurice.--His Death.--Tyranny Of Phocas.--Elevation Of Heraclius.--The

Persian War.--Chosroes Subdues Syria, Egypt, And Asia Minor.--Siege Of Constantinople By The Persians And Avars.--Persian Expeditions.--Victories And Triumph Of Heraclius.

The conflict of Rome and Persia was prolonged from the death of Craesus to the reign of Heraclius. An experience of seven hundred years might convince the rival nations of the impossibility of maintaining their conquests beyond the fatal limits of the Tigris and Euphrates. Yet the emulation of Trajan and Julian was awakened by the trophies of Alexander, and the sovereigns of Persia indulged the ambitious hope of restoring the empire of Cyrus. [1] Such extraordinary efforts of power and courage will always command the attention of posterity; but the events by which the fate of nations is not materially changed, leave a faint impression on the page of history, and the patience of the reader would be exhausted by the repetition of the same hostilities, undertaken without cause, prosecuted without glory, and terminated without effect. The arts of negotiation, unknown to the simple greatness of the senate and the Caesars, were assiduously cultivated by the Byzantine princes; and the memorials of their perpetual embassies [2] repeat, with the same uniform prolixity, the language of falsehood and declamation, the insolence of the Barbarians, and the servile temper of the tributary Greeks. Lamenting the barren superfluity of materials, I have studied to compress the narrative of these uninteresting transactions: but the just Nushirvan is still applauded as the model of Oriental kings, and the ambition of his grandson Chosroes prepared the revolution of the East, which was speedily accomplished by the arms and the religion of the successors of Mahomet.

[Footnote 1: Missis qui... reposcerent... veteres Persarum ac Macedonum terminos, seque invasurum possessa Cyro et post Alexandro, per vaniloquentiam ac minas jaciebat. Tacit. Annal. vi. 31. Such was the language of the Arsacides. I have repeatedly marked the lofty claims of the Sassanians.]

[Footnote 2: See the embassies of Menander, extracted and preserved in the tenth century by the order of Constantine Porphyrogenitus.]

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