« ZurückWeiter »
adventurer, named Ardabasta, arrived at Toledo, and ingratiated himself so effectual. ly with the king and people, that he soon rose to considerable preferment, and received the hand of Chindasuintho's cousin german in marriage.
After he had, in a great measure, obliterated the effects of his former severity, by various acts of clemency and generosity, the king desired that his son, Recesuintho, might be admitted to a participation of the government ; and, having obtained this request, he devoted his own time entirely to the enjoyments of religion and meditation till the period of his death, which happened in the ninety-first year of his age, and the eleventh of his reign. He appears to have been thoroughly acquainted with the constitution of the Visigoths, and took great pains to preserve its vigour and uniformity. He was also celebrated in the age in which he lived, on account of his piety and admiration of literature; and he is said to have founded the mo. nastery of St. Romanus (now called the monastery of Ornisga), between Toro and Torde. sillas. Recesuintho, having gained a decisive
A. D. victory over an army of revolted Gas
653. çons, summoned a council at Toledo, in order to settle the affairs of the kingdom, and presented a written memorial to the members of that assembly, in which he made an avowal of the catholic faith, and recommended a punctual execution of the new canons. He also published an edict, whereby it was declared, that whatever estates or effects were acquired by the Spanish monarchs after their
accession, should be annexed to the crown, and belong to their successors; but that their private fortunes should descend to their children.
From this time, the reign of Recesuintho was perfectly calm ; the clergy were entirely devoted to his service; the Jews, whom he had designed to treat with severity, contrived to pacify him by an humble memorial; and the generality of the people rejoiced in his mild and equitable administration. He had, however, an alarming prospect abroad; for the Saracens began to commit dreadful devastations in Africa, and the forces that presumed to oppose their progress were defeated with prodigious slaughter. The apprehensions which Recesuintho entertained of these formidable neighbours preyed upon his spirits, and threw him into a disorder which terminated his mortal existence in the twenty-fourth year of his reign.
Upon the demise of this amiable A. D.
prince, the Gothic nobles and prelates 672.
assembled in order to make choice of a successor ; and they unanimously cast their eyes upon Wamba, a nobleman of known virtue and consummate experience. Wamba, through an excess of modesty, refused the proffered dignity; but the menaces of some and the tears of all who were present overcame his constancy, and he consented to assume the reins of
government, after reminding them that his own ambition had no share in this transaction. His behaviour on this occasion seerns to have endeared him to the populace, and the ceremony of his coronation was performed with equal joy and solemnity, in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, at Toledo.
Wamba was scarcely established on the throne before he was disturbed by an insurrection of the Gascons and Asturians, and by the more alarming revolt of count Paul, an old and experienced officer, who basely threw off his allegiance, and assumed the regal title in Narbonne. But the king acted with such vigi-. lance and resolution, that the rebels were soon reduced to obedience, and the usurper was, after an obstinate resistance, stripped of his diadem and purple, and sentenced to pass the remainder of his life in a monastery.
On the termination of this dangerous war, Wamba made a triumphal entry into his capital, amidst the acclamations of a joyful multitude. In the centre of the troops were several waggons, containing the leaders of the rebellion; the soldiers were all newly clothed ; and the king, with his chief nobles, closed the procession. A solemn thanksgiving was then decreed for the restoration of peace; and various salutary regulations were made both in the civil and religious affairs of the kingdom.
Scarcely were the loud murmurs of rebellion hushed to silence, before the Saracens assembled their whole power, in order to subvert the Spanish government; but Wamba encouraged his subjects to make a vigorous defence, and the invaders were defeated with the loss of two hundred and seventy vessels.
Whilst Wamba was employed in the laudable discharge of his regal duties, Erviga, the son of Ardabastus, formed the base design of tearing the diadem from his venerable brow; and actually accomplished his purpose by giving the king an intoxicating potion, and causing him to be
put into a monastic habit during the temporary deprivation of his reason. A. D.
Erviga having, by a master-stroke of
treachery, prevailed on the deposed mo680.
narch to nominate him for his successor, was crowned at Toledo, without opposition; and a council was convened in order to sanctify his title, and to enact some fresh canons. His nephew Egiza, was also married to the princess, Cixilona, to soothe the discontent of Wamba's family; and such strenuous exertions were made to gain the public affection, that the commencement of this reign was marked by profound tranquillity. However, after some time the nation was disturbed either by an invasion of the Moors, or an insurrection in the Gallic province; and serious apprehensions were entertained from the augmenting numbers and insolence of the Jews, to whom Erviga seems to have acted with extraordinary lenity. These circumstances, together with a grievous famine, and an epidemic distemper, which carried off
numbers of people, depressed the king's spirits, and induced him to relinquish the crown in favour of his nephew, Accordingly, having assembled his no. bles and counsellors, he requested them to transfer their allegiance to Egiza, and caused himself to be dressed in a penitential habit, by which means he was rendered incapable of resuming the abdicated throne. Erviga died shortly after this transaction; and his predecessor Wamba,*
* This amiable prince died at Pampliega, full of years and glory, and was buried in the church of that monastery; but, by the command of Alphonso the Wise, his remains were removed with those of Recesuintho, and interred at Toledo.
who was still living, rejoiced in the elevation of that person for whom himself had designed the sceptre.
The accession of Egiza seems to have been approved by the generality of the Visigoths; and the new king acquired a considerable degree of popularity, by submitting some conscientious scruples to the decision of the fifteenth council at Toledo. He was, indeed, exposed to imminent danger by a conspiracy of Sisebert, metropolitan of Toledo, by a purposed insurrection of the Jews, and by a formidable invasion of the Saracens: but the traitor was fortunately discovered and banished; the design of the Jews was crushed in embryo; and the self-confident invaders were repulsed with prodigious loss.
Notwithstanding these interventions of Providence, the malecontents ardently desired to subvert their monarch's government; and their expectations were soon revived by a rupture on the side of France: but, as neither party gained any considerable advantage, hostilities were soon terminated; and Egiza, after associating his son, Witiza, in the regal dignity, breathed his last in peace. He has been described, by impartial historians, as a brave and vigilant prince, who laboured incessantly for the safety and happiness of his people, and who was anxious to raise his dominions to the utmost height of splendor.
If, therefore, it be objected, that the luxury which resulted from his greatness proved fatal to the Gothic monarchy, it must also be remem. bered that he hoped his successors would have made a better use of an abundance which was accumulated under his prudent and lenient'administration,