Young Folks' History of Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about Young Folks' History of Rome.

[Illustration:  ROMAN CLOCK.]

Arcadius died in 408, leaving a young son, called Theodosius II., in the care of his elder sister Pulcheria, under whom the Eastern Empire lay at peace, while the miseries of the Western went on increasing.  New Emperors were set up by the legions in the distant provinces, but were soon overthrown, while Honorius only remained at Ravenna by the support of the kings of the Teuton tribes; and as he never trusted them or kept faith with them, he was always offending them and being punished by fresh attacks on some part of his empire, for which he did not greatly care so long as they let him alone.

Ataulf died in Spain, and Placidia came back to Ravenna, where Honorius gave her in marriage to a Roman general named Constantius, and she had a son named Valentinian, who, when his uncle died after thirty-seven years of a wretched reign, became Emperor in his stead, under his mother’s guardianship, in 423.

Two great generals who were really able men were her chief supporters—­Boniface, Count or Commander of Africa; and Aetius, who is sometimes called the last of the Romans, though he was not by birth a Roman at all, but a Scythian.  He gained the ear of the Empress Placidia, and persuaded her that Boniface wanted to set himself up in Africa as Emperor, so that she sent to recall him, and evil friends assured him that she meant to put him to death as soon as he arrived.  He was very much enraged, and though St. Augustine, now an old man, who had long been Bishop of Hippo, advised him to restrain his anger, he called on Genseric, the chief of the Vandals, to come and help him to defend his province.

[Illustration:  SPANISH COAST.]

The Vandals were another tribe of Teutons—­tall, strong, fair-haired, and much like the Goths, and, like them, they were Arians.  They had marauded in Italy, and then had followed the Goths to Spain, where they had established themselves in the South, in the country called from them Vandalusia, or Andalusia.  Their chief was only too glad to obey the summons of Boniface, but before he came the Roman had found out his mistake; Placidia had apologized to him, and all was right between them.  But it was now too late; Genseric and his Vandals were on the way, and there was nothing for it but to fight his best against them.

He could not save Carthage, and, though he made the bravest defence in his power, he was driven into Hippo, which was so strongly fortified that he was able to hold it out a whole year, during which time St. Augustine died, after a long illness.  He had caused the seven penitential Psalms to be written out on the walls of his room, and was constantly musing on them.  He died, and was buried in peace before the city was taken.  Boniface held out for five years altogether before Africa was entirely taken by the Vandals, and a miserable time began for the Church, for Genseric was an Arian, and set himself to crush out the Catholic Church by taking away her buildings and grievously persecuting her faithful bishops.

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Young Folks' History of Rome from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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