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.
Milan, and all the large towns held out bravely against them, but were taken at last, except Venice, which still owned the Emperor at Constantinople.  Alboin had kept the skull of Kunimund as a trophy, and had had it set in gold for a drinking-cup, as his wild faith made him believe that the reward of the brave in the other world would be to drink mead from the skulls of their fallen enemies.  In a drunken fit at Verona, he sent for Rosamond and made her pledge him in this horrible cup.  She had always hated him, and this made her revenge her father’s death by stabbing him to the heart in the year 573.  The Lombard power did not, however, fall with him; his nephew succeeded him, and ruled over the country we still call Lombardy.  Rome was not taken by them, but was still in name belonging to the Emperor, though he had little power there, and the Senate governed it in name, with all the old magistrates.  The Praetor at the time the Lombards arrived was a man of one of the old noble families, Anicius Gregorius, or, as we have learned to call him, Gregory.  He had always been a good and pious man, and while he took great care to fulfil all the duties of his office, his mind was more and more drawn away from the world, till at last he became a monk of St. Benedict, gave all his vast wealth to build and endow monasteries and hospitals, and lived himself in an hospital for beggars, nursing them, studying the Holy Scriptures, and living only on pulse, which his mother sent him every day in a silver dish—­the only remnant of his wealth—­till one day, having nothing else to give a shipwrecked sailor who asked alms, he bestowed it on him.

[Illustration:  POPE GREGORY THE GREAT.]

He was made one of the seven deacons who were called Cardinal Deacons, because they had charge of the poor of the principal parishes of Rome; and it was when going about on some errand of kindness that he saw the English slave children in the market, and planned the conversion of their country; but the people would not let him leave Rome, and in 590, the Senate, the clergy, and the people chose him Pope.  It was just then that a terrible pestilence fell on Rome, and he made the people form seven great processions—­of clergy, of monks, of nuns, of children, of men, of wives, and of widows—­all singing litanies to entreat that the plague might be turned away.  Then it was that he beheld an angel standing on the tomb of Hadrian, and the plague ceased.  Ever after, the great old tomb has been called the Castle of St. Angelo.

[Illustration:  THE POPE’S PULPIT.]

It was a troublous time, but Gregory was so much respected that he was able to keep Rome orderly and safe, and to make peace between the Emperor Maurice and the Lombards’ king, Agilulf, who had an excellent wife, Theodolinda.  She was a great friend of the Pope, wrote a letter to him, and did all she could to support him.  The Eastern Empire was still owned at Rome, but when there was an attempt to make out that the Patriarch of Constantinople was superior to the Pope, Gregory upheld the principle that no Patriarch had any right to be above the rest, nor to be called Universal Bishop.  Gregory was a very great man, and the justice and wisdom of his management did much to make the Romans look to their Pope as the head of affairs even after his death in 604.

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