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The Article of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, third edition 1788-1797

History, The Article of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, third edition 1788-1797
URL: <http://www.eliohs-unifi.it/testi/700/history3>
Html edition for ELIOHS by Silvia Sebastiani, sebastia@datacomm.iue.it and Mario Caricchio, caricchio@dada.it (December 1998)

General definition | Civil history | Ecclesiastical History | Composition of history | Historical Chart

SECT. I. Civil History. [561-578]

3. Civil History how divided

History, though seemingly incapable of any natural division, will yet be found, on a nearer inspection, to resolve itself into the following periods, at each of which a great revolution took place, either with regard to the whole world, or a very considerable part of it. 1. The creation of man. 2. The flood. 3. The beginning of profane history, i.e. when all the fabulous relations of heroes, demi gods, &c. were expelled from historical narrations, and men began to relate facts with some regard to truth and credibility. 4. The conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, and the destruction of the Babylonian empire. 5. The reign of Alexander the Great, and the overthrow of the Persian empire. 6. The destruction of Carthage by the Romans, when the latter had no longer any rival capable of opposing their designs. 7. The reign of the emperor Trajan, when the Roman empire was brought to its utmost extent. 8. The division of the empire under Constantine. 9. The destruction of the western empire by the Heruli, and the settlement of the different European nations. 10. The rise of Mahomet, and the conquests of the Saracens and Turks. 11. The crusades, and all the space intervening between that time and the present.

Concerning the number of years which have elapsed since the creation of the world, there have been many disputes. The compilers of the Universal History determine it to have taken place in the year 4305 B.C. so that, according to them, the world is now in the 6096th year of its age. Others think it was created only 4000 years B.C. so that it hath not yet attained its 6000th year. Be this as it will, however, the whole account of the creation rests on the truth of the Mosaic history; and which we must of necessity accept, because we can find no other which does not either abound with the grossest absurdities, or lead us into absolute darkness. The Chinese and Egyptian pretensions to antiquity are absurd and ridiculous, that the bare reading must be a sufficient confutation of them to every reasonable person. See the article China and Egypt. Some historians and philosophers are inclined to discredit the Mosaic accounts, from the appearances of volcanoes, and other natural phenomena: but their objections are by no means sufficient to invalidate the authority of the sacred writings; not to mention that every one of their own systems is liable to insuperable objections. See the article Earth. It is therefore reasonable for every person to accept the Mosaic account of the creation as truth: but an historian is under an absolute necessity of doing it, because, without it, he is quite destitute of any standard or scale by which he might reduce the chronology of different nations to any agreement; and, in short, without receiving this account as true, it would be in a manner impossible at this day to write a general history of the world.

4. Mosaic account of the creation the only probable one.


5. History from the creation to the flood.


1. The transactions during the first period, viz. from the creation to the flood, are very much unknown, nothing indeed being recorded of them but what is to be found in the first six chapters of Genesis. In general, we know, that men were not at that time in a savage state; they had made some progress in the arts, had invented music, and found out the method of working metals. They seem also to have lived in one vast community, without any of those divisions into different nations which have since taken place, and which evidently proceeded from the confusion of languages. The most material part of their history, however, is, that having once begun to transgress the divine commands, they proceeded to greater and greater lengths of wickedness, till at last the Deity thought proper to send a flood on the earth, which destroyed the whole human race except eight persons, viz. Noah and his family. This terrible catastrophe happened, according to the Hebrew copy of the Bible, 1656 years after [562] the creation; according to the Samaritan copy 1307. For the different conjectures concerning the natural causes of the flood, see the article Deluge.

6. From the flood to the beginning of profane history.


2. For the history of the second period we must again have recourse to the Scriptures, almost as much as for that of the first. We now find the human race reduced to eight persons possessed of nothing but what they had saved in the ark, and the whole world to be stored with animals from those which had been preserved along with these eight persons. In what country their original settlement was, no mention is made. The ark is supposed to have rested on Mount Ararat in Armenia*; but it is impossible to know whether Noah and his sons made any stay in the neighbourhood of this mountain or not. Certain it is, that, some time after, the whole or the greatest part of the human race were assembled in Babylonia, where they engaged in building a tower. This gave offence to the Deity; so that he punished them by confounding their language; whence the division of mankind into different nations.

* See Ararat.


7. Nations descended from Japhet.


According to the common opinion, Noah when dying left the whole world to his sons, giving Asia to Shem, Africa to Ham, and Europe to Japhet. But this hath not the least foundation in Scripture. By the most probable accounts, Gomer the son of Japhet was the father of the Gomerians or Celtes; that is, all the barbarous nations who inhabited the northern parts of Europe, under the various names of Gauls, Cimbrians, Goths, &c. and who also migrated into Spain, where they were called Celtiberians. From Magog, Meshech, and Tubal, three of Gomer’s brethren, proceeded the Scythians, Sarmatians, Tartars, and Moguls. The three other sons of Japhet, Madai, Javan, and Tiras, are said to have been the fathers of the Medes, the Ionians, Greeks, and Thracians.

8. From Shem.


The children of Shem were Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. The first settled in Persia, where he was the father of that mighty nation: The descendants of Ashur peopled Assyria (now Curdestan): Arphaxad settled in Chaldea. Lud is supposed by Josephus to have taken up this residence in Lydia; though this is much controverted. Aram, with more certainty, is thought to have settled in Mesopotamia and Syria.

9. From Ham.


The children of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan. The first is thought to have remained in Babylonia, and to have been king of the south-eastern parts of it, afterwards called Khuzestan. His descendants are supposed to have removed into the eastern parts of Arabia; from whence they by degrees migrated into the corresponding part of Africa. The second peopled Egypt, Ethiopia, Cyrenaica, Libya, and the rest of the northern parts of the same continent . The place where Phut settled is not known: but Canaan is universally allowed to have settled in Phœnicia; and to have founded those nations who inhabited Judea, and were afterwards exterminated by the Jews.
Almost all the countries of the world, at least of the eastern continent, being thus furnished with inhabitants, it is probable that for many years there would be few or no quarrels between the different nations. The paucity of their numbers, their distance from one another, and their diversity of language, would contribute to keep them from having much communication with each other. Hence, according to the different circumstances in which the different tribes were placed, some would be more civilized and others more barbarous. In this interval, also, the different nations probably acquired different characters, which afterwards they obstinately retained, and manifested on all occasions; hence the propensity of some nations to monarchy, as the Asiatics, and the enthusiastic desire of the Greeks for liberty and republicanism, &c.

10. Foundation of the Kingdoms of Babylonia, Assyria, &c.

The beginning of monarchical government was very early; Nimrod the son of Cush having found means to make himself king of Babylonia. In a short time Ashur emigrated from the new kingdom; built Nineveh, afterwards capital of the Assyrian empire; and two other cities called Rezen and Rehoboth, concerning the situation of which we are now much in the dark. Whether Ashur at this time set up as a king for himself, or whether he held these cities as vassal to Nimrod, is now unknown. It is probable, however, that about the same time various kingdoms were founded in different parts of the world; and which were great or small according to different circumstances. Thus the Scripture mentions the kings of Egypt, Gerar, Sodom, Gomorrha, &c. in the time of Abraham; and we may reasonably suppose, that these kings reigned over nations which had existed for some considerable time before.

11. Migration of the Israelites from Egypt.


The first considerable revolution we read of is the migration of the Israelites out of Egypt, and the establishment in the land of Canaan. For the history of these transactions we must refer to the Old Testament, where the reader will see that it was attended with the most terrible catastrophe to the Egyptians, and with the utter extermination of some nations, the descendants of Ham, who inhabited Judæa. Whether the overthrow of Pharaoh in the Red Sea could affect the Egyptian nation in such a manner as to deprive them of the greatest part of their former learning, and to keep them for some ages after in a barbarous state, is not easily determined; but unless this was the case, it seems exceedingly difficult to account for the total silence of their records concerning such a remarkable event, and indeed for the general confusion and uncertainty in which the early history of Egypt is involved. The settlement of the Jews in the promised land of Canaan, is supposed to have happened about 1491 B.C.

12. History of the Greeks.


For near 200 years after this period, we find no accounts of any other nations than those mentioned in Scripture. About 1280 B.C. the Greeks began to make other nations feel the effects of that enterprising and martial spirit for which they were so remarkable, and which they had undoubtedly exercised upon one another long before. Their first enterprise was an invasion of Colchis (now Mingrelia), for the sake of the golden fleece. Whatever was the nature of this expedition, it is probable they succeeded in it; and it is likewise probable, that it was this specimen of the riches of Asia which inclined them so much to Asian expeditions ever after. All this time we are totally in the dark about the state of Asia and Africa, except in so far as can be conjectured from Scripture. The ancient empires of Babylon, Assyria, and Persia, probably [563] still continued in the former continent, and Egypt and Ethiopia seem to have been considerable kingdoms in the latter.
About 1184 years B.C. the Greeks again distinguished themselves by their expedition against Troy, a city of Phrygia Minor; which they plundered and burnt, massacring the inhabitants with the most unrelenting cruelty. Æneas, a Trojan prince, escaped with some followers into Italy, where he became the remote founder of the Roman empire. At this time Greece was divided into a number of small principalities, most of which seem to have been in subjection to Agamemnon king of Mycenæ. In the reign of Atreus, the father of this Agamemnon, the Heraclidæ, or descendants of Hercules, who had been formerly banished by Eurystheus, were again obliged to leave this country. Under their champion Hyllus they claimed the kingdom of Mycenæ as their right, pretending that it belonged to their great ancestor Hercules, who was unjustly deprived of it by Eurystheus*. The controversy was decided by single combat; but Hyllus being killed, they departed, as had been before agreed, under a promise of not making any attempt to return for 50 years. About the time of the Trojan war, also, we find the Lydians, Mysians, and some other nations of Asia Minor, first mentioned in history. The names of the Greek states mentioned during this uncertain period, are, 1. Sicyon. 2. Leleg. 3. Messina. 4. Athens. 5. Crete. 6. Argos. 7. Sparta. 8. Pelasgia. 9. Thessaly. 10. Attica. 11. Phocis. 12. Locris. 13. Ozela. 14. Corinth. 15. Eleusina. 16. Elis. 17. Pilus. 18. Arcadia. 19. Egina. 20. Ithaca. 21. Cephalone. 22. Phthia. 23. Phocida. 24. Ephyra. 25. Eolia. 26. Thebes. 27. Calista. 28. Etolia. 29. Doloppa. 30. Oechalia. 31. Mycenæ. 32. Eubœa. 33. Mynia. 34. Doris. 35. Phera. 36. Iola. 37. Trachina. 38. Thrasprocia. 39. Myrmidonia. 40. Salamine. 41 Scyros. 42. Hyperia or Melité. 43. The Vulcanian isles. 44. Megara. 45. Epirus. 46. Achaia. 47. The Isles of the Egean Sea. Concerning many of these we know nothing besides their names: the most remarkable particulars concerning the rest may be found under their respective articles.


*See Hercules.


13. Of the Jews.


About 1048 B.C. the kingdom of Judea under king David approached its utmost extent of power. In its most flourishing condition, however, it never was remarkable for the largeness of its territory. In this respect it scarce exceeded the kingdom of Scotland; though, according to the accounts given in scripture, the magnificence of Solomon was superior to that of the most potent monarchs on earth. This extraordinary wealth was owing partly to the spoils amassed by king David in his conquests over his various enemies, and partly to the commerce with the East Indies which Solomon had established. Of this commerce he owed his share to the friendship of Hiram king of Tyre, a city of Phœnicia, whose inhabitants were now the most famed for commerce and skill in maritime affairs of any in the whole world.
After the death of Solomon, which happened about 975 B.C. the Jewish empire began to decline, and soon after many powerful states arose in different parts of the world. The disposition of mankind in general seems now to have taken a new turn, not easily accounted for. In former times, whatever wars might have taken place between neighbouring nations, we have no account of any extensive empire in the whole world, or that any prince undertook to reduce far distant nations to his subjection. The empire of Egypt indeed is said to have been extended immensely to the east, even before the days of Sesostris. Of this country, however, our accounts are so imperfect, that scarce any thing can be concluded from them. But now, as it were all at once, we find almost every nation aiming at universal monarchy, and refusing to set any bounds whatever to its ambition. The first shock given to the Jewish grandeur was the division of the kingdom into two through the imprudence of Rehoboam. This rendered it more easily a prey to Shishak king of Egypt; who five years after came and pillaged Jerusalem, and all the fortified cities of the kingdom of Judah. The commerce to the East Indies was now discontinued, and consequently the sources of wealth in a great measure stopped; and this, added to the perpetual wars between the kings of Israel and Judah, contributed to that remarkable and speedy decline which is now so easily to be observed in the Jewish affairs.
Whether this king Shishak was the Sesostris of profane writers or not, his expedition against Jerusalem as recorded in scripture seems very much to resemble the desultory conquests ascribed to Sesostris. His infantry is said to have been innumerable, composed of different African nations; and his cavalry 60,000, with 1200 chariots; which agrees pretty well with the mighty armament ascribed to Sesostris, and of which an account is given under the article Egypt, n° 2. There indeed his cavalry are said to have been only 24,000; but the number of his chariots are increased to 27,000; which last may not unreasonably be reckoned an exaggeration, and these supernumerary chariots may have been only cavalry: but unless we allow Sesostris to be the same with Shishak, it seems impossible to fix on any other king of Egypt that can be supposed to have undertaken this expedition in the days of Solomon.

Though the Jews obtained a temporary deliverance from Shishak, they were quickly after attacked by new enemies. In 941 B.C. one Zerah an Ethiopian invaded Judæa with an army of a million of infantry and 300 chariots; but was defeated with great slaughter by Asa king of Judah, who engaged him with an army of 580,000 men. About this time also we find the Syrians grown a considerable people, and bitter enemies both to the kings of Israel and Judah; aiming in fact at the conquest of both nations. Their kingdom commenced in the days of David, under Hadadezer, whose capital was Zobah, and who probably was at last obliged to become David’s tributary, after having been defeated by him in several engagements. Before the death of David, however, one Rezon, who it seems had rebelled against Hadadezer, having found means to make himself master of Damascus, erected there a new kingdom, which soon became very powerful. The Syrian princes being thus in the neighbourhood of the two rival states of Israel and Judah (whose capitals were Samaria and Jerusalem), found it an easy matter to weaken them both, by pretending to assist the one against the other; but a detail of the [564] transactions between the Jews and Syrians is only to be found in the Old Testament, to which we refer. In 740 B.C. however, the Syrian empire was totally destroyed by Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria; as was also the kingdom of Samaria by Shalmaneser his successor in 721. The people were either massacred, or carried into captivity into Media, Persia, and the countries about the Caspian Sea.

14. Of the Syrians.


15. Of the Western nations.


While the nations of the east were thus destroying each other, the foundations of very formidable empires were laid in the west, which in process of time were to swallow up almost all the eastern ones. In Africa, Carthage was founded by a Tyrian colony, about 869 B.C. according to those who ascribe the highest antiquity to that city; but, according to others, it was founded only in 769 or 770 B.C. In Europe a very considerable revolution took place about 900 B.C. The Heraclidæ, whom we have formerly seen expelled from Greece by Atreus the father of Agamemnon, after several unsuccessful attempts, at last conquered the whole Peloponnesus. From this time the Grecian states became more civilized, and their history becomes less obscure. The institution, or rather the revival and continuance, of the Olympic games, in 776 B.C. also greatly facilitated the writing not only of their history, but that of other nations; for as each Olympiad consisted of four years, the chronology of every important event became indubitably fixed by referring it to such and such an Olympiad. In 748 B.C. or the last year of the seventh Olympiad, the foundations of the city of Rome were laid by Romulus; and, 43 years after, the Spartan state was new-modelled, and received from Lycurgus those laws, by observing of which it afterwards arrived at such a pitch of splendor.

16. State of the world at the beginning of the third general period.


3. With the beginning of the 28th Olympiad, or 568 B.C. commences the third general period above-mentioned, when profane history becomes somewhat more clear, and the relations concerning the different nations may be depended upon with some degree of certainty. The general state of the world was at that time as follows. - The northern parts of Europe were either thinly inhabited, or filled with unknown and barbarous nations, the ancestors of those who afterwards destroyed the Roman empire. France and Spain were inhabited by the Gomerians or Celtes. Italy was divided into a number of petty states, arising partly from Gaulish and partly from Grecian colonies; among whom the Romans had already become formidable. They were governed by their king Servius Tullius; had increased their city by the demolition of Alba Longa, and the removal of its inhabitants to Rome; and had enlarged their dominions by several cities taken from their neighbours. Greece was also divided into a number of small states, among which the Athenians and Spartans, being the most remarkable, were rivals to each other. The former had, about 599 B.C. received an excellent legislation from Solon, and were enriching themselves by navigation and commerce: the latter were become formidable by the martial institutions of Lycurgus; and having conquered Messina, and added its territory to their own, were justly esteemed the most powerful people in Greece. The other states of most consideration were Corinth, Thebes, Argos, and Arcadia. - In Asia great revolutions had taken place. The ancient kingdom of Assyria was destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians, its capital city Nineveh utterly ruined, and the greatest part of its inhabitants carried to Babylon. Nay, the very materials of which it was built were carried off, to adorn and give strength to that stately metropolis, which was then undoubtedly the first city in the world. Nebuchadnezzar, a wise and valiant prince, now sat on the throne of Babylon. By him the kingdom of Judæa was totally overthrown in 587 B.C. Three years before this he had taken and razed the city of Tyre, and over-run all the kingdom of Egypt. He is even said by Josephus to have conquered Spain, and reigned there nine years, after which he abandoned it to the Carthaginians; but this seems by no means probable. The extent of the Babylonian empire is not certainly known: but from what is recorded of it we may conclude, that it was not at all inferior even in this respect to any that ever existed; as the scripture tells us it was superior in wealth to any of the succeeding ones. We know that it comprehended Phœnicia, Palestine, Syria, Babylonia, Media, and Persia, and not improbably India also; and from a consideration of this vast extent of territory, and the riches with which every one of these countries abounded, we may form an idea of the wealth and power of this monarch. When we consider also, that the whole strength of this mighty empire was employed in beautifying the metropolis, we cannot look upon the wonders of that city as related by Herodotus to be at all incredible. See Babylon, and Architecture, n° 13. As to what passed in the republic of Carthage about this time, we are quite in the dark; there being a chasm in its history for no less than 300 years.

17. Fourth period. History of the Babylonian empire.


4. The fourth general period of history, namely, from the end of the fabulous times to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, is very short, including no more than 31 years. This sudden revolution was occasioned by the misconduct of Evil-merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, even in his father’s life-time. For having, in a great hunting match on occasion of his marriage, entered the country of the Medes, and some of his troops coming up at the same time to relieve the garrisons in those places, he joined them to those already with him, and without the least provocation began to plunder and lay waste the neighbouring country. This produced an immediate revolt, which quickly extended over all Media and Persia. The Medes, headed by Astyages and his son Cyaxares, drove back Evil-merodach and his party with great slaughter; nor doth it appear that they were afterwards reduced even by Nebuchadnezzar himself. The new empire continued daily to gather strength; and at last Cyrus, Astyages’s grandson, a prince of great prudence and valour, being made generalissimo of the Median and Persian forces, took Babylon itself in the year 538 B.C. as related under the article Babylon.

18. Of the Romans, Greeks, Lydians, and Persians.


During this period the Romans increased in power under the wise administration of their king Servius Tullius, who, though a pacific prince, rendered his people more formidable by a peace of 20 years than his predecessors had done by all their victories. The Greeks, even at this early period, began to interfere with the Persians, on account of the Ionians or Grecian colonies in Asia Minor. These had been subdued [565] by Crœsus king of Lydia about the year 562, the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s death. Whether the Lydians had been subdued by the Babylonish monarch or not, is not now to be ascertained; though it is very probable that they were either in subjection to him, or greatly awed by his power, as before his death nothing considerable was undertaken by them. It is indeed probable, that during the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar, spoken of by Daniel, the affairs of his kingdom would fall into confusion; and many of those princes whom he formerly retained in subjection would set up for themselves. Certain it is, however, that if the Babylonians did not regard Crœsus as their subject, they looked upon him to be a very faithful ally; insomuch that they celebrated an annual feast in commemoration of a victory obtained by him over the Scythians. After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Crœsus subdued many nations in Asia Minor, and among the rest the Ionians, as already related. They were, however, greatly attached to his government; for though they paid him tribute, and were obliged to furnish him with some forces in time of war, they were yet free from all kind of oppression. When Cyrus therefore was proceeding in his conquests of different parts of the Babylonish empire, before he proceeded to attack the capital, the Ionians refused to submit to him, though he offered them very advantageous terms. But soon after, Crœsus himself being defeated and taken prisoner, the Ionians sent ambassadors to Cyrus, offering to submit on the terms which had formerly been proposed. These terms were now refused; and the Ionians, being determined to resist, applied to the Spartans for aid. Though the Spartans at that time could not be prevailed upon to give their countrymen any assistance, they sent ambassadors to Cyrus with a threatening message; to which he returned a contemptuous answer, and then forced the Ionians to submit at discretion, five years before the taking of Babylon. Thus commenced the hatred between the Greeks and Persians; and thus we see, that in the two first great monarchies the seeds of their destruction were sown even before the monarchies themselves were established. For while Nebuchadnezzar was raising the Babylonish empire to its utmost height, his son was destroying what his father built up; and at the very time when Cyrus was establishing the Persian monarchy, by his ill-timed severity to the Greeks he made that warlike people his enemies, whom his successors were by no means able to resist, and who would probably have overcome Cyrus himself, had they united in order to attack him. The transactions of Africa during this period are almost entirely unknown; though we cannot doubt that the Carthaginians enriched themselves by means of their commerce, which enabled them afterwards to attain such a considerable share of power.

19. Fifth general period. History of the Jews, Babylonians, Egyptians, &c.


5. Cyrus having now become master of all the east, the Asiatic affairs continued for some time in a state of tranquillity. The Jews obtained leave to return to their own country, rebuild their temple, and again establish their worship, of all which an account is given in the sacred writings, though undoubtedly, they must have been in a state of dependence on the Persians from that time forward. Cambyses the successor of Cyrus added Egypt to his empire, which had either not submitted to Cyrus, or revolted soon after his death. He intended also to have subdued the Carthaginians; but as the Phœnicians refuted to supply him with ships to fight against their own countrymen, he was obliged to lay this design aside.
In 517 B.C. the Babylonians finding themselves grievously oppressed by their Persian masters, resolved to shake off the yoke, and set up for themselves. For this purpose, they took care to store their city with all manner of provisions; and when Darius Hystaspes, then king of Persia, advanced against them, they took the most barbarous method that can be imagined of preventing an unnecessary consumption of those provisions, which they had so carefully amassed. Having collected all the women, old men, and children, into one place, they strangled them without distinction, whether wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters; every one being allowed to save only the wife he liked best, and a maid servant to do the work of the house. This cruel policy did not avail them: their city was taken by treachery (for it was impossible to take it by force); after which the king caused the walls of it to be beat down from 200 to 50 cubits height, that their strength might no longer give encouragement to the inhabitants to revolt. Darius then turned his arms against the Scythians; but finding that expedition turn out both tedious and unprofitable, he directed his course eastward, and reduced all the country as far as the river Indus. In the mean time, the Ionians revolted; and being assisted by the Greeks, a war commenced between the two nations, which was not thoroughly extinguished but by the destruction of the Persian empire in 330 B.C. The Ionians, however, were for this time obliged to submit, after a war of six years; and were treated with great severity by the Persians. The conquest of Greece itself was then projected: but the expeditions for that purpose ended most unfortunately for the Persians, and encouraged the Greeks to make reprisals on them, in which they succeeded according to their utmost wishes; and had it only been possible for them to have agreed among themselves, the downfal of the Persian empire would have happened much sooner than it did. See Athens, Sparta, Macedon, and Persia.
In 459 B.C. the Egyptians made an attempt to recover their liberty, but were reduced after a war of six years. In 413 B.C. they revolted a second time: and being assisted by the Sidonians, drew upon the latter that terrible destruction foretold by the prophets; while they themselves were so thoroughly humbled, that they never after made any attempt to recover their liberty.

The year 403 B.C. proved remarkable for the revolt of Cyrus against his brother Artaxerxes Mnemon; in which, through his own rashness, he miscarried, and lost his life at the battle of Cunaxa, in the province of Babylon. Ten thousand Greek mercenaries, who served in his army, made their way back into Greece, though surrounded on all sides by the enemy, and in the heart of a hostile country. In this retreat they were commanded by Xenophon, who has received the highest praises on account of his conduct and military skill in bringing it to a happy conclusion. Two years after, the invasions of Agesilaus king of Sparta threatened the Persian empire with total destruction; from which, however, it was relieved by his being recalled in order [566] to defend his own country against the other Grecian states; and after this the Persian affairs continued in a more prosperous way till the time of Alexander.

20. Xenophon's retreat.


21. History of the Greeks.


During all this time, the volatile and giddy temper of the Greeks, together with their enthusiastic desire of romantic exploits, were preparing setters for themselves, which indeed seemed to be absolutely necessary to prevent them from destroying one another. A zeal for liberty was what they all pretended; but on every occasion it appeared, that this love of liberty was only a desire of dominion. No state in Greece could bear to see another equal to itself; and hence their perpetual contests for pre-eminence, which could not but weaken the whole body, and render them an easy prey to an ambitious and politic prince, who was capable of taking advantage of those divisions. Being all equally impatient of restraint, they never could bear to submit to any regular government; and hence their determinations were nothing but the decisions of a mere mob, of which they had afterwards almost constantly reason to repent. Hence also their base treatment of those eminent men whom they ought most to have honoured; as Miltiades, Aristides, Themistocles, Alcibiades, Socrates, Phocion, &c. The various transactions between the Grecian states, though they make a very considerable figure in particular history, make none at all in general sketch of the history of the world. We shall therefore only observe, that in 404 B.C. the Athenian power was in a manner totally broken by the taking of their city by the Spartans. In 370, that of the Spartans received a severe check from the Thebans at the battle of Leuctra; and eight years after was still further reduced by the battle of Mantinea. Epaminondas the great enemy of the Spartans was killed; but this only proved a more speedy means of a subjugating all the states to a foreign, and at that time despicable, power. The Macedonians, a barbarous nation, lying to the north of the states of Greece, were two years after the death of Epaminondas reduced to the lowest ebb by the Illyrians, another nation of barbarians in the neighbourhood. The king of Macedon being killed in an engagement, Philip his brother departed from Thebes, where he had studied the art of war under Epaminondas, in order to take possession of his kingdom. Being a man of great prudence and policy, he quickly settled his own affairs; vanquished the Illyrians; and being no stranger to the weakened situation of Greece, began almost immediately to meditate the conquest of it. The particulars of this enterprise are related under the article Macedon: here it is sufficient to take notice, that by first attacking those he was sure he could overcome, by corrupting those whom he thought it dangerous to attack, by sometimes pretending to assist one state and sometimes another, and by imposing upon all as best served his turn, he at last put it out of the power of the Greeks to make any resistance, at least such as could keep him from gaining his end. In 338 B.C. he procured himself to be elected general of the Amphictyons, or council of the Grecian states, under pretence of settling some troubles at that time in Greece; but having once obtained liberty to enter that country with an army, he quickly conceived the states that they must all submit to his will. He was opposed by the Athenians and Thebans; but the intestine wars of Greece had cut off all her great men, and no general was now to be found capable of opposing Philip with success.
The king of Macedon, being now master of all Greece, projected the conquest of Asia. To this he was encouraged by the ill success which had attended the Persians in their expeditions against Greece, the successes of the Greeks in their invasions, and the retreat of the ten thousand under Xenophon. All these events showed the weakness of the Persians, their vast inferiority to the Greeks in military skill, and how easily their empire might be overthrown by a proper union among the states.

22. Conquest of Persia by Alexander.


Philip was preparing to enter upon his grand design, when he was murdered by some assassins. His son Alexander was possessed of every quality necessary for the execution of so great a plan; and his impetuosity of temper made him execute it with a rapidity unheard of either before or since. It must be confessed, indeed, that the Persian empire was now ripe for destruction, and could not in all probability have withstood an enemy much less powerful than Alexander. The Asiatics have in all ages been much inferior to the European nations in valour and military skill. They were now sunk in luxury and effeminacy; and what was worse, they seem at this period to have been seized with that infatuation and distraction of councils which scarce ever fails to be a forerunner of the destruction of any nation. The Persian ministers persuaded their sovereign to reject the prudent advice that was given him, of distressing Alexander by laying waste the country, and thus forcing him to return for want of provisions. Nay, they even prevented him from engaging the enemy in the most proper manner, by dividing his forces; and persuaded him to put Charidemus the Athenian to death, who had promised with 100,000 men, of whom one third were mercenaries, to drive the Greeks out of Asia. In short, Alexander met with only two checks in his Persian expedition. The one was from the city of Tyre, which for seven months resisted his utmost efforts; the other was from Memnon the Rhodian, who had undertaken to invade Macedonia. The first of these obstacles Alexander at last got over, and treated the governor and inhabitants with the utmost cruelty. The other was scarce felt; for Memnon died after reducing some of the Grecian islands, and Darius had no other general capable of conducting the undertaking. The power of the Persian empire was totally broke by the victory gained over Darius at Arbela in 331 B.C. and next year a total end was put to it by the murder of the king by Bessus one of his subjects.

23. His conquest of other nations.


The ambition of Alexander was not to be satisfied with the possession of the kingdom of Persia, or indeed of any other on earth. Nothing less than the total subjection of the world itself seemed sufficient to him; and therefore he was now prompted to invade every country of which he could only learn the name, whether it had belonged to the Persians or not. In consequence of this disposition, he invaded and reduced Hyrcania, Bactria, Sogdia, and all that vast tract of country now called Bukharia. At last, having entered India, he reduced all the nations to the river Hyphasis, one of the branches of the Indus. But when he would have proceeded farther, and extended his conquests quite to the eastern extremities of Asia, his [567] troops positively refused to follow him farther, and he was constrained to return. In 323, this mighty conqueror died of a sever; without having time to settle the affairs of his vast extended empire, or even to name his successor.

24. History of the Romans.


While the Grecian empire thus suddenly sprung up in the east, the rival states of Rome and Carthage were making considerable advances in the west. The Romans were establishing their empire on the most solid foundations; to which their particular situation naturally contributed. Being originally little better than a parcel of lawless banditti, they were despised and hated by the neighbouring states. This soon produced wars; in which, at first from accidental circumstances, and afterwards from their superior valour and conduct, the Romans proved almost constantly victorious. The jealousies which prevailed among the Italian states, and their ignorance of their true interest, prevented them from combining against that aspiring nation, and crushing it in its infancy, which they might easily have done; while in the mean time the Romans, being kept in a state of continual warfare, became at last such expert soldiers, that no other state on earth could resist them. During the time of their kings they had made a very considerable figure among the Italian nations; but after their expulsion, and the commencement of the republic, their conquests became much more rapid and extensive. In 501 B.C. they subdued the Sabines; eight years after, the Latins; and in 399 the city of Veii, the strongest in Italy excepting Rome itself, was taken after a siege of ten years. But in the midst of their successes a sudden irruption of the Gauls had almost put an end to their power and nation at once. The city was burnt to the ground in 383 B.C. and the capitol on the point of being surprised, when the Gauls, who were climbing up the walls in the night, were accidentally discovered and repulsed*. In a short time Rome was rebuilt with much greater splendor than before, but now a general revolt and combination of the nations formerly subdued took place. The Romans, however, still got the better of their enemies; but, even at the time of the celebrated Camillus’s death, which happened about 352 B.C. their territories scarce extended six or seven leagues from the capital. The republic from the beginning was agitates by those dissension which at last proved its ruin. The people had been divided by Romulus into two classes, namely Patricians and Plebeians, answering to our nobility and commonalty. Between these two bodies were perpetual jealousies and contentions; which retarded the progress of the Roman conquests, and revived the hopes of the nations they had conquered. The tribunes of the people were perpetually opposing the consuls and military tribunes. The senate had often recourse to a dictator endowed with absolute power; and then the valour and experience of the Roman troops made them victorious; but the return of domestic seditions gave the subjugated nations an opportunity of shaking off the yoke. Thus had the Romans continued for near 400 years, running the same round of wars with the same enemies, and reaping very little advantage from their conquests, till at last matters were compounded by choosing one of the consuls from among the plebeians; and from this time chiefly we may date the prosperity of Rome, so that by the time that Alexander the Great died they were held in considerable estimation among foreign nations.

* See Rome.


25. Of the Carthaginians, and of Sicily.


The Carthaginians in the mean time continued to enrich themselves by commerce; but, being less conversant in military affairs, were by no means equal to the Romans in power, though they excelled them in wealth. A new state, however, makes its appearance during this period, which may be said to have taught the Carthaginians the art of war, and by bringing them into the neighbourhood of the Romans, proved the first source of contention between these two powerful nations. This was the island of Sicily. At what time people were first settled on it, is not now to be ascertained. The first inhabitants we read of were called Sicani, Siculi, Læstrigones, &c. but of these we know little or nothing. In the second year of the 17th Olympiad, or 710 B.C. some Greek colonies are said to have arrived on the island, and in a short time founded several cities, of which Syracuse was the chief. The Syracusans at last subdued the original inhabitants; though it doth not appear that the latter were ever well affected to their government, and therefore were on all occasions ready to revolt. The first considerable prince, or (as he is called by the Greeks) tyrant of Syracuse, was Gelon, who obtained the sovereignty about the year 483 B.C. At what time the Carthaginians first carried their arms into Sicily is not certainly known; only we are assured, that they possessed some part of the island as early as 505 B.C. For in the time of the first consuls, the Romans and Carthaginians entered into a treaty chiefly in regard to matters of navigation and commerce; by which it was stipulated, that the Romans who should touch at Sardinia, or that part of Sicily which belonged to Carthage, should be received there in the same manner as the Carthaginians themselves. Whence it appears, that the dominion of Carthage already extended over Sardinia and part of Sicily: but in 28 years after, they had been totally driven out by Gelon; which probably was the first exploit performed by him. This appears from his speech to the Athenian and Spartan ambassadors who desired his assistance against the forces of Xerxes king of Persia. The Carthaginians made many attempts to regain their possessions in this island, which occasioned long and bloody wars between them and the Greeks, as related under the articles Carthage and Sicily. This island also proved the scene of much slaughter and bloodshed in the wars of the Greeks with one another*. Before the year 323 B.C. however, the Carthaginians had made themselves masters of a very considerable part of the island; form whence all the power of the Greeks could not dislodge them. It is proper also to observe, that after the destruction of Tyre by Alexander the Great, almost all the commerce in the western part of the world fell to the share of the Carthaginians. Whether they had at this time made any settlements in Spain is not known. It is certain, that they traded to that country for the sake of the silver, in which it was very rich; as they probably also did to Britain for the tin with which it abounded.

* See Athens, and Sparta.


26. Sixth period. History of the Macedonian empire


6. The beginning of the sixth period presents us with a state of the world entirely different from the foregoing. We now behold all the eastern part of the world, from the confines of Italy to the river Indus, [568] and beyond it, newly united into one vast empire, and at the same time ready to fall to pieces for want of a proper head: the western world filled with fierce and savage nations, whom the rival republics of Carthage and Rome were preparing to enslave as fast as they could. The first remarkable events took place in the Macedonian empire. - Alexander, as already observed, had not distinctly named any successor; but he had left behind him a victorious, and, we may say, invincible army, commanded by most expert officers, all of them ambitious of supreme authority. It is not to be supposed that peace could long be preserved in such a situation. For a number of years, indeed, nothing was to be seen or heard of but the most horrid slaughters, and wickedness of every kind, until at last the mother, wives, children, brothers, and even sisters, of Alexander were cut off: not one of the family of that great conqueror being left alive. When matters were a little settled, four new empires, each of them of no small extent, had arisen out of the empire of Alexander. Cassander, the son of Antipater, had Macedonia, and all Greece; Antigonus, Asia Minor; Seleucus had Babylon, and the eastern provinces; and Ptolemy Lagus, Egypt, and western ones. One of these empires, however, quickly fell; Antigonus being defeated and killed by Seleucus and Lysimachus at the battle of Ipsus, in 301 B.C. The greatest part of his dominions, then fell to Seleucus; but several provinces took the opportunity of these confusions to shake off the Macedonian yoke altogether: and thus were formed the kingdoms of Pontus, Bithynia, Pergamus, Armenia, and Cappadocia. The two most powerful and permanent empires, however, were those of Syria founded by Seleucus, and Egypt by Ptolemy Lagus. The kings of Macedon, though they did not preserve the same authority over the Grecian states that Alexander, Antipater, and Cassander, had done, yet effectually prevented them from those outrages upon one another, for which they had formerly been so remarkable. Indeed, it is somewhat difficult to determine, whether their condition was better or worse than before they were conquered by Philip; since, though they were now prevented from destroying one another, they were most grievously oppressed by the Macedonian tyrants.

27. Of the Romans and Carthaginians.

While the eastern parts of the world were thus deluged with blood, and the successors of Alexander were pulling to pieces the empire which he had established, the Romans and Carthaginians proceeded in their attempts to enslave the nations of the west. The Romans, ever engaged in war, conquered one city and state after another, till about the year 253 B.C. they had made themselves masters of almost the whole of Italy. During all this time they had met only with a single check in their conquests, and that was the invasion of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. That ambitious and sickle prince had projected the conquest of Italy, which he fancied would be an easy matter. Accordingly, in 271 B.C. he entered that country, and maintained a war with the Romans for six years, till at last, being utterly defeated by Curius Dentatus, he was obliged to return.
The Romans had no sooner made themselves masters of Italy, than they wanted only a pretence to carry their arms out of it, and this pretence was soon found out. Being invited into Sicily to assist the Mamertines against Hiero king of Syracuse and Carthaginians, they immediately commenced a war with the latter, which continued with the utmost fury for 23 years. The war ended greatly to the disadvantage of the Carthaginians, chiefly owing to the bad conduct of their generals, none of whom, Hamilcar Barcas alone excepted, seem to have been possessed of any degree of military skill; and the state had suffered too many misfortunes before he entered upon the command, for him or any other to retrieve it at that time. The consequence of this war was the entire loss of Sicily to the Carthaginians; and soon after, the Romans seized on the island of Sardinia.
Hamilcar perceiving that there was now no alternative, but that in a short time either Carthage must conquer Rome, or Rome would conquer Carthage, bethought himself of a method by which his country might become equal to that haughty republic. This was by reducing all Spain, in which the Carthaginians had already considerable possessions, and from the mines of which they drew great advantages. He had, therefore, no sooner finished the war with the mercenaries, which succeeded that with the Romans, than he set about the conquest of Spain. This, however, he did not live to accomplish, though he made great progress in it. His son Asdrubal continued the war with success; till at last the Romans, jealous of his progress, persuaded him to enter into a treaty with them, by which he engaged himself to make the river Iberus the boundary of his conquests. This treaty probably was never ratified by the senate of Carthage, nor though it had, would it have been regarded by Hannibal, who succeeded Asdrubal in the command, and had sworn perpetual enmity with the Romans. The transactions of the second Punic war are perhaps the most remarkable which the history of the world can afford. Certain it is, that nothing can show more clearly the slight foundations upon which the greatest empires are built. We now see the Romans, the nation most remarkable for their military skill in the whole world, and who, for more than 500 years, had been constant victorious, unable to resist the efforts of one single man. At the same time we see this man, though evidently the first general in the world, lost solely for want of a slight support. In former times, the republic of Carthage supplied her generals in Sicily with hundreds of thousands, though their enterprizes were almost constantly unsuccessful; but now Hannibal, the conqueror of Italy, was obliged to abandon his design, merely for want of 20 or 30,000 men. That degeneracy and infatuation, which never fails to overwhelm a falling nation, or rather which is the cause of its fall, had now infected the counsels of Carthage, and the supplies were denied. Neither was Carthage the only infatuated nation at this time. - Hannibal, whose prudence never forsook him either in prosperity or adversity, in the height of his good fortune had concluded an alliance with Philip king of Macedon. Had that prince sent an army to the assistance of the Carthaginians in Italy immediately after the battle of Cannæ, there can be no doubt but the Romans would have been forced to accept of that [569] peace which they so haughtily refused*; and indeed, this offer of peace, in the midst of so much success, is an instance of moderation which perhaps does more honour to the Carthaginian general than all the military exploits he performed. Philip, however, could not be roused from his indolence, nor see that his own ruin was connected with that of Carthage. The Romans had now made themselves masters of Sicily: after which they recalled Marcellus, with his victorious army, to be employed against Hannibal; and the consequence at last was, that the Carthaginian armies, unsupported in Italy, could not conquer it, but were recalled into Africa, which the Romans had invaded. The southern nations seem to have been as blind to their own interest as the northern ones. They ought to have seen, that it was necessary for them to preserve Carthage from being destroyed; but instead of this, Masinissa king of Numidia allied with the Romans, and by his means Hannibal was overcome at the battle of Zama*, which finished the second Punic war, in 188 B.C.

* See Carthage, n° 125.

* See Zama

28. Of Egypt and Syria.


The event of the second Punic war determined the fate of almost all the other nations in the world. All this time, indeed, the empires of Egypt, Syria, and Greece, had been promoting their own ruin by mutual wars and intestine divisions. The Syrian empire was now governed by Antiochus the Great, who seems to have had little right to such a title. His empire, though diminished by the defection of the Parthians, was still very powerful; and to him Hannibal applied, after he was obliged to leave his country, as related under Carthage, n° 152. Antiochus, however, had no sufficient judgement to see the necessity of following that great man’s advice; nor would the Carthaginians be prevailed upon to contribute their assistance against the nation which was soon to destroy them without any provocation. The pretence for war on the part of the Romans was, that Antiochus would not declare his Greek subjects in Asia to be free and independent states; a requisition which neither the Romans nor any other nation had a right to make. The event of all was, that Antiochus was everywhere defeated, and forced to conclude a peace upon very disadvantageous terms.

29. Of Greece.


In Europe, matters went on in the same way; the states of Greece, weary of the tyranny of the Macedonians, entered into a resolution of recovering their liberties. For this purpose was framed the Achæan League*; but as they could not agree among themselves, they at last came to the imprudent determination of calling in the Romans to defend them against Philip king of Macedon. This produced a war, in which the Romans were victorious. The Macedonians, however, were still formidable; and as the intention of the Romans to enslave the whole world could no longer be doubted, Perseus, the successor of Philip, renewed the war. Through his own cowardice he lost a decisive engagement, and with it his kingdom, which submitted to the Romans in 167 B.C.

* See Greece.


30. Destruction of Carthage and Corinth.


Macedon being thus conquered, the next step was utterly to exterminate the Carthaginians; whose republic, notwithstanding the many disasters that had befallen it, was still formidable. It is true, the Carthaginians were giving no offence; nay, they even made the most abject submissions to the republic of Rome: but all was not sufficient. War was declared a third time against that unfortunate state; there was now no Hannibal to command their armies, and the city was utterly destroyed 146 B.C. The same year the Romans put an end to the liberties they had pretended to grant the cities of Greece, by the entire destruction of Corinth. See that article.

31. History of Egypt, Syria, and Judæ.


After the death of Antiochus the Great, the affairs of Syrian and Egypt went on from bad to worse. The degenerate princes which filled the thrones of those empires, regarding only their own pleasures, either spent their time in oppressing their subjects, or in attempting to deprive each other of their dominions, by which means they became a more easy prey to the Romans. So far indeed were they from taking any means to secure themselves against the overgrown power of that republic, that the kings both of Syria and Egypt sometimes applied to the Romans as protectors. Their downfal, however, did not happen within the period of which we now tract. - The only other transaction which makes any considerable figure in the Syrian empire is the oppression of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes. After their return from the Babylonish captivity, they continued in subjection to the Persians till the time of Alexander. - From that time they were subject to the kings of Egypt or Syria, as the fortune of either happened to prevail. Egypt being reduced to a low ebb by Antiochus Epiphanes, the Jews fell under his dominion; and being severely treated by him, imprudently showed some signs of joy on a report of his death. This brought him against them with a powerful army; and in 170 B.C. he took Jerusalem by storm, committing the most horrid cruelties on the inhabitants, insomuch that they were obliged to hide themselves in caverns and in holes of rocks to avoid his fury. Their religion was totally abolished, their temple profaned, and an image of Jupiter Olympius set up on the altar of burnt-offerings: which profanation is thought to be the abomination of desolation mentioned by the prophet Daniel. This revolution, however, was of no long continuance. In 167 B.C. Mattathias restored the true worship in most of the cities of Judea; and in 168 the temple was purified, and the worship there restored by Judas Maccabæus. This was followed by a long series of wars between the Syrians and Jews, in which the latter were almost always victorious; and before these wars were finished, the destruction of Carthage happened, which puts an end to the sixth general period formerly mentioned.

32. Seventh period. General state of the world.


7. The beginning of the seventh period presents us with a view of the ruins of the Greek empire in the declining states of Syria and Egypt; both of them much circumscribed in bounds. The empire of Syria at first comprehended all Asia to the river Indus, and beyond it; but in 312 B.C. most of the Indian provinces were by Seleucus ceded to one Sandrocottus, or Androcottus, a native, who in return gave him 500 elephants. Of the empire of Sandrocottus we know nothing farther than that he subdued all the countries between the Indus and the Ganges; so that from this time we may reckon the greatest part of India independent on the Syro Macedonian princes. In 250 B.C. however, the empire sustained a much greater [570] loss by the revolt of the Parthians and Bactrians from Antiochus Theus. The former could not be subdued; and as they held in subjection to them the vast tract which now goes under the name of Persia, we must look upon their defection as an irreparable loss. Whether any part of their country was afterwards recovered by the kings of Egypt or Syria, is not very certain; nor is it of much consequence, since we are assured that in the beginning of the seventh period, i.e. 146 B.C. the Greek empires of Syria and Egypt were reduced by the loss of India, Persia, Armenia, Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamus, &c. The general state of the world in 146 B.C. therefore was as follows. In Asia were the empires of India, Parthia, and Syria, with the lesser states of Armenia, Pontus, &c. above-mentioned; to which we must add that of Arabia, which during the sixth period had grown into some consequence, and had maintained its independency from the days of Ishmael the son of Abraham. In Africa were the kingdoms of Egypt and Ethiopia; the Carthaginian territories, now subject to the Romans; and the kingdoms of Numidia, Mauritania, and Getulia, ready to be swallowed up by the same ambitious and insatiable power, now that Carthage was destroyed, which served as a barrier against it. To the south lay some unknown and barbarous nations, secure by reason of their situation and insignificance, rather than their strength, or distance from Rome. In Europe we find none to oppose the progress of the Roman arms, except the Gauls, Germans, and some Spanish nations. These were brave indeed; but through want of military skill, incapable of contending with such masters in the art of war as the Romans then were.

33. Conquests of the Romans.


The Spaniards had indeed been subdued by Scipio Africanus in the time of the second Punic war: but in 155 B.C. they revolted; and, under the conduct of one Viriathus, formerly a robber, held out for a long time against all the armies the Romans could send into Spain. Him the Consul Cæpio caused to be murdered about 138 B.C. because he found it impossible to reduce him by force. The city of Numantia defied the whole Roman power for six years longer; till at last, by dint of treachery, numbers, and perseverance it was not taken, but the inhabitants, reduced to extremity by famine, set fire to their houses, and perished in the flames or killed one another, so that not one remained to grace the triumph of the conqueror: and this for the present quieted the rest of the Spaniards. About the same time Attalus, king of Pergamus, left by will the Roman people heirs to all his goods; upon which they immediately seized on his kingdom as part of those goods, and reduced it to a Roman province, under the name of Asia Proper. Thus they continued to enlarge their dominions on every side, without the least regard to justice, to the means they employed, or to the miseries they brought upon the conquered people. In 122 B.C. the Balearic islands, now called Majorca, Minorca, and Ivica, were subdued, and the inhabitants exterminated; and soon after, several of the nations beyond the Alps were obliged to submit.
In Africa the crimes of Jugurtha soon gave this ambitious republic an opportunity of conquering the kingdoms of Numidia and Mauritania: and indeed this is almost the only war in which we find the Romans engaged where their pretensions had the least colour of justice; though in no case whatever could a nation show more degeneracy than the Romans did on this occasion. The particulars of this war are related under the articles Numidia and Rome. The event of it was the total reduction of the former about the year 105 B.C. but Mauritania and Getulia preserved their liberty for some time longer.
In the east, the empire of Syria continued daily to decline; by which means the Jews not only had an opportunity of recovering their liberty, but even of becoming as powerful, or at least of extending their dominions as far, as in the days of David and Solomon. This declining empire was still farther reduced by the civil dissensions between the two brothers Antiochus Grypus and Antiochus Cyzicenus; during which the cities of Tyre, Sidon, Ptolemais, and Gaza, declared themselves independent, and in other cities tyrants started up who refused allegiance to any foreign power. This happened about 100 B.C.; and 17 years after, the whole was reduced by Tigranes king of Armenia. On his defeat by the Romans, the latter reduced Syria to a province of their empire. The kingdom of Armenia itself, with those of Pontus, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, soon shared the same fate; Pontus, the most powerful of them all, being subdued about 64 B.C. The kingdom of Judea also was reduced under the same power much about this time. This state owed the loss of its liberty to the same cause that had ruined several others, namely, calling in the Romans as arbitrators between two contending parties. The two sons of Alexander Jannæus (Hyrcanus and Aristobulus) contended for the kingdom. Aristobulus, being defeated by the party of Hyrcanus, applied to the Romans. Pompey the Great, who acted as ultimate judge in this affair, decided it against Aristobulus, but at the same time deprived Hyrcanus of all power as a king; not allowing him even to assume the regal title, or to extend his territory beyond the ancient borders of Judea. To such a length did Pompey carry this last article, that he obliged him to give up all those cities in Cœlosyria and Phœnicia which had been gained by his predecessors, and added them to the newly acquired Roman province of Syria.
Thus the Romans became masters of all the eastern parts of the world, from the Mediterranean sea to the borders of Parthia. In the west, however, the Gauls were still at liberty, and the Spanish nations bore the Roman yoke with great impatience. The Gauls infested the territories of the republic by their frequent incursions, which were sometimes very terrible; and tho’ several attempts had been made to subdue them, they always proved insufficient till the time of Julius Cæsar. By him they were totally reduced, from the river Rhine to the Pyrenæan mountains and many of their nations almost exterminated. He carried his arms also into Germany and the southern parts of Britain; but in neither of these parts did he make any permanent conquests. The civil wars between him and Pompey gave him an opportunity of seizing on the kingdom of Mauritania and those parts of Numidia which had been allowed to retain their liberty. The kingdom of Egypt alone remained, and to this [571] nothing belonged except the country properly so called. Cyrenaica was bequeathed by will to the Romans about 58 B.C.; and about the same time the island of Cyprus was seized by them without any pretence, except a desire of possessing the treasure of the king. - The kingdom of Egypt continued for some time longer at liberty; which in some measure must be ascribed to the internal dissensions of the republic, but more especially to the amours of Pompey, Julius Cæsar, and Marc Antony, with the famous Cleopatra queen of Egypt. The battle of Actium, however, determined the fate of Antony, Cleopatra, and Egypt itself; which last was reduced to a Roman province about 9 B.C.

34. Origin and progress of the civil wars in Rome.


While the Romans thus employed all means to reduce the world to their obedience, they were making one another feel the same miseries at home which they inflicted upon other nations abroad. The first civil dissensions took their rise at the siege of Numantia in Spain. We have already observed, that this small city resisted the whole power of the Romans for six years. Once they gave them a most terrible and shameful defeat, wherein 30,000 Romans fled before 4000 Numantines. Twenty thousand were killed in the battle, and the remaining ten thousand so shut up, that there was no possibility of escaping. In this extremity they were obliged to negociate with the enemy, and a peace was concluded upon the following terms: 1. That the Numantines should suffer the Romans to retire unmolested; and, 2. That Numantia should maintain its independence, and be reckoned among the Roman allies. - The Roman senate, with an injustice and ingratitude hardly to be matched, broke this treaty, and in return ordered the commander of their army to be delivered up to the Numantines: but they refused to accept of him, unless his army was delivered along with him; upon which the war was renewed, and ended as already related. The fate of Numantia, however, was soon revenged. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, brother-in-law to Scipio Africanus the second, had been a chief promoter of the peace with the Numantines already mentioned, and of consequence had been in danger of being delivered up to them along with the commander in chief. This disgrace he never forgot; and, in order to revenge himself, undertook the cause of the Plebeians against the Patricians, by whom the former were greatly oppressed. He began with reviving an old law, which had enacted that no Roman citizens should possess more than 500 acres of land. The overplus he designed to distribute among those who had no lands, and to reimburse the rich out of the public treasury. This law met with great opposition, bred many tumults, and at last ended in the death of Gracchus and the persecution of his friends, several hundreds of whom were put to cruel deaths without any form of law.
The disturbances did not cease with the death of Gracchus. New contests ensued on account of the Sempronian law, and the giving to the Italian allies the privilege of Roman citizens. This last not only produced great commotions in the city, but occasioned a general revolt of the states of Italy against the republic of Rome. This rebellion was not quelled without the utmost difficulty: and in the mean time, the city was deluged with blood by the contending factions of Sylla and Marius; the former of whom sided with the patricians, and the latter with the plebeians. These disturbances ended in the perpetual dictatorship of Sylla, about 80 B.C.
From this time we may date the loss of the Roman liberty; for though Sylla resigned his dictatorship two years after, the succeeding contests between Cæsar and Pompey proved equally fatal to the republic. These contests were decided by the battle of Pharsalia, by which Cæsar became in effect master of the empire in 43 B.C. Without loss of time he then crossed over into Africa; totally defeated the republican army in that continent; and, by reducing the country of Mauritania to a Roman province, completed the Roman conquests in these parts. His victory over the sons of Pompey at Munda 40 B.C. secured him from any further apprehensions of a rival. Being therefore sole master of the Roman empire, and having all the power of it at his command, he projected the greatest schemes; tending, according to some, not less to the happiness than to the glory of his country: when he was assassinated in the senate-house, in the 56th year of his age, and 39 B.C.


Without investigating the political justice of this action, or the motives of the perpetrators, it is impossible not to regret the death of this great man, when we contemplate his virtues, and the designs which he is said to have formed: (See Rome). Nor is it possible to left, from ingratitude at least, even the most virtuous of the conspirators, when we consider the obligations under which they lay to him. And as to the measure itself, even in the view of expediency, it seems to be generally condemned. In fact, from the transactions which had long preceded, as well as those which immediately followed, the murder of Cæsar, it is evident, that Rome was incapable of preserving its liberty any longer, and that the people had become unfit for being free. The efforts of Brutus and Cassius were therefore unsuccessful, and ended in their own destruction and that of great numbers of their followers in the battle of Philippi.



35. Octavianus puts an end to the republic.

The defeat of the republicans was followed by numberless disturbances, murders, proscriptions, &c. till at last Octavianus, having cut off all who had the courage to oppose him, and finally got the better of his rivals by the victory at Actium, put an end to the republic in the year 27 B.C.
The destruction of the Roman commonwealth proved advantageous to the few nations of the world who still retained their liberty. That outrageous desire of conquest, which had so long marked the Roman character, now in a great measure ceased; because there was now another way of satisfying the desires of ambitious men, namely, by courting the favour of the emperor. After the final reduction of the Spaniards, therefore, and the conquest of the countries of Mæsia, Pannonia, and some others adjacent to the Roman territories, and which in a manner seemed naturally to belong to them, the empire enjoyed for some time a profound peace.
The only remarkable transactions which took place during the remainder of the period of which we treat, were the conquest of Britain by Claudius and Agricola, and the destruction of Jerusalem by Vespasian and Titus. The war with the Jews began A.D. 67; and [572] was occasioned by their obstinately claiming the city of Cæsarea, which the Romans had added to the province of Syria. It ended in 73, with the most terrible destruction of their city and nation; since which time they have never been able to assemble as a distinct people. The southern parts of Britain were totally subdued by Agricola about ten years after.
In the 98th year of the Christian era, Trajan was created emperor of Rome; and being a man of great valour and experience in war, carried the Roman conquests to their utmost extent. Having conquered the Dacians, a German nation beyond the Danube, and who had of late been very troublesome, he turned his arms eastward; reduced all Mesopotamia, Chaldæa, Assyria; and having taken Ctesiphon, the capital of the Parthian empire, appointed them a king, which he thought would be a proper method of keeping that warlike people in subjection. After this he proposed to return to Italy, but died by the way; and with his reign the seventh general period above-mentioned is concluded.

36. Eighth period. General state of the world.


8. The beginning of the eighth period presents us with a view of one vast empire, in which almost all the nations of the world were swallowed up. This empire comprehended the best part of Britain, all Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, part of Germany, Egypt, Barbary, Bildulgerid, Turkey in Europe, Turkey in Asia, and Persia. The state of India at this time is unknown. The Chinese lived in a remote part of the world, unheard of and unmolested by the western nations who struggled for the empire of the world. The northern parts of Europe and Asia were filled with barbarous nations, already formidable to the Romans, and who were soon to become more so. The vast empire of the Romans, however, had no sooner attained its utmost degree of power, than, like others before it, it began to decline. The provinces of Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and Assiria, almost instantly revolted, and were abandoned by Adrian the successor of Trajan in the empire. The Parthians having recovered their liberty, continued to be very formidable enemies, and the barbarians of the northern parts of Europe continued to increase in strength; while the Romans, weakened by intestine divisions, became daily less able to resist them. At different times, however, some warlike emperors arose, who put a stop to the incursions of these barbarians; and about the year 215, the Parthian empire was totally overthrown by the Persians, who had long been subject to them. This revolution proved of little advantage to the Romans. The Persians were enemies still more troublesome than the Parthians had been; and though often defeated, they still continued to infest the empire on the east, as the barbarous nations of Europe did on the north. In 260, the defeat and captivity of the emperor Valerian by the Parsians, with the disturbances which followed, threatened the empire with utter destruction. Thirty tyrants seized the government at once, and the barbarians pouring in on all sides in prodigious numbers ravaged almost all the provinces of the empire. By the vigorous conduct of Claudius, Aurelian, Tacitus, Probus, and Carus, the empire was restored to its former lustre; but as the barbarians were only repulsed, and never thoroughly subdued, this proved only a temporary relief. What was worse, the Roman soldiers, grown impatient of restraint, commonly murdered those emperors who attempted to revive among them the ancient military discipline which alone could ensure the victory over their enemies. Under Dioclesian, the disorders were so great, that though the government was held by two persons, they found themselves unable to bear the weight of it, and therefore took other two partners in the empire. Thus was the Roman empire divided into four parts; which by all historians is said to have been productive of the greatest mischiefs. As each of the four sovereigns would have as many officers both civil and military, and the same number of forces that had been maintained by the state when governed only by one emperor, the people were not able to pay the sums necessary for supporting them. Hence the taxes and imposts were increased beyond measure, the inhabitants in several provinces reduced to beggary, the land left untilled for want of hands, &c. An end was put to these evils when the empire was again united under Constantine the Great; but in 330 a mortal blow was given to it, by removing the imperial seat to Byzantium, now Constantinople, and making it equal to Rome. The introduction and establishment of Christianity, already corrupted with the grossest superstitions, proved also a most grievous detriment to the empire. Instead of that ferocious and obstinate valour in which the Romans had so long been accustomed to put their trust, they now imagined themselves secured by signs of the cross, and other external symbols of the Christian religion. These they used as a kind of magical incantations, which undoubtedly proved at all times ineffectual; and hence also in some measure proceeded the great revolution which took place in the next period.

37. Ninth period. Destruction of the Western empire.


9. The ninth general period shows us the decline and miserable end of the western part of the Roman empire. We see that mighty empire, which formerly occupied almost the whole world, now weakened by division, and surrounded by enemies. On the east, the Persians; on the north, the Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, and a multitude of other barbarous nations, watched all occasions to break into it; and miscarried in their attempts, rather through their own barbarity, than the strength of their enemies. The devastations committed by those barbarians when they made their incursions are incredible, and the relation shocking to human nature. Some authors seem much inclined to favour them; and even insinuate, that barbarity and ignorant ferocity were their chief if not their only faults: but from their history it plainly appears, that not only barbarity and the most shocking cruelty, but the highest degrees of avarice, perfidy, and disregard to the most solemn promises, were to be numbered among their vices. It was ever a sufficient reason for them to make an attack, that they thought their enemies could not resist them. Their only reason for making peace, or for keeping it, was because their enemies were too strong; and their only reason for committing the most horrid massacres, rapes and all manner of crimes, was because they had gained a victory. The Romans, degenerate as they were, are yet to be esteemed much better than these savages; and therefore we find not a single province of the empire that would submit to the barbarians while the Romans could possibly defend them.
Some of the Roman emperors indeed withstood this inundation of savages; but as the latter grew daily [573] more numerous, and the Romans continued to weaken themselves by their intestine divisions, they were at last obliged to take large bodies of barbarians into their pay, and teach them their military discipline, in order to drive away their countrymen, or others who invaded the empire. This at last proved its total destruction; for, in 476, the barbarians who served in the Roman armies, and were dignified with the title of allies, demanded the third part of the lands of Italy as a reward for their services: but meeting with a refusal, they revolted, and made themselves masters of the whole country, and of Rome itself, which from that time ceased to be the head of an empire of any consequence.

38. General state of the world.


This period exhibits a most unfavourable view of the western parts of the world. The Romans, from the height of grandeur, sunk to the lowest slavery, nay, in all probability, almost exterminated; the provinces they formerly governed, inhabited by human beings scarce a degree above the brutes; every art and science lost; and the savage conquerors even in danger of starving for want of a sufficient knowledge of agriculture, having now no means of supplying themselves by plunder and robbery as before. Britain had long been abandoned to the mercy of the Scots and Picts; and in 450 the inhabitants had called in the Saxons to their assistance, whom they soon found worse enemies than those against whom they had implored their aid. Spain was held by the Goths and Suevians; Africa (that is, Barbary and Bildulgerid) by the Vandals; the Burgundians, Goths, Franks, and Alans, had erected several small states in Gaul; and Italy was subjected to the Heruli under Odoacer, who had taken upon him the title of king of Italy. In the east, indeed, matters wore an aspect somewhat more agreeable. The Roman empire continued to live in that of Constantinople, which was still very extensive. It comprehended all Asia Minor and Syria, as far as Persia; in Africa, the kingdom of Egypt; and Greece in Europe. The Persians were powerful, and rivalled the emperors of Constantinople; and beyond them lay the Indians, Chinese, and other nations, who, unheard of by the inhabitants of the more western parts, enjoyed peace and liberty.
The Constantinopolitan empire continued to decline by reason of its continual wars with the Persians, Bulgarians, and other barbarous nations; to which also superstition and relaxation of military discipline largely contributed. The Persian empire also declined from the same causes, together with the intestine broils from which it was seldom free more than that of Constantinople. The history of the eastern part of the world during this period, therefore, consists only of the wars between these two great empires, of which an account is given under the articles Constantinople and Persia; and which were productive of no other consequence than that of weakening them both, and making them a more easy prey to those enemies who were now as it were in embryo, but shortly about to erect an empire almost as extensive as that of the Greeks or Romans.

39. History of Italy.


Among the western nations, the revolutions, as might naturally be expected from the character of the people, succeeded one another with rapidity. The Heruli under Odoacer were driven out by the Goths under Theodoric. The Goths were expelled by the Romans; and, while the two parties were contending, both were attacked by the Franks, who carried off an immense booty. The Romans were in their turn expelled by the Goths: the Franks again invaded Italy, and made themselves masters of the province of Venetia; but at last the superior fortune of the emperor of Constantinople prevailed, and the Goths were finally subdued in 553. Narses, the conqueror of the Goths, governed Italy as a province of the eastern empire till the year 568, when Longinus his successor made considerable alterations. The Italian provinces had ever since the time of Constantine the Great been governed by consulares, correctores, and præsides; no alteration having been made either by the Roman emperors or the Gothic kings. But Longinus, being invested with absolute power by Justinian, suppressed those magistrates; and, instead of them, placed in each city of note a governor, whom he distinguished with the title of duke. The city of Rome was not more honoured than any other; for Longinus, having abolished the very name of senate and consuls, appointed a duke of Rome as well as of other cities. To himself he assumed the title of exarch; and, residing at Ravenna, his government was styled the exarchate of Ravenna. But while he was establishing this new empire, the greatest part of Italy was conquered by the Lombards.

40. Of France.


In France a considerable revolution also took place. In 487, Clovis, the founder of the present French monarchy, possessed himself of all the countries lying between the Rhine and the Loire. By force or treachery, he conquered all the petty kingdoms which had been erected in that country. His dominions had been divided, reunited, and divided again; and were on the point of being united a second time, when the great impostor Mahomet began to make a figure in the world.

41. Of Spain.


In Spain, the Visigoths erected a kingdom ten years before the conquest of Rome by the Heruli. This kingdom they had extended eastward, about the same time that Clovis was extending his conquests to the west; so that he two kingdoms met at the river Loire. The consequence of this approach of such barbarous conquerors towards each other was an immediate war. Clovis proved victorious, and subdued great part of the country of the Visigoths, which put a final stop to their conquests on that side.
Another kingdom had been founded in the western parts of Spain by the Suevi, a considerable time before the Romans were finally expelled from that country. In 409 this kingdom was entirely subverted by Theodoric king of the Goths; and the Suevi were so pent up in a small district of Lusitania and Galicia, that it seemed impossible for them to recover themselves. During the above-mentioned period, however, while the attention of the Goths was turned another way, they had found means again to erect themselves into an independent state, and to become masters of considerably extended territories. But this success proved of short duration. In 584 the Goths attacked them; totally destroyed their empire a second time; and thus became masters of all Spain, except some small part which still owned subjection to the emperors [574] of Constantinople. Of this part, however, the Goths became masters also in the year 623; which concludes the 9th general period.

42. Of Africa.


Africa, properly so called, had changed its masters three times during this period. The Vandals had expelled the Romans, and erected an independent kingdom, which was at last overturned by the emperors of Constantinople; and from them the greatest part of it was taken by the Goths in 620.

43. Tenth general period. Conquests of the Saracens.


10. At the commencement of the tenth general period (which begins with the flight of Mahomet in the year 622, from whence his followers date their era called the Hegira), we see every thing prepared for the great revolution which was now to take place: the Roman empire in the west annihilated; the Persian empire and that of Constantinople weakened by their mutual wars and intestine divisions; the Indians and other eastern nations unaccustomed to war, and ready to fall a prey to the first invader; the southern parts of Europe in a distracted and barbarous state; while the inhabitants of Arabia, from their earliest origin, accustomed to war and plunder, and now united by the most violent superstition and enthusiastic desire of conquest, were like a flood pent up, and ready to overwhelm the rest of the world. - The northern nations of Europe and Asia, however formidable in aftertimes, were at present unknown, and peaceable, at least with respect to their southern neighbours; so that there was in no quarter of the globe any power capable of opposing the conquests of the Arabs. With amazing celerity, therefore, they over-ran all Syria, Palestine, Persia, Bukharia, and India, extending their conquests farther to the eastward than ever Alexander had done. On the west side, their empire extended over Egypt, Barbary, and Spain, together with the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Minorca, &c. and many of the Archipelago islands: nor were the coasts of Italy itself free from their incursions; nay, they are even said to have reached the distant and barren country of Iceland. At last this great empire, as well as others, began to decline. Its ruin was very sudden, and owing to its internal divisions. Mahomet had not taken care to establish the apostleship in his family, or to give any particular directions about a successor. The consequence of this was, that the caliphat, or succession to the apostleship, was seized by many usurpers in different parts of the empire; while the true caliphs, who resided at Bagdad, gradually lost all power, and were regarded only as a kind of high-priests. Of these divisions the Turks took advantage to establish their authority in many provinces of the Mohammedan empire: but as they embraced the same religion with the Arabs, and were filled with the same enthusiastic desire of conquest, it is of little consequence to distinguish between them; as indeed it signified little to the world in general whether the Turks or Saracens were the conquerors, since both were cruel, barbarous, ignorant, and superstitious.

44. Of the Pope's temporal power.


While the barbarians of the east were thus grasping at the empire of the whole world, great disturbances happened among the no less barbarous nations of the west. Superstition seems to have been the ruling motive in both cases. The Saracens and Turks conquered for the glory of God, or of his apostle Mahomet and his successors; the western nations professed an equal regard for the divine glory, but which was only to be perceived in the respect they paid to the pope and clergy. Ever since the establishment of Christianity by Constantine, the bishops of Rome had been gradually extending their power; and attempting not only to the reader themselves independent, but even to assume an authority over the emperors themselves. The destruction of the empire was so far from weakening their power, that it afforded them opportunities of greatly extending it, and becoming judges of the sovereigns of Italy themselves, whose barbarity and ignorance prompted them to submit to their decisions. All this time, however, they themselves had been in subjection of the emperors of Constantinople; but on the decline of that empire, they found means to get themselves exempted from this subjection. The principal authority in the city of Rome was then engrossed by the bishop; though of right it belonged to the duke appointed by the exarch of Ravenna. But tho’ they had now little to fear from the eastern emperors, they were in great danger from the ambition of the Lombards, who aimed at the conquest of all Italy. This aspiring people the bishops of Rome determined to check; and therefore, in 726, when Luitprand king of the Lombards had taken Ravenna and expelled the exarch, the pope undertook to restore him. For this purpose he applied to the Venetians, who are now first mentioned in history as a state of any consequence; and by their means the exarch was restored. Some time before, a quarrel had happened between the pope (Gregory II) and Leo emperor of the east, about the worship of images. Leo, who it seems, in the midst of so much barbarism, had still preserved some share of common sense and reason, reprobated the worship of images in the strongest terms, and commanded them to be destroyed throughout his dominions. The pope, whose cause was favoured by the most absurd superstitions, and by these only, refused to obey the emperor’s commands. The exarch of Ravenna, as a subject of the emperor, was ordered to force the pope to a compliance, and even to seize or assassinate him in case of a refusal. This excited the pious zeal of Luitprand to assist the pope, whom he had formerly designed to subdue: the exarch was first excommunicated, and then torn in pieces by the enraged multitude: the duke of Naples shared the same fate; and a vast number of the Iconoclasts, or Image-breakers, as they were called, were slaughtered without mercy: and to complete all, the subjects of the exarchate, at the instigation of the pope, renounced their allegiance to the emperor.
Leo was no sooner informed of this revolt than he ordered a powerful army to be raised, in order to reduce the rebels, and take vengeance on the pope. Alarmed at these warlike preparations, Gregory looked round for some power on which he might depend for protection. The Lombards were possessed of sufficient force, but they were too near and too dangerous neighbours to be trusted; the Venetians, though zealous Catholics, were as yet unable to withstand the force of the empire; Spain was over-run by the Saracens: the French seemed, therefore, the only people to whom it was advisable to apply for aid; as they were able to oppose the emperor, and were likewise enemies to his edict. Charles Martel, who at that [575] time governed France as mayor of the palace, was therefore applied to; but before a treaty could be concluded, all the parties concerned were removed by death. Constantine Copronymus, who succeeded Leo at Constantinople, not only persisted in the opposition to image-worship begun by his predecessor, but prohibited also the invocation of saints. Zachary, who succeeded Gregory III in the pontificate, proved as zealous an adversary as his predecessors. Pepin, who succeeded Charles Martel in the sovereignty of France, proved as powerful a friend to the pope as his father had been. The people of Rome had nothing to fear from Constatinople; and therefore drove out all the emperor’s officers. The Lombards, awed by the power of France, for some time allowed the pope to govern in peace the dominions of the exarchate; but in 752, Astolphus King of Lombardy not only reduced the greatest part of pope’s territories, but threatened the city of Rome itself. Upon this an application was made to Pepin, who obliged Astolphus to restore the places he had taken, and gave them to the pope, or, as he said, to St. Peter. The Greek emperor, to whom they of right belonged, remonstrated to no purpose. The pope from that time became possessed of considerable territories in Italy; which, from the manner of their donation, go under the name of St. Peter’s Patrimony. It was not, however, before the year 774 that the pope was fully secured in these new dominions. This was accomplished when the kingdom of the Lombards was totally destroyed by Charlemagne, who was thereupon crowned King of Italy. Soon after, this monarch made himself master of all the Low Countries, Germany, and part of Hungary; and in the year 800, was solemnly crowned emperor of the west by the pope.

45. General state of the world.


Thus was the world once more shared among three great empire. The empire of Arabs or Saracens extended from the river Ganges to Spain; comprehending almost all of Asia and Africa which has ever been known to Europeans, the kingdoms of China and Japan excepted. The eastern Roman empire was reduced to Greece, Asia Minor, and the provinces adjoining to Italy. The empire of the west under Charlemagne, comprehended France, Germany, and the greatest part of Italy. The Saxons, however, as yet possessed Britain unmolested by external enemies, tho’ the seven kingdoms erected by them were engaged in perpetual contests. The Venetians also enjoyed a nominal liberty; though it is probable that their situation would render them very much dependent on the great powers which surrounded them. Of all nations on earth, the Scots and Picts, and the remote ones of China and Japan, seem to have enjoyed, from their situation, the greatest share of liberty; unless, perhaps, we except the Scandinavians, who, under the names Danes and Normans, were soon to infest their southern neighbours. But of all the European potentates, the popes certainly exercised the greatest authority; since even Charlemagne himself submitted to accept the crown form their hands, and his successors made them the arbiters of their differences.
Matters, however, did not long continue in this state. The empire of Charlemagne was on the death of his son Lewis divided among his three children. Endless disputes and wars ensued among them, till at last the sovereign power was seized buy Hugh Capet in 987. The Saxon heptarchy was dissolved in 827, and the whole kingdom of England reduced under one head. The Danes and Normans began to make depredations, and infest the neighbouring states. The former conquered the English Saxons, and seized the government, but were in their turn expelled by the Normans in 1066. In Germany and Italy the greatest disturbances arose from the contests between the popes and the emperors. To all this if we add the internal contests which happened through the ambition of the powerful barons of every kingdom., we can scarce form an idea of times more calamitous than those of which we now treat. All Europe, nay, all the world, was one great field of battle; for the empire of the Mahometans was not in a more settled state than that of the Europeans. Caliphs, sultans, emirs, &c. waged continual war with each other in every quarter; new sovereignties every day sprung up, and were as quickly destroyed. In short, thro’ the ignorance and barbarity with which the whole world was overspread, it seemed in a manner impossible that the human race could long continue to exist; when happily the crusades, by directing the attention of the Europeans to one particular object, made them in some measure suspend their slaughters of one another.

46. Eleventh period. The crusades.


11. The crusades originated from the superstition of the two grand parties into which the world was at that time divided, namely, the Christians and the Mahometans. Both looked upon the small territory of Palestine, which they called the Holy Land, to be an invaluable acquisition, for which no sum of money could be an equivalent; and both took the most unjustifiable methods to accomplish their desires. The superstition of Omar the second caliph had prompted him to invade this country, part of the territories of the Greek emperor, who was doing him no hurt; and now when it had been so long under the subjection of the Mahometans, a similar superstition prompted the pope to send an army for the recovery of it. The crusaders accordingly poured forth in multitudes, like those with which the kings of Persia formerly invaded Greece; and their fate was pretty similar. Their impetuous valour at first, indeed, carried every thing before them: they recovered all Palestine, Phœnicia, and part of Syria, from the infidels; but their want of conduct soon lost what their valour had obtained, an very few of that vast multitude which had left Europe ever returned to their native countries. A second, a third, and several other crusades, were preached, and were attended with a like success in both respects: vast numbers took the cross, and repaired to the Holy Land; which they polluted by the most abominable massacres and treacheries, and from which very few of them returned. In the third crusade Richard I of England was embarked, who seem to have been the best general that ever went into the east: but even his valour and skill were not sufficient to repair the faults of his companions; and he was obliged to return even after he had entirely defeated his antagonists, and was within sight of Jerusalem.

47. Conquests of the Moguls.


But while the Christians and Mahometans were thus superstitiously contending for a small territory in the western parts of Asia, the nations in the more easterly parts were threatened with total extermination. Jenghiz [576] Khan the greatest as well as the most bloody conqueror that ever existed, now makes his appearance. The rapidity of his conquests seemed to emulate those of Alexander the Great; and the cruelties he committed were altogether unparalleled. It is worth observing, that Jenghiz Khan and all his followers were neither Christians nor Mahometans, but strict deists. For a long time even the sovereign had not heard of a temple, or any particular place on earth appropriated by the deity to himself, and treated the notion with ridicule when it was first mentioned to him.
The Moguls, over whom Jenghiz Khan assumed the sovereignty, were a people of east Tartary, divided into a great number of petty governments as they are at this day, but who owned a subjection to one sovereign, whom they called Vang-khan, or the Great Khan. Temujin, afterwards Jenghiz Khan, was one of these petty princes; but unjustly deprived of the greatest part of his inheritance at the age of 13, which he could not recover till he arrived at that of 40. This corresponds with the year 1201, when he totally reduced the rebels; and as a specimen of his lenity caused 70 of their chiefs to be thrown into as many caldrons of boiling water. In 1202, he defeated and killed Vang-khan himself (known to the Europeans by the name of Prester John of Asia); and possessing himself of his vast dominions, became from thenceforward altogether irresistible. In 1206, having still continued to enlarge his dominions, he was declared khan of the Moguls and Tartars; and took upon him the title of Jenghiz Khan, or The most Great Khan of khans. This was followed by the reduction of the kingdom of Hya in China, Tangu, Kitay, Turkestan, Karazm (the kingdom of Gazna founded by Mahmud Gazni), Great Bukharia, Persia, and part of India; and all these vast regions were reduced in 26 years. The devastations and slaughters with which they were accomplished are unparalleled, no fewer than 14,470,000 persons being computed to have been massacred by Jenghiz Khan during the last 22 years of his reign. In the beginning of 1227 he died, thereby freeing the world from a most bloody tyrant. His successors completed the conquest of China and Korea; but were foiled in their attempts on Cochin-china, Tong-king, and Japan. On the western side the Tartar dominions were not much enlarged till the time of Hulaku, who conquered Media, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Syria, Georgia, Armenia, and almost all Asia Minor; putting an end to the empire of the Saracens by the taking of Bagdad in 1258.
The empire of Jenghiz Khan had the fate of all others. Being far too extensive to be governed by one head, it split into a multitude of small kingdoms, as it had been before his time. All these princes, however, owned allegiance to the family of Jenghiz Khan till the time of Timur Bek, or Tamerlane. The Turks, in the mean time, urged forward by the inundation of Tartars who poured in from the east, were forced upon the remains of the Greek empire; and at the time of Tamerlane above-mentioned, they had almost confined this once mighty empire within the walls of Constantinople.

48. Of Tamerlane.


In the year 1335, the family of Jenghiz Khan becoming extinct in Persia, a long civil war ensued; during which Timur Bek, one of the petty princes among which the Tartar dominions were divided, found means to aggrandize himself in a manner similar to what Jenghiz Khan had done about 150 years before. Jenghiz Khan, indeed, was the model whom he proposed to imitate; but it must be allowed that Timur was more merciful than Jenghiz Khan, if indeed the word can be applied to such inhuman tyrants. The plan of which Jenghiz Khan conducted his expeditions was that of total extermination. For some time he utterly extirpated the inhabitants of those places which he conquered, designing to people them anew with his Moguls; and in consequence of this resolution, he would employ his army in beheading 100,000 prisoners at once. Timur’s cruelty, on the other hand, seldom went farther than the pounding of 3,000 or 4,000 people in large mortars, or building them among bricks and mortar into the wall. We must observe, however, that Timur was not a deist, but a Mahometan, and conquered expressly for the purpose of spreading the Mahometan religion; for the Moguls had now adopted all the superstitions and absurdities of Mahomet. Thus was all the eastern quarter of the world threatened anew with the most dreadful devastations, while the western nations were exhausting themselves in fruitless attempts to regain the Holy Land. The Turks were the only people who seem at this period to have been gathering strength, and by their perpetual encroachments threatened to swallow up the western nations as the Tartars had done the eastern ones.
In 1362, Timur invaded Bukharia, which he reduced in five years. He proceeded in his conquests, though not with the same celerity as Jenghiz Khan, till the year 1387, when he had subdued all Persia, Armenia, Georgia, Karazm, and the great part of Tartary. After this he proceeded westward, subduing all the countries to the Euphrates; made himself master of Bagdad; and even entered Russia, where he pillaged the city of Moscow. From thence he turned his arms to the east, and totally subdued India. In 1393, he invaded and reduced Syria; and having turned his arms against the Turks, forced their sultan Bajazet to raise the siege of Constantinople. This brought on an engagement, in which Bajazet was entirely defeated and taken prisoner; which broke the power of the Turks to such a degree, that they were not for some time able to recover themselves. At last this great conqueror died in the year 1405, while on his way to conquer China, as Jenghiz Khan had done before him.

49. State of the world since that time.


The death of Timur was followed almost immediately by the dissolution of his empire. Most of the nations he had conquered recovered their liberty. The Turks had now no further obstacle to their conquest of Constantinople. The western nations having exhausted themselves in the holy wars, as they were called, had lost that insatiable thirst after conquest which for so long time possessed the minds of men. They had already made considerable advances in civilization and began to study the arts of peace. Gunpowder was invented, and its application to the purpose of war already known; and, though no invention threatened to be more destructive, perhaps none was ever more beneficial to the human race. By the use [577] of fire arms, nations are put more on a level with each other than formerly they were; war is reduced to a regular system, which may be studied with as much success as any other science. Conquests are not now to be made with the same ease as formerly; and hence the last ages of the world have been much more quiet and peaceable than the former ones. In 1453, the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks fixed that wandering people to one place; and though now they possess very large regions both in Europe, Asia, and Africa, an effectual stop hath long been put to their further progress.
About this time, also, learning began to revive in Europe, where it had been long lost; and the invention of Printing, which happened about the same time, rendered it in a manner impossible for barbarism ever to take place in such a degree as formerly. All nations of the world, indeed, seem now at once to have laid aside much of their former ferocity; and, though wars have by no means been uncommon, they have not been carried on with such circumstances of fury and savage cruelty as before. Instead of attempting to enrich themselves by plunder, and the spoils of their neighbours, mankind in general have applied themselves to commerce, the only true and durable source of riches. This soon produced improvements in navigation; and these improvements led to the discovery of many regions formerly unknown. At the same time, the European powers, being at last thoroughly sensible that extensive conquests could never be permanent, applied themselves more to provide for the security of those dominions which they already possessed, than to attempt the conquest of one another: this produced the policy to which so much attention was lately paid, namely, the preserving of the balance of Europe, that is, preventing any one of the nations from acquiring sufficient strength to overpower another.
In the end of the 15th century, the vast continent of America was discovered; and, almost the same time, the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope. The discovery of these rich countries gave a new turn to the ambition of the Europeans. To enrich themselves, either by the gold and silver produced in these countries, or by traffic with the natives, now became the object. The Portuguese had the advantage of being the first discoverers of the eastern, and the Spaniards of the western countries. The former did not neglect so favourable an opportunity of enriching themselves by commerce. Many settlements were formed by them in the East India islands, and on the continent; but their avarice and perfidious behaviour towards the natives, proved at last the cause of their total expulsion. The Spaniards enriched themselves by the vast quantities of the precious metals imported from America, which were not obtained but by the most horrid massacres committed on the natives, and of which an account is given under the different names of American countries. These possessions of the Spaniards and Portuguese soon excited other European nations to make attempts to share with them in their treasures, by planting colonies in different parts of America, and making settlements in the East Indies: and thus has the rage of war in some measure been transferred from Europe to these distant regions; and, after various contests, the British at last obtained a great superiority both in America and the East Indies.
In Europe the only considerable revolutions which happened during this period, were, the total expulsion of the Moors and Saracens from Spain, by the taking of Grenada in 1491; the union of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella; and the revolt of the states of Holland from the Spaniards. After much contention and bloodshed, these last obtained their liberty, and were declared a free people in 1609; since which time they have continued independent and very considerable nation of Europe.
In Asia nothing of importance hath happened since the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. That continent is now divided among the following nations. The most northerly part, called Siberia, extending to the very extremity of the continent is under the power of Russia. To the southward, from Asia Minor to China and Korea, are the Tartars, formidable indeed from their numbers, but, by reason of their barbarity and want of union, incapable of attempting any thing. The Turks possess the western part of the continent called Asia Minor, to the river Euphrates. The Arabs are again confined within their own peninsula; which they possess, as they have ever done, without owning subjection to any foreign power. To the east of Turkey in Asia lies Persia, now more confined in its limits than before; and to the eastward of Persia lies India, or the kingdom late of the Mogul, comprehending all the country from the Indus to the Ganges, and beyond that river. Still farther to the east lie the kingdoms of Siam, Pegu, Thibet, and Cochin-China, little known to the Europeans. The vast empire of China occupies the most easterly part of the continent; while that of Japan comprehends the islands which go by that name, and which are supposed to lie at no great distance from the western coasts of America.
In Africa the Turks possess Egypt, which they conquered in 1517, and have a nominal jurisdiction over the states of Barbary. The interior parts are filled with barbarous and unknown nations, as they have always been. On the western coasts are many settlements of the European nations, particularly the British and Portuguese; and the southern extremity is possessed by the Dutch. The eastern coats are almost totally unknown. The Asiatic and African islands are either possessed by the Europeans, or inhabited by savage nations.
The European nations at the beginning of the 17th century were, Sweden, Muscovy, Denmark, Poland, Britain, Germany, Holland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Turkey in Europe. Of these the Russians, though the most barbarous, were by far the most considerable, both in regard to numbers and the extent of their empire; but their situation made them little feared by the others, who lay at distance from them. The kingdom of Poland, which was first set up in the year 1000, proved a barrier betwixt Russia and Germany; and at the same time the policy above mentioned, of keeping the balance of power in Europe, rendered it probable that no European nation, whatever wars it might be engaged in, would have been totally destroyed, or ceased to exist [578] as a distinct kingdom. The late dismemberment of Poland, however, or its partition between the three powers of Russia, Hungary, and Prussia, was a step very inconsistent with the above political system; and it is surprising with what tameness it was acquiesced in by the other powers. Subsequent circumstances, particularly the passiveness with which the ambitious designs of Russia against the Porte have been so long beheld, seem to indicate a total dereliction of that scheme of equilibrium, formerly so wisely, though perhaps sometimes too anxiously, attended to.
The revolt of the British colonies in America, it was hoped by the enemies of Britain, would have given a fatal shock to her strength and wonted superiority. The consequences, however, have been very different. Those colonies, it is true, have been disjoined from the mother-country, and have attained an independent rank among the nations. But Britain has had no cause to repine at the separation. Divested only of a splendid encumbrance, an expensive and invidious appanage, she has been left to enjoy the undivided benefits of her native vigour, and to display new energies, which promise her mild empire a long and prosperous duration. On the other hand, the flame which was to have blazed only to her prejudice, has brought confusion on her chief foe; and the ambition and tyranny of that branch of the house of Bourbon which has been long the pest of Europe, now lie humbled in the dust. The French, indeed, have thus become a nation of freemen as well as ourselves, and as well as the Americans; who by the way, were never otherwise, nor even knew what oppression was except in inflicting it upon their African brethren. But neither is the French revolution an event which Britons, as lovers of liberty and friends to the rights of mankind, should regret; or which, even in a political view, if duly considered, ought to excite either their jealousy or apprehension. In fine, we seem to be advancing to a great era in the history of human affairs. The emancipation of France, it is not to be doubted, will in time be followed by that of Spain and other countries of Europe. The papal power, too, that scourge of nations, is declining; and the period seems to be approaching when the Roman pontiff will be reduced to his original and simple title of bishop of Rome. More liberal ideas both in politics and religion are everywhere gaining ground. The regulation, and perhaps in time the abolition, of the slave-trade, with the endeavours of the societies for discovering Africa, may lead to the civilization of some parts of that immense continent, and open new markets for our manufactures. Finally, the Americans approach fast to a settled government; and will probably then become a great commercial people.

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