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. OVERCONFIDENCEhave the Romans ever done for us? The Jews of the first century CE asked themselves that very question. Despite the obvious benefits so aptly pointed out in the opening scenes of Monty Pythonís The Life of Brian, the Jews were not willing to give up all they held sacred for the sake of progress and profit. All the roads, running water, education, and medical attention in the world could not take the place of their religion. But for a time, it seemed that even a 3,000-year-old religion might not be able to withstand the might of the Roman empire.during the time of the early Roman empire was a volatile place. In addition to being inhabited by a people dead set on removing the Roman occupants, it was also filled with opposing factions within the Jewish community. One of these factions in particular used radical and violent means to try to push out the occupying forces. These Zealots grew tired of the religious leaders like the Pharisees and the Sadducees playing puppet to the Roman rulers. They also resented the corrupt reigns of incompetent political hacks who were the procurators that Rome had chosen to rule over Judea. Tensions came to a head around 66 CE, when the procurator, Gessius Florus, took seventeen talents of gold from the Temple treasury. That was a massive amount of wealth. Public outcry from both within the walls of Jerusalem and outside spread like wildfire. Florus answered this outcry by allowing his soldiers to pillage part of the city. In response, the cityís masses rose up against their Roman leaders and drove them out of Judea. Gessius Florus fled to the protection of another Roman garrison on the coast in Caesarea.people of Judea had more to contend with than corrupt government officials. Herod Agrippa the younger, who was king of Judea, had the right to nominate the high priest in Jerusalem. The Herod dynasty is sometimes a confusing one to follow, as they werenít very innovative in naming their heirs. So, just to clear things up, this particular Herod was the nephew of Herod of Chalcis, the one mentioned in the Bible in Acts 25 and 30. Although he claimed to live by the laws of the Jews, Herod Agrippa lived with his uncleís widow, and he spent most of his time in Rome, relishing the pagan lifestyle within the capital city.Zealots despised Agrippa and believed the only way to counter his oppressive regime was to start an open revolt. The Zealots demanded three things. All sacrifices to appease the emperor had to stop because they were in direct conflict with Godís law, the sanctity of the temple had to be preserved, andómost importantóJudea had to have its independence. These were the only acceptable terms, and to show they were serious, the Zealots took control of the Temple in Jerusalem, while the less fanatical Jews held the rest of the city. The rebels immediately refused and forbade others to make the sacrifices required by Rome. Agrippa attempted to put the revolt down with the forces he had on hand. The Zealots led a Jewish army that first defeated Agrippaís force of 3,000 horsemen and then later took the fortress of Masada.could not let any revolt go unpunished lest other provinces follow suit. They sent in the governor of Syria, Cestius Gallus. He tried and failed to quell the rebellion. When Gallus saw how heavily defended Jerusalem was, he hurried back to Antioch. On the way, rebel forces ambushed the unsuspecting governor and his escort. The last part of Gallusí return to his capital was more in the form of a panicky rout.each Roman defeat, the rebels grew in strength and number. The Zealots, under command of John of Gischala, soon controlled most of Jerusalem. Josephus commanded the forces of Galilee. This is the same Josephus who would later write Bellum Judaicum (The Jewish War), giving us our main source of information about the revolt. Josephus gathered and trained troops, fortified cities, and set up an administrative body in Galilee, which was able to operate separately from Jerusalem.previous failure of Agrippa and then Cestius Gallus embarrassed Rome, so Flavius Vespasian was sent in to squash the rebellion once and for all. Vespasian was an experienced field commander who had been ousted from Rome for falling asleep during one of Neroís infamous poetry readings. Apparently the generalís lack of couth in court did not carry over into his military career. He massed troops in Antioch while his son, Titus, brought in more troops from Alexandria. The two forces met and merged on the way to Judea in Ptolemais. The news of the approach of a large force of Romans reached Josephus, and he fled to the fortified city of Jotapata with his followers. The unprotected land outside of the cities fell into Roman hands without a single blow being dealt.focused his attention on Jotapata. The siege lasted forty-seven days. Josephus, along with forty of his men, took refuge in a cave. When their position was revealed to the Romans, Josephus decided to surrender; however, his companions did not allow it. So, Josephus had another idea. Every third man would kill his closest neighbor. When the last two men were left standing, they would draw lots to decide which man would kill the other. The last man would kill himself. This meant that only one man would break Jewish law by committing suicide. Of course, Josephus was one of the last of two men left alive. He stated in his writing that it was Godís will, but it could have simply been the result of someone who could perform simple mathematics. Josephus was taken prisoner but was later released. He lived out the rest of his life in Rome.taking the city of Jotapata, Titus also captured the cities of Tiberius, Taricheae, Gamala, and the Zealot base of Gischala. John of Gischala fled, and by 67 CE all of Galilee was back in the hands of the Romans. Most of Judea was also now under Roman control, leaving the holy city of Jerusalem as the final key to crushing the rebellion. But Jerusalem would not be an easy nut to crack. The fall of Galilee gave the Zealots a stronger position within the Jewish community. They assumed control of all of the city as well as the Temple. That wasnít the only obstacle the Roman general faced. Troubles in Rome and infighting among the would-be emperors meant Vespasian would delay attacking Jerusalem for the better part of a year. Only after he had secured his place in the Roman hierarchy was he free to deal with Jerusalem.had to stay in Rome, so he sent his son, Titus, to retake Jerusalem and so finish what he had started. In April 70, Titus began his direct assault on Jerusalem. He stunned the Zealots by breaking through the first wall in a mere fifteen days and the second after only eight days. The third wall was quite another matter. Fifteen feet of stone separated the Roman troops from the inhabitants on the other side. Titus built massive siege towers, seventy-five feet tall, in an attempt to send his men over the top. Each tower could carry dozens of troops. The Jews answered this new threat by tunneling under the walls of the city to attack the troops inside the great towers.managed to cripple or destroy them all. So Titus came up with his most ruthless plan. Taking a note from Julius Caesar, he had a 4.5-mile-long wall built completely around the city. If the Jews wouldnít surrender, he would starve them into submission. Just like at Alesia a century earlier, the Roman wall meant no supplies could reach the inhabitants within. All Titus had to do was to wait.an unexpected disaster happened. The tunnel that the Jews built to try to infiltrate the siege towers collapsed. In doing so, it undermined a section of the third wall. Several meters of wall collapsed into rubble. The city was now vulnerable. Roman legionnaires stormed through the city, taking out years of frustration on the inhabitants. In the end, the Temple was destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed. The rest were sold into slavery.Jews saw this as divine punishment for those who had practiced the Roman ways. Others became even more bitter. With its main population center gone, the Jewish state became a province. Whatever the case, the destruction of the Temple of Solomon devastated the Jewish community. The rebellion that sought to empower the Jewish people instead resulted in their near destruction. They fought for their beliefs and the things they felt were theirs by right as Godís people. They wished to honor their God by refusing to make sacrifices to other gods, they wanted independence, and, most of all, they wanted to preserve the most sacred of Godís holy places, the Temple in Jerusalem. Instead, thousands were enslaved, many more were killed, and the Temple was destroyed. The heart of the Jewish people was no more. A once-strong and -vigorous people were broken and scattered. Their history changed forever because the Jewish people thought that a little bit of military success meant they could take on, most literally, the rest of the known world.what happened to all the gold and other artifacts that were stolen from the Temple? Vespasian used it to finance one of Romeís most powerful symbols, the Coliseum.

. TAKING THE EASY WAYthe Roman emperor Diocletian decided to divide his realm into an eastern empire and a western empire, he did so in order that his forty-four provinces might be more easily governed. He obviously had never read anything on Roman history; otherwise he would have known that every time the empire had been divided to make it more manageable, it resulted only in civil war or invasion. But it is unlikely that Diocletian knew his history, because he was illiterate. The requirements for being emperor had vastly deteriorated since the time of Marcus Aurelius. Diocletian proved his ability as a military commander, but his inability to learn from the errors of his predecessors would cost his citizens greatly, eventually lead to civil war, and hasten the collapse of Roman rule in the western half of the empire.had grown anxious about the growing number of barbarian invasions in Gaul. He had already created a mobile army to deal with the situation, but he decided that the best way to handle it would be to have a stronger power base in the west. He appointed his close friend Maximian as his co-emperor to rule from Gaul while Diocletian would rule from Nicomedia in Asia Minor. In doing this, he set up a structure that was supposed to ensure peaceful succession to each office. The two emperors would be called Augustus, and they were to pick a successor who was not a son, no matter how competent the son might be. Diocletian then chose two co-regents, who would be called Caesar. Galarius became the Caesar in the east and heir to Diocletian, while Constantius ruled with Maximian as the Caesar in the west. With separate leaders, separate armies, and even separate tax collectors, the Roman empire became in effect two empires.was still the risk that family ties would interfere with his plans to ensure that the Caesar would become the Augustus. To keep the family ambitions of each man in the tetrarchy at bay, Diocletian ďrequestedĒ that their sons live in his court. One of these sons was Constantine, the son of Constantius. Although the sons were virtually hostages, Diocletian treated them well. Despite being illiterate, he gave the boys the best education and even made sure they learned Greek. Constantine eventually became one of Diocletianís most trusted soldiers, but the Augustus grew uneasy. The emperor had issued the Great Persecution against the Christians and, although Constantine himself did not fall into the sect, his mother did. As one of the emperorís top men, he had witnessed many atrocities under the new edict. When the aging emperor fell ill, he failed to include Constantine in the exchange of power. Constantine realized for the first time what his position had been. He was a mere hostage and was also expendable.fled to Boulogne in Gaul to meet his father. His arrival could not have been better timed. Constantius then ruled over Spain, Gaul, and Britain. In Britain, his father faced an uprising of the always unruly Picts. So father and son went to Britain together. Constantine soon won the favor of his fatherís army by leading them in defeating the Picts. When his father died in 306, the army recognized Constantine as their new leader. They chose wisely. Not long after, when the Barbarian Franks invaded Gaul, Constantine led the cavalry charge against them and defeated them. Constantine celebrated this victory with a triumph that marched through the streets of Trier. The citizens loved him.Constantine was gaining support in Gaul and Britain, a usurper rose to power in Italy and North Africa. Maxentius had taken over by promising lower taxes and free grain. (He is not to be confused with Maximian, who was one of the original tetrarchy.) When the people realized the promises he made would be delivered only to the wealthy, they began to revolt. Riots broke out all over Rome. Constantine saw it as his duty to overthrow the upstart and restore order. He formed an alliance with Licinius, who now controlled the eastern half of the empire. Together they rallied their troops to fight their fellow Romans just outside Rome. This was exactly what Diocletian had sought to avoid, civil war.the eve of battle, Constantine is said to have seen the Greek letters chi and rho appear in the sky (the first two letters of the word Christ). He heard a voice say, ďUnder this, you will conquer.Ē Constantine had witnessed the resilience of the Christians when they were undergoing persecution by Diocletian. Rather than discouraging the faith, the number of Christians had grown at an enormous rate. It is possible that Constantine saw a people whom he could use to help win the empire. Whether it was motivated by politics or a spiritual awakening, Constantine ordered his men to paint the Christian symbol on their shields. Together the forces of Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. Constantine had the head of his enemy paraded around the empire. With this single victory, Constantine became the sole ruler of the western empire.Constantineís victory, there was no peace. The alliance Constantine formed with Licinius broke down. As the conflict between the two rulers grew more tense, Licinius found a way to strike out against his nemesis in the west. Like Diocletian before him, he persecuted the very sect of people whom Constantine had claimed as own: the Christians. The persecutions were not founded on religious divergence; they were purely political. Licinius saw the Christians as Constantineís people. For nine more years, tensions between the east and west worsened until the antagonism came to a head. Once again the country was on the verge of civil war.battle that would decide who would take possession of all the vast expanses of the Roman Empire took place at Chrysopolis in 324. Constantine defeated Liciniusí army and became the sole emperor. Because Constantineís sister, who was married to Licinius through the previous alliance, had begged for mercy for her husband, Constantine spared him, at least for a while. But he later had his enemy killed while imprisoned.his enemies annihilated, Constantine could focus on what meant the most to him: his new Christian empire. Because the brunt of economic and military activity in the empire took place in the northeast, he decided to establish a new capital on the site of the former Greek city of Byzantion. He chose the location because of its great strategic advantage. It lay near the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea and allowed access to Anatolia and the Danube. He changed the cityís name to Constantinople. The city became his obsession. He focused all of his resources on building roads, elaborate cathedrals, schools, and more secure walls. He transformed the city into the jewel of the east. It became a center of knowledge, wealth, and prosperity. It was cosmopolitan. It was Christian. But, most of all, it was Greek. The split Diocletian began was complete.Constantineís death, his capital city continued to flourish. But the Latin-speaking west did not. The empire was politically and culturally split due to language differences, philosophical differences, and eventually religious differences. Power struggles developed between the pope in Rome and the patriarch in Constantinople. These would eventually lead to the Great Schism in the Church. By 395, the empire was officially split yet again. Without the support of the east, the west fell prey to barbarian invasions and was lost in the sixth century. This is often seen as the end of the Roman empire. But it was not until 1453, when the Turks took Constantinople, that the last and long separate eastern half of the empire truly ceased to exist.Diocletian split the Roman empire, it changed everything. The rich east even diverted barbarian invasions toward the west. Diocletianís dream of an efficient and divided but cooperative empire was a nightmare that doomed the western half of the Roman empire. Had the empire stayed united, Rome might have had the resources and strength to survive for centuries more, like Byzantium did. At first it was more efficient for Diocletian to divide up the empire. But for millions, the split was a mistake that doomed them to a millennium of darkness.

. FIGHT YOUR OWN WARSthe late fourth century, the Roman empire stretched across Europe and Asia and contained many diverse cultures and races. Despite that, officials still had reservations about embracing the barbarian people of Germany and inducting them into the army. Those who revered the illusion of a classic Rome resented that the world was changing rapidly. It would yet again change for the worse with the invasion of the Huns and a few benchmark decisions that, now looking back, were probably not in the best interest of the empire.all started in 375 when the Huns attacked the Ostrogoths in the Black Sea region. The Visigoth king Fritigern believed his people would be targeted next, and he appealed to Emperor Valens for help. He asked the emperor to allow his people to settle in Roman territory just south of the Danube. Valens resisted at first, but then he relented on the condition that the Visigoths would disarm. In exchange, Rome would provide food for the new refugees. It seemed a mutually beneficial solution. But Valens had not counted on the hatred of his own people, especially the hatred veteran Roman soldiers held toward the Germanic people. Once the Visigoths had settled, they had to endure mistreatment by their Greek neighbors and the Roman soldiers. They also had to endure hunger. Valens had known there was not enough extra food, but had made the deal despite this.following year, Fritigern and his Visigoths revolted. The culturally linked Ostrogoths joined them in their struggle. Valens was killed. Later, Emperor Theodosius persuaded the Ostrogoths to leave Roman territory as the Huns moved eastward. He provided settlements for the Visigoths in what is today Bulgaria. Theodosius also offered them new lives as soldiers in the Roman army. Being a Roman soldier paid enough to feed their families, and many Goths accepted. With the increasing pressure on the borders generated by the Huns, the integration of the Germanic people into the eastern and the western armies took place at a rapid rate. The Latin and Greek soldiers resented the new arrivals. The empire had been fighting the barbarians for more than 400 years. This longtime hatred of Germanic and Steppe peoples would not simply vanish because they were suddenly allowed to serve in the army.395, the Visigoths elected Alaric as their king. Many considered Alaric an activist for his people. When supplies once again ran low, he led them farther into Europe in search of food and grazing land. At the same time, another disgruntled barbarian decided to rise up against Rome. Radagaisus marched his Vandal-Burgundian army across the Danube and into the Alps. They had to be stopped. Stilicho, the Frankish-Roman military commander, set out to subdue them. He did so without a battle. Rather than stamping these people out, he incorporated many of them into the army.and his Visigoths took advantage of the distraction caused by Radagaisus and moved into northern Italy. Stilicho turned his sights on the Visigoths. Radagaisus saw his chance to make a nuisance of himself once again. In 405, while Stilicho busied himself against Alaric, Radagaisus and his Vandals made way for Hispania and settled on Roman lands. Alaric did not want to be left out in the cold, so he and his people followed the Vandals onto the Iberian peninsula in hopes of gaining new lands and better opportunities.was outraged. Someone needed to take the fall for this massive blunder. The emperor in the west, Honorus, decided that Stilicho was the cause of all of Romeís problems with the barbarians and ordered his assassination. Tensions grew within the army until it finally split between the two rival factions. The split was along ethnic lines between the long-term Roman citizens and the new Germanic recruits. Roman soldiers began murdering the families of their German counterparts. The Germans left to join Alaric. Without the Germans to fill the ranks, Italy was without an active army.situation was less than agreeable. For the next four years, Alaric and the barbarian tribes continued to settle in Hispania and even northern Italy. Without an active army, the emperor resorted to bribery to keep Alaric from sacking Rome itself. But Alaric didnít necessarily want to destroy Rome. What he really wanted was to be a part of the empire. He wanted his men to be reintegrated into the army, he wanted provisions, land his people could live peacefully on, and he wanted all the benefits of being a citizen of Rome. Honorus refused. It turned out to be a poor choice. Honorus fled to Ravenna.elected a new emperor for the west. Attalus proved to be far more accepting of the barbarians. He believed that the integration was inevitable and would benefit Rome. He agreed to Alaricís demands of reintegration and food. There was just one problem. Rome had no extra provisions. When Attalus failed to meet Alaricís demands, the Visigoths led an attack on Rome. By this time, the Roman army was totally dependent on Germanic troops. There were simply not enough Romans left who would or could fight to protect the city. In 475, the barbarian chief Odoacer replaced the Roman emperor with himself. By filling their army with Germanic recruits, the western Romans forgot the hard-learned lesson that the army controls who is emperor. Had they not depended on the often troublesome barbarian tribes for defense against effectively more barbarian tribes, perhaps Rome and the Western Roman empire might have survived. But instead, the citizens of Rome let others become their defenders and soon found that those defenders became their masters.

. NOT-SO-FREE-FIRE ZONE378, a single soldier, not even an officer, made a mistake that greatly hastened, and perhaps even led directly to, the final destruction of the Western Roman empire. It all started far away in the steppes of Asia. This is the traditional home of most tribes of horse barbarians, and among others, the Goths had started there before moving into eastern Europe. The Goths were tough, but they migrated toward the borders of both Roman empires (Byzantine and western) because a much nastier bunch of barbarians were pushing them. These were the Huns, as in Atilla the Hun, who were destined to wreak havoc across most of Europe a generation later. But at this time, the Huns were still a distant threat, and the Goths were on Romeís border asking to cross and settle into territories then controlled by the western empire. They were split into two groups: the eastern Ostrogoths and the western Visigoths. As described in Mistake 19 (see pages 77-79), Visigoth leaders met with Roman officials and asked permission for their people to enter Roman territory. It was agreed that if the men left their weapons behind, the Goths would be welcome. It was also agreed, since there would be no chance for the Visigoths to raise crops, that Rome would provide them food to get by until the next harvest.entire population migrated; hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, with tens of thousands of warriors among them, crossed into the Roman empire. Even though they had not agreed to the deal, the other large group, the Ostrogoths, under pressure from Hun allies and caught amid the confusion, also crossed over the river that marked Romeís boundary. It became obvious fairly quickly that there simply was not enough food available for the Romans to keep the Goths supplied. Starving, the Visigoth tribes began taking what food they could find, often pillaging the villages while doing so. A near-constant fight between small groups of Goths and small Roman units erupted. To try to deal with the problem the two Roman governors requested a meeting with all of the Visigoth leaders. The meeting was a ruse with the intention of assassinating all of the Visigoth leadership, likely as a prelude to enslaving the hungry and (they hoped) leaderless Goths.assassination attempt failed, miserably. The Visigoth leaders escaped, their army was soon reinforced by the Ostrogoths, and open warfare resulted. For months, both sides sparred, small bunches of horsemen raiding and then ambushing one another, as infantry units defended the larger Roman towns and cities. Finally, Emperor Valens arrived to take control of the war. He hoped to win a decisive battle that would crush or drive the Goths away. The Visigoth king Fritigern offered peace if the Romans would allow his people to virtually take over the province of Thrace. This was rejected by Valens, who collected a large army made up of both cavalry and infantry. Fritigern also gathered the Goths, but once more offered to negotiate.this point in history, the Goths as a people were almost as civilized as the Romans and were actually more literate than the Roman citizens of Gaul. Their leaders were angry, but they also saw that both sides had more to lose than win. They did not really want a war or a battle whose loss would destroy them as a people. Even if they won, they were just weakening a potential future ally against the Huns. What the Goths really wanted was a safe place to settle. This is later shown by the fact that the Goths did unite with what was the last real Roman army to face down and defeat Atilla and the Huns eighty years later. The Visigoths may not have liked Rome, but they feared the Huns more.two armies met near Adrianople and camped in sight of each other. It was agreed that Valens would send a delegation into the ring of wagons that formed the Visigothsí camp. Remember, this was a movement of the entire Visigoth people, and in that camp were not only warriors but also families. Each side, not without cause, watched for betrayal and formed up their horsemen, ready to attack as needed. But Fritigern seems to have been more than ready to talk peace. Then a small mistake doomed Rome.the Roman delegation rode toward the Visigoth camp, they had to be nervous. Their side had just used a similar maneuver in an attempt to assassinate the very leaders they were riding to meet. Around them, thousands of horsemen armed with bow and lance stood poised to attack one another. For months, both sides had been fighting small, bitter battles and rarely taking prisoners.it was in response to some sort of unusual movement on the wall of wagons as the Romans approached. Or maybe he saw an old enemy. One of the soldiers, who was acting as the bodyguard for the Roman delegates, fired an arrow, one arrow only, toward the disturbance. The other guards may have fired then as well. None survived to say if they did or did not. The Visigoths reacted with a shower of arrows. Most of the Roman delegation fell, and the survivors fled.this, the Roman cavalry charged the Gothsí camp from their position on both flanks of the infantry. The horsemen were unable to break into the Visigoth camp they surrounded. The bulk of the Visigoth and Ostrogoth heavy cavalry, well-armored men on fresh horses, had returned late. They had been waiting out of sight, behind a small wood, to one side of the battlefield. These armored horsemen charged first one, then the other force of Roman cavalry. Assailed by arrows from the wagons and attacked from behind by thousands of armored warriors, both groups of Roman horsemen fled. This left the still-unformed and badly trained Roman infantry at the mercy of the entire Gothic army. About 40,000 men died, and the power of the Western Roman empire was broken forever. Roman armies became less and less Roman and more and more barbarian. The vaunted infantry of the legions was shown to be gone. Rome never again ruled more than parts of Italy, and within a century, the city of Rome itself had fallen twice and the barbarian Odoacer held the meaningless title of emperor.that one arrow had not been fired, there was a very good chance that peace could have been achieved. It was the Visigoths, who had valid claims and concerns, who had asked to talk, and it was very much in Valensí interest to have them as allies and not enemies. Without the disaster at Adrianople, Rome would have remained stronger and much more capable of defending itself. A Rome that still had a real army with Gothic allies might have maintained the high level of culture and literacy the Romans and Goths shared. The centuries that followed the Battle of Adrianople are described as the Age of Barbarians and the Dark Ages. Except for one arrow fired by an anonymous bodyguard, those times might have been much less barbarous and far less dark.

. HIRING OUT HOME DEFENSEthe enemy of your enemy is just your enemy too. In the early part of the fifth century, Roman occupants withdrew from Britain to defend Gaul and Italy from the invading barbarian tribes. They left behind a defenseless land with an uncertain future. The lack of a strong government and military presence sent the country spiraling into chaos. Bands of Picts, who dwelled on the north side of Hadrianís Wall, began raiding villages on the south side. They took food, slaughtered countless Britons, and robbed the local homes and churches. Without the support of the Roman legions, British chieftains felt they could not stop the plundering and raids. So, they hired Saxon mercenaries to come over and quell the troublesome people of the north. They soon learned to regret their decision.much is known about the details concerning the events, but according to tradition and the Venerable Bede, the story goes something like thisÖabout 425 there lived a king named Constans, who had as his most trusted adviser the lord Vortigern. The king had lived his life in a monastery and therefore knew nothing of the affairs of state. So Vortigern managed the country on his behalf. It didnít take long for Vortigern to figure out that if he ran the country, he might as well be king. He concocted a plan to usurp the throne from the pious King Constans.first persuaded the king to put the treasury in his care and then asked for control of the cities and their garrisons. He convinced the king that the Picts planned to invade and would be aided by the Norwegians and the Danes. Vortigern told Constans that the best way to avoid this would be to fill the court with Picts who could act as spies against their own people. The real reason Vortigern wanted to pack the court with Pictish nobles was that he knew they could be easily bought. When they arrived, Vortigern treated them with favoritism. Once he had their loyalty, he told them that he planned on leaving to seek his fortune, as he could not live off of the measly allowance the king provided him. The outraged Picts decided to take action against the king. They broke into his bedchamber and cut off his head. Vortigern played the part of the grieving friend well. He ordered the execution of all involved in the crime. This played well with the Brits, but when word got north to the Picts, they wanted revenge.not only had to contend with the fact that he had made an enemy of the Picts, but he also had made an enemy of Constansí two brothers, Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon. (They both had fled to Brittany, but returned to play a part in the story later.) Hengist and Horsa, two Saxon leaders, appeared off the coast of England in what likely was supposed to be a raid. The Saxons landed in Kent with a band of fully armed warriors. Rather than gathering men to repel their invasion, Vortigern saw this as an opportunity. He invited the two Saxon bands to fight for him in exchange for land and money. It seemed like the perfect match., the trio won many victories over the Picts, and in return Vortigern granted Hengist land in Lincolnshire. Hengist told Vortigern that to keep the enemy at bay he must send for more men from Germany. He was given permission to do so. As if that were not stupid enough, the king also made Hengist an earl and allowed him to build a castle stronghold. The newly appointed earl named his castle Thongceaster.you think Vortigern acted foolishly so far, just wait. It gets worse. Vortigern fell in love with Rowena, the beautiful daughter of Hengist, and asked for her hand in marriage. Hengist agreed, but only if the king would give him the county of Kent to compensate for his loss. All involved totally ignored the fact that Kent already belonged to Earl Gorangon, who was also sworn to Vortigernís service and must have been furious. Vortigern then appointed his newly acquired father-in-law as his chief adviser. He also gave Hengistís sons land between Hadrianís Wall and the southern part of Britain as a buffer between the raiders and his own people. While all this was happening, the number of Saxons settling in Britain increased daily. They owed loyalty only to Hengist. It became clear to every Briton except Vortigern that Hengist planned to take over.the British nobles voiced their concerns to Vortigern he ignored them. But if things continued, the nobles realized they would lose all of their lands to the Saxons. So, they declared Vortigernís son Vortimer their king. Vortimer immediately set about driving the Saxons away. He fought and won many battles. In one of those battles, Horsa, the other leader who had arrived with Hengist, was slain. Many Saxon warriors had to flee back to Germany, often leaving their women and children behind. The family members left behind were usually enslaved. Soon all of the Saxon warriors and leaders were back across the Channel. Upon hearing of all this, Rowena decided to take revenge on Vortimer and had him poisoned. When news of Vortimerís death reached Hengist, he raised an army and set sail back to Briton. When he arrived, he sent a message to Vortigern, who was king again. Hengist told him that the army had been brought over to deal with Vortimer, and he claimed he was unaware of Vortimerís death. The two leaders arranged to meet with their top barons at Amesbury Abbey to negotiate terms. Tradition was that no one brought weapons to a negotiation. The British nobles obeyed the tradition, but the Saxons did not. Once the meeting had begun, Hengist and his men pulled out their daggers and cut the throats of the unarmed Britons.this point, the story slips into legend, with tales of Merlin the wizard woven throughout. Vortigern did not die in the massacre, but was killed later by Ambrosius, the exiled son of Constans. The legend does have a ring of truth to it, if only a literary one. It conveys the feelings of betrayal that the Britons felt toward the Saxon invaders, and it provides archaeologists and historians with a possible explanation for the sudden shift of power and the mass migration of the Saxons. The tale also offers a moral. So for all you men and women out there with plans of world domination, take a lesson from Vortigern, not to mention Rome: Never hire someone to fight your enemies. And if you do so, donít allow them to achieve greater strength in numbers. The leader with the biggest army almost always ends up as king.

Date: 2015-02-16; view: 1098

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