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Haaren, John H. (John Henry) / Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Original version produced by Brett Fishburne
and Jenny Francisco. Corrected and updated version, and
illustrated HTML version, prepared by Robert J. Hall.

Typed by Brett Fishburne (william.fishburne@verizon.net) Proofed
by Jenny Francisco (seattle717@yahoo.com)



John H. Haaren, LL.D.

District Superintendent of Schools

The City of New York


A. B. Poland, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Newark N. J.


The study of history, like the study of a landscape, should begin
with the most conspicuous features. Not until these have been fixed
in memory will the lesser features fall into their appropriate
places and assume their right proportions.

The famous men of ancient and modern times are the mountain peaks
of history. It is logical then that the study of history should
begin with the biographies of these men.

Not only is it logical; it is also pedagogical. Experience has
proven that in order to attract and hold the child's attention
each conspicuous feature of history presented to him should have
an individual for its center. The child identifies himself with
the personage presented. It is not Romulus or Hercules or Cĉsar or
Alexander that the child has in mind when he reads, but himself,
acting under similar conditions.

Prominent educators, appreciating these truths, have long recognized
the value of biography as a preparation for the study of history
and have given it an important place in their scheme of studies.

The former practice in many elementary schools of beginning the
detailed study of American history without any previous knowledge
of general history limited the pupil's range of vision, restricted
his sympathies, and left him without material for comparisons.
Moreover, it denied to him a knowledge of his inheritance from
the Greek philosopher, the Roman lawgiver, the Teutonic lover of
freedom. Hence the recommendation so strongly urged in the report
of the Committee of Ten--and emphasized, also, in the report of
the Committee of Fifteen--that the study of Greek, Roman and modern
European history in the form of biography should precede the study
of detailed American history in our elementary schools. The Committee
of Ten recommends an eight years' course in history, beginning
with the fifth year in school and continuing to the end of the
high school course. The first two years of this course are given
wholly to the study of biography and mythology. The Committee of
fifteen recommends that history be taught in all the grades of
the elementary school and emphasizes the value of biography and
of general history.

The series of historical stories to which this volume belongs was
prepared in conformity with the foregoing recommendations and with
the best practice of leading schools. It has been the aim of the
authors to make an interesting story of each man's life and to
tell these stories in a style so simple that pupils in the lower
grades will read them with pleasure, and so dignified that they
may be used with profit as text-books for reading.

Teachers who find it impracticable to give to the study of mythology
and biography a place of its own in an already overcrowded curriculum
usually prefer to correlate history with reading and for this purpose
the volumes of this series will be found most desirable.

The value of the illustrations can scarcely be over-estimated.
They will be found to surpass in number and excellence anything
heretofore offered in a school-book. For the most part they are
reproductions of world-famous pictures, and for that reason the
artists' names are generally affixed.



II ATTILA THE HUN (433-453 A.D.)
V CLOVIS (481-511 A.D.)
VI JUSTINIAN (527-565 A.D.)
VII MOHAMMED (570-632 A.D.)
XVI THE CID (1040-1099)
XXII LOUIS IX (1226-1270)
XXIV MARCO POLO (1254-1324)
XXVIII HENRY V (1413-1422)
XXIX JOAN OF ARC (1412-1431)
XXX (1400-1468)



In the little volume called The Famous Men of Rome you have read
about the great empire which the Romans established. Now we come to
a time when the power of Rome was broken and tribes of barbarians
who lived north of the Danube and the Rhine took possession of
lands that had been part of the Roman Empire. These tribes were the
Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks and Anglo-Saxons. From them have come
the greatest nations of modern times. All except the Huns belonged
to the same race and are known as Teutons. They were war-like,
savage and cruel. They spoke the same language--though in different
dialects--and worshiped the same gods. Like the old Greeks and
Romans they had many gods.

Woden, who was also called Odin, was the greatest of all. His name
means "mighty warrior," and he was king of all the gods. He rode
through the air mounted on Sleip'nir, an eight-footed horse fleeter
than the eagle. When the tempest roared the Teutons said it was
the snorting of Sleipnir. When their ships came safely into port
they said it was Woden's breath that had filled their sails and
wafted their vessels over the blue waters.


Thor, a son of Woden, ranked next to him among the gods. He rode
through the air in a chariot drawn by goats. The Germans called
him Donar and Thunar, words which are like our word thunder. From
this we can see that he was the thunder god. In his hand he carried
a wonderful hammer which always came back to his hand when he threw
it. Its head was so bright that as it flew through the air it made
the lightning. When it struck the vast ice mountains they reeled
and splintered into fragments, and thus Thor's hammer made thunder.

Another great god of our ancestors was Tiew. He was a son of Woden
and was the god of battle. He was armed with a sword which flashed
like lightning when he brandished it. A savage chief named Attila
routed the armies of the Romans and so terrified all the world
that he was called "The Scourge of God." His people believed that
he gained his victories because he had the sword of Tiew, which
a herdsman chanced to find where the god had allowed it to fall.
The Teutons prayed to Tiew when they went into battle.

Frija (_free' ya_) was the wife of Woden and the queen of the gods.
She ruled the bright clouds that gleam in the summer sky, and caused
them to pour their showers on meadow and forest and mountain.

Four of the days of the week are named after these gods. Tuesday
means the day of Tiew; Wednesday, the day of Woden; Thursday, the
day of Thor; and Friday, the day of Frija.

Frija's son was Bald'ur; who was the favorite of all the gods.
Only Lo'ki, the spirit of evil, hated him. Baldur's face was as
bright as sunshine. His hair gleamed like burnished gold. Wherever
he went night was turned into day.

One morning when he looked toward earth from his father Woden's
palace black clouds covered the sky, but he saw a splendid rainbow
reaching down from the clouds to the earth. Baldur walked upon
this rainbow from the home of the gods to the dwellings of men.
The rainbow was a bridge upon which the gods used to come to earth.

When Baldur stepped from the rainbow-bridge to the earth he saw
a king's daughter so beautiful that he fell in love with her.

But an earthly prince had also fallen in love with her. So he and
Baldur fought for her hand. Baldur was a god and hence was very
much stronger than the prince. But some of Baldur's magic food
was given to the prince and it made him as strong as Baldur.

Frija heard about this and feared that Baldur was doomed to be
killed. So she went to every beast on the land and every fish of
the sea and every bird of the air and to every tree of the wood
and every plant of the field and made each promise not to hurt

But she forgot the mistletoe. So Loki, who always tried to do mischief,
made an arrow of mistletoe, and gave it to the prince who shot and
killed Baldur with it.

Then all the gods wept, the summer breeze wailed, the leaves fell
from the sorrowing trees, the flowers faded and died from grief, and
the earth grew stiff and cold. Bruin, the bear, and his neighbors,
the hedgehogs and squirrels, crept into holes and refused to eat
for weeks and weeks.

The pleasure of all living things in Baldur's presence means the
happiness that the sunlight brings. The sorrow of all living things
at his death means the gloom of northern countries when winter

The Val-kyr'ies were beautiful female warriors. They had some of
Woden's own strength and were armed with helmet and shield and
spear. Like Woden, they rode unseen through the air and their horses
were almost as swift as Sleipnir himself. They swiftly carried
Woden's favorite warriors to Valhalla, the hall of the slain. The
walls of Valhalla were hung with shields; its ceiling glittered
with polished spearheads. From its five hundred and forty gates,
each wide enough for eight hundred men abreast to march through,
the warriors rushed every morning to fight a battle that lasted
till nightfall and began again at the break of each day. When the
heroes returned to Valhalla the Valkyries served them with goblets
of mead such as Woden drank himself.

The Teutons believed that before there were any gods or any world
there was a great empty space where the world now is. It was called
by the curious name Gin'nungagap, which means a yawning abyss.


To the north of Ginnungagap it was bitterly cold. Nothing was there
but fields of snow and mountains of ice. To the south of Ginnungagap
was a region where frost and snow were never seen. It was always
bright, and was the home of light and heat. The sunshine from the
South melted the ice mountains of the North so that they toppled
over and fell into Ginnungagap. There they were changed into a
frost giant whose name was Ymir (_e'mir_). He had three sons. They
and their father were so strong that the gods were afraid of them.

So Woden and his brothers killed Ymir. They broke his body in pieces
and made the world of them. His bones and teeth became mountains
and rocks; his hair became leaves for trees and plants; out of
his skull was made the sky.

But Ymir was colder than ice, and the earth that was made of his
body was so cold that nothing could live or grow upon it. So the
gods took sparks from the home of light and set them in the sky.
Two big ones were the sun and moon and the little ones were the
stars. Then the earth became warm. Trees grew and flowers bloomed,
so that the world was a beautiful home for men.

Of all the trees the most wonderful was a great ash tree, sometimes
called the "world tree." Its branches covered the earth and reached
beyond the sky till they almost touched the stars. Its roots ran
in three directions, to heaven, to the frost giants' home and to
the under-world, beneath the earth.

Near the roots in the dark under-world sat the Norns, or fates.
Each held a bowl with which she dipped water out of a sacred spring
and poured it upon the roots of the ash tree. This was the reason
why this wonderful tree was always growing, and why it grew as
high as the sky.

When Woden killed Ymir he tried to kill all Ymir's children too;
but one escaped, and ever after he and his family, the frost giants,
tried to do mischief, and fought against gods and men.

According to the belief of the Teutons these wicked giants will
some day destroy the beautiful world. Even the gods themselves
will be killed in a dreadful battle with them. First of all will
come three terrible winters without any spring or summer. The sun
and moon will cease to shine and the bright stars will fall from the
sky. The earth will be shaken as when there is a great earthquake;
the waves of the sea will roar and the highest mountains will totter
and fall. The trees will be torn up by the roots, and even the
"world tree" will tremble from its roots to its topmost boughs.
At last the quivering earth will sink beneath the waters of the

Then Loki, the spirit of evil, will break loose from the fetters
with which the gods have bound him. The frost giants will join him.
They will try to make a secret attack on the gods. But Heimdall, the
sentry of heaven, will be on guard at the end of the rainbow-bridge.
He needs no more sleep than a bird and can see for a hundred miles
either by day or night. He only can sound the horn whose blast
can be heard through heaven and earth and the under-world. Loki
and his army will be seen by him. His loud alarm will sound and
bring the gods together. They will rush to meet the giants. Woden
will wield his spear--Tiew his glittering sword--Thor his terrible
hammer. These will all be in vain. The gods must die. But so must
the giants and Loki.

And then a new earth will rise from the sea. The leaves of its
forests will never fall; its fields will yield harvests unsown.
And in a hall far brighter than Woden's Valhalla the brave and
good will be gathered forever.



The time came when the people of Western Europe learned to believe
in one God and were converted to Christianity, but the old stories
about the gods and Valkyries and giants and heroes, who were half
gods and half men, were not forgotten.

These stories were repeated from father to son for generations,
and in the twelfth century a poet, whose name we do not know, wrote
them in verse. He called his poem the Nï'bel-ung'en-lied (song
of the Nibelungs). It is the great national poem of the Germans.
The legends told in it are the basis of Wagner's operas.

"Nibelungs" was the name given to some northern dwarfs whose king
had once possessed a great treasure of gold and precious stones but
had lost it. Whoever got possession of this treasure was followed
by a curse. The Nibelungenlied tells the adventures of those who
possessed the treasure.


In the grand old city of Worms, in Burgundy, there lived long ago
the princess Kriemhilda. Her eldest brother Gunther was king of

And in the far-away Netherlands, where the Rhine pours its waters
into the sea, dwelt a prince named Siegfried, son of Siegmund,
the king.

Ere long Sir Siegfried heard of the beauty of fair Kriemhilda.
He said to his father, "Give me twelve knights and I will ride to
King Gunther's land. I must win the heart of Kriemhilda."

After seven days' journey the prince and his company drew near
to the gates of Worms. All wondered who the strangers were and
whence they came. Hagen, Kriemhilda's uncle, guessed. He said,
"I never have seen the famed hero of Netherlands, yet I am sure
that yonder knight is none but Sir Siegfried."

"And who," asked the wondering people, "may Siegfried be?"

"Siegfried," answered Sir Hagen, "is a truly wonderful knight.
Once when riding all alone, he came to a mountain where lay the
treasure of the king of the Nibelungs. The king's two sons had
brought it out from the cave in which it had been hidden, to divide
it between them. But they did not agree about the division. So
when Seigfied drew near both princes said, 'Divide for us, Sir
Siegfried, our father's hoard.' There were so many jewels that
one hundred wagons could not carry them, and of ruddy gold there
was even more. Seigfied made the fairest division he could, and as
a reward the princes gave him their father's sword called Balmung.
But although Siegfried had done his best to satisfy them with his
division, they soon fell to quarreling and fighting, and when he
tried to separate them they made an attack on him. To save his
own life he slew them both. Alberich, a mountain dwarf, who had
long been guardian of the Nibelung hoard, rushed to avenge his
masters; but Siegfried vanquished him and took from him his cap of
darkness which made its wearer invisible and gave him the strength
of twelve men. The hero then ordered Alberich to place the treasure
again in the mountain cave and guard it for him."

Hagen then told another story of Siegfried:

"Once he slew a fierce dragon and bathed himself in its blood,
and this turned the hero's skin to horn, so that no sword or spear
can wound him."

When Hagen had told these tales he advised King Gunther and the
people of Burgundy to receive Siegfried with all honor.


So, as the fashion was in those times, games were held in the courtyard
of the palace in honor of Siegfried, and Kriemhilda watched the
sport from her window.

For a full year Siegfried stayed at the court of King Gunther,
but never in all that time told why he had come and never once saw

At the end of the year sudden tidings came that the Saxons and
Danes, as was their habit, were pillaging the lands of Burgundy.
At the head of a thousand Burgundian knights Siegfried conquered
both Saxons and Danes. The king of the Danes was taken prisoner
and the Saxon king surrendered.

The victorious warriors returned to Worms and the air was filled
with glad shouts of welcome. King Gunther asked Kriemhilda to welcome
Siegfried and offer him the thanks of all the land of Burgundy.

Siegfried stood before her, and she said, "Welcome, Sir Siegfried,
welcome; we thank you one and all." He bent before her and she
kissed him.


Far over the sea from sunny Burgundy lived Brunhilda, queen of
Iceland. Fair was she of face and strong beyond compare. If a knight
would woo and win her he must surpass her in three contests: leaping,
hurling the spear and pitching the stone. If he failed in even
one, he must forfeit his life.

King Gunther resolved to wed this strange princess and Siegfried
promised to help him. "But," said Siegfried, "if we succeed, I must
have as my wife thy sister Kriemhilda." To this Gunther agreed,
and the voyage to Iceland began.

When Gunther and his companions neared Brunhilda's palace the gates
were opened and the strangers were welcomed.

Siegfried thanked the queen for her kindness and told how Gunther
had come to Iceland in hope of winning her hand.

"If in three contests he gain the mastery," she said, "I will become
his wife. If not, both he and you who are with him must lose your

Brunhilda prepared for the contests. Her shield was so thick and
heavy that four strong men were needed to bear it. Three could
scarcely carry her spear and the stone that she hurled could just
be lifted by twelve.

Siegfried now helped Gunther in a wonderful way. He put on his
cap of darkness, so that no one could see him. Then he stood by
Gunther's side and did the fighting. Brunhilda threw her spear
against the kings bright shield and sparks flew from the steel.
But the unseen knight dealt Brunhilda such blows that she confessed
herself conquered.

In the second and third contests she fared no better, and so she
had to become King Gunther's bride. But she said that before she
would leave Iceland she must tell all her kinsmen. Daily her kinsfolk
came riding to the castle, and soon an army had assembled.

Then Gunther and his friends feared unfair play. So Siegfried put
on his cap of darkness, stepped into a boat, and went to the Nibelung
land where Alberich the dwarf was guarding the wonderful Nibelung

"Bring me here," he cried to the dwarf, "a thousand Nibelung knights."
At the call of the dwarf the warriors gathered around Sir Siegfried.
Then they sailed with him to Brunhilda's isle and the queen and her
kinsmen, fearing such warriors, welcomed them instead of fighting.
Soon after their arrival King Gunther and his men, Siegfried and his
Nibelungs, and Queen Brunhilda, with two thousand of her kinsmen
set sail for King Gunther's land.

As soon as they reached Worms the marriage of Gunther and Brunhilda
took place. Siegfried and Kriemhilda also were married, and after
their marriage went to Siegfried's Netherlands castle. There they
lived more happily than I can tell.


Now comes the sad part of the Nibelung tale.

Brunhilda and Gunther invited Siegfried and Kriemhilda to visit them
at Worms. During the visit the two queens quarreled and Brunhilda
made Gunther angry with Siegfried. Hagen, too, began to hate Siegfried
and wished to kill him.

But Siegfried could not be wounded except in one spot on which
a falling leaf had rested when he bathed himself in the dragon's
blood. Only Kriemhilda knew where this spot was. Hagen told her to
sew a little silk cross upon Siegfried's dress to mark the spot,
so that he might defend Siegfried in a fight.

No battle was fought, but Siegfried went hunting with Gunther and
Hagen one day and they challenged him to race with them. He easily
won, but after running he was hot and thirsty and knelt to drink
at a spring. Then Hagen seized a spear and plunged it through the
cross into the hero's body. Thus the treasure of the Nibelungs
brought disaster to Siegfried.

Gunther and Hagen told Kriemhilda that robbers in the wood had slain
her husband, but she could not be deceived.


Kriemhilda determined to take vengeance on the murderers of Siegfried,
and so she would not leave Worms. There, too, stayed one thousand
knights who had followed Siegfried from the Nibelung land.

Soon after Siegfried's death Kriemhilda begged her younger brother
to bring the Nibelung treasure from the mountain cave to Worms.

When it arrived Kriemhilda gave gold and jewels to rich and poor
in Burgundy, and Hagen feared that soon she would win the love of
all the people and turn them against him. So, one day, he took
the treasure and hid it in the Rhine. He hoped some day to enjoy
it himself.

As Hagen now possessed the Nibelung treasure the name "Nibelungs"
was given to him and his companions.


Etzel, or as we call him, Attila, king of the Huns, heard of the
beauty of Kriemhilda and sent one of his knights to ask the queen
to become his wife.

At first she refused. However, when she remembered that Etzel carried
the sword of Tiew, she changed her mind, because, if she became
his wife, she might persuade him to take vengeance upon Gunther
and Hagen.

And so it came to pass.

Shortly after their marriage Etzel and Kriemhilda invited Gunther
and all his court to a grand midsummer festival in the land of
the Huns.

Hagen was afraid to go, for he felt sure that Kriemhilda had not
forgiven the murder of Siegfried. However, it was decided that
the invitation should be accepted, but that ten thousand knights
should go with Gunther as a body-guard.

Shortly after Gunther and his followers arrived at Attila's court
a banquet was prepared. Nine thousand Burgundians were seated at
the board when Attila's brother came into the banquet hall with a
thousand well-armed knights. A quarrel arose and a fight followed.

Thousands of the Burgundians were slain. The struggle continued
for days. At last, of all the knights of Burgundy, Gunther and
Hagen alone were left alive. Then one of Kriemhilda's friends fought
with them and overpowered both. He bound them and delivered them
to Kriemhilda.

The queen ordered one of her knights to cut off Gunther's head, and
she herself cut off the head of Hagen with "Balmung," Siegfried's
wonderful sword. A friend of Hagen then avenged his death by killing
Kriemhilda herself.

Of all the Nibelungs who entered the land of the Huns one only ever
returned to Burgundy.


* * * * *


KING FROM 394-410 A.D.


Long before the beginning of the period known as the Middle Ages
a tribe of barbarians called the Goths lived north of the River
Danube in the country which is now known as Roumania. It was then a
part of the great Roman Empire, which at that time had two capitals,
Constantinople--the new city of Constantine--and Rome. The Goths
had come from the shores of the Baltic Sea and settled on this
Roman territory, and the Romans had not driven them back.

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Va'lens some of the Goths
joined a conspiracy against him. Valens punished them for this
by crossing the Danube and laying waste their country. At last
the Goths had to beg for mercy. The Gothic chief was afraid to
set foot on Roman soil, so he and Valens met on their boats in the
middle of the Danube and made a treaty of peace.


For a long time the Goths were at war with another tribe of barbarians
called Huns. Sometimes the Huns defeated the Goths and drove them
to their camps in the mountains. Sometimes the Goths came down
to the plains again and defeated the Huns.

At last the Goths grew tired of such constant fighting and thought
they would look for new settlements. They sent some of their leading
men to the Emperor Valens to ask permission to settle in some country
belonging to Rome. The messengers said to the emperor:

"If you will allow us to make homes in the country south of the
Danube we will be friends of Rome and fight for her when she needs
our help."

The emperor at once granted this request. He said to the Gothic

"Rome always needs good soldiers. Your people may cross the Danube
and settle on our land. As long as you remain true to Rome we will
protect you against your enemies."

These Goths were known as Visigoths, or Western Goths. Other tribes
of Goths who had settled in southern Russia, were called Ostrogoths,
or Eastern Goths.

After getting permission from the Emperor Valens a large number
of the Visigoths crossed the Danube with their families and their
cattle and settled in the country now called Bulgaria.

In course of time they became a very powerful nation, and in the
year 394 they chose as their king one of the chiefs named Al'a-ric.
He was a brave man and a great soldier. Even when a child he took
delight in war, and at the age of sixteen he fought as bravely
as the older soldiers.

One night, not long after he became king, Alaric had a very strange
dream. He thought he was driving in a golden chariot through the
streets of Rome amid the shouts of the people, who hailed him as
emperor. This dream made a deep impression on his mind. He was
always thinking of it, and at last he began to have the idea that
he could make the dream come true.

"To be master of the Roman Empire," he said to himself, "that is
indeed worth trying for; and why should I not try? With my brave
soldiers I can conquer Rome, and I shall make the attempt."

So Alaric called his chiefs together and told them what he had made
up his mind to do.

The chiefs gave a cry of delight for they approved of the king's
proposal. In those days fighting was almost the only business of
chiefs, and they were always glad to be at war, especially when
there was hope of getting rich spoils. And so the Visigoth chiefs
rejoiced at the idea of war against Rome, for they knew that if
they were victorious they would have the wealth of the richest
city of the world to divide among themselves.

[Illustration: ALARIC AT ATHENS]

Soon they got ready a great army. With Alaric in command, they
marched through Thrace and Macedonia and before long reached Athens.
There were now no great warriors in Athens, and the city surrendered
to Alaric. The Goths plundered the homes and temples of the Athenians
and then marched to the state of Elis, in the southwestern part
of Greece. Here a famous Roman general named Stil'i-cho besieged
them in their camp. Alaric managed to force his way through the
lines of the Romans and escaped. He marched to Epirus. This was
a province of Greece that lay on the east side of the Ionian Sea.
Arcadius, the Emperor of the East, now made Alaric governor of this
district and a large region lying near it. The whole territory
was called Eastern Illyricum and formed part of the Eastern Empire.


Alaric now set out to make an attack on Rome, the capital of the
Western Empire. As soon as Honorius, Emperor of the West, learned
that Alaric was approaching, he fled to a strong fortress among
the mountains of North Italy. His great general Stilicho came to
his rescue and defeated Alaric near Verona. But even after this
Honorius was so afraid of Alaric that he made him governor of a
part of his empire called Western Illyricum and gave him a large
yearly income.

Honorius, however, did not keep certain of his promises to Alaric,
who consequently, in the year 408, marched to Rome and besieged
it. The cowardly emperor fled to Ravenna, leaving his generals to
make terms with Alaric. It was agreed that Alaric should withdraw
from Rome upon the payment of 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds
of silver.

When Honorius read the treaty he refused to sign it. Alaric then
demanded that the city be surrendered to him, and the people, terrified,
opened their gates and even agreed that Alaric should appoint another
emperor in place of Honorius.

This new emperor, however, ruled so badly that Alaric thought it
best to restore Honorius. Then Honorius, when just about to be
treated so honorably, allowed a barbarian chief who was an ally
of his to make an attack upon Alaric. The attack was unsuccessful,
and Alaric immediately laid siege to Rome for the third time. The
city was taken, and Alaric's dream came true. In a grand procession
he rode at the head of his army through the streets of the great

Then began the work of destruction. The Goths ran in crowds through
the city, wrecked private houses and public buildings and seized
everything of value they could find. Alaric gave orders that no
injury should be done to the Christian churches, but other splendid
buildings of the great city were stripped of the beautiful and
costly articles that they contained, and all the gold and silver
was carried away from the public treasury.


In the midst of the pillage Alaric dressed himself in splendid
robes and sat upon the throne of the emperor, with a golden crown
upon his head.

While Alaric was sitting on the throne thousands of Romans were
compelled to kneel down on the ground before him and shout out his
name as conqueror and emperor. Then the theaters and circuses were
opened, and Roman athletes and gladiators had to give performances
for the amusement of the conquerors. After six days of pillage and
pleasure Alaric and his army marched through the gates, carrying
with them the riches of Rome.

Alaric died on his way to Sicily, which he had thought to conquer
also. He felt his death coming and ordered his men to bury him in
the bed of the river Busento and to put into his grave the richest
treasures that he had taken from Rome.

This order was carried out. A large number of Roman slaves were
set to work to dig a channel and turn the water of the Busento
into it. They made the grave in the bed of the river, put Alaric's
body into and closed it up. Then the river was turned back to its
old channel. As soon as the grave was covered up, and the water
flowed over it, the slaves who had done the work were put to death
by the Visigoth chiefs.


KING FROM 434-453 A.D.


The fierce and warlike tribe, called the Huns, who had driven the
Goths to seek new homes, came from Asia into Southeastern Europe
and took possession of a large territory lying north of the River

During the first half of the fifth century the Huns had a famous
king named At'ti-la. He was only twenty-one years old when he became
their king. But although he was young, he was very brave and ambitious,
and he wanted to be a great and powerful king.

Not far from Attila's palace there was a great rocky cave in the
mountains. In this cave lived a strange man called the "Hermit of
the Rocks." No one knew his real name, or from what country he
had come. He was very old, with wrinkled face and long gray hair
and beard.

Many persons believed that he was a fortune-teller, so people often
went to him to inquire what was to happen to them. One day, shortly
after he became king, Attila went to the cave to get his fortune

"Wise man," said he, "look into the future and tell me what is before
me in the path of life."

The hermit thought for a few moments, and then said, "O King, I
see you a famous conqueror, the master of many nations. I see you
going from country to country, defeating armies and destroying
cities until men call you the 'Fear of the World.' You heap up
vast riches, but just after you have married the woman you love
grim death strikes you down."

With a cry of horror Attila fled from the cave. For a time he thought
of giving up his idea of becoming a great man. But he was young
and full of spirit, and very soon he remembered only what had been
said to him about his becoming a great and famous conqueror and
began to prepare for war. He gathered together the best men from
the various tribes of his people and trained them into a great
army of good soldiers.


About this time one of the king's shepherds, while taking care
of cattle in the fields, noticed blood dripping from the foot of
one of the oxen. The shepherd followed the streak of blood through
the grass and at last found the sharp point of a sword sticking
out of the earth. He dug out the weapon, carried it to the palace,
and gave it to King Attila. The king declared it was the sword of
Tiew, the god of war. He then strapped it to his side and said
he would always wear it.

[Illustration: A HUNNIC INVASION]

"I shall never be defeated in battle," he cried, "as long as I fight
with the sword of Tiew."

As soon as his army was ready he marched with it into countries
which belonged to Rome. He defeated the Romans in several great
battles and captured many of their cities. The Roman Emperor
Theodosius had to ask for terms of peace. Attila agreed that
there should be peace, but soon afterwards he found out that
Theodosius had formed a plot to murder him. He was so enraged at
this that he again began war. He plundered and burned cities
wherever he went, and at last the emperor had to give him a
large sum of money and a portion of country south of the Danube.

This made peace, but the peace did not last long. In a few years
Attila appeared at the head of an army of 700,000 men. With this
great force he marched across Germany and into Gaul. He rode on a
beautiful black horse, and carried at his side the sword of Tiew.
He attacked and destroyed towns and killed the inhabitants without
mercy. The people had such dread of him that he was called the
"Scourge of God" and the "Fear of the World."


Attila and his terrible Huns marched through Gaul until they came to
the city of Orleans. Here the people bravely resisted the invaders.
They shut their gates and defended themselves in every way they
could. In those times all towns of any great size were surrounded by
strong walls. There was war constantly going on nearly everywhere,
and there were a great many fierce tribes and chiefs who lived by
robbing their neighbors. So the towns and castles in which there
was much money or other valuable property were not safe without
high and strong walls.

Attila tried to take Orleans, but soon after he began to attack
the walls he saw a great army at a distance coming towards the
city. He quickly gathered his forces together, marched to the
neighboring plain of Champagne and halted at the place where the
city of Châlons (_shah-lon'_) now stands.

The army which Attila saw was an army of 300,000 Romans and Visigoths.
It was led by a Roman general name A-ë'ti-us and the Visigoth king,
The-od'o-ric. The Visigoths after the death of Alaric had settled
in parts of Gaul, and their king had now agreed to join the Romans
against the common enemy--the terrible Huns. So the great army
of the Romans and Visigoths marched up and attacked the Huns at
Châlons. It was a fierce battle. Both sides fought with the greatest
bravery. At first the Huns seemed to be winning. They drove back
the Romans and Visigoths from the field, and in the fight Theodoric
was killed.


Aetius now began to fear that he would be beaten, but just at that
moment Thor'is-mond, the son of Theodoric, made another charge
against the Huns. He had taken command of the Visigoths when his
father was killed, and now he led them on to fight. They were all
eager to have revenge for the death of their king, so they fought
like lions and swept across the plain with great fury. The Huns
were soon beaten on every side, and Attila himself fled to his
camp. It was the first time he had ever been defeated. Thorismond,
the conqueror, was lifted upon his shield on the battle-field and
hailed as king of the Visigoths.

When Attila reached his camp he had all his baggage and wagons
gathered in a great heap. He intended to set fire to it and jump
into the flames if the Romans should come there to attack him.

"Here I will perish in the flames," he cried, "rather than surrender
to my enemies."

But the Romans did not come to attack him, and in a few days he
marched back to his own country.

Very soon, however, he was again on the war path. This time he
invaded Italy. He attacked and plundered the town of Aq'ui-le'i-a,
and the terrified inhabitants fled for their lives to the hills
and mountains. Some of them took refuge in the islands and marshes
of the Adriatic Sea. Here they founded Venice.


The people of Rome and the Emperor Valentinian were greatly alarmed
at the approach of the dreaded Attila. He was now near the city,
and they had no army strong enough to send against him. Rome would
have been again destroyed if it had not been for Pope Leo I who
went to the camp of Attila and persuaded him not to attack the
city. It is said that the barbarian king was awed by the majestic
aspect and priestly robes of Leo. It is also told that the apostles
Peter and Paul appeared to Attila in his camp and threatened him
with death if he should attack Rome. He did not go away, however,
without getting a large sum of money as ransom.



Shortly after leaving Italy Attila suddenly died. Only the day
before his death he had married a beautiful woman whom he loved
very much.

The Huns mourned their king in a barbarous way. They shaved their
heads and cut themselves on their faces with knives, so that their
blood, instead of their tears, flowed for the loss of their great
leader. They enclosed his body in three coffins--one of gold, one
of silver, and one of iron--and they buried him at night, in a
secret spot in the mountains. When the funeral was over, they killed
the slaves who had dug the grave, as the Visigoths had done after
the burial of Alaric.

After the death of Attila we hear little more of the Huns.


KING FROM 427-477 A.D.


The Vandals were another wild and fierce tribe that came from the
shores of the Baltic and invaded central and southern Europe in
the later times of the Roman Empire.

In the fifth century some of these people occupied a region in
the south of Spain. One of their most celebrated kings was name
Gen'ser-ic. He became king in 427, when he was but twenty-one years
of age.

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