Книга Famous Men of The Middle Ages. Страница 8
"There is the country which shall be our home. Let us march on. It certainly shall be ours."
Then they passed quickly down, and soon they were in Italy . Odoacer had heard of their coming and he got ready an army to drive them away. Theodoric also got his fighting men ready. The two armies met, and there was a great battle near the town of Aquileia . Odoacer was defeated. Then he tried to get Theodoric to leave Italy by offering him a large sum of money.
"I will give you, " said he, "thousands of pounds of gold and silver if you agree to go back to your own country."
But Theodoric would not go. He said he had as good a right to be king of Italy as Odoacer, and he would remain and conquer the country and be its king. Soon after there was another battle, near Verona , and Odoacer was again defeated.
Theodoric came very near being killed in battle. He was saved only by the courage of his mother. She was in his camp, and at one time she saw a number of the Ostrogoths running away from that part of the battle-field where her son was fighting, thus leaving him without support. The mother rushed forward and stopped the fleeing men. She made them feel that it was a shame for them to desert their leader, and they at once returned to the field and fought beside their king until the battle was won.
After the battle of Verona , Odoacer went with his army to the city of Ravenna , and remained there for some time. Theodoric followed with his Ostrogoths and tried to take the city, but there was a very strong wall around it, and the Ostrogoths could not capture it. Although Theodoric was not able to take Ravenna , he did not remain idle. He marched off to other parts of the country, and took possession of towns and districts wherever he went.
After a while Odoacer got together a better army than he had before, and made another effort to defeat Theodoric. But he again failed. Theodoric defeated him in another great battle, which was fought on the banks of the River Adda. After this battle Odoacer again fled to Ravenna . Theodoric followed again and laid siege to the city. This time his army surrounded it and kept provisions from being sent in, and at last, when there was no food in the city for the soldiers or the people to eat, Odoacer had to surrender.
A treaty was then made between the two kings and both agreed that they should rule together over Italy , each to have equal power. But a few days afterwards Theodoric murdered Odoacer while sitting at a banquet, and then made himself the sole king of Italy . He divided one-third of the land of the country among his own followers. So the Ostrogoths settled in Italy , and Ostrogoths, Romans, and Visigoths were governed by Theodoric as one people.
Theodoric died at the age of seventy-one after ruling Italy for thirty-three years.
Clovis King from 481-511 A.D.
While the power of the Roman Empire was declining there dwelt on the banks of the River Rhine a number of savage Teuton tribes called Franks. The word Frank means FREE, and those tribes took pride in being known as Franks or freemen.
The Franks occupied the east bank of the Rhine for about two hundred years. Then many of the tribes crossed the river in search of new homes. The region west of the river was at that time called Gaul . Here the Franks established themselves and became a powerful people. From their name the country was afterwards called FRANCE .
Each tribe of the Franks had its own king. The greatest of all these kings was Chlodwig, or Clovis , as we call him, who became ruler of his tribe in the year 481, just six years after Theodoric became king of the Ostrogoths. Clovis was then only sixteen years of age. But though he was so young he proved in a very short time that he could govern as well as older men. He was intelligent and brave. No one ever knew him to be afraid of anything even when he was but a child. His father, who was named Childeric (chil'-der-ic), often took him to wars which the Franks had with neighboring tribes, and he was very proud of his son's bravery. The young man was also a bold and skillful horseman. He could tame and ride the most fiery horse.
When Clovis became king of the Franks a great part of Gaul still belonged to Rome . This part was then governed by a Roman general, named Syagrius (sy-ag'-ri-us). Clovis resolved to drive the Romans out of the country, and he talked over the matter with the head men of his army.
"My desire, " said he, "is that the Franks shall have possession of every part of this fair land. I shall drive the Romans and their friends away and make Gaul the empire of the Franks."
At this time the Romans had a great army in Gaul . It was encamped near the city of Soissons (swah-son') and was commanded by Syagrius. Clovis resolved to attack it and led his army at once to Soissons . When he came near the city he summoned Syagrius to surrender. Syagrius refused and asked for an interview with the commander of the Franks. Clovis consented to meet him, and an arrangement was made that the meeting should take place in the open space between the two armies. When Clovis stepped out in front of his own army, accompanied by some of his savage warriors, Syagrius also came forward. But the moment he saw the king of the Franks he laughed loudly and exclaimed:
"A boy! A boy has come to fight me! The Franks with a boy to lead them have come to fight the Romans."
Clovis was very angry at this insulting language and shouted back:
"Ay, but this boy will conquer you."
Then both sides prepared for battle. The Romans thought that they would win the victory easily, but they were mistaken. Every time that they made a charge upon the Franks they were beaten back by the warriors of Clovis . The young king himself fought bravely at the head of his men and with his own sword struck down a number of the Romans. He tried to find Syagrius and fight with him; but the Roman commander was nowhere to be found. Early in the battle he had fled from the field, leaving his men to defend themselves as best they could.
The Franks gained a great victory. With their gallant boy king leading them on they drove the Roman's before them, and when the battle was over they took possession of the city of Soissons . Clovis afterwards conquered all the other Frankish chiefs and made himself king of all the Franks.
Not very long after Clovis became king he heard of a beautiful young girl, the niece of Gondebaud (gon'-de-baud), king of Burgundy , and he thought he would like to marry her. Her name was Clotilde (clo-tilde'), and she was an orphan, for her wicked uncle Gondebaud had killed her father and mother. Clovis sent one of his nobles to Gondebaud to ask her for his wife. At first Gondebaud thought of refusing to let the girl go. He feared that she might have him punished for the murder of her parents if she became the wife of so powerful a man as Clovis . But he was also afraid that by refusing he would provoke the anger of Clovis ; so he permitted the girl to be taken to the court of the king of the Franks. Clovis was delighted when he saw her; and they were immediately married.