Page 1071

1071 BARBARIAN ASCENDENCY-KINGDOM OF THE VANDALS.

cupidity was generally stronger than an oath,

and it became the practice to despoil and

enslave the Jews rather than drive them to

foreign lands. Notwithstanding the distresses

which they suffered the Jews continued to

increase, and it can not be doubted that they

were the agents of that intercourse by which

in the early part of the eighth century the

Moors of Africa, already panting for such an

enterprise, were induced to cross the strait

and undertake the conquest of Europe.

The story of this great movement, by which

the Mohammedans were precipitated into

Spain, will be reserved for its proper place in

the Second Book. It is sufficient in this connection to say that in the year 711 a great

army of mixed races, all professing the faith

of the Prophet, and led by the great chieftain

Taric, crossed the strait of Gibraltar and began

a career of conquest which resulted in the

subjugation of Spain. The Visigothic ascendancy was ended, except in the Christian

kingdom of Castile, in which the remnant of the

Christian powers were consolidated and were

enabled to maintain themselves during the

remainder of the Middle Ages.

Of the Kingdom or the Vandals a good

deal has already been said in the preceding

pages. The progress of this people from

the north and their settlement in Spain will

readily be recalled. Having once obtained a

foothold in the peninsula they gradually prevailed over their adversaries. Even the Roman general Castinus, who in 428 was sent

out against them, was defeated in battle and

obliged to save himself by flight. The cities

of Seville and Carthagena, fell into the hands

of the Vandals, who thence made their way

to the islands of Majorca and Minorca, and

then into Africa. Into the latter country

they were invited by King Boniface, who had

become the leader of an African revolt against

his rival Aetius. The disposition of the Vandals to extend their conquests beyond the sea

had been quickened by the warlike zeal of the

great Genseric, who, after the death of his

brother Gonderic, was elected to the Vandal

throne. So great was the prowess of this

mighty warrior that his name is written with those of Alaric and Attila as the third of the

barbaric thunderbolts by which the great tree of Rome was struck to the heart. He is represented as a man of medium stature, lame in

one leg, slow of speech, taciturn, concealing

his plans in the deep recesses of his barbaric

spirit. His ambition was as great as his

policy was subtle. To conquer was the principal thing; by creating strife among his enemies, if might be, by open battle if necessary.

When about to depart for the war in

Africa he turned about to chastise the king

of the Suevi, who had rashly presumed

to begin an invasion of the territory from

which the Vandals were departing. Genseric

fell upon the impudent violators of the peace

and drove them into the river Anas. Then

in the year 429 he embarked at the head of

his nation, crossed the strait of Gibraltar, and

I landed on the African coast.

The number transported for the succor of

Boniface amounted to fifty thousand men of

war, besides the aged and infirm, the women

and the children of the nation. It was, however, the prestige of victory rather than the

array of numbers that rendered the Vandal

invasion so formidable to the African tribes.

Strange, indeed, was the contrast between the

florid-complexioned, blue-eyed German warriors, strangely dressed and still more strangely

disciplined, and the swarthy natives of that

sun-scorched shore. Soon, however, the Moors

came to understand that the Vandals were

the enemies of Rome, and that sufficed for

friendship. The African tribes crowded around

the camp and eagerly entered into alliances

with Genseric, willing to accept any kind of

a master instead of the relentless lords of

Italy.

No sooner had the Vandals established

themselves in Africa than Count Boniface

and the Princess Placidia found abundant

cause to repent of their rashness in soliciting

the aid of the inexorable barbarians. It became manifest that neither Tyrian nor Trojan

would receive any consideration at the hands

of the stern king of the Vandals. Boniface

sought and obtained the pardon of Aetius.

Carthage, and the other Roman posts, by

which Africa had long been overawed and