Page 1164

1164 UNIVERSAL HISTORY- TBE MODERN WORLD.

his mind as much as possible with the pageant

of the Imperial city and the spectacle of

the Imperial faith. He urged him to continue his conquests in the name of religion,

but dissuaded him from .incorporating Lombardy with his own dominions. As soon

as the conference was at an end, the king

returned to his camp before Pavia, and

the siege of the city was presently brought

to a successful conclusion.

The capital of Lombardy was surrendered

to the Franks. The whole country fell before the conquering arms of the Carlovingian.

The various dukes and counts, who had

hitherto, after the German fashion, maintained themselves in a state of semi-independence, hastened to make their submission, and resistance was at an end. The

only exception was in the case of Aregisius,

duke of Beneventum, who for a season

held himself in hostility. Desiderius himself was taken prisoner and led into France,

where first at Liege and afterwards at

Corbie he found leisure to repent of his

rashness in lifting his arm against Charles

the Great.

It appears that his visit to Rome and

the magnificent and holy things there witnessed made a profound impression upon

the mind of Charlemagne. It should not be

forgotten that this great personage was still

in manners and purposes but half emerged

from barbarism, and his dispositions were

peculiarly susceptible to such influences as

the adroit Bishop of Rome was able to bring

to bear. The Holy See at this time made

the discovery that the presentation of moral

truth and obligation to the barbarian imagination was less effective than splendid

shows and gilded ceremonies. She therefore

adopted pageant instead of morale expostulation, and converted the barbarians with

spectacles.

After tarrying at Rome until the spring of

774, Charlemagne returned to France. Having satisfactorily regulated the affairs of Italy,

he now conceived the plan of extending the

empire of religion in the opposite directions of

Saxony and Spain. As part of this purpose he convened at Paderborn, in the year

777, a general assembly of his people, and

there the scheme of conquest was matured.

The German chiefs had generally obeyed his

summons and were present at the assembly, but Wittikind, king of the Saxons, was conspicuous by absence.

Charlemagne had already had occasion to

note the obstinacy of the Saxon people. Of

all the barbarians these were most sullen in

their refusal to accept the doctrine and practice of Christianity. As early as 772 the

king of the Franks had felt constrained to

make war on the tribes dwelling north of

the Elbe. He invaded Saxony, wasted the

country with fire and sword, captured the

fortress of Ehresburg, and overthrew the

great idol of the pagans. These offenses, however, rather excited than

allayed the belligerent spirit of the Saxons,

who henceforth lost no opportunity to repay

the Christian Franks for the injuries which

they had inflicted. The border of the Elbe

became a scene of constant depredation,

inroad, and destruction of villages and towns.

The fierce Saxons stayed not their hands

wherever they could find the hamlets of

their recreant countrymen, who had betrayed the faith of their pagan fathers.

Such were the antecedents of the contest

which Charlemagne was now about to undertake with the barbarians of the North. The

subjugation of Saxony became indispensable

to the peace and safety of the kingdom, and

it was manifest that no conquest could be effectual which did not include the substitution

of Christianity for paganism. The Saxons

fought not only for national independence,

but for the whole myth and tradition of the

German race.