The Church in the Dark Ages

The Church in the Dark Ages

The Church in the Dark Ages

The Church in the Dark Ages

Excerpt

SPRING, A.D.430. Spring was always a delightful season in Rome's African provinces. But now no one had the heart to enjoy it. Throughout the length and breadth of the territories which Rome had held for centuries past there was nothing but untold misery, a chorus of weeping and wailing, refugees jamming the roads--a picture of utter hopelessness and despair. People were fleeing from one town to another, searching from east to west for the remaining places of safety, which were themselves becoming increasingly insecure. They fled with their herds, they mingled with the remnants of the retreating imperial armies. In their chance meetings with one another, the exiles would recount their frightful experiences. These, in the telling, magnified tenfold the fury of the invader. It was not simply a matter of children cleft in twain, of violated maidens, of hands severed, or of tongues torn out by the roots; human imagination was well able to improve on horrors which were, alas, only too real already. All the time people expected to see the red-haired warriors of Genseric, crazed with the lust for battle, leap up in front of them. It was like awaiting the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Roman Africa was in the grip of a terrible panic.

It was now a year since the Vandals had crossed the straits and landed in Africa. At first it had been assumed that, like so many of the other Germanic peoples who were often seen serving under the imperial flag, they were nothing more than a pawn in the complex game--so complex that it smelt strongly of treason--that Count Boniface was playing with the emperors at Ravenna. It was soon obvious that here was something very different. These Barbarians were not at all like the Gothic tribes whom Rome had incorporated as foederati into her armies in the past. The advance which the Vandals had made from the sources of the Vistula to the shores of the Mediterranean, with but a brief halt in the Iberian peninsula, had been so swift that they had had no time to absorb the civilization which they had overrun. All they had acquired was a vague baptism of Arian . . .

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