Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/177

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171
BATTLE OF TOURS.


er to the superior might of the Northexn warriors might not in- aptly recall those other lines of the same book of the Iliad, where the downfall of Fatroclus beneath Hector is likened to the forced yielding of the panting and exhausted wild boar» that had long and furiously fought with a superior beast of prey for the posses- sion of the scanty fountain among the rocks at which each burned to drink.*

Although three centuries had passed away since the German- ic conquerors of Rome had crossed the Rhine, never to repass that frontier stream, no settled system of institutions or govern- ment, no amalgamation of the various races into one people, no uniformity of language or habits, had been established in the country at the time when Charles Martel Was called to repel the menacing tide of Saracenic invasion from the south. Gaul was. not yet France. In that, as in other provinces of the Ro- man empire of the West, the dominion of the CaBsars had been shattered as early as the fifth ceutury, and barbaric kingdoms and principalities had promptly arisen on the ruins of the Ro- man power. But few of these had any permanency, and none of them consolidated the rest, or any considerable number of the rest, into one coherent and organized civil and political society. The great bulk of the population still consisted of the conquered provincials, that is to say, of Romanized Celts, of a Gallic race which had long been under the dominion of the CsBsars, and had acquired, together with no slight infusion of Roman blood, the language, the literature, the laws, and the civilization of Latium. Among these, and dominant over them, roved or dwelt the Ger- man victors ; some retaining nearly all the rude independence of their primitive national character, others softened and disci- plined by the aspect and contact of the manners and institutions of civilized life ; for it is to be borne in mind that the Roman empire in the West was not crushed by any sudden avalanche

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