Excerpts From E.B. Elliott's



To the Vandal Genseric was allotted, under the second Trumpet, the conquest of the maritime provinces of Africa, and the islands: all in short that belonged to the Western empire in the Mediterranean; and which Alaric (as just alluded to) was prevented attempting by death. It belonged, I say, to Genseric; "a name," observes Gibbon, "which, in the destruction of the Roman Empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attila." It was in the year 429 that he entered on it. In the course of the 18 years preceding, no new invasion had broken on the Western empire. The desolation of Gaul and Spain, and other districts, was indeed, as observed just before, not discontinued: but it was rather by the wars of Goths against Goths, than of Goths against Romans. Italy, meanwhile, having been evacuated soon after Alaric’s death by the Goths under Astolphus, had partially recovered from its ravages: and Africa, the granary of Rome and Italy, had continued to flourish intact, as before. But now its time was come. Invited by Count Boniface, governor of the province, under the influence of temporary infatuation, Genseric, in the year above-mentioned, transported thither his Vandals from under the high Gibraltar rock across the Afric sea: all prepared, like some burning volcanic mountain, upheaved and transported across the straits, for the work of destruction.—Then, as under the former Trumpet, fire did indeed mingle with blood in the desolation of the unhappy province of Africa.—In the second year of the invasion, A. D. 430, the siege of Hippo was formed: and while it was advancing, (how can I omit noticing the event?) Augustine, its sainted Bishop, was gently released by death, and joined to the white-robed company before the throne. This was on the 28th of August, A. D. 430. Then was Hippo taken, and burnt; and then in 439 Carthage. With the capture of which city resistance ended. The whole province was subjected to the Vandals, and finally severed from the Western empire.—Thus a part of the prefigurations of the second Trumpet had been fulfilled.—But its ships, and the insular provinces of Sicily and Sardinia, still remained to the Western empire: of the destruction of which the prophecy seemed to speak also. For it said, "The third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of ships was destroyed." Was this too fulfilled by Genseric? Mark what followed after the capture of Carthage. Finding himself shut in to the south by the desert, Genseric, we are told, cast his eyes to the sea, and determined to create a naval power. And then "the fleets (the Vandal fleets) that issued from the port of Carthage again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean." Sicily was conquered by them, and Sardinia, and the other Western isles; all that was in the third part of the sea:—a division of it comprehending both that vast basin of the western Mediterranean included between the Straits of Gibraltar and Sicily, and the part which, expanding beyond, sweeps round the south-east of Italy to form the deep gulf of the Adriatic;—the sea-third answering to the land-third of the Western empire.—The coasts, moreover, of Spain, Gaul, and Italy, the latter as far up as the head of the Adriatic, were mercilessly ravaged by Genseric. When asked by his pilot what course to steer, "Leave the determination to the winds," was his reply: "they will transport us to the guilty coast, whose inhabitants have provoked the divine justice." Twice, on occasions alike memorable, the Roman navies of the Western empire A. D. 457, and of the Eastern, 468, were sent, after vast preparations, to destroy the Vandal power. But suddenly and most disastrously, in the harbours of Carthagena and Bona, when the eyes of the Romans were fixed on them with hopes raised to the highest, they were utterly destroyed;—in the latter case by fire-ships driven among them in the obscurity of night. So that the remainder of the prediction was fulfilled also. The fire of the Vandal volcano might not exhaust itself, until not only what was habitable in the Western sea was destroyed, but "the third part of the ships" also;—those that constituted the Roman navy in the sea-third of the Western empire.