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VISIGOTHS. The powerful confederacy of nations under the name of Goths (q. v.), was, at an early period, geographically divided into Ostrogoths, who had their seats on the Pontus, and Visigoths, who inhabited Dacia. About the middle of the fourth century, the two nations separated into distinct political bodies. The Ostrogoths, weakened by this separation, having submitted to the Huns, the Visigoths fled to the mountains, and soon after obtained from the Romans permission to settle in the desolated Thrace. The relation of the nations to each other was by this means essentially changed. Under the name of allies, the Goths formed a chief part of the Roman army; but they became hostile whenever the promises made them were violated; and scarcely was Theodosius dead, and the empire divided, when the Visigoths, under Alaric, broke forth upon Italy, and Rome fell, in 410, into the power of the Visigoths. Alaric, had he not been overtaken by death, when on the point of conquering Africa, would have founded a Germanic empire in Italy. His brother-in-law Athaulf (Ataulphus), who was placed at the head of the nation, abandoned Alaric's projects, and turned towards Gaul, to make new conquests on both sides of the Pyrenees. He reached Barcelona, where he was murdered, in 415; but his successors, in the midst of perpetual conflicts with the previous occupants and with the Romans, founded in the south of France and in Spain the kingdom of the Visigoths. The unnatural extension of this kingdom to the north of the Pyrenees, where even the capital, and the residence of the king, Toulouse, was situated, while the Suevi still maintained
their independence on the Peninsula, was
one of the causes of its internal weakness. Another cause was the difference in the religious doctrines of the conquerors and the conquered, the former professing the Arian doctrines (see Arians), which were detestable to the Catholic descendants of the Roman settlers. This circumstance gave rise to a strict separation between the Goths and Romans, and caused the Catholic clergy to become more firmly attached to each other and to Rome. Notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding the convulsions produced by frequent changes of government, and by factions, the kingdom of the Visigoths, in the first century of its existence, continued to extend itself even beyond the Pyrenees, and, by political regulations, obtained internal consistency. Euric, the fifth king, who, from 466 to 483, during the total decline of the Roman empire, made great conquests in Spain and Gaul, gave the Visigoths, who had previously been governed by customary laws, written statutes, which were extended by his successors, and reduced to a system (see Lindenbrog's Codex Legum Antiquarum, and Canciani's Barbarorum Leges Antique), which is the most complete of all the German codes, and exhibits jurisprudence in a state of great advancement. His successor, Alaric, gave also to his Roman subjects in Gaul a system of laws, which he caused to be compiled, by persons well versed in jurisprudence, from the Theodosian code, from the enactments of the later emperors, and other sources, in order that the provinces might retain their ancient laws, but that the obligatory force of the law might proceed from his own authority. This code
was not abolished till about the middle of the seventh century, till which time the laws of the Visigoths and Romans continued different. But the weakness of the Visigoths became manifest as soon as they came in contact with the Franks on the Loire, when the Catholic Clovis (q. v.), on pretence that it was unjust to let the heretic Visigoths possess the fairest portion of Gaul, attacked the peaceful Alaric, and defeated him at Rouglé, in 507. The Franks obtained possession, without resistance, of most of the cities in southern Gaul, and the kingdom of the Visigoths would have been in great danger, had not Theodoric (q. v.), king of the Ostrogoths, undertaken its defence. While guardian of the Visigothic prince, his grandson, he embraced the favorable opportunity to make himself master of a part of the territories still belonging to the Visigoths in southern Gaul; and, after a long separation of the two nations, there existed, for a time, an intimate connexion of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. After his death, dissensions soon arose among the Visigoths, and the pernicious influence of the difference of religion between the Arian Visigoths and the Catholic provincials, who were sometimes tolerated, and sometimes persecuted, became more and more evident. The kingdom of the Visigoths arose again with new energy, under the bold and intelligent Leovigild (568-586), who totally subdued the Suevi, improved the laws, limited the power of the nobles, made Toledo the royal residence, and tried to render the regal power hereditary. His equally celebrated son, Reccared, became a convert, in 589, to the Catholic faith; upon which the divisions of the people ceased, and Goths and Spaniards became one nation. His conversion had the most important influence on the character of the government. Scarcely had the Catholic faith become the established religion, when the clergy, who had become accustomed, during their former state of oppression, to adhere firmly together, acquired a predominant influence, such as they obtained in no other Germanic nation, and constituted a hierarchy, totally independent of the Roman papal authority. The Arian bishops had lived quietly in their dioceses, and had no influence on the public administration; but the Catholic bishops strove after an active participation in public affairs, in order to render secure the authority which their church had obtained. The grandees of the kingdom, the secular public ministers and officers of the court (called viri illus
tres officii palatini), who formed a kind of nobility, and as the constitutional counsellors of the king, usurped the rights of popular representatives, remained no longer the first class in the state: the old mode of choosing the king, which had thrown the election into their hands, was altered in favor of the bishops; and under weak kings, who often attained the crown by artifices of the priests, or solicited absolution and justification from the clergy, on account of the usurpation which they had committed, or the oaths which they had violated, they found it easy to place themselves at the head of the state, and to procure exemption from all public burdens. This prevailing influence was especially visible in the ecclesiastical councils, which, in previous times, had discussed merely matters of doctrine or church discipline, but, immediately after the conversion of the sovereign, began to mingle with spiritual affairs matters of a political character. When the clergy had once established their political influence, they could, without reluctance, allow the secular grandees, who came with the king to the councils, to take part in the deliberations, the more particularly as they could always be sure of outvoting them; and, as early as 633, the regulation was made, that those secular grandees alone should be admitted, who should be pronounced worthy of the honor, by the bishops. The internal disturbances, which the excessive power of the clergy produced or favored, facilitated the conquest of the country by the Saracens, who were settled on the north coast of Africa. As early as the year 675, the Mohammedans began their attempts to settle in Spain, encouraged by the factions which convulsed the Visigoths, and which, during the reign of the weak Roderic, enabled them to execute their project. The Goths were defeated, in 711, at Xeres de la Frontera; the king was slain, and the Saracens spread themselves over the greatest part of the country. (See Spain.) The remainder of the Goths, who, after the downfall of the empire, had fled to the mountains of Asturia and Galicia, founded there new kingdoms, in which the constitutions of the Visigoths were in part retained, and which, when the descendants of the Goths broke forth from their fastnesses, and wrested from the Moorish settlers one tract after another, finally gave rise to the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. The traces of the public institutions of the Visigoths were preserved longest in the laws, as the
Christians, on leaving the mountains, brought with them those by which they had been governed. The most ancient collection of Spanish laws, the Fuero juzgo, or Forum Judicum, is drawn from the ancient laws of the Visigoths; and many of them have been retained to the present day in the provincial law of Castile and Catalonia.-The liturgy of the Visigoths, which was established by the assembly of Toledo, in 633, for the purpose of introducing into all the churches a uniform mode of worship, long survived the downfall of the kingdom. This off cium Gothicum, as it was termed, which contained many rites and forms that had been used in the Spanish church from the earliest period of Christianity, maintained itself in spite of all the efforts of the popes to introduce the Roman liturgy; and so violent were the disputes to which this gave rise, that an attempt was made to adjust the quarrel by duel and fireordeal. Even after the Roman liturgy had been introduced into Castile, as it had previously been into Arragon, several churches in Toledo nevertheless retained their old usages. The Spanish Christians living under the dominion of the Moors, and styled Mozarabians, adhered still longer to the Gothic liturgy, which was therefore called officium Mozarabicum. Cardinal Ximenes caused the missal and breviary of this liturgy to be printed. The Spanish language also still preserves, in some words, the remains of the Gothic, although the Visigoths, after the conquest of the peninsula of the Pyrenees, adopted the language of the Romans. There is a Geschichte der Westgothen, by John Aschbach (Frankfort, 1827).
VISION. (See Optics.)
VISIONS. Ghosts, phantoms, apparitions, spectres, spirits, for the vocabulary of superstition is rich in terms, or, in philosophical language, spectral illusions, have, in some ages, played an important part in the machinery of society; nor can it be said that they have yet been laid by the voice of that great exorciser, knowledge. The guilty conscience still evokes the avenging spirits, and the disordered action of the physical functions is sometimes mistaken for the operation of external objects upon the senses. All appear ances of this nature may be classed under the two heads of mental illusions, and optical illusions, the former comprising those cases in which the spectral appearances are produced by the disordered state of the mind, and the latter, those occasioned by the presence of some external ob
ject, under such circumstances as to deceive the senses. Thus, in regard to the first, it may be remarked that, in consequence of an extraordinary impression upon the brain, through the medium of the circulation of the blood, sensations are greatly increased in intensity, and ideas in vividness, and that emotions are produced corresponding, in intensity, to the acuteness of the sensations, and the vividness of the ideas. Then, again, the effect of a disordered state of the physical functions is to disturb the order of the succession of ideas, or to influence the velocity of their succession (producing indistinctness of perception, confusion of thought, inaccuracy of judgment, and, of course, a disregard to incongruities), or to increase the vivacity of ideas. The same effects may be produced by a diseased state of the body itself, or by violent mental excitements, influencing the physical functions, which, in turn, react upon the mind. These principles will be found to account for many spectral illusions of which we have authentic accounts. In some instances, it is a transient madness; in others, a permanent mania, under the influence of which the patient labored. In general, it will be observed that the images which constitute the subject of spectral illusions assume the form of figures which have been rendered familiar to the mind, and which have made strong impressions upon it. The sights seen bear a strict relation to the character of the seer, and of the superstitions of the age and country in which he lived. Thus the intelligent and philosophical Nicolai (q. v.) saw nothing but men and women, horses, dogs and birds in their natural form. The illusions of the superstitious consist of demons or angels, and all sorts of fantastic shapes, benign or malignant, according to the peculiar disposition or state of mind of the seer. "Ghosts," says Grose, "commonly appear in the same dress they wore when living, though they are sometimes clothed all in white; but that is chiefly the church-yard ghosts, who have no particular business, but seem to appear pro bono publico, or to scare drunken rustics from tumbling over their graves. Dragging chains is not the fashion of English ghosts, chains and black vestments being chiefly the accoutrements of foreign spectres seen in arbitrary governments: dead or alive, English spirits are free." Doctor Abercrombie (Inquiries concerning the Intellectual Powers, 2d ed., Edinburgh, 1831), in treat
ing of spectral illusions, refers them to the following heads:-1. False perceptions, or impressions made upon the senses only, in which the mind does not participate. 2. Real dreams, though the person was not, at the time, sensible of having slept, nor, consequently, of having dreamed. A person under the influence of some strong mental impression, drops asleep for a few seconds, perhaps without being sensible of it; some scene or person connected with the impression appears in a dream, and he starts up under the conviction that it was a spectral appearance. 3. Intense mental conceptions, so strongly impressed upon the mind as, for the moment, to be believed to have a real existence. This takes place when, along with the mental emotion, the individual is placed in circumstances in which external impressions are very slight, as solitude, faint light, and quiescence of body. It is a state bordering closely upon dreaming, though the vision occurs while the person is in the waking state. 4. Erroneous impressions, connected with bodily disease, generally disease in the brain. The illusions, in these cases, arise in a manner strictly analogous to dreaming, and consist of some former circumstances recalled to the mind, and believed, for a time, to have a real and present existence. The diseases, in connexion with which they arise, are generally of an apoplectic or inflammatory character, sometunes epileptic; and they are very frequent in the affection called delirium tremens, produced by a continued use of intoxicating liquors. Under each of these heads, the author states a number of interesting facts, illustrative of the general theory.—The second species of illusions, or optical illusions, are occasioned by the state of the atmosphere, producing a reflection or unequal refraction of light, such as the famous gigantic figure called the spectre of the Brocken, aerial troops of horsemen, spectre ships, &c. (see Optics), of which phenomena the reader will find descriptions and explanations in Brewster's Natural Magic (London, 1832), Illusions are often also produced by the appearance of objects imperfectly seen ma dun light, and by electric phenome na, when the credulous and terrified observer “sees, or thinks he sees," monstrous shapes flitting around and glaring upon him-For further information on this interesting chapter in the history of haman weakness, see Scott's Letters on Denso sology and Witchcraft; Thacher's Essay on Demonology (Boston, 1831); and
particularly Hibbert's Philosophy of Apparitions (Edinburgh, 1824).
VISTULA (Polish, Visla; German Weichsel), a river about 500 miles long, navigable from Cracow, which rises in the principality of Teschen, in Austrian Silesia, on the northern declivity of the Carpathian mountains, flows round the territory of Cracow and Gallicia, through the kingdom of Poland, towards the northwest, passes through West Prussia, and divides into two branches, of which the eastern, the Nogat, empties, about two and a half miles from Elbing, into the Frische Haff; the western divides again, about nine miles above Dantzic, into two branches, of which the western flows into the Baltic at Weichselmunde, near Dantzic; the eastern, by many small changels, into the Frische Haff. The Vistula contains numerous and excellent fish: its navigation is very important, as the products of Poland-wood, grain, &c.—are transported on it to Dantzic, on the Baltic. The canal of Bromberg connects the Vistula with the Oder. (q. v.) Several navigable rivers empty into the Vistula.
VITALIANS. (See Apollinarians.)
VITELLIUS, Aulus, à Roman, raised by his vices to the throne, was descended from one of the most illustrious families of Rome. The greatest part of his youth was spent at Capreæ, where he labored to gratify the vicious propensities of Tiberius. He passed through all the offices of the state, and gained the soldiery by donations and liberal promises. He was at the head of the Roman legions in Germany when Otho was proclaimed empe ror, and was likewise invested with the purple by his soldiers. He accepted the office, and instantly marched against Otho. After losing three battles, he was successful in the plains between Mantua and Cremona. He now gave himself up to luxury and debauchery. He feasted four or five times a day, and was often seen to make himself vomit, to begin his repast afresh. Above thirty million dollars were spent in maintaining his ta bie in the space of four months. This extravagance soon raised the indignation of the people. Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by the army, and his minister Primus was sent to destroy the imperial glutton. Vitellius concealed himself under the bed of the porter of his palace; but he was discovered, and dragged naked through the streets, with his hands tied behind his back. After suffering the greatest insults from the populace, his head was cut off and fixed to a pole, and
his mutilated body dragged with a hook and thrown into the Tiber, A. D. 69, after a reign of one year, except twelve days. VITERBO (anciently Volturna); a town of Italy, in the States of the Church, capital of a delegation, formerly capital of the Patrimonio; thirty-four miles northwest of Rome; lon. 12° 6 E.; lat. 42° 25 N.; population, 12,600. This city is a bishop's see, and lies in a beautiful and fertile valley the streets, for the greater part, are broad and well paved, the houses good, but thinly peopled, though the number of churches, convents and hospitals is not less than sixty-nine. Four popes lie interred in the cathedral. Not far from the city is a warm mineral spring. VITRIOL, GREEN. (See Copperas.) VITRIOL, OIL OF; the old name for sulphuric acid. (See Sulphur.)
VITRUVIUS POLLIO, Marcus; a celebrated writer on architecture, who is supposed to have flourished in the time of Julius Cæsar and Augustus, and of whose parentage and place of nativity no certain knowledge can be obtained. The most probable opinion is, that he was born at Formia, a city of Campania, now called Mola di Gaeta. He plainly appears to have been liberally educated; and that he travelled for information and improvement, we learn from his writings. The only public edifice which he mentions as being constructed from his designs, is a basilica at Fano. He wrote, at an advanced age, his work De Architectura Lab. X, which he dedicated to Augustus, under whose reign he had held the of fice of inspector of the military machines. This treatise was first printed at Venice, 1497, folio; and, among modern editions, the most valuable are those of Schneider (Leipsic, 1808, 4 vols., 8vo.), and of Stratico (Ettingen, 1828, 4 vols.). An English translation of the work of Vitruvius, with a commentary, by William Newton, appeared in 1771, folio, republished 1791, 2 vols., folio; and a new translation, by W. Wilkins, with an Introduction, containing an Historical View of the Rise and Progress of Architecture among the Greeks, was published in 1812, folio.
VITTORIA, OF VICTORIA, Fernandez Guadalupe, late president of the Mexican republic, was born at Durango, where his father was a considerable land-holder, in 1790, and had just finished his studies for the bar, in the capital, when the revolution broke out (1810). He immediately espoused the cause of his native land against the Spaniards, and entered the
service under Morelos as a volunteer. In 1814, he was appointed captain-general in the province of Vera Cruz-a very important post, as the whole communication with Europe was through the ports of that province. Here Vittoria distinguished himself by his activity and energy, and soon became the terror of the Spanish troops, maintaining an incessant and destructive guerilla war. Notwithstanding the great efforts of the royal commanders, and their great numerical superiority, he sustained a struggle for two years, at the end of which time, his successive losses, and the disastrous state of the revolutionary party in the country, left him without a single follower. Determined not to yield to the Spaniards, and refusing their offers of pardon, promotion and reward, he retired alone into the mountains of the province, with nothing but his sword. For upwards of six months, he was pursued by 1000 men, in small detachments, with such ardor and vigilance that his escapes were often almost miraculous; and wherever it was found that his wants had been relieved, the whole village was immediately burnt to the ground. In this way he was reduced to such extremities, that he often went four or five days without taking any thing but water: for thirty months, he never tasted bread, nor saw a human being. When Mr. Ward, author of Mexico (2d ed., London, 1829), from which we have taken this account, first saw him, in 1823, he was unable to eat above once in twenty-four or even thirty-six hours. On the breaking out of the revolution of 1821, he was found, by a former follower, who came in search of him, but who, far from recognising his commander in the naked phantom, emaciated, and covered with hair, which stood before him, took to flight, and was recalled only by the sounds of his voice. Vittoria, on receiving intelligence of the new state of things, descended to the low country, and immediately found himself at the head of a body of republican troops, attracted by his old reputation. He now joined Iturbide; but, as his wishes were set on the establishment of a liberal government, and not on a change of masters, he was again forced to retire to the mountains, when that general carried into successful execution his ambitious projects, and only reappeared again to give the signal for the overthrow of the emperor. (See Iturbide, and Santa Aña.) On the expulsion of the emperor, and the establishment of the new constitution, in 1824, Vittoria was chosen