Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 271: Count Boniface (1)
Count Boniface (1)
Contemporaneous to De gestis Pelagii, Augustine wrote Letter 185.2 He wrote it before the letter to Dardanus, written during the summer of 417. Boniface is Augustine’s correspondent in Letter 185. He was a great man of the Roman empire of the early fifth century. A historian has written that in truth Boniface and Aetius were the last Romans of valor, experienced in war, magnanimous, and possessing the Roman military virtues in their entirety.3 Another historian calls him heroic and a man of extraordinary generosity.4 Prosper qualifies him as a captain renowned for his knowledge of military science.5 He was bestowed with the highest honors of the empire. Because of his piety Boniface was highly regarded by the bishops. His grandeur caused respect from others, but he did not persevere to the end; he abandoned God and fell into great evils. From the necessity of maintaining his human fortune he was reduced to wounding both Church and state cruelly. Neither he nor the forces of the Roman Empire could recover from his downfall for a century.
According to a letter attributed to him, Boniface was a barbarian from Thrace.6 The content of this letter is not easy to harmonize with what Procopius writes,7 who makes him a Roman. Neither the letters claimed to be his nor Augustine’s alleged responses to them are trustworthy pieces.8 Boniface was in Marseilles in 413 and merited the praise and blessing of the entire...