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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 337: Vandal Invasions



Vandal Invasions

Entry of the Vandals into Africa is the most memorable, most melancholy, and most tragic event of Augustine’s life. Count Boniface allied himself with the Vandals to defend himself against the Empire. According to the most probable scenario, Boniface permitted the Vandals to come from Spain into Africa in May, 428. He left this large and rich province vulnerable to them. Within two years the Vandals became absolute masters of Africa with the exception of three cities. Unimaginable cruelty occurred.

God rather than Boniface led the Vandals to Africa to punish the people’s sins.1 As these barbarians themselves confess, they were led in this expedition less by their own inclination than by a secret order of divine power. In Salvianus the justice of this divine order is apparent as punishment for the sins of the Africans, especially the impurity and blasphemy directly attacking God’s honor and religion. Salvianus indicates the purpose of divine justice is evident in the Vandal inundation as the impurities of this province are removed by them.2 He writes extensively on this subject and creates such a horrible picture of Africa it is difficult not to find it excessive. There was no great number of holy bishops in Africa, so doubtless God did not bless their conduct. The more benefits this province possessed in wealth, the greater the crime of those who had stubbornly remained in paganism, schism, Manichean and other possible heresies, sins, and crimes. The...

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