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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 338: Vandals

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ARTICLE 338

Vandals

After spending some time in Africa Genseric, leader of the Vandals, began to establish a strategy.1 To render his army seem more fearsome to the population, he ordered a census from small children to the old and decrepit, from master to slave. He recorded eighty thousand people, but made it appear as if he had eighty thousand soldiers. Not all were Vandals; some were Alains, Goths, or others.2

Upon their arrival the barbarians found Africa flourishing in peace and abundance.3 Salvianus describes it as the richest part of the empire and the very soul of the republic.4 However the face of Africa was soon to change. Troops of the impious overran the land, pillaging, ravaging, burning, and massacring what they encountered, sparing not even fruit trees, nor leaving even a little nourishment for those in caves, mountains, and subterranean places in nearby regions.5 Not content to leave the entire country desolate they returned to destroy it—nothing escaped their pillaging and furor.

The Vandals exercised cruelty and hostility particularly against churches, cemeteries, and monasteries. They set fire to houses of the Lord and entire cities. If they found doors closed, they broke them open with axes. In the words of the psalmist: “They gathered together to tear down the doors, as if in a forest. They broke doors with axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary. They profaned tabernacles in the land where your name was revered.”6

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