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III


Some years after the capture of Rome by Genseric, there was a Roman emperor named Majorian (Ma-jo'-ri-an). He was a good ruler and a brave man. The Vandals still continued to attack and plunder cities in Italy and other countries belonging to Rome , and Majorian resolved to punish them. So he got together a great army and built a fleet of three hundred ships to carry his troops to Carthage .


But he first marched his men across the Alps , through Gaul , and down to the seaport of Carthagena in Spain , where his fleet was stationed. He took this route because he expected to add to his forces as he went along. Before sailing with his army for Carthage he wished very much to see with his own eyes what sort of people the Vandals were and whether they were so powerful at home as was generally believed.


So he dyed his hair and disguised himself in other ways and went to Carthage , pretending that he was a messenger or ambassador from the Roman emperor, coming to talk about peace. Genseric received him with respect and entertained him hospitably, not knowing that he was the Emperor Majorian. Of course peace was not made. The emperor left Carthage after having got as much information as he could.


But Genseric did not wait for the Roman fleet to come to attack him in his capital. When he got word that it was in the Bay of Carthagena , he sailed there with a fleet of his own and in a single day burned or sank nearly all the Roman ships.


After this the Vandals became more than ever the terror of the Mediterranean and all the countries bordering upon it. Every year their ships went round the coasts from Asia Minor to Spain , attacking and plundering cities on their way and carrying off prisoners.


All the efforts of the Romans failed to put a stop to these ravages. The Emperor Leo, who ruled over the eastern division of the Empire, fitted out a great fleet at Constantinople to make another attempt to suppress the pirates. There were more than a thousand ships in this fleet and they carried a hundred thousand men. The command of the expedition was given to Basilicus (Bas-il'-i-cus), the brother of Emperor Leo's wife.


Basilicus sailed with his ships to Africa and landed the army not far from Carthage . Genseric asked for a truce for five days to consider terms of peace, and the truce was granted. But the cunning Vandal was not thinking of peace. He only wanted time to carry out a plan he had made to destroy the Roman fleet.


One dark night, during the truce, he filled the largest of his ships with some of the bravest of his soldiers, and they sailed silently and cautiously in among the Roman ships, towing behind them large boats filled with material that would easily burn.


These boats were set on fire and floated against the Roman vessels, which also were soon on fire. The flames quickly spread, and in a very short time a great part of the Roman fleet was destroyed. Basilicus fled with as many ships as he could save, and returned to Constantinople .


This was the last attempt of the Romans to conquer the Vandals. Genseric lived to a good old age, and when he died, in 477, all the countries he had conquered during his life still remained parts of the Vandal dominions.


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