Front Page Titles (by Subject) NARRATIVES OF THE MEROVINGIAN TIMES. - The Historical Essays and Narratives of the Merovingian Era
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NARRATIVES OF THE MEROVINGIAN TIMES. - Augustin Thierry, The Historical Essays and Narratives of the Merovingian Era 
The Historical Essays, published under the Title of “Dix Ans d’Études historiques,” and Narratives of the Merovingian Era; or, Scenes of the Sixth Century, with an Autobiographical Preface (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1845).
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NARRATIVES OF THE MEROVINGIAN TIMES.
THE FOUR SONS OF CHLOTHER THE FIRST—THEIR CHARACTERS—THEIR MARRIAGES—HISTORY OF GALESWINTHA.
A few leagues from Soissons, on the banks of a small river, stands the village of Braine. In the sixth century this was one of those immense farms where the Frankish kings held their court. The royal habitation had none of the military aspect which distinguished the castles of the middle ages; it was a large building surrounded with porticos of Roman architecture, sometimes built of carefully polished wood, and ornamented with statues not altogether wanting in elegance.* Round the principal body of the building were disposed the lodgings of the officers of the palace, whether barbarians, or of Roman origin, as well as those of the chiefs of the tribes, who, in accordance with Germanic custom, had with their warriors, entered into truste with the king, that is to say, had made an especial engagement of vassalage and fidelity.†
Other houses of meaner appearance were occupied by a large number of families, both the men and women of which exercised all manner of trades, from that of goldsmith and armourer, to that of weaver and tanner, from embroidery in silk and gold, to the coarsest preparations of flax and wool. Most of these families were Gallic; born on that portion of territory which the king had adjudged to himself by right of conquest, or brought with violence from some neighbouring town to colonize the royal domain: but judging from their names, there were Germans also among them, as well as other barbarians, whose fathers had entered Gaul as workmen, or as servants following the train of the victorious tribes. Whatever their origin or their species of industry, however, these families were placed in the same rank, and called by the same name, lites in the German language, and fiscalins in the Latin, that is to say, attached to the fisc.* Buildings for agricultural purposes, such as studs, stables, sheepfolds, and barns, with the hovels of the husbandmen, and huts of the serfs, completed the royal village, which exactly resembled, though on a larger scale, the villages of ancient Germany. In the very site of these residences there was something which recalled the scenery beyond the Rhine; most of them stood on the outskirts, and some in the centre of those vast forests since mutilated by civilization, but of which we still admire the remains. Braine was the favourite residence of Chlother (the last of the sons of Chlodowig,) even after the death of his three brothers had made him entire master of Gaul. It was there in a secret apartment that he kept his triple-locked chests containing all his riches in gold coins, vases, and precious jewels. It was there also he executed the principal acts of regal power. It was there he assembled the bishops of the Gallic towns; received ambassadors from foreign kings, and presided over the great assemblies of the Franks, which were followed by those feasts traditional among the Teutonic races, at which wild boars and deer were served up whole on spits, and staved barrels occupied the four corners of the hall.†
As long as he was not called to a distance by war against the Saxons, the Bretons, or the Septimanian Goths, Chlother employed his time in travelling from one domain to another. He went from Biaine to Attigny, from Attigny to Compiègne, from Compiègne to Verberie, consuming all the provisions he found in his royal farms; hunting, fishing, and swimming with his Frank leudes, and selecting numerous mistresses from among the daughters of the fiscalins. From the rank of a concubine, these women frequently passed with a singular facility to that of wife and queen. Chlother, whose marriages it is difficult to enumerate and classify, married in this way a girl of very humble birth, called Ingonda, without at all giving up his irregular habits, which as a woman and a slave she bore with extreme submission. He loved her passionately, and lived with her in perfect harmony. One day she said to him:—
“The king, my lord, has made of his servant what it has pleased him, and has called me to his bed; he will complete his graciousness by acceding to the request of his servant. I have a sister named Aregonda, who is attached to your service; I pray you to be pleased to procure her a rich and brave husband, that I may suffer no humiliation on her account.”
This demand piqued the curiosity of the king, and roused his libertine propensities; he set off the same day for the domain on which Aregonda lived, and where she exercised some of the trades which then devolved on women, such as weaving and dyeing stuffs. Chlother finding her quite as beautiful as her sister, took her to himself, installed her in the royal apartment, and gave her the name of his wife. At the end of some days he returned to Ingonda, and said to her with that coarse bonhommie which was a peculiarity of his character, and of the Germanic character in general:—
“The favour which thou, sweet one, didst desire of me, I thought of according thee; I looked out for a rich and brave man for thy sister, and could find none better than myself. Learn, then, that I have made her my wife, which I think will not displease thee.”
“Let my lord,” answered Ingonda, without apparent emotion, and without any diminution of her accustomed patience and conjugal submission, “let my lord do as it seems good to him, provided his servant lose none of his affection.”*
(ad 561.) In the year 561, after an expedition against one of his sons, whose rebellion he punished by burning him with his wife and children, Chlother returned to his residence at Braine with a perfectly calm conscience. There he prepared for the great autumnal hunt, which was a species of solemnity among the Franks. Followed by a number of men, horses and dogs, the king entered the forest of Cuise, of which that of Compiègne in its present state is but a small fragment. In the midst of this violent exercise, which was unsuited to his age, he was seized with a fever, and ordering himself to be transported to his nearest domain, he expired in the fiftieth year of his reign.* His four sons, Haribert, Gonthramn, Hilperik, and Sighebert, followed his funeral procession as far as Soissons, singing psalms and bearing waxen torches in their hands. Scarcely was the funeral over, when Hilperik, the third of the four brothers, set off in great haste for Braine, and forced the guards of this domain to deliver into his hands the keys of the royal treasure. As soon as he was master of the riches his father had accumulated, he distributed a portion of them to the chiefs of the tribes, and to the warriors, who were quartered either in Braine or in the neighbourhood. They all swore fidelity† to him by placing their hands between his; saluted him by acclamation with the title of koning, and promised to follow wherever he should lead them‡ . Placing himself at their head, he marched straight to Paris, the ancient dwelling-place of Chlodowig the First, and afterwards the capital of the kingdom belonging to Hildebert, his eldest son.
Perhaps Hilperik attached some idea of importance to the possession of a town formerly inhabited by the conqueror of Gaul, or perhaps he only wished to appropriate the imperial palace, the buildings and gardens of which covered, to a vast extent, the left bank of the Seine.§ There is nothing improbable in this supposition, for the ambitious views of the Frankish kings rarely extended beyond the prospect of personal and immediate gain; and, on the other hand, although preserving a strong touch of Germanic barbarism, ungovernable passions, and a merciless soul, Hilperik had imbibed some of the tastes of Roman civilization. He was fond of building, delighted in the games of the circus, and, above all, had the pretension of being a grammarian, a theologian, and a poet. His Latin verses, in which the rules of metre and prosody were rarely observed, found admirers amongst the noble Gauls, who trembled as they applauded, and exclaimed that the illustrious son of the Sicambers surpassed the sons of Romulus in beauty of language, and that the dwellers on the banks of the Wahal would instruct the dwellers on the banks of the Tiber.*
Hilperik entered Paris without opposition, and quartered his warriors in the towers which defended the bridges of the city, then entirely surrounded by the Seine. But at the news of this bold stroke, the other three brothers united against him who wanted to select his own share of the paternal inheritance, and at the head of superior forces advanced towards Paris.† Hilperik did not venture on resistance, and, renouncing his enterprise, submitted himself to the chances of a division made by mutual consent. This division of the whole of Gaul, with a considerable portion of Germany, was made by drawing lots, exactly as had taken place half a century earlier between the sons of Chlodowig. There were four lots, answering, with a few differences, to the four kingdoms known under the names of the kingdoms of Paris, Orleans, Neustria, and Austrasia. Haribert obtained as his share that portion which had belonged to his uncle Hildebert; that is to say, the kingdom which took its name from Paris, which, extending lengthways from north to south, included Senlis, Melun, Chartres, Tours, Poitiers, Saintes, Bordeaux, and the towns near the Pyrenees. Gonthramn’s share was that of his uncle Chlodomir, the kingdom of Orleans, and all the Burgundian territory, extending from the Saone and the Vosges, to the Alps and the Mediterranean. Hilperik’s share was his father’s, the kingdom of Soissons, which the Franks called Neosterrike, or western kingdom, and which was bounded on the north by the river Escaut, and on the south by the stream of the Loire. And, finally, the eastern kingdom, or Oster-rike, fell to Sighebert’s share, and contained Auvergne, the north-east of Gaul, and Germany as far as the Saxon and Slavonian frontiers.‡ It seems as if the towns had been counted one by one, and that their numbers alone served as the basis for fixing each of the lots; for, independently of this extraordinary division of territory, there are a number of enclaves,§ for which it is impossible to account. Rouen and Nantes are in Hilperik’s kingdom; Avranches in that of Haribert; the latter possesses Marseilles; Gonthramn has Aix and Avignon; and Soissons, the capital of Neustria, is blockaded by four towns, Senlis and Meaux, Laon and Reims, which belong to the two kingdoms of Paris and Austrasia.
(ad 561—564.) After chance had assigned to the four brothers their separate shares of towns and lands, each one swore by the relics of the saints to content himself with his own share, and attempt no further encroachment either by violence or stratagem. This oath was soon violated. Hilperik, availing himself of the absence of his brother Sighebert, who was then making war in Germany, suddenly attacked Reims, and took possession of it, as well as of several other towns equally within his reach. But he did not long enjoy this conquest: Sighebert returned victorious from his campaign beyond the Rhine, retook his towns one by one, and pursuing his brother to the walls of Soissons, defeated him in a pitched battle, and forced an entry into the capital of Neustria.
(ad 564—566.) According to the character of barbarians, whose anger is violent but of short duration, they were again reconciled, and renewed the oath never to attack one another. These two were turbulent, quarrelsome, and revengeful; but Haribert and Gonthramn, older and less vehement, had some inclination for peace and repose. Instead of the rough and warlike appearance of his ancestors, King Haribert affected the calm and rather heavy demeanour of the magistrates who administered justice according to the Roman laws in the towns of Gaul. It was his ambition to be thought learned in jurisprudence; and no flattery was more agreeable to him than praises of his skill as a judge in intricate cases, and the facility with which, although German by origin and language, he expressed himself and discoursed in Latin.* King Gonthramn presented the singular contrast of manners habitually gentle and almost saintly, with fits of sudden fury, worthy of the forests of Germany. Once, having lost a hunting horn, he put several freed men to the torture; another time he ordered a noble Frank to be put to death on the mere suspicion of having killed a buffalo on the royal domain. In hours of calmness, his feelings were in favour of order and regularity, which he specially manifested by religious zeal, and submission to the bishops, who were then the source of all law and order.
King Hilperik, on the contrary, was a sort of half-civilized free-thinker, and followed his own fancies, even when the dogmas of the Catholic faith were in question. The authority of the clergy was intolerable to him, and one of his great pleasures was the annulling of wills made in favour of churches and monasteries. The characters and conduct of the bishops were the principal subjects of his jokes and dinner-table conversation; he called one a hare-brained fool, another an insolent wretch; one a gossip, and another luxurious. The great wealth which the church possessed, and which was always increasing; the influence the bishops had in the towns where, since the dominion of the barbarians, they exercised most of the privileges of the ancient municipal magistracy;—all these riches, and all this power, which he envied without perceiving the means of becoming possessed of them, strongly excited his jealousy. The complaints he uttered in his vexation were not wanting in sense; and he was often heard to say: “See how our fisc is impoverished! See how all our wealth goes to the churches! Truly, no one reigns but those bishops.”*
Moreover, the sons of Chlother the First, with the exception of Sighebert, the youngest, were all incontinent to the highest degree; rarely satisfied with one wife; leaving without scruple the woman they had just married, and taking her again, according to the caprice of the moment. The pious Gonthramn changed his wives almost as often as his two brothers; and, like them, he had concubines, one of whom, named Veneranda, was the daughter of a Gaul attached to the fisc. King Haribert took at the same time for mistresses two sisters of great beauty from amongst the attendants of his wife Ingobergha. One was named Markowefa, and wore the dress of a nun, the other Merofleda; they were the daughters of a wool-comber, of barbaric origin, and lite of the royal domain.†
Ingobergha, jealous of her husband’s love for these two women, did all she could to persuade him out of it, but in vain. Not daring, however, to ill-treat her rivals, or to turn them away, she invented a scheme which she thought would disgust the king with this unworthy liaison. She sent for the father of these girls, and gave him some wool to comb in the court yard of the palace. Whilst this man was at his work, doing his best to show his zeal, the queen, who was standing at a window, called to her husband:—“Come here,” said she, “come and see something new.” The king came, looked round, and seeing nothing but the wool-comber, became angry at this jest.‡ A violent discussion ensued between the husband and wife, and produced an effect quite contrary to what Ingobergha expected; the king repudiated her, and married Merofleda.
Haribert, soon finding that one legitimate wife was not sufficient for him, solemnly gave the titles of wife and queen to a girl named Theodehilda, the daughter of a shepherd. Some years after, Merofleda died, and the king immediately married her sister Markowefa. According to the laws of the church, he was thus guilty of double sacrilege, as a bigamist, and as the husband of a woman who had taken the veil. When summoned by St. Germain, Bishop of Paris, to annul his second marriage, he obstinately refused, and was excommunicated. But the time was not yet come when the savage pride of the heirs of the conquest should bow to the discipline of the church. Haribert received the sentence without emotion, and kept both his wives.*
Of all the sons of Chlother, Hilperik is the one to whom contemporary narratives assign the greatest number of queens, that is to say, of women married according to the laws of the Franks, with the ring and the denarius. Audowera, one of these queens, had in her service a young girl named Fredegonda, of Frankish origin, and of such remarkable beauty that the king fell in love with her the first instant he saw her. However flattering this love might be, it was rather dangerous for a servant, whose situation placed her at the mercy of the jealousy and revenge of her mistress. But Fredegonda had no fears; as cunning as she was ambitious, she undertook to bring about legal causes of separation between the king and queen Audowera, without at all compromising herself. If we are to believe a tradition which was prevalent less than a century afterwards, she succeeded in her design, thanks to the connivance of a bishop and the queen’s simplicity. Hilperik had lately joined his brother Sighebert to march beyond the Rhine against the nations of the Saxon confederacy; he had left Audowera far advanced in her pregnancy. Before his return, the queen was delivered of a daughter, and not knowing if she ought to have it baptized during her husband’s absence, she consulted Fredegonda, who, being a perfect mistress of dissimulation, inspired no distrust. “Madam,” answered the attendant, “when the king my lord returns triumphant, could he behold his daughter with any pleasure if she were not baptized?”* The queen received this advice gratefully, and Fredegonda began to prepare, by dint of intrigues, the snare into which she wanted her to fall.
When the day of the christening arrived, the baptistery was hung at the appointed hour with tapestry and garlands; the bishop was present in his pontificial robes, but the godmother, a noble Frankish lady, did not appear, and she was waited for in vain. The queen, astonished and disappointed, was uncertain what course to pursue, when Fredegonda, who was near her, said, “Why should you trouble yourself about a godmother? No lady is worthy to stand in that relation to your daughter; if you will follow my advice, you will be her godmother yourself.”† The bishop, who probably had been previously gained over, finished the ceremony, and the queen retired, without foreseeing what would be the consequences of this act.
When King Hilperik returned, all the young girls of the royal domain went out to meet him, carrying flowers, and singing poetry in his praise. When Fredegonda met him, she said: “Blessed be God that the king, our lord, has triumphed over his enemies, and that a daughter is born unto him! But with whom will my lord sleep this night? for the queen, my mistress, is now your gossip, and godmother to her daughter Hildeswinda!” “Well then,” answered the king jovially, “If I cannot sleep with her, I will sleep with thee!”‡
Hilperik found his wife Audowera under the portico of the palace, holding her child in her arms, which she presented to him with a mixed feeling of pride and delight; but the king, affecting a tone of regret, said: “Woman, in thy simplicity thou hast been guilty of a crime; in future thou canst not be my wife.”§ A rigid observer of the ecclesiastical laws, the king banished the bishop who had baptized his daughter, and persuaded Audowera to separate from him at once, and to take the veil, as if she were a widow. As a consolation, he gave her several estates belonging to the fisc, and situated near the Mans. Hilperik then married Fredegonda, and at the news of this marriage, the repudiated queen set off for her retreat, where, fifteen years afterwards, she was put to death by the order of her former servant.∥ Whilst Chlother’s three eldest sons thus lived in debauchery, and married women of low birth, Sighebert, the youngest, far from following their example, was ashamed of and disgusted by it. He resolved to have but one wife, and that one of royal blood.* Athanagild, King of the Goths, settled in Spain, had two marriageable daughters, the youngest of whom, Brunehilda, was much admired for her beauty; it was on her that Sighebert’s choice fell. A numerous embassy, with rich presents, left Metz for Toledo, to demand her hand of the king of the Goths. The chief of the embassy was Gog, or more correctly, Godeghisel, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, a man well experienced in all sorts of negotiations; he succeeded perfectly in this one, and brought Sighebert’s betrothed with him from Spain. Wherever Brunehilda passed in her long journey to the north, she was remarked, say her cotemporaries, for the grace of her manners, her good sense, and agreeable conversation.† Sighebert loved her, and preserved a passionate attachment for her all his life.
(566.) It was in the year 566 that the nuptial ceremony was celebrated with great pomp in the royal town of Metz. All the lords of the kingdom of Austrasia were invited by the king to take part in the games of that day. At Metz were seen arriving, with their suites of men and horses, the counts of towns, and the governors of the northern provinces of Gaul, the patriarchal chiefs of the ancient Frankish tribes who had remained beyond the Rhine: and the dukes of the Alemanni, of the Baiwars and of the Thorings or Thuringians.‡ In this singular assembly the most various degrees of civilization and barbarism were contrasted side by side with each other. There were the Gallic nobles polished and insinuating; the Frankish nobles, blunt and haughty; together with complete savages, clothed in furs, and as rude in manners as in appearance. The nuptial banquet was splendid and animated; the tables were covered with chased gold and silver dishes, the spoils of conquest; wine and beer flowed uninteruptedly into cups studded with precious stones, and into the buffalo horns which the Germans used as drinking-cups.§ The spacious halls of the palace rang with the healths and challenges of the drinkers, the shouts and peals of laughter, and all the noise of Germanic gaiety. To the pleasures of the nuptial feast succeeded a far more refined species of amusement, and of a nature to please but a small number of the guests.
There was then at the court of the King of Austrasia an Italian, called Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, who, travelling in Gaul, was everywhere received with marks of distinction. He was agreeable, but superficial, and had much of that Roman elegance which was almost extinct on this side of the Alps. Recommended to King Sighebert by those bishops and Austrasian counts who admired refinement, and regretted the general want of it, Fortunatus was treated with generous hospitality at the semi-barbarous court of Metz. The stewards of the royal fise had orders to furnish him with lodgings, provisions and horses.* In order to testify his gratitude, he made himself court poet: he addressed Latin verses to the king and the nobles, which, if not always perfectly understood, were always well received, and well paid for. As the marriage feast could not be complete without an epithalamium, Venantius Fortunatus composed one in the classical style and recited it to the strange audience which thronged around him, with as much seriousness as if he had been giving a public lecture at Rome in the Forum of Trajan.†
In this composition, which has no other merit than that of being one of the last pale reflections of Roman talent, the two inevitable persons of every epithalamium, Venus and Love appear with their usual accompaniments of bows, torches and roses. Love shoots an arrow right into the heart of King Sighebert, and flies to tell his mother of this great triumph. “My mother,” said he, “I have ended the combat.” Then the goddess and her son fly through the air to the city of Metz, enter the palace, and adorn the nuptial chamber with flowers. There a dispute arises between them on the merits of the newly-married couple: Love is for Sighebert, whom he calls another Achilles; but Venus prefers Brunehilda, whose portrait she describes thus:—
“O virgin, whom I admire, and whom thy husband will adore, Brunehilda, more brilliant, more radiant than the ethereal lamp, the light of precious stones is dimmed by the splendour of thy countenance; thou art another Venus, and thy dowry is the empire of beauty! Among the Nereids who swim in the seas of Iberia, in the springs of the ocean, there is none who can call herself thy equal; none of the Napææ are more beautiful, and the river-nymphs bow down their heads before thee. The whiteness of milk and the brightest red are the colours of thy complexion; lilies and roses, purple woven with gold, present nothing comparable to it. Sapphires, diamonds, crystals, emeralds, and jasper are vanquished; Spain has produced a new pearl.”*
These mythological commonplaces and fine-sounding but unmeaning words pleased King Sighebert and those Frankish nobles who, like himself, understood a little Latin poetry. To say the truth, there was no party among the principal barbarian chiefs opposed to civilization; they willingly imbibed all they were capable of possessing; but this varnish of politeness encountered such savage customs, such violent manners, and such ungovernable passions, that it was impossible for it to do much good. Besides, after these high personages who sought the company and copied the manners of the ancient nobles of the country from vanity or aristocratic instinct, came a crowd of Frankish warriors, who would have suspected of cowardice every man who knew how to read, unless they had witnessed proofs of the contrary. On the least pretext for war, they recommenced pillaging Gaul as at the time of the first invasion; they carried off and melted the sacred vases of the churches, and hunted for gold even in the tombs. In times of peace, their principal occupations were contriving plans for depriving their Gallic neighbours of their estates, and going out, sword in hand, on the high roads to attack those on whom they wished to revenge themselves. The most pacific among them spent their days in furbishing their arms, in hunting, or intoxicating themselves. Every thing could be obtained from them for drink; even the promise of using their influence with the king in favour of such or such a candidate for a vacant bishopric.
Continually tormented by these guests, and always fearing for the safety of their property and persons, the members of the rich native families lost that peace of mind, without which all learning and arts must perish; or else, carried away by the force of example and by a certain instinct of brutal independence which no civilization can efface from the heart of man, they embraced the life of the barbarians, despised every thing but physical force, and became quarrelsome and turbulent. They went out at night, like the Frankish warriors, to attack their enemies in their houses or on the roads, and they never appeared in public without the Germanic dagger, called skramasax, or safety-knife. It was thus by the simple course of events, that in about a century and a half all intellectual cultivation and elegance of manners disappeared from Gaul, without this deplorable change being the work of any mischievous will, or any systematic hostility towards Roman civilization.†
According to the chronicles of the time, Sighebert’s marriage and the splendour which attended it, and more especially the importance he derived from the rank of his new wife, made a lively impression on the mind of King Hilperik. In the midst of his concubines and the wives he had married, after the custom of the ancient Germanic chiefs, and with very little ceremony, it seemed to him that he had a less noble and less regal life than his younger brother. Like him, he resolved to take a wife of high birth; and to imitate him in all points, he sent an embassy to the king of the Goths, to demand the hand of Galeswintha, his eldest daughter.* But this demand met with obstacles which had not presented themselves to Sighebert’s envoys. The report of the King of Neustria’s debauches had reached Spain; the Goths, more civilized than the Franks, and more submissive to the discipline of the Gospel, exclaimed loudly that King Hilperik led the life of a heathen. On her side, Athanaghild’s eldest daughter, naturally timid, and of a gentle and melancholy disposition, trembled at the idea of going to so great a distance, and belonged to such a man. Her mother, Goiswintha, loved her dearly, and partook of her repugnance, her fears, and forebodings of unhappiness; the king was undecided, and delayed his definitive answer from day to day. At last, when pressed by the ambassadors for a reply, he refused to come to any conclusion with them, unless their king engaged himself by an oath to dismiss all his women, and live with his new wife according to the law of God. Couriers were dispatched into Gaul, and returned, bringing from King Hilperik a formal promise to abandon all his wives and concubines, provided he obtained a wife worthy of him, and the daughter of a king.†
A double alliance with the kings of the Franks, his neighbours and natural enemies, offered such political advantages to King Athanaghild, that on this assurance, he hesitated no longer, but proceeded to consider the articles of the marriage treaty. From that moment all the discussions turned, on one side, upon the portion the bride should bring; and, on the other, upon the dowry she should receive from her husband after the wedding-night, as a morning-gift. According to a custom observed among all the tribes of Germanic origin, it was necessary at the bride’s waking, her husband should make her some present, as the price of her virginity. This present varied in its nature and value: sometimes it was a sum of money, or some costly article; sometimes teams of oxen or horses, cattle, houses, or lands; but whatever it was, there was but one name for it,—it was called “morning gift,” morghen-gabe or morgane ghiba, according to the various dialects of the Germanic idiom. The negotiations relative to the marriage of King Hilperik with the sister of Brunehilda, retarded by the interchange of messengers, were prolonged until the year 567; they were then in treaty, when an event occurred in Gaul, which facilitated their termination.
Haribert, the eldest of the four Frankish kings, had left the neighbourhood of Paris, his usual residence, to go to one of his domains near Bordeaux, to enjoy the climate and productions of southern Gaul. He there died suddenly, and his death caused a new division of the territory of the Frankish empire. No sooner were his eyes closed, than one of his wives, Theodehilda, a shepherd’s daughter, seized upon the royal treasure; and in order to retain the title of queen, she sent to propose to Gonthramn that he should make her his wife. The king received this message very graciously, and replied with an air of perfect sincerity: “Tell her to hasten to me with her treasures, for I will marry her, and make her great in the eyes of nations: I mean her to receive more honours with me than with my deceased brother.”* Enchanted with this answer, Theodehilda loaded several carriages with her husband’s riches, and departed for Châlons-sur-Saône, King Gonthramn’s residence. But on her arrival, the king paid no attention to her, but began examining the baggage, counting the chariots, and weighing the coffers; then turning to those who surrounded him, he said: “Is it not better this treasure should belong to me rather than to this woman, who did not merit the honour my brother did her by taking her to his bed?”† All were of this opinion. Haribert’s treasures were placed in safety, and the king sent her, who had so unwillingly made him this valuable present, to the monastery of Arles, under a large escort.
Neither of Gonthramn’s two brothers disputed with him the possession of the money and precious things he had acquired by this stratagem; they had to debate with him and between themselves interest of far greater importance. The plan in agitation was to reduce the division of the Gallic territority into three parts instead of four, and by mutual agreement, to make a division of the provinces and towns which had formed Haribert’s kingdom. This new distribution was more strange and confused than the first. Paris was divided into three equal parts, and each brother had one. To avoid the danger of a sudden invasion, neither of them was to enter the town without the consent of the other two, under pain of losing not only his share of Paris, but his entire share of Haribert’s kingdom. This clause was ratified by a solemn oath sworn on the relics of three venerable saints, Hilary, Martin, and Polyeuctus, whose curses in this world and the next were invoked on the head of him who should break his word.*
Senlis and Marseilles were divided as Paris had been, but into two parts only; the former between Hilperik and Sighebert, the latter between Sighebert and Gonthramn. Three lots were made of the other towns, probably according to a calculation of the taxes gathered in them, and without regard to their respective positions. The geographic confusion became still greater; the enclaves were multiplied, and the kingdoms became involved in one another. Gonthramn obtained Melun, Saintes, Agen, and Perigueux. Meaux, Vendôme, Avranches, Tours, Poitiers, Albi, Conserans, and the towns of the Lower Pyrenees, fell to Sighebert’s share. In Hilperik’s share were, amongst many other towns of which historians made no mention, Limoges, Cahors, and Bordeaux, the now destroyed towns of Bigorre and Béarn, and the cantons of the Upper Pyrenees. The eastern Pyrenees were, at this period, beyond the territory belonging to the Franks; they were in the possession of the Goths of Spain, who, by this means, kept up a communication with their Gallic territories, which extended from the Aude to the Rhône. Thus the King of Neustria, who until then had not been master of a single town south of the Loire, became the near neighbour of his future father-in-law, the king of the Goths. The situation furnished an additional reason for the marriage treaty, and brought it to a speedy conclusion. Amongst the towns which Hilperik had recently acquired, several were on the frontiers of Athanaghild’s kingdom; others were scattered about in Aquitania, a province formerly taken from the Goths by Chlodowig the Great. To stipulate that these towns, which his ancestors had lost, should be given as a dowry to his daughter, was an adroit stroke of policy, and the king of the Goths did not overlook it. Either from a want of perception of any thing beyond the interest of the moment, or from a desire of concluding his marriage with Galeswintha at any price, Hilperik promised without hesitation to give the towns of Limoges, Cahors, and Bordeaux, with the towns of the Pyrenees and all the surrounding territory, as dowry and morning gift.† The confused notions which existed among the Germanic nations respecting the difference between territorial possession and the right of government, might some day free these towns from the Frankish rule, but the king of Neustria did not foresee this. Entirely absorbed by one idea, he only thought of stipulating that, in return for what he gave up, a considerable sum of money and other valuables should be paid into his own hands; this point once settled, all obstacles were overcome, and the marriage was decided on.
Throughout this long negotiation, Galeswintha’s feelings had always been those of repugnance to the man for whom she was destined, and of vague fear for the future. The promises made by the Frankish ambassadors in the name of king Hilperik, had not reassured her. As soon as she learnt that her fate was irrecoverably fixed, she was seized with terror, and running to her mother, she threw her arms round her like a child seeking protection, and wept silently in her arms for more than an hour.* The Frankish ambassadors presented themselves to pay homage to the betrothed bride of their king, and receive her orders for their departure; but, barbarians as they were, they were touched by the sight of these two women sobbing on each other’s bosoms and clinging so closely as to appear linked together, and they dared not mention the journey. Two days passed thus, and on the third they presented themselves once more before the queen, telling her this time, that they were in haste to depart, and spoke of the king’s impatience and the length of the journey.† The queen wept, and begged for one more day for her daughter. But the next day, when she was told that every thing was ready, “one day longer,” said she, “and I will ask no more. Know you that where you are carrying my daughter, there will be no mother for her?”‡ But all possible delays were ended; Athanaghild interposed his regal and paternal authority, and notwithstanding the tears of the queen, Galeswintha was placed in the hands of those who were entrusted with the mission of bringing her to her future husband.
A long line of horsemen, of chariots, and of baggage-wagons, traversed the streets of Toledo in the direction of the north gate. The king, on horseback, followed in his daughter’s train as far as a bridge over the Tagus, at some distance from the town; but the queen could not make up her mind to return so soon, and determined to travel further. Leaving her own chariot she sat by the side of Galeswintha, and she went on stage by stage, day by day, until she had journeyed upwards of a hundred miles. Every day she said, “I will go so far,” and when they had reached that place, she went on further.* When they approached the mountains, the roads became difficult to pass; she did not perceive it, and still wished to go on. But as her retinue augmented their numbers, and increased the confusion and dangers of the journey, the Gothic nobles resolved not to permit their queen to proceed another mile. It was necessary to be resigned to the inevitable separation; and new but calmer scenes of tenderness took place between the mother and daughter. The queen expressed in gentle words her grief and maternal fears. “Be happy,” said she; “but I tremble for thee; take care, my child, take care.† ” . . . At these words, which harmonized too well with her own sad forebodings, Galeswintha wept, and replied: “It is God’s will, I must submit;” and the sad separation was accomplished.
This numerous retinue being now divided, horsemen and chariots formed different parties, some continuing to march forward, others returning to Toledo. Before mounting the car which was to convey her back, the queen of the Goths stood by the road side, and fixing her eyes on her daughter’s chariot, she remained standing immovable, gazing until distance and the windings of the road hid it from her sight.‡ Galeswintha, sad but resigned, pursued her journey towards the north. Her escort, which was composed of nobles and warriors of both nations, Goths and Franks, crossed the Pyrenees and passed through the towns of Narbonne and Carcassonne, without quitting the kingdom of the Goths, which extended to that distance; then passing through Tours and Poitiers, took the direction of Rouen, where the marriage was to be celebrated.§ At the gates of every large town the whole train stopped, and everything was prepared for a solemn entry; the horsemen threw off their travelling cloaks, uncovered the harness of their horses, and armed themselves with the bucklers which usually hung at their saddle-bows. The betrothed bride of the king of Neustria quitted her heavy travelling chariot for a car of state, built in the shape of a tower, and covered with plates of silver. The cotemporary poet, from whom we borrow these details, saw her enter thus at Poitiers, where she rested some days. He says that the splendour of her equipage was much admired, but he makes no mention of her beauty.∥
Faithful to his promise, Hilperik had repudiated his wives, and dismissed his mistresses. Fredegonda herself, the most beautiful of them all, the favourite amongst those to whom he had given the title of queen, did not escape from this general proscription; she submitted with an apparent resignation and good will, which would have deceived a sharper man than king Hilperik. It seemed as if she sincerely felt that this divorce was necessary, that the marriage of a king with a woman of her rank could never be valid, and that it was her duty to give up her claim in favour of a queen really worthy of the title. She only asked as a last favour not to be dismissed from the palace, and to be allowed to take her place as formerly among the women employed in the royal service. Under this mask of humility, there was a depth of cunning and female ambition of which the king of Neustria was quite unsuspicious. Since the day when he first conceived the idea of marrying a woman of royal blood, he thought he no longer loved Fredegonda, and became indifferent to her beauty; for the mind of the son of Chlother, like the barbarian mind in general, was little capable of receiving impressions of various natures at the same time. It was thus that, from want of foresight and judgment, not from tenderness of heart, he allowed his former favourite to remain near him in the house which his new wife was to inhabit.
Galeswintha’s wedding was celebrated with as much preparation and magnificence as that of her sister Brunehilda; and this time the bride had extraordinary honours paid her: all the Franks of Neustria, nobles and simple warriors, swore fidelity to her, as to a king.* Standing in a semicircle, they drew their swords all together and brandished them in the air, repeating an old pagan formula, which devoted whoever violated his oath to the edge of the sword. Then the king himself solemnly renewed his promise of constancy and conjugal fidelity; placing his hand on a shrine containing some relics, he swore never to divorce the daughter of the king of the Goths, and never to take another wife as long as she lived.†
Galeswintha was remarked, during the festivities of her marriage, for the graciousness she showed to all the guests; she received them as if she already knew them; to some she made presents, to others she addressed kind and gentle words; all assured her of their devotion, and wished her a long and happy life.* These vows, which were never to be realized for her, accompanied her into the nuptial chamber; and the next morning, when she got up, she received the morning-gift with all the ceremonies prescribed by the Germanic customs. In presence of some chosen witness, king Hilperik took his wife’s hand in his own right hand, and with the left threw a piece of straw over her, and pronounced with a loud voice the names of five towns, which were in future to be the queen’s property. The act of this perpetual and irrevocable donation was drawn up in the Latin language; it has not been preserved to us, but we can easily imagine the tenour of it, from the usual formulas and style used in all memorials of the Merovingian epoch:
“Since God has commanded that a man shall leave father and mother to cleave to his wife, that they shall be as one flesh, and that no one shall put asunder those whom the Lord has joined together, I, Hilperik, king of the Franks, an illustrious man, do give to-day from tenderness of affection, under the names of dowry and morgane-ghiba, the towns of Boideaux, Cahors, Limoges, Bèarn, and Bigorre, with their territories and population, unto thee, Galeswintha, my well-beloved wife, whom I have wedded according to the Salic law, by the sou and the denier.† It is my will that, from this day forth, thou shouldst hold and possess them to perpetuity; and I give, transfer, and confer them by this present act, as I have already done by the piece of straw and the handelang.”‡
The first months of the new queen’s marriage were at least quiet, if not happy; patient and gentle, she bore with resignation all the savage brusquerie of her husband’s character. Besides, for some time, Hilperik felt a sincere affection for her; he first loved her from vanity, and rejoiced that he had in her as noble a wife as his brother; then, when surfeited with this gratification of his self love, he loved her from avarice, on account of the large sums of money and the number of valuables she had brought him.* But after having for some time pleased himself with counting up these riches, he ceased to feel any delight in them, and from that time there was no attraction to bind him to Galeswintha. Her moral beauty, her humility, her charity to the poor, had no charms for him; he had sense and feeling for external beauty only. Thus the time arrived when, in spite of his resolutions, Hilperik felt only coldness and ennui by his wife’s side. (ad 568.)
Fredegonda had waited for this moment, and she profited by it with her usual address. She met the king as if by accident, and the comparison of her person with Galeswintha’s was sufficient to revive in the heart of this sensual man a passion which a few puffs of vanity had not sufficed to extinguish. Fredegonda once more became a concubine, and made great parade of her new triumph; she even assumed a haughty and contemptuous behaviour towards the neglected wife.† Doubly hurt as a woman and a queen, Galeswintha first wept in silence; at last she ventured to complain, and told the king that she was no longer honoured in his house, but received injuries and affronts she could not bear. She begged as a favour to be divorced, and offered to leave all she had brought with her, provided she was permitted to return to her own country.‡
The voluntary sacrifice of a great treasure, the disinterestedness of pride, were things incomprehensible to king Hilperik; and unable to appreciate, he had no faith in them. Thus, notwithstanding their sincerity, the words of the sad Galeswintha inspired him with no other feelings than those of sombre defiance, and the fear of losing, by an open rupture, treasures which he rejoiced to possess. Subduing his feelings, and concealing his thoughts with all the cunning of a savage, he suddenly changed his manners, assumed a gentle and caressing tone, and deceived Athanaghild’s daughter with protestations of love and repentance. She spoke no more of a separation, and flattered herself that his return to her was sincere; when one night, by the king’s order, a faithful servant was introduced into her room, and strangled her whilst she slept. On finding her dead in bed, Hilperik affected surprise and grief, pretended to shed tears, and a few days after restored to Fredegonda the rights of a wife and a queen.§
Thus perished this young woman, to whom a sort of secret revelation seemed to have given warning of the fate which was reserved for her; a gentle and melancholy being, who appeared amidst Merovingian barbarism like an apparition of another age. Notwithstanding the weakness of the moral sense in the midst of innumerable crimes and miseries, there were minds deeply touched by such unmerited misfortunes; and in accordance with the spirit of the age, their sympathies were touched with superstition. It was said that a crystal lamp, suspended near Galeswintha’s tomb on the day of her burial, had suddenly given way without any one’s touching it, and had fallen on the marble pavement without breaking or going out; to complete the miracle, it was asserted that the spectators had seen the marble yield like a soft material, and the lamp sink half way into it.* Such stories may make us smile, we who read them in old books written for men of another age; but in the sixth century, when these legends passed from mouth to mouth, as the living and poetical expression of the popular feelings and faith, those who listened to them became thoughtful, and wept.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE MURDER OF GALESWINTHA—CIVIL WAR—DEATH OF SIGHEBERT.
Amongst the Franks, and the tribes of the Germanic race in general, whenever a murder had been committed, the nearest relation of the deceased invited all his relations and allies to a meeting, summoning them on their honour to appear in arms, war being held to exist from that moment between the murderer and all who were in the remotest degree connected with his victim; as husband of Galeswintha’s sister, Sighebert found himself called upon to fulfil the dictates of revenge. He sent messengers to king Gonthramn, who, without hesitating a moment between his two brothers who had thus become enemies, sided with the injured party, either because the national manners impelled him to do so, or because the odious and cowardly crime of king Hilperik placed him, as it were, under the ban of his own family. War was instantly declared, and hostilities commenced, but with very different degrees of ardour on the part of the two brothers thus armed against the third. Excited by the call for vengeance of his wife Brunehilda, who had absolute dominion over him, and whose violent disposition had thus suddenly betrayed itself, Sighebert wanted to push matters to extremes; he felt no remorse even at fratricide; but Gonthramn, either from Christian feeling, or the natural weakness of his character, (ad 569,) soon abandoned the part of co-assailant for that of mediator. By the help of prayers and threats, he prevailed upon Sighebert not to be the avenger of his own cause, but peaceably to demand justice of the assembled people according to law.*
According to the laws of the Franks, or, more properly speaking, according to their national customs, every man who felt himself aggrieved had a free choice between private war and public judgment; but judgment once passed, war ceased to be legitimate. The assembly of justice was called mal, that is to say, a council; and in order to exercise in it the function of arbitrator, it was necessary to belong to the class of landed proprietors, or, according to the Germanic expression, to the class of arimans, men of honour.* In large or small numbers, varying with the nature and importance of the causes they had to debate upon, the judges appeared in arms at the assembly, and sat on benches arranged in a circle. Before the Franks passed the Rhine and conquered Gaul, they held their courts of justice in the open air, on hills consecrated by ancient religious rites. After the conquest, and their conversion to Christianity, they abandoned this custom, and the mal was held by the kings or counts in halls of wood or stone; but notwithstanding this change, the place of meeting kept the name it had formerly received in pagan Germany, and it was still called in the Germanic language, mal-berg, the mountain of the council.†
When a proclamation in the three Frankish kingdoms had announced that in the delay of forty nights (such was the legal expression,) a solemn council would be held by king Gonthramn for the re-establishment of peace between kings Hilperik and Sighebert, the principal chiefs and the great proprietors, attended by their vassals, came to the appointed place. There was a solemn judgment passed, which the history of the time mentions without giving any details,‡ and the probable circumstances of which it is possible to find with the help of different law-texts, acts, and legal formulas. The induction applied to these texts gives the following facts, which are, it is true, merely simple conjectures, but which may, to a certain extent, fill up the vacuum left here by historical evidence.
The assembly having met, king Gonthramn took his place on a raised seat, and the rest of the judges sat on low benches, each wearing his sword by his side, with a servant behind him bearing his buckler and javelin. King Sighebert as the accuser first came forward, and in the name of his wife, queen Brunehilda, accused Hilperik of having willingly had a share in the murder of Galeswintha, the sister of Brunehilda. A delay of fourteen nights was allowed for the accused to appear in his turn and justify himself by oath.§
The law of the Franks demanded that this oath of justification should be confirmed by those of a certain number of freemen; six in small cases, and as many as seventy-two in cases of great importance, whether from the gravity of the charge, or the high rank of the parties.* It was necessary that the accused should present himself in the enclosure formed by the benches of the judges, accompanied by all the men who were to swear with him. Thirty-six stood on his right, and thirty-six on his left; then, on the summons of the principal judge, he drew his sword, and swore on his arms that he was innocent; then the compurgators, drawing their swords at the same time, swore the same oath.† No passage, either in the chronicles or contemporary records, gives us any reason to think that king Hilperik sought legally to exculpate himself from the crime which was imputed to him; most probably he presented himself alone before the assembly of the Franks, and sat down in silence. Sighebert rose, and addressing himself to the judges, he said three different times, “Tell us the Salic law.” Then he repeated a fourth time, pointing to Hilperik, “I summon you to tell him and me what the Salic law ordains.”‡
Such was the appointed formula for demanding judgment against an adversary convicted on his own confession; but in the present case, the answer to this summons could only take place after long discussions, for it was a case in which the common law of the Franks was only applicable from analogy. In order to prevent, or at least to shorten the private wars, this law determined, that in a case of murder, the culprit should pay the heirs of the deceased a sum of money proportioned to the rank of the latter. From fifteen to thirty-five golden sols were given for the life of a domestic slave, forty-five for that of a lite of barbaric origin, or of a Gallo-Roman tributary, a hundred for a Roman proprietor, and double for a Frank, or any other barbarian living under the Salic law.§ The fine was trebled in all these gradations if the murdered man, whether slave or serf of the soil, whether Roman or barbarian, by birth belonged to the king as a servant, vassal, or public functionary. Thus, for a colonist of the fisc, ninety golden sols were paid, three hundred for a Roman admitted to the royal table, and six hundred for a barbarian decorated with a title of honour, or singly an-trusti, that is to say, confidant of the king.*
This fine, which, once paid, was to secure the culprit from subsequent pursuit and all acts of revenge, was called in the Germanic language, wer-gheld, or “safety-tax,” and in Latin, compositio, because it ended the war between the offender and the injured party. There was no wer-gheld for the murder of royal personages, and in this tariff of human life they were placed beyond and above all legal valuation. On the other hand, the barbarian customs in some sort gave a prince the privilege of homicide; and this was the reason why, unless the interpretation of the terms of the Salic law was extended, it was impossible to say what was to be done in the action brought against king Hilperik, and to decide what rate of composition-money should be paid to Galeswintha’s relations. Unable to decide strictly according to law, the assembly proceeded to arbitration, and gave sentence almost in the following terms:—
“This is the judgment of the most glorious king Gonthramn, and of the Franks sitting in the Mal-berg. The cities of Bordeaux, Limoges, Cahors, Bèarn, and Bigorre, which Galeswintha, sister of the most excellent lady, Brunehilda, received, as every one knows, as a dowry and morning gift, at her arrival in the country of the Franks, will become from this day forth the property of queen Brunehilda and her heirs, in order that, by this agreement, peace and charity may be restored between the most glorious lords Hilperik and Sighebert.”†
The two kings advanced towards each other, holding in their hands small branches of trees, which they exchanged, as a sign of the promise which they made each other, the one never to attempt to take again what he had just lost through the decree of the assembled people, the other never to claim a larger composition under any pretext whatsoever.
“My brother,” the king of Austrasia then said, “I assure thee for the future peace and security concerning the death of Galeswintha, sister to Brunehilda. Henceforward thou hast neither complaints nor persecution to fear from me; and if, which it please God to prevent, it should happen that thou be disturbed or cited anew before the Mal for the above-mentioned homicide, or for the composition I have received from thee, either by me, my heirs, or any other person in their name, the composition shall be restored to thee doubled.”* The assembly broke up, and the two kings, lately mortal enemies, departed apparently reconciled.
The idea of accepting this judgment as an exptation was not a likely one to enter king Hilperik’s mind: on the contrary, he resolved some day or other to seize upon those towns again, or to help himself to an equivalent out of Sighebert’s dominions. This project, meditated on and concealed for nearly five years, was suddenly put into execution in the year 573. Without any exact idea of the situation and relative importance of the towns whose loss he regretted, Hilperik knew that Bêarn and Bigorre were the least considerable, and the furthest removed from the centre of his kingdom. Whilst considering the best means of recovering by force what he had only given up from weakness, he found that his plan of conquest would be more feasible and more profitable if he were to substitute the larger and more wealthy cities of Tours and Poitiers, which were more conveniently situated for him, for the two smaller ones at the foot of the Pyrenees. Accordingly, he assembled his troops in the town of Angers, which belonged to him, and gave the command of them to Chlodowig, the youngest of his three sons by Audowera, his first wife.
Without any declaration of war, Chlodowig marched upon Tours. Notwithstanding the strength of this ancient city, he entered it without resistance; for King Sighebert, as well as the other two kings, only kept a permanent garrison in the towns where they resided; and the citizens, almost all of Gallic origin, cared little whether they belonged to one Frankish King or another. Master of Tours, the son of Hilperik directed his march to Poitiers, whose gates were opened to him with equal readiness, and he there established his head-quarters in a central point between Tours and the cities of Limoges, Cahors, and Bordeaux, which were still closed against him.*
At the news of this unexpected aggression, King Sighebert sent messengers to his brother Gonthramn, to demand assistance and advice. The part which Gonthramn had played six years before, in re-establishing peace between the two kings, seemed to invest him with a sort of supremacy over them, with the right of punishing whoever broke his word, and resisted the judgment of the people. With this intention, and with that instinctive sense of justice which was one of the principal features of his character, he took upon himself the charge of repressing the hostile attempts of King Hilperik, and obliged him once more to submit to the conditions of the treaty of partition, and the decision of the Franks. Without any remonstrance or previous summons to the violator of the peace, Gonthramn sent out against Chlodowig a body of troops conducted by Eonius Mummolus, the best of his generals, a man of Gallic origin, equal to the bravest among the Franks in intrepidity, and surpassing them all in military talent.†
Mummolus, whose name was then famous, and will often recur in the course of these narratives, had lately defeated in many battles, and finally driven beyond the Alps, the nation of the Langobardi, which was then in possession of the north of Italy, and which had made a descent upon Gaul, menacing with conquest the provinces in the neighbourhood of the Rhone.‡ With that rapidity of movement which had procured him so many victories, he left Châlonssur-Saâne, the capital of Gonthramn’s kingdom, and marched to Tours, passing through Nevers and Bourges. At his approach, young Chlodowig, who had returned to Tours with the intention of there sustaining a siege, retreated, and took up a favourable position on the road to Poitiers, at a short distance from that town, and there awaited reinforcements. The citizens of Tours peaceably received the Gallo-Roman general, who took possession of the place in the name of King Sighebert. In order to render them for the future less indifferent in political matters, Mummolus obliged them in a mass to take the oath of fidelity.§
If, as is most probable, his proclamation, addressed to the bishop and count of Tours, resembled in style all acts of the same kind, all the men of the city and its precincts, whether Romans, Franks, or of any nation whatsoever, were ordered to assemble in the episcopal church, and there to swear by every thing holy, to keep with sincerity and like true Leudes the faith due to their lord, the most glorious King Sighebert.*
In the meantime, the reinforcement which Chlodowig expected, arrived at his camp near Poitiers. It consisted of a troop of men raised in the neighbourhood, and led by Sigher and Basilius, one of Frankish, the other of Roman origin; both influential on account of their riches, and zealous partisans of King Hilperik. This numerous but undisciplined army, mostly composed of colonists and peasants, formed the vanguard of the Neustrian army, and was the first to encounter the soldiers of Mummolus. Notwithstanding much valour and even fury in the combat. Sigher and Basilius were unable to stop the greatest, or rather the only tactician of the time in his march to Poitiers. Attacked at once in front and rear, they were, after an enormous loss, thrown back upon the Franks of Chlodowig’s army, which gave way and disbanded almost immediately. The two chiefs of the volunteers were killed in the confusion, and the son of Hilperik, no longer able to defend Poitiers, fled towards Saintes. Having by this victory become master of the town, Mummolus considered his mission ended; and having obliged the citizens to take the same oath of fidelity to King Sighebert as those at Tours had taken, he returned to the Gonthramn’s kingdom, not deigning to pursue a small number of Neustrians who fled with the son of their king.†
Chlodowig made no attempt to rally his forces and return to Poitiers; but, either from fear of finding the northern road shut against him, or from a spirit of bravado natural to a young man, instead of directing his course towards Angers, he continued to follow a contrary road, and marched to Bordeaux, one of the five towns he had been ordered to seize.‡ He arrived at the gates of this large city, with a handful of men in bad condition, and at the first summons made by him in his father’s name, they were opened to him. A curious fact, which shows in a striking manner the impotence of administration under the Merovingian sovereigns. There was not a sufficient military force in this great city to defend Queen Brunehilda’s right of possession and King Sighebert’s right of sovereignty against a band of harassed fugitives, ignorant of the country. The son of Hilperik was thus enabled to establish himself as its master, and he and his followers occupied palaces which belonged to the fisc, formerly imperial property, and which had devolved on the Germanic kings, together with the rest of the inheritance of the Cæsars.
A full month had elapsed since young Chlodowig had established himself at Bordeaux with all the airs of a conqueror, and affecting the authority of a viceroy, when Sigulf, one of the guardians of the March of the Pyrenees, suddenly set out in pursuit of him.* This frontier, which it was necessary to defend against the Goths and Basques, then belonged entirely to the king of Austrasia, in whose name the ban of war was proclaimed on both sides of the Adour. Some indications afforded by events of later occurrence, give us reason to think, that in order not to weaken his fortified places, the duke, or, as he was called in the Germanic language, the Mark-graf.† ordered a general rising of the inhabitants of the country, a population of hunters, shepherds, and wood-cutters, nearly as savage as their neighbours, the Basques, with whom they often united to pillage the convoys of merchandize, plunder the small towns, and resist the Frankish governors. Those mountaineers who obeyed the call of the Austrasian chief, came to the place of meeting, some on foot, some on horseback, in their usual equipment, that is to say, in hunting costume, a spear in the hand, and a trumpet or horn slung in a shoulder belt. Under the command of the Mark-graf Sigulf, they entered Bordeaux, hastening their march with a view to surprise, and directing their steps to that part of the town where the Neustrians were quartered.
These, thus suddenly attacked by an enemy far superior in numbers, had only time to mount their horses and oblige their prince to do the same; they surrounded him, and fled with him in a northerly direction. Sigulf’s forces set off furiously in pursuit of them, animated either by the hope of taking alive and so getting the ransom of a king’s son, or by a feeling of national hatred against the men of the Frankish race. In order to excite each other to the pursuit, or to increase the terror of the fugitives, or simply from an impulse of southern gaiety, they blew their trumpets and hunting-horns as they rode. During the whole day, bent over the reins of his horse which he was spurring forwards, Chlodowig heard behind him the sound of the horn and the cries of the huntsmen, who followed on his track as if he were a deer in the forest.* But in the evening, as the darkness became thicker, the heat of the pursuit gradually abated, and the Neustrians were soon able to continue their journey at a moderate pace. It was thus that young Chlodowig reached the banks of the Loire and the walls of Angers, which he had so short a time before left at the head of a numerous army.†
This miserable termination to an enterprise so confidently undertaken, produced a feeling of gloomy and ferocious anger in the mind of King Hilperik. Not only the love of gain, but also a feeling of wounded vanity now incited him to risk all to recover what he had lost, and answer the challenge which seemed thus to have been conveyed to him. Determined on avenging his wounded honour in a striking manner, he assembled on the banks of the Loire an army much more numerous than the first, and entrusted the command of it to Theodebert, his eldest son.‡ The prudent Gonthramn thought this time that any fresh attempt at mediation on his part would probably be of no use in restoring peace, and would certainly cost him very dear. Renouncing the part of mediator direct, he adopted a middle course, which in case of non-success enabled him to keep himself apart, and take no share in the quarrel. He left the care of reconciling the two kings to an ecclesiastical synod; accordingly, in obedience to his orders, all the bishops of the kingdom, neutral by position, formed a council in a neutral town, Paris, where, according to the arrangement agreed on, neither of the sons of Chlother could put his foot without the consent of the two others.§ The council addressed to the king of Neustria the most pressing exhortations to keep the peace he had sworn to maintain, and no longer to invade his brother’s rights. But all their discourses and messages were useless. Hilperik would listen to nothing, but continued his military preparations, and the members of the synod returned to King Gonthramn, bringing with them, as the sole fruit of their mission, the announcement that war was inevitable.∥
Meanwhile, Theodebert passed the Loire, and by a movement which seemed like military combination, instead of marching at first upon Tours, as his younger brother had done, he directed his march to Poitiers, where the Austrasian chiefs who commanded in Aquitania had concentrated their forces. Gondebald, the principal amongst them, had the imprudence to hazard a pitched battle against the Neustrians, who were in greater numbers, and more interested in this war than the troops which he led. He was completely defeated, and lost every thing in a single engagement.* The conquerors entered Poitiers, and Theodebert, master of this place, in the centre of Austrasian Aquitania, had it in his power to besiege any one of the towns he was ordered to attack. He took a nothern course, and entered on that part of the territory of Tours which lies on the left bank of the Loire. Either by his father’s orders, or out of mere wantonness, he made war upon the country in a most savage manner, carrying devastation and massacre into every place he passed through. The citizens of Tours saw with horror, from the tops of their walls, the clouds of smoke which arose on all sides, announcing the conflagration of the adjacent country. Although bound to king Sighebert by an oath sworn on the sacred relies, they dropped at once their religious scruples, and surrendered at discretion, imploring the clemency of the victor.†
After the submission of Poitiers and Tours, the Neustrian army laid siege to Limoges, which opened its gates, and then marched from thence to Cahors. In this long route, its passage was marked by the devastation of the country, the pillage of houses, and the profanation of holy places. The churches were stripped and burnt, the priests put to death, the nuns violated, and the convents reduced to ruins.‡ At the news of these outrages, a general panic spread itself from one end to the other of the ancient province of Aquitania, from the Loire to the Pyrenees. This extensive and beautiful country, which the Franks had entered sixty years before, not as enemies of the native population, but as adversaries of the Goths, its first masters, and as soldiers of the orthodox faith against an heretical power; this favoured country, which conquest had twice passed over without leaving any traces, where the Roman manners were preserved almost unaltered, and where the Germanic princes beyond the Loire were only known for their reputation as perfect Catholics,—was suddenly deprived of the repose it had enjoyed for half a century. The sight of such cruelties and acts of sacrilege struck all minds with wonder and dismay.
The campaign of Theodebert in Aquitania was compared to the persecution of Diocletian;* the crimes and depredations of Hilperik’s army were, with singular naiveté, contrasted with the acts of piety of Chlodowig the Great, who had founded and enriched so many churches. Invectives and maledictions imitated from the Bible fell from the lips of the Aquitanian bishops and senators, whose Christian faith was their only patriotism; or they recounted to each other, with a smile of hope, the miracles which it was rumoured had occurred in different parts to punish the excesses of the barbarians.† This was the name given to the Franks; but this word had in itself no derogatory meaning; it was used in Gaul to designate the conquering race, as the natives were called Romans.
Very often the simplest accident formed the groundwork of those popular tales which excited imaginations coloured with a shade of superstition. A few miles from Tours, on the right bank of the Loire, stood a monastery famous for the relies of Saint Martin; whilst the Franks were plundering on the left bank, twenty of them took a boat to cross the river and pillage this rich monastery. Having neither oars nor poles tipped with iron with which to guide it, they made use of their lances, keeping the iron end upwards, and pushing the other end to the bottom of the river. Seeing them approach, the monks, who could not mistake their intentions, advanced towards them, crying out: “Beware, oh barbarians! beware of landing here, for this monastery belongs to the blessed Martin.”‡ But the Franks landed nevertheless; they beat the monks, broke all the furniture of the monastery, carried off every thing valuable, making them up in bales with which they loaded their small craft.§ The boat, badly steered and overloaded, met with one of the shoals which are so numerous in the bed of the Loire, and ran aground. The shock produced by this sudden stoppage, threw several of those who were employing all their force to move their heavy bark, off their balance, so that they fell forward, and the iron of their lances ran into their breasts; the rest, struck with alarm and remorse, began loudly to cry for help. Some of the monks, whom they had ill-treated, coming to see what was the matter, got into a boat, and beheld with much astonishment what had happened. Entreated by the plunderers themselves to take back all the booty seized in their house, they regained the bank singing the service for the dead for the souls of those who had perished so unexpectedly.*
Whilst these things were passing in Aquitania, king Sighebert was assembling all the forces of his kingdom to march against Theodebert, or to compel Hilperik to recall him, and so keep the limits which were assigned to him by the treaty of division. He called to arms not only the Franks from the borders of the Meuse, the Moselle, and the Rhine, but all the Germanic tribes on the other side of that river who recognized the authority or patronage of the sons of Merowig. Such were the Sweves, or Swabians, and the Alemanni, the last remains of two formerly very powerful confederacies, the Thuringians, and the Baiwars, who preserved their nationality under hereditary dukes; and lastly, some of the smaller nations of Lower Germany, who were detached either by force or by their own free will, from the formidable league of the Saxons, that enemy and rival of the Frankish empire.† These trans-rhenane nations, as they were then called, were entirely heathen, or if those nearest to the Gallic frontier had received some rudiments of Christianity, they curiously mixed up with it the ceremonies of their ancient worship, sacrificing animals and even men in their solemn festivals.‡ To these savage habits they added a thirst for plunder and a love of conquest, which drove them westward, and stimulated them to pass the great river like the Franks in search of booty and lands in Gaul.
The Franks knew this, and observed with distrust the least movements of their former brethren, who were always ready to follow in their footsteps, and endeavour to overcome them. It was to remove this danger that Chlodowig the Great fought the battle of Tolbiac against the United Swabians and Alemanni. Other victories gained by Chlodowig’s successors followed the defeat of this, the vanguard of the tribes beyond the Rhine. Theodorik subdued the Thuringian nation together with several Saxon tribes; and Sighebert himself signalized his activity and courage against the latter. As king of eastern France, and guardian of the common frontier, he had maintained in the minds of the Germanic nations a feeling of fear and respect for the Frankish sovereigns; but by enlisting them in his army, and leading them under his banners into the very centre of Gaul, he was likely to renew in them their old jealousy and love of conquest, and thus raise a storm which might be dangerous to both Gauls and Franks.
At the news of this great arming in Austrasia, therefore, a feeling of anxiety spread, not only among Hilperik’s subjects, but even amongst those of Gonthramn, who himself shared their fears. Notwithstanding his unwillingness to quarrel without long and extreme provocation, he could not help considering the rising in a mass of the trans-rhenane nations as an act of hostility against all the Christians in Gaul, and he returned a favourable answer to the request for aid which Hilperik addressed to him: “The two kings had an interview,” says a cotemporary author, “and formed an alliance, swearing to each other that neither of them should let his brother perish.”*
Foreseeing that Sighebert’s plan would be to march to the south-west and gain some point of the road between Paris and Tours, Hilperik transported his army to the eastern side of the course of the Seine to defend its passage. Gonthramn, on his side, strengthened the northern frontier with troops, as it was not protected by any natural defence, and came himself to Troyes as a point whence he could observe all that passed.
(ad 574.) It was in the year 574, that after a march of several days, the troops of the king of Austrasia arrived near Arcis-sur-Aube. Sighebert halted at this spot, and awaited the reports of his spies before he proceeded any further. To enter Hilperik’s kingdom without changing his line of march, it was necessary to cross the Seine a little above where it was joined by the Aube, at a spot then called Les douze Ponts, and now Pont-sur-Seine; but all the bridges were broken down, and the boats carried away, while the king of Neustria was encamped at no great distance, prepared to give battle, if any one attempted to ford it.† Rather less than ten leagues southward, the Seine with its two banks formed a part of the states, or, as they were then called, the lot of Gonthramn. Sighebert did not hesitate to demand permission to pass through his territories. The message which he sent him was short and significative: “If you do not permit me to pass this river, which runs across your lot, I shall pass over you with my whole army.”‡ The presence of this formidable army acted powerfully on king Gonthramn’s imagination, and the same motives of fear which had determined him to coalesce with Hilperik, now induced him to break off that alliance, and violate his oath. All the accounts which he received from his spies and the people of the country, respecting the number and appearance of the Austrasian troops, presented to him in alarming colours the danger to which a refusal must expose him. In fact, if the armies of the Merovingian kings were usually without discipline, that one surpassed in ferocious turbulence all that had been seen since the period of the great invasions. The principal battalions consisted of the least civilized and least Christian part of the Frankish population, that which inhabited the country near the Rhine; and the greater part of the troops was a horde of barbarians in the fullest force of the term. They were the same wild savages who had overrun Gaul in the times of Attila and Chlodowig, and were only to be met with in popular tales of the times; warriors with long mustachios, and hair combed up to the top of their heads, who hurled their battle-axes into their enemies’ faces, or harpooned them at a distance with their hooked javelins.* An army like this could not exist without pillage, even in a friendly country; but Gonthramn preferred exposing himself to depredation for a short time, rather than encounter the chances of invasion and conquest. He allowed them a passage, probably over the bridge of Troyes; and in that very town he had an interview with his brother Sighebert, to whom he swore inviolable peace and eternal friendship.†
At the news of this treachery, Hilperik hastened to leave the position he had taken up on the left bank of the Seine, and to reach the centre of his dominions by a hasty retreat. He marched, without halting, to the neighbourhood of Chartres, and encamped on the banks of the Loir, near the village of Avallocium, now called Alluye.‡ During this long march he was constantly followed, and closely pressed by the enemy’s troops. Several times, Sighebert, thinking he was going to stop, called upon him, according to the Germanic custom, to name a day for the combat; but instead of answering, the king of Neustria quickened his pace and continued to march. Scarcely was he settled in his new quarters when a herald of the Austrasian army brought him the following message: “If you are not a man of nothing, prepare the field of battle, and accept the combat.”§ Such a challenge never remained unanswered by a man of Frankish race; but Hilperik had lost all his former pride. Therefore, after many vain efforts to escape his enemy, he was driven to extremity, and not possessing even the courage of a wild boar at bay, he had recourse to entreaties, and begged for peace upon any terms.
Sighebert, notwithstanding his violent disposition, was not ungenerous; he consented to forgive every thing, provided only the towns of Tours, Poitiers, Limoges, and Cahors, were given back to him without delay, and the army of Theodebert re-crossed the Loire.* Thus defeated by his own confession, and deprived for the second time of his hopes of conquest, Hilperik, like an animal caught in a snare, suddenly became more moderate; he even had one of those fits of good-nature, which, in the Germanic character, seemed to alternate with the most brutal ferocity, and the most cunning selfishness. He was uneasy as to the fate of the inhabitants of the four towns, which had submitted to him. “Forgive them,” said he to his brother, “and do not lay the blame on them; for if they have been wanting in fidelity towards you, it was because I compelled them to it by fire and sword.” Sighebert was humane enough to accept this apology.†
The two kings seemed sufficiently pleased with each other, but the Austrasian army was full of discontent. The men recruited in the countries beyond the Rhine, murmured at being disappointed, by an unexpected peace, of the booty which they had hoped to amass in Gaul. They were indignant at having been led so far from their homes without fighting or gaining any thing; and accused king Sighebert of having withdrawn from the field as soon as it became necessary to fight. All the camp was in commotion, and a violent outbreak was expected. The king, without betraying the smallest emotion, mounted on horseback, and galloping towards the groups of the most violent of the mutineers: “What is the matter,” said he, “and what is it you ask?” “A battle!” was the cry on all sides. “Give us an opportunity of fighting and getting riches, otherwise we will not return to our own country.”‡ This menace might have caused a new conquest in the midst of Gaul, and even the dismemberment of the Frankish government; but Sighebert was not in the least disconcerted by it; and by means of soothing words, and promises made with the appearance of firmness, he succeeded in calming the irritation of these savages without much trouble.
The camp was raised, and the army set out for the banks of the Rhine. They took the road to Paris, but did not pass through that town, for Sighebert, faithful to his engagements, respected its neutrality. The Austrasian troops ravaged all the places they passed on the road, and the environs of Paris suffered long from their passage. Most of the hamlets and villages were burnt, the houses pillaged, and a number of men made prisoners, nor was it possible for the king to prevent these excesses. “He spoke and entreated,” says the ancient narrator, “that these things might not be, but he was unable to prevail against the determination of the people from the other side of the Rhine.”*
These heathens only entered the churches to rob them. In the rich basilica of Saint Denis, one of the captains of the army took a piece of silk worked in gold, and ornamented with precious stones, which covered the tomb of the martyr; another had the audacity to get on the tomb itself in order to reach and knock down with his lance a golden dove, the symbol of the Holy Ghost, which hung from the ceiling of the chapel.† These thefts and profanations exasperated Sighebert as a king and as a Christian; but, feeling that he had no authority over the minds of his soldiers, he acted towards them as his ancestor Chlodowig did towards the man who broke the vase of Reims. Whilst the army was on its march, he took no notice of what passed, but dissembled his anger; but when these unruly men, having returned to their tribes and homes, were dispersed, he had all those who had distinguished themselves by these acts of mutiny and plunder seized upon one by one, and put to death.‡ It appears that similar devastations took place at the passage of the Austrasian army on the northern frontier of Gonthramn’s kingdom, and that this insult, which he felt keenly, caused disagreement between him and Sighebert. On the other hand, the pacific disposition of the king of Neustria did not last long; as soon as he found himself free from danger, he resumed his former plan, and again began to covet the towns of Aquitania, which he had possessed for a short time. The quarrel which had just broken out between his two brothers appeared to him a favourable opportunity for recommencing his projects of conquest; he hastened to avail himself of it; and in less than a year after peace had been concluded, he wrote thus to Gonthramn: “Let my brother come to me, let us see each other, and be joined by the same common interest; let us fall upon our common enemy Sighebert.”* This proposition was very well received; the two kings had an interview, made each other presents in token of friendship, and concluded an offensive alliance against their brother of Austrasia. Hilperik, full of confidence sent fresh troops towards the Loire under the command of his son Theodebert, who crossed the river for the second time in the year 575; he himself entered the territory of Reims, the western frontier of the kingdom of Austrasia, with a large army. His campaign was marked by havoc like that of Theodebert in Aquitania; he burned villages, destroyed harvests, and seized on every thing which could be taken away.†
The news of these depredations, and of the coalition formed against him, reached Sighebert at the same time. He had forgiven Hilperik, and resisted the prayers of his wife, who desired neither peace nor truce with the murderer of Galeswintha. His indignation was that of a violent but simple-hearted man, who discovers that his confidence has been abused. He burst into invectives and imprecations. But this boiling rage, a sort of fever which might be again calmed by the submission of the enemy, was too uncertain to satisfy Brunehilda. She employed all the influence she possessed over her husband, to insinuate into his mind some more settled plan of revenge, and to direct his resentment to one end, the death of his brother. To put the assassin to death was the cry of Galeswintha’s sister, and this time Sighebert listened to her. It was in the hope of a single combat, in which one should fall, that he again proclaimed war against Hilperik amongst the oriental Franks and the tribes beyond the Bhine.‡
To incite these intractable people to fight desperately, the king of Austrasia promised them every thing; money, plunder, and even lands and cities in Gaul. He marched directly westward to the assistance of the province of Reims, which prevented all anxiety as to the way in which he should cross the Seine. At his approach, Hilperik avoided the combat as he had done in the preceding campaign, and retreated, following the course of the Marne towards the Lower Seine, till he could take up a favourable position. Sighebert pursued him as far as the walls of Paris; but he stopped there, tempted by the idea of occupying that town, which was then considered very strong, making it his head-quarters, and a place of refuge in case of necessity. However prudent this idea, the king of Austrasia, by following it, committed an act of temerity from which he would doubtless have shrunk, if his passion for revenge had not overcome in him all fears and scruples.
According to the treaty of division, concluded eight years before, Paris, though in three divisions, was nevertheless a neutral town, interdicted to each of Clother’s three sons by the most sacred oaths, and by all the terrors of religion. Until then, not one of them had dared to infringe this oath, or to brave the curses pronounced against him who should violate it. Sighebert had the courage to do so, preferring rather to peril his soul than neglect a single means of success. Paris was in fact necessary to him as a support, or to use a modern phrase, as the basis of his ulterior operations, either when acting in the west against Hilperik or in the south against Theodebert. He therefore summoned the town to surrender, and in spite of the treaty entered it without resistance, its sole guardians being Saint Polyeuctus, Saint Hilary, and Saint Martin.*
After establishing his quarters at Paris, king Sighebert’s first occupation was to send troops against Hilperik’s son, who, after traversing Aquitania by the same route as the preceding year, had just arrived at Limoges. Between the cities of Tours and Chartres, there was an extent of land containing the countries of Châteaudun and Vendôme, which belonged to the kingdom of Austrasia. Sighebert resolved to levy an army there, in order to spare the forces he had brought with him. His messengers went from town to town, publishing an edict which enjoined every free man to appear at the place of meeting, equipped as well as he could with arms of some sort, from the coat of mail and lance, to the cudgel shod with iron, or even the knife. But no one, either in towns or villages, answered this summons; and notwithstanding the fine of sixty golden sols ordered to be paid by those who resisted the royal mandate, the inhabitants of Châteaudun, of Vendôme, and of the environs of Tours, neither armed nor left their houses.† These people knew that their country formed a part of Sighebert’s lot, and that the taxes levied on them found their way into the Austrasian treasury, but this was all; and as the king on whom they depended did not make them feel his administrative authority by any exercise of it, as this was the first order they had ever received from him, they paid no regard to it.
If this passive resistance had lasted, the king of Austrasia would have been compelled to divide his forces. In order to put a stop to it, instantly and without violence, he sent there two of his cleverest negotiators, Godeghisel, mayor of the palace, and Gonthramn surnamed Bose, or the cunning, a man of readiness and intrigue, and gifted, notwithstanding his Germanic origin, with a suppleness of mind rarely found but in the Gallo-Roman race. The two Austrasian chiefs succeeded in their mission, and soon passed the Loire at the head of a native army, badly equipped, but sufficiently numerous not to fear a battle with Theodebert’s Franks.*
These, already much alarmed by the news of the Austrasian invasion, were still more so when they learnt that troops were advancing against them, and that all retreat was cut off. But whatever might have been the discouragement of his soldiers, Theodebert, like a true Germanic chief, resolved to march upon the enemy.† He left Limoges, and took up his position on the banks of the Charente, eight or ten miles distant from Angoulême; during the march, so many of his men deserted, that when about to give battle, he found himself almost left alone; he fought, nevertheless, with great bravery, and was killed in the fray. The Gallic peasants who composed the army of Godeghisel and Gonthramn-Bose, had not, like the Franks, a kind of idolatrous feeling for the descendants of Merowig; without respect for the long hair which distinguished the son of king Hilperik, they stripped him with the other dead bodies, and left him naked on the field of battle. But an Austrasian chief named Arnulf was shocked by this profanation, and though Theodebert’s enemy, he carried away the body of the young prince with respect; and having washed it, according to custom, and dressed it in rich garments, he caused it to be buried at his own expense in the town of Angoulême.‡
Meanwhile, king Gonthramn, once more giving way to fear, or his love of repose, had become reconciled with Sighebert. Hilperik learnt this new treachery at the same time as the death of his son, and the loss of his Aquitanian army. Reduced by this double calamity to a complete state of despair, and thinking only of saving his life, he left the banks of the Seine, travelled quickly through his kingdom, and took refuge within the walls of Tournai with his wife, his children, and his most faithful warriors.§ The strength of this town, the first capital of the empire of the Franks, had determined him to choose it as an asylum. In expectation of a siege, he busied himself in assembling there both men and ammunition, whilst Sighebert, free in his movements throughout the whole extent of Neustria, seized upon the cities of that kingdom.
Having made himself master of those to the north and east of Paris, he marched westward, resolved to deliver up to his warriors from beyond the Rhine all he had just conquered, both lands and cities, in requital of their services. This project caused great anxiety to the Franks, even to those of the kingdom of Austrasia.* The Austrasians were little desirous of possessing as neighbours in Gaul, men whom they looked upon as their natural enemies; and on their side, the Neustrians saw themselves threatened with confiscation of property, political slavery, and all the evils usually produced by a change of masters. The former remonstrated with, and murmured against the king; the latter made an agreement with him. After deliberating on what was proper to be done in so perilous a conjecture, the lords and arimans of Neustria addressed a message to Sighebert in the following terms: “The Franks, who formerly looked up to king Hildebert, and who have since become liege men to king Hilperik, now turn to thee, and propose, if thou wilt come to them, to elect thee as their king.”†
Such was the somewhat singular language of Germanic policy, and it is in this way that the Franks exercised the right of leaving the prince who governed them, to acknowledge the authority of another descendant of Merowig. The regal power possessed by each of the sons of Chlother consisted far less in the extent and riches of the provinces forming his kingdom, than in the number of fighting men who had placed themselves under his banner, and who, according to the Germanic expression, obeyed his mouth.‡ There was nothing fixed nor certain in this division of the Frankish population between the sovereigns whose subjects they were: it did not even correspond with the territorial division of each, as one prince might have vassals in the kingdom of another. Amongst these vassals or leudes, the most devoted, the most useful, according to their expressions, were those who, living near the king, and forming a permanent guard round his person, had as salary the right of dining at his table, or on the produce of his estates. The faith of those who, living at a distance, and in their own homes, enjoyed, by royal permission, the feod or payment in land, was less to be depended on.* It was this latter class of men who, to save their property, deserted the cause of Hilperik, and offered the sovereignty to Sighebert; the former, more faithful, but less numerous, had followed the fugitive king to Tournai. Sighebert joyfully received the message and offer of the Neustrians, he engaged upon oath that no town should be given up to his soldiers, and promised to come to the assembly where he was to be inaugurated, according to the custom of his ancestors. He then went to Rouen to make a kind of military reconnoitring, and returned to Paris, after having assured himself that no strong town in the west was disposed to hold out against him. In order to guard against a return of brotherly affection on the part of her husband, and to superintend herself the fulfilment of her revenge, Brunehilda left the town of Metz to join Sighebert. She felt so assured of her triumph, that she chose to make this journey accompanied by her two daughters, Ingonda and Chlodeswinda, and her son Hildebert, a child of four years old. Her baggage-wagons contained great riches, and her most valuable ornaments in gold and precious stones.† It seems as if, with a woman’s vanity, she wished to dazzle all eyes, and to show herself magnificent in her dress, as well as terrible to her enemies. This princess, still young, and of remarkable beauty, answered more to the idea the Gallic population had of a queen, according to the traditions of the Roman empire, than any other of the wives of the Merovingian monarchs. The daughter of a king, and born in a country where royalty, although of barbaric origin, was imperial in its appearance, she commanded respect as well by the dignity of her manners as the nobility of her birth. The day of her entry into Paris the inhabitants crowded to meet her, the clergy of the churches and the persons of senatorial family hastened to pay homage to her; but the man whose municipal and ecclesiastical dignities placed him at the head of the city, the bishop Germanus, now honoured as a saint, did not appear.
He was a man highly civilized, and deeply imbued with the Christian faith; one of those sensitive minds in whom the sight of the Roman world, governed by barbarians, caused ineffable disgust, and who wore himself out in a vain struggle against the violence and unruly passions of kings. From the commencement of the civil war, St. Germain had endeavoured to interpose as mediator between Hilperik and Sighebert; and at the arrival of the latter, he had in vain renewed his solicitations and remonstrances. Fatigue and discouragement affected his health; he fell ill, and in the midst of his corporeal sufferings, the present and future state of Gaul appeared to him in the darkest colours. “Why,” said he, “have not we a moment of repose? Why can we not say, like the apostles, in the interval of two persecutions, Here at last are days which at least are bearable?”* Unable from illness to make Brunehilda listen to his exhortations in favour of peace, he addressed them to her by letter. This letter, which was conveyed to her by a clerk of Frankish origin, named Gondulf, and which has been preserved to us, begins with respectful excuses and protestations of attachment; and then proceeds in the following manner:—
“Shall I repeat the rumours which are spread abroad? They surprise me, and I should wish to keep them hidden from your piety. It is said that it is owing to your advice and instigation that the ever-glorious king Sighebert is so obstinately bent on the ruin of his country. If I mention these things, it is not that I put any faith in them; it is to entreat you to give no occasion for such imputations. Although it is very long since this country was happy, we do not despair that Divine Mercy will yet stop the arm of revenge, provided only those who rule are not themselves governed by thoughts of murder, by cupidity, the source of all evil; and by anger, which deprives men of their reason.†
“God knows, and that is enough for me, I have wished to die, that their lives might be prolonged. I have wished to die before them, that my eyes might not see their ruin, and that of this country. But they are never weary of quarreling and being at war, each one throwing the blame on the other, having no regard for the judgment of God, and unwilling to leave any thing to the decision of the Almighty. Since neither of them will condescend to listen to me, it is to you that I address my entreaties; for if, owing to their discord, the kingdom falls to ruin, it will be no great triumph for you and for your children. Let this country have to bless itself for having received you; show that you come to save, not to destroy it; by calming the king’s anger, by persuading him to wait with patience for the judgment of God, you will put an end to the idle talk of the people.‡
“It is with grief that I write these things to you, for I know how kings and nations perish by offending God. Whoever trusts in the strength of his own arm, will be confounded, and will not obtain the victory; whoever reposes with confidence in the numbers of his followers, far from being removed from danger, perils his very life. Whoever is proud of his riches in gold and in silver, will meet with disgrace and desolation before his avarice is satisfied. This is what we read in the Scriptures. . . . *
“To vanquish a brother, to humble a family of relations, and to dissipate property acquired by our ancestors, is a victory without honour. Whilst fighting against each other, they fight against themselves; each one works to destroy his own happiness, and the enemy who looks on, approaches rejoicing to see them accomplishing their own destruction. . . We read that Queen Esther was the instrument chosen by God for the good of the whole nation: show your prudence and the sincerity of your faith by dissuading our lord, king Sighebert, from an enterprise condemned by the Divine law, and let the people enjoy the benefits of peace, until the Eternal Judge shall pronounce his sentence. Against the man who could lay aside all fraternal affection, who could despise the counsels of a wife, and refuse to acknowledge the truth, all the prophets raise their voices, all the apostles cuise him, and God Himself, the All-Powerful, will judge him.”†
There was something imposing in the tone of sadness which pervades every phrase of this letter, in the somewhat haughty gravity of the style, and even in the disdainful way of speaking of kings without naming them, but all was in vain. Brunehilda possessed in the highest degree that vindictive and implacable temperament of which the old Germanic poetry has personified the type in a woman who bears the same name.‡ She cared neither for the menaces of religion, nor for the ancient warnings of human experience as to the instability of fortune. Far from reflecting on the truly critical situation in which she would be placed, if her husband were to suffer any reverse, she showed herself more impatient than ever to see him depart for Tournai, to strike a last blow, and complete his victory by the murder of his brother.
Sighebert first sent a part of his troops to surround Tournai, and commence its siege; he himself made his preparations for going to some spot where he might be inaugurated king of the western Franks.* Neither Paris nor any other town was suited to this ceremony, which was to take place in the open air in the midst of a camp. One of the fiscal domains of the kingdom of Neustria, that of Vitry-on-the-Scarpe, was chosen as the place of assembly, either because it was but at a short distance from Tournai, or because its northerly position made it a more convenient place of meeting for the Frankish population, which was more numerous towards the north. At the moment of departure, just as the king was setting out, escorted by his chosen body of horsemen, all regularly armed with painted bucklers, and lances with streamers, a pale man in sacerdotal vestments appeared before him; it was the bishop Germanus, who had risen from his bed of suffering to make one last and solemn appeal: “King Sighebert.” said he, “if you go, laying aside the intention of putting your brother to death, you will return alive and victorious; but if you harbour any other thought, you will die; for the Lord hath said by the mouth of Solomon: ‘Whoso diggeth a pit for his brother, shall fall into it himself.’ ”† The king was not in the least troubled by this unexpected address; his mind was made up, and he deemed himself sure of victory. Without answering a word, he passed on and soon lost sight of the gates of the town, in which his wife and children were to remain until his return. The passage of Sighebert through the kingdom which was about to belong to him by election, was like an anticipated triumph. The Gallic inhabitants, and the clergy of the towns, came out in procession to meet him, the Franks mounted on horseback to join the cavalcade. Everywhere acclamations resounded in the German and Latin languages.‡
From the banks of the Seine to those of the Somme, the Gallo-Romans predominated; but from the latter river northwards, traces of the Germanic race became more and more frequent. The further you advanced, the more numerous the Frankish population became as compared with the natives; they no longer formed small and scattered bands of idle warriors, as in the central provinces of Gaul; they were now to be seen in entire tribes and agricultural communities, living on the outskirts of the marshes and forests of Belgium. Vitry, near Donai, formed the boundary of these two regions; the northern Franks, labourers and farmers, and the southern ones, military vassals, were easily able to meet there to witness the coronation of their new king. Among the great proprietors and chiefs of the kingdom of Neustria, one only, named Ansowald, was not at the meeting; his absence was remarked, and gained him much subsequent renown on account of his fidelity to the unfortunate.*
The ceremony took place in a plain surrounded by the tents and sheds of those who, unable to lodge in the houses, belonging to the domain of Vitry, were obliged to pass the night in the open air. The Franks, in arms, formed a large circle, in the midst of which king Sighebert placed himself, surrounded by his officers and nobles of high rank. Four robust soldiers advanced, holding a buckler, on which the king sat down, and which they then raised to the height of their shoulders. On this sort of walking throne, Sighebert made three times the round of the circle, escorted by the nobles, and saluted by the multitude, who to render their acclamations more noisy, applauded by striking the flats of their swords on their bucklers braced with iron.† After the third round, according to the Germanic rites, the inauguration was completed, and from that moment Sighebert had the right to call himself king of the Franks, both of the Oster and Neoster-Rike. The rest of that day, and several following ones, were passed in rejoicings, in mock fights, and sumptuous feasts, in which the king exhausted the provisions of the farm of Vitry, in doing the honours of his new kingdom to every comer.
A few miles from thence, Tournai, blockaded by the Austrasian troops, was the theatre of very different scenes. As far as the coarseness of his mind rendered him capable of moral suffering, Hilperik felt all the grief of a betrayed and deposed king; Fredegonda, in her fits of terror and despair, was like a wild animal. On her arrival within the walls of Tournai, she was enceinte, and near her confinement; she shortly after became the mother of a son in the midst of the tumult of a siege, with the fear of death haunting her day and night. Her first impulse was to abandon the child, which she looked upon as a fresh cause of danger, and let it perish for want of care and food; but this was only a passing thought, and maternal instinct soon recovered the ascendency. This newborn infant, baptized by, and the godchild of the bishop of Tournai, received, contrary to the custom of the Franks, a name foreign to the Germanic language; that of Samson, which his parents, in their distress, chose as an omen of deliverance.‡
The king, judging his position to be almost desperate, awaited the event with indifference; but the queen, more active minded, tormented herself in a thousand ways, made projects of escape, and observed every thing around her, to discover the slightest ray of hope. Amongst the men who had come to Tournai to follow the fortunes of their prince, she remarked two, whose countenances or conversation indicated a profound feeling of sympathy and devotion; they were two young men born in the country of Terouenne, Franks by origin, and disposed by their characters to that fanatical loyalty which was a point of honour with vassals in the middle ages. Fredegonda displayed all her address and the advantages which her rank gave her to secure the good will of these men; she sent for them, talked to them of her misfortunes and despair, plying them with strong liquors; and when she thought she had wrought them sufficiently to her purpose, she spoke of their going to Vitry to murder king Sighebert. The young soldiers promised to do what the queen commanded, and she then, with her own hands, gave them each a long knife in a sheath, what the Franks called a skramasax, of which, with an excess of precaution, she had poisoned the blades. “Go,” said she, “and if you return alive, I will load you and your posterity with honours; if you fall, I will distribute alms for you in all holy places.”*
The two young men left Tournai, and giving themselves out as deserters, they passed the out-posts of the Austrasians, and took the road which led to the royal domain of Vitry. When they arrived there, the halls re-echoed with the mirth of feasts and banquets. They said they belonged to the kingdom of Neustria; that they came to do homage to king Sighebert, and to speak to him. In these days of his new dignity, Sighebert was obliged to be affable, and to give audience to whoever should ask of him justice and protection. The Neustrians solicited a moment’s conversation apart, which was easily granted them; the knife which each carried at his waist did not excite the smallest suspicion, it being a part of the Germanic costume. Whilst the king was graciously listening to them, one standing at his right hand, the other at his left, they both at the same moment drew their skramasax, and stabbed him in the ribs. Sighebert uttered a shriek, and fell down dead. At this cry, Hareghisel, the king’s chamberlain, and a Goth named Sighilo, rushed in with their swords drawn; the former was killed, and the latter wounded by the assassins, who defended themselves with all the fury of despair. But other armed men hastened in, the chamber became full, and the two Neustrians, attacked on all sides, soon fell in this unequal struggle.*
At the news of these events, the Austrasians who were besieging Tournai hastened to collect their baggage, and regain the road to their own country. Each was anxious to go and see what was going on at home; for the sudden death of the king would naturally cause in Austrasia a vast deal of disorder, violence, and rapine. This numerous and terrible army thus dissappeared in the direction of the Rhine, leaving Hilperik without an enemy to oppose him, and free to go wherever he liked. Having escaped an almost certain death, he left the walls of Tournai to return and take possession of his kingdom. The domain of Vitry, the scene of so many events, was the first place he went to. But he only found there a few Austrasian servants watching the corpse of Sighebert, instead of the brilliant assembly of Neustrians, who had returned to their own homes. Hilperik saw his brother’s body without either hatred or remorse, and he determined that the funeral should be worthy of a king. By his order, Sighebert was clad in garments and arms of great price, according to the Germanic custom, and buried with pomp in the village of Lambres on the Scarpe.†
Such was the end of this long drama, which begins with a murder and ends with one; a real tragedy in which nothing is wanting, neither passions, characters, nor that dark fatality which was the soul of ancient tragedy, and which gives the grandeur of poetry to the accidents of real life. There is no history more forcibly stamped with the seal of an irresistible destiny, than that of the kings of the Merovingian dynasty. These sons of half savage conquerors, born with the ideas of their fathers, in the midst of the enjoyments of luxury and the temptations of power, had neither rule nor measure in their passions and desires. It was in vain for men more enlightened than themselves in the affairs of this world, and the conduct of life, to raise their voices and counsel moderation and prudence; they listened to nothing; they ruined themselves through want of understanding, and it was said: The hand of God is there. Such was the Christian formula; but to those who saw them blindly following the current of their brutal instincts and disorderly passions, like a boat carried away from the shore by the stream, it was easy, without being prophets, to guess and predict the end which awaited almost every one of them.
(ad 580.) One day that Hilperik’s family, re-established in its grandeur, resided at the palace of Braine, two Gallic bishops, Salvius of Alby and Gregory of Tours, after having had an audience, were walking together round the palace. In the midst of the conversation, Salvius, as if struck with an idea, suddenly stopped and said to Gregory, “Dost thou not see something above the roof of that building?” “I see,” said the bishop of Tours, “the new balcony which the king has had built there.” “And seest thou nothing else?” “Nothing,” replied Gregory; “if thou seest any thing else, tell me what it is.” Bishop Salvius sighed deeply, and said, “I see the sword of God’s anger suspended over this house.”* Four years afterwards, the king of Neustria perished by a violent death.
THE HISTORY OF MEROWIG, THE SECOND SON OF KING HILPERIK.
(ad 575.)—Ever since the departure of Sighebert. Brunehilda had remained alone at Paris, nourishing ambitious hopes which the events of each day seemed to confirm, and already in imagination both queen of Neustria and mistress of the fate of her enemies, when the news of Sighebert’s death reached her; an event by which she was suddenly cast down from the highest pitch of prosperity, and reduced to a state of extreme and imminent danger. Hilperik, victorious through the murder of his brother, advanced toward Paris in order to seize on the family and treasures of Sighebert. Not only did all the Neustrians, without exception, return to their allegiance, but the defection extended to the principal. Austrasians, who meeting him on the way, swore fidelity to him, either in hopes of obtaining some of the fiscal lands in return, or to assure themselves of protection in the troubles with which their country was threatened. One noble, named Godin or Godewin, received extensive territories in the neighbourhood of Soissins, as the reward of his defection; and the keeper of the royal ring or great seal of Austrasia, the referendary Sig or Sigoald, and many others, followed the same example.*
Bowed down by her misfortune and this melancholy news, Brunehilda knew not what to decide upon, and there was no one in whom she could trust. The old imperial palace which she inhabited on the banks of the Seine had already become a prison for her and her three children; for, although she was not openly watched, she did not dare to leave it and take the road to Austrasia, for fear of being seized or betrayed in her flight, and thus aggravating the dangers of a situation already sufficiently perilous.† Convinced of the impossibility of flight with her family and baggage, she conceived the idea of saving at least her son, who, although a child, stood too much in the way of Hilperik’s ambition for his life to be spared. The escape of young Hildebert was planned with the most profound secrecy by the only devoted friend his mother still possessed: this was the duke Gondobald, the same who, two years before, had so ill defended Poitou against the invasion of the Neustrians. The child was placed in a large basket which usually held the household provisions, let down from the window, and carried out of the town by night. Gondobald, or, according to other accounts, a servant, who was less likely to excite suspicion, travelled alone with the son of king Sighebert, and conducted him to Metz, to the great astonishment and delight of the Austrasians. His unexpected arrival altered the state of things entirely; the defection ceased, and the oriental Franks proceeded at once to restore their national dynasty. A great assembly of the nobles and warriors of Austrasia took place at Metz; Hildebert the Second, not quite five years old, was there proclaimed king, and a council was chosen from amongst the bishops and principal men to govern in his name.*
At this news, which deprived him of all hopes of uniting his kingdom to his brother’s without war, Hilperik, furious at the failure of his favourite scheme, hastened to Paris to seize at least the person and treasures of Brunehilda.† The widow of king Sighebert soon found herself in presence of her mortal enemy, with no other protection than her beauty, her tears, and feminine coquetry. She was scarcely eight-and-twenty; and whatever might be the evil intentions the husband of Fredegonda entertained towards her, probably the grace of her manners, so lauded by her cotemporaries, would have made some impression on him, even had he not been attracted by other charms, those of the treasures which she was known to possess. But Merowig, the eldest of the sons of the king of Neustria, who accompained their father, was deeply touched at the sight of this fascinating and unfortunate woman, and his looks of pity and admiration did not escape Brunehilda.
Either because the young man’s sympathy was a consolation to the imprisoned queen, or because, with the quick glance of a woman fertile in resources, she saw in it a means of safety, she employed all her address to encourage this infant passion, which soon grew into the most blind and violent love. (ad 576.) By giving himself up to it, Merowig became the enemy of his own family, causing thereby an irreparable breach between himself, his father, and all connected with him. Perhaps he was not himself conscious of the criminality and danger of such a position; or perhaps, foreseeing the consequences, he yet determined to brave every thing, and follow, without fear or remorse, wherever his will and inclination might lead him. However this might be, and whatever the degree of attention shown by Merowig to his uncle’s widow, Hilperik saw nothing of it; he was too much occupied in looking over and taking an inventory of the bags of gold and silver, the coffers of jewels, and the bales of rich stuffs.‡ It happened that their number exceeded his hopes, and this fortunate discovery had an immediate influence on his temper, rendering him more mild and merciful towards his prisoner. Instead of cruelly wreaking his vengeance upon her for the ill she had wished him, he contented himself with exiling her by way of punishment, and with a sort of courtesy even restored to her a small portion of the treasure of which he had despoiled her. Brunehilda, more humanely treated than her own conscience told her she deserved, departed under escort for Rouen, which was assigned to her as a place of banishment. The only really painful trial she had to go through after so many alarms, was her separation from her two daughters, Ingonda and Chlodoswinda, whom king Hilperik, no one knew why, sent to Meaux and detained as prisoners there.*
This departure left young Merowig tormented by pangs all the more acute for his not daring to confide them to any one; he followed his father to the palace of Braine, a place always dull, and which now appeared to him insupportable.
Fredegonda entertained towards her husband’s children a stepmother’s hatred, which might have become proverbial, even had she been the only example of it. All their father’s tenderness or kindness to them excited jealousy and anger in her. She longed for all their deaths, and that of Theodebert in the preceding year had caused her much delight.† Merowig as the future head of the family, was at present the principal object of her aversion, and of the numberless persecutions with which she contrived to harass those whom she hated. The young prince wished to leave Braine and go to Rouen, to her whose looks and, perhaps, words, had told him that he was beloved; but he had neither pretext nor means to enable him successfully to attempt this journey. His father, unconscious of what he was doing, soon furnished him with an opportunity.
Hilperik, who was persevering in his plans more from dullness of apprehension than from energy of character, after having settled the affairs of Neustria in the best way he could, began to meditate another attempt on those towns which had been already the subject of a two years’ war between his brother and himself. These towns, which the Austrasian generals had regained a little before Sighebert’s death, had just acknowledged the authority of his son, with the exception of Tours, the inhabitants of which, become more cautious, took the oath of fidelity to King Hilperik, because they were nearer the centre of Neustria. The attempt so often repeated upon Poitiers, Limoges, Cahors and Bordeaux, was once more to be renewed. Hilperik chose for the command of this expedition the one of the two sons who remained to him after the death of Theodebert, who had not been defeated; this was Merowig. His father entrusted him with a small army and ordered him to march into Poitou at its head.‡ This was not the direction the young man would have preferred to follow if he had been free to march where he pleased; for his heart was full of a passion very different from that of glory and battles. Whilst marching slowly by the Loire with his horse and foot soldiers, he thought of Brunehilda and regretted that he was not pursuing a road by which he should be nearer to her. This idea, which haunted him incessantly, soon made him lose sight of the object of his expedition, and of the mission with which he was entrusted. On arriving at Tours, instead of a simple halt, he made a stay in that city of several weeks, giving as an excuse his wish to celebrate the festival of Easter in the basilica of Saint Martin.* During this interval of repose, he employed his leisure, not in preparing the plan of his campaign, but in arranging projects of escape, and how to collect for himself a treasure which, consisting of objects of great value but small bulk, could be the most easily transported. Whilst his soldiers overran the environs of the city, pillaging and ravaging everywhere, he took every thing he could lay hands upon from Leudast, Count of Tours, a devoted partisan of his father, who had received him in his house with the utmost hospitality.† After plundering this house of every thing valuable it contained, and finding himself master of a sum sufficient for his purpose, he left Tours under pretence of visiting his mother, who had been a nun in the Mans ever since Hilperik had repudiated her to marry Fredegonda. But instead of fulfilling this filial duty, and then returning to his army, he passed on, and took the road to Rouen through Chartres and Evreux.‡
Whether Brunehilda expected this proof of affection, or whether the arrival of Hilperik’s son was a matter of surprise to her, she was so much rejoiced at it, and their mutual attachment made such rapid progress, that in a few days the widow of Sighebert had entirely forgotten her husband and consented to marry Merowig.§ This marriage, on account of the affinity of the parties, was one of those unions prohibited by the laws of the church; and although religious scruples had little hold on the consciences of the two lovers, they ran the risk of being disappointed in their wishes, from the difficulty of finding a priest who would exercise his functions in open violation of canonical rules. The bishop of the metropolitan church of Rouen at that time was Prætextatus, of Gallic origin, and who, by a curious accident was Merowig’s godfather, and who, in consequence of this spiritual paternity, had felt the affection of a father for him ever since the day of his baptism.∥ This kind-hearted but weak-minded man was unable to resist the pressing entreaties, and, perhaps, the unruly passions of the young prince, whom he called his son; and notwithstanding the duties of his order, he consented to celebrate and bless the marriage of the nephew with the uncle’s widow.
During this relapse of Gaul into barbarism, the impatience and neglect of all authority were the vices of the age; and in all minds, even the most enlightened, individual caprice or the enthusiasm of the moment, took the place of law and order. The natives only followed too well in that respect the example of the Germanic conquerors, so that the supineness of these, no less than the ferocity of the others, contributed to the same end. Blindly yielding to a feeling of sympathy, Prætextatus secretly celebrated the marriage between Merowig and Brunehilda, and holding the hands of the lovers according to the custom of the epoch, he pronounced the sacramental formula of the nuptial benediction, an act of weakness which was one day to cost him his life, and of which the consequences were not less fatal to the rash young man for whom he had performed it.*
Hilperik was at Paris, full of hope for the success of the Aquitanian expedition, when he received the unexpected account of his son’s flight and marriage. His anger was mixed up with suspicions of treachery and fear of some conspiracy against his person and power. In order to defeat it, if there was still time to do so and to withdraw Merowig from the influence and bad counsel of Brunehilda, he immediately set out for Rouen, resolved to separate them and break off their connection.† In the meantime, the newly married lovers, entirely absorbed in the first delights of then marriage, had thought of nothing but love, and notwithstanding her active mind and fertility in expedients, the arrival of the King of Neustria found Brunehilda quite unprepared. To avoid falling into his hands in the first heat of his anger, and to gain time if possible, she and her husband took refuge in the little church of Saint Martin, built on the ramparts of the town. It was one of those wooden basilicas then common all over Gaul, and which from their height, their pillars formed by several trunks of trees fastened together and the arches necessarily pointed on account of the difficulty of rounding them with such materials, furnished in all probability the original type of the pointed style, which some centuries afterwards prevailed in architecture.‡ Although such an asylum was very inconvenient, on account of the insufficiency of the accommodations, which, adjoining the walls of the little church, and participating in its privileges, served as a place of retreat for fugitives, Merowig and Brunehilda determined not to leave the spot, so long as they had any reason to suppose themselves in danger. It was in vain that the King of Neustria used all sorts of stratagems to induce them to leave it; they did not suffer themselves to be deceived, and as Hilperik did not dare to use violenee, for fear of drawing down the terrible vengeance of Saint Martin upon his head, he was obliged to make a capitulation with his son and daughter-in-law. Before giving themselves up, however, they exacted an oath from the king that he would not employ his authority to separate them. Hilperik made this promise, but in a manner so adroitly perfidious that it left him at liberty to act as he pleased; he swore that he would not separate them, if such was the word of God.* However ambiguous the terms of this oath, the fugitives were satisfied with them, and partly through weariness partly through persuasion, they left the sacred precincts to which the church of Saint Martin of Rouen communicated its right of sanctuary. Hilperik, a little re-assured by his son’s submissive behaviour, prudently dissembled his anger and concealed his suspicions; he even embraced the bride and bridegroom and sat down to dinner, assuming a tone of paternal kindness towards them. After two or three days passed in the most intense dissimulation, he suddenly carried off Merowig and proceeded with him on the road to Soissons, leaving Brunehilda at Rouen more strictly guarded than before.†
A few miles from Soissons, the King of Neustria and his young travelling companion were stopped by the disagreeable intelligence that the city was besieged by an Austrasian army, and that Fredegonda, who was there at the time waiting the return of her husband, had scarcely time to fly with her step-son Chlodowig and her own child still in its cradle. Other and more positive accounts left no doubt as to the parties concerned in this unexpected attack. These were the Austrasian deserters, who with Godewin and Sigoald at their head, had abandoned Hilperik for young Hildebert the Second, and before returning to their own country, thought proper to commemorate this act of repentance by an an insolent attack upon the capital of Neustria. Their small army was composed principally of the inhabitants of the Rhenish province, a turbulent race, who as soon as they heard of a war with the Neustrians, crossed the frontiers to plunder the territory of the enemy.‡ King Hilperik had no difficulty in assembling a larger army in Paris and Soissons. He marched at once to the relief of the besieged city; but instead of at once attacking the Austrasians, he contented himself with displaying his troops, and sending them a message, hoping they might be induced to retire without a battle. Godewin and his companions answered that they came there to fight. But they fought with bad success, and Hilperik, for the first time a conqueror, entered the capital of his kingdom in triumph.*
His joy, however, was of short duration. Other and graver considerations soon rendered him anxious and uneasy. It occurred to him that the attempt of the Austrasians against Soissons, might be the result of a plot formed by Brunehilda’s intrigues, that Merowig knew of it, and was even concerned in it, and that his apparent sincerity and submissive deportment were only a mask put on to deceive him.† Fredegonda took advantage of this opportunity to blacken the young man’s imprudent conduct by false insinuations. She attributed to him ambitious designs of which he was utterly incapable; that his object was nothing less than to depose his father and reign over the whole of Gaul, with the woman to whom he had united himself by an incestuous marriage. In consequence of these artful representations, the suspicions and want of confidence of the king increased to such a degree as almost to become a panic terror. Imagining his life to be endangered by the presence of his son, he deprived him of his arms and ordered him to be closely watched until some definitive arrangement should be made respecting him.‡
Some days afterwards, an embassy, sent by the nobles who governed Austrasia in the name of young Hildebert, and commissioned to disavow the attempt of Godewin as an act of private warfare, arrived in the presence of Hilperik. The king affected such a love of peace, and so much friendship for his nephew, that the envoys were emboldened to add to their apologies a demand, the success of which was very doubtful, that of the liberation of Brunehilda and her two daughters. In any other circumstances, Hilperik would not, at the first request, have given up an enemy who had fallen into his hands; but, struck with the idea that Merowig’s wife would overthrow his kingdom, he seized the occasion of doing an act of prudence with a good grace, and without hesitation granted what was asked of him.§
At this unhoped-for repeal of the orders which kept her in exile, Brunehilda quitted Rouen and Neustria as hastily as if the earth trembled under her feet. Fearful of the least delay, she hurried the preparations for her departure, and resolved even to set off without her baggage, which was still of great value, notwithstanding the vast losses she had sustained. Several thousands of gold pieces, and many bales containing jewels and valuable tissues, were by her orders confided to the care of the bishop Prætexiatus, who, by accepting this rich deposit, compromised himself a second time, and still more deeply than he had done before, for the sake of his godson Merowig.* Having left Rouen, the mother of Hildebert the Second went to meet her two daughters at Meaux; then avoiding Soissons, she took the road to Austrasia, where she arrived without obstacle. Her presence, so strongly desired in that country, soon became the cause of great troubles, by exciting the jealousy of the powerful and ambitious chiefs, who wished the care of the young king to remain in their hands alone.
Brunehilda’s departure neither put a stop to king Hilperik’s mistrust, nor to the rigorous measures against his eldest son. Merowig, deprived of his arms and military baldric, which among the Germans was deemed a sort of civic degradation, was still kept in confinement and carefully guarded. As soon as the king had recovered from the agitation into which these events, following each other so rapidly, had thrown him, he returned once more to his beloved project of conquering the five cities of Aquitania, of which Tours was the only one in his possession. Having no longer a choice between his two sons, he gave Chlodowig the command of this new expedition, notwithstanding his former misfortune. The young prince was ordered to march upon Poitiers, and assemble as many men as he was able in Touraine and Anjou.† Having levied a small army, he took Poitiers without resistance, and was there joined by a larger force from the south, under the command of a powerful chief of Gallic origin, named Desiderius.
He was a man of high birth, the proprietor of large estates in the neighbourhood of Alby, turbulent and recklessly ambitious, as all men were at that time, but superior to his rivals of barbaric origin, from his extended views and turn for military affairs. As governor of a district near the frontiers of the Goths, he had made himself formidable to that nation, the enemy of the Gallo-Franks, and had acquired great renown and influence amongst the southern Gauls by many brilliant actions.‡ The large number of well equipped men, who, under his orders, joined the Neustrian army, was due to this influence; and from the moment that the two forces were united, Desiderius took the command of the whole. Looking as a warrior and a politician on the plan of taking four towns, separated by considerable distances, one by one, as utterly contemptible, he substituted for Hilperik’s projects a plan for subjugating the whole of the country which lies between the Loire, the ocean, the Pyrenees, and the Cevennes. This project of territorial invasion made no sort of distinction between the cities dependant on Austrasia and those which belonged to Gonthramn; accordingly Desiderius did not spare the latter, but began by taking possession of Saintes, which opened to him the road to Bordeaux.*
At the news of this unexpected aggression, king Gonthramn for the second time roused himself from his habitual inaction, and hastily dispatched with a sufficient body of forces Eonius Mummolus, a patrician of Provence, who had throughout Gaul the reputation of being invincible. Mummolus advanced through the plain of Auvergne by forced marches, entered the territory of Limoges, and forced Desiderius to abandon the western part of the country for the purpose of marching against him.† The two armies, commanded by men of Gallic race, were soon in presence of each other; and a pitched battle was fought, one of those battles which had not been seen in Gaul since Roman tactics had been supplanted by a warfare of skirmishes and surprises, the only one which the Barbarians could comprehend. The victory was long undecided, but it remained, as usual, in the hands of Mummolus, who compelled his adversary to retreat after a fearful carnage. The chronicles speak of five thousand men killed on one side, and twenty-four thousand on the other. This it is difficult to believe; but the exaggeration shows the impression it made on those who lived at the time.
Seeing the Neustrian army thus completely destroyed, Mummolus retreated in his turn, either because such were his instructions, or because he thought he had done enough.‡ Although victorious, he conceived a great respect for the talents of his opponent; and later, this opinion served to unite them in an enterprise of no less importance than the founding a new kingdom in the Gallic territory. In a short time Desiderius was at the head of a new army, and aided by sympathy arising from their common origin and his own personal credit with the Gallo-Romans, he renewed his military operations with uninterrupted success. Five years afterwards, all the cities, from Dax to Poitiers, and from Alby to Limoges, belonged to the king of Neustria; and the Roman conqueror was installed in Toulouse, the ancient capital of the Visigoths, where with the title of duke he became a sort of viceroy.* Merowig had already passed several months in a state of semi-captivity, when his doom was pronounced by domestic authority, in which the voice of his stepmother Fredegonda prevailed. This decree, against which there was no appeal, condemned him to lose his hair, that is, to be cut off from the family of the Merowigs. According to an ancient custom, most probably once a part of some religious institution, long hair, preserved untouched by scissors from the moment of birth, was the peculiar attribute of this family, and the symbol of its hereditary right to the royal dignity. The descendants of the first Merowig were thus distinguished from all the other Franks; under the most miserable dress, they were always to be known by their hair, which, sometimes in plaits, sometimes floating at liberty, covered their shoulders and descended to the middle of their loins.† To deprive them of the smallest portion of this ornament, was to profane their persons, deprive them of the privilege of receiving the communion, and suspend their rights to sovereignty; a suspension which custom tolerantly limited to the time necessary for the hair to grow to a certain length.
A Merovingian prince might suffer this temporary forfeiture in two ways; either his hair was cut according to the manner of the Franks, to cover the neck, or else it was cropped quite short, in the Roman fashion; and this sort of degradation, more humiliating than the other, was usually accompanied by ecclesiastical tonsure. Such was the severe sentence passed upon his son by king Hilperik; the young man lost at the same time the right of reigning and that of bearing arms. He was forced to become a priest against his own inclination, contrary to the canons of the church, and compelled to deliver up the sword and military baldric which had been solemnly given him, according to the Germanic custom, to lay aside every part of the national costume, and put on the Roman dress, which was the costume of the clergy.‡ Merowig was ordered to mount on horseback in this dress, so little suited to his tastes, and to proceed to the monastery of Saint Calais near the Mans, where he was to conform, in the most rigid seclusion, to the rules of ecclesiastical discipline. Escorted by armed horsemen, he departed without hope of flight or deliverance, but perhaps consoled by this popular saying, made for members of his family who were the victims of a similar fate, “The wood is still green, the leaves will shoot forth again.”*
There was at that time in the basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, the most respected of sanctuaries, a fugitive whom king Hilperik was endeavouring to decoy from thence in order to seize his person. This was the Austrasian Gonthramn-Bose, whom public rumour accused of having killed young Theodebert with his own hand, or at least of having allowed him to be massacred by his soldiers, when as a generous enemy, he might have spared his life.† The terrible news of Sighebert’s murder reached him in the centre of Aquitania, and fearing, not without reason, to fall into the hands of the king of Neustria, he had placed himself for safety under the protection of Saint Martin. Duke Gonthramn was assured of perfect safety, not only from this supernatural protection, but also from the more visible, though not less efficacious intervention of the Bishop of Tours, Georgius Florentius Gregorius, who was ever the firm guardian and protector of the rights of his church, but more especially of the right of sanctuary. However perilous it might be in the midst of these social disorders to defend the cause of the weak and of fugitives against the brute force and bad faith of powerful men, Gregory displayed, in this constantly renewed struggle, an unwearied constancy, and a prudent but intrepid dignity.
Since the day in which Gonthramn-Bose had fixed himself with his two daughters in one of the houses which formed the court of the basilica of Saint Martin, the bishop of Tours and his clergy had not had a single moment of repose. They had to resist king Hilperik, who, thirsting for vengeance against the fugitive, and yet not daring to drag him by violence from his asylum, endeavoured to compel the priests themselves to drive him from the sacred precincts, in order to spare himself the crime and dangerous consequences of sacrilege. First, the king sent a friendly invitation, then menacing insinuations, and finally, as words and messages had no effect, such hostile demonstrations as were likely to terrify not only the clergy of Tours, but the entire population.
A Neustrian duke named Rokkolen, encamped at the gates of the city with a body of men raised in the territory of the Mans. He took up his quarters in a house belonging to the metropolitan church of Tours, and sent from thence the following message to the bishop: “If you do not oblige Duke Gonthramn to leave the basilica, I will burn the city and its suburbs.” The bishop calmly replied that the thing was impossible. But he received a second message still more menacing than the first: “If you do not this very day expel the king’s enemy, I will destroy every thing green for one league round the city, so that the plough may pass over it.”*
Bishop Gregory was not more moved by this than by the first threat; and Rokkolen, who to all appearance had too few followers to attempt any thing serious against the population of a large town, contented himself, after all his boasting with pillaging and demolishing the house in which he had taken up his abode. It was constructed of pieces of wood joined and fixed with iron fastenings, which the Mans soldiery carried off in their leathern knapsacks with the rest of the booty.† Gregory of Tours congratulated himself at seeing this rude trial terminate thus, when new embarrassments occurred, produced by a complication of events impossible to foresee.
Gonthram-Bose was a singular character. Of Germanic origin, he surpassed the most talented men of the Gallo-Roman race in practical ability, the fertility of his inventive genius, and the instinct of rouerie, if that word may be employed here. It was not the usual Germanic falseness, a brutal lie accompanied by a horse laugh;‡ it was something more refined, and at the same time more corrupt; an universal and restless spirit of intrigue, which carried him unceasingly from one end of Gaul to the other. No one knew better than this Austrasian how to persuade others to venture into danger, and yet keep out of it himself. It was said of him that he had never sworn an oath to a friend without breaking it immediately; and it was to that probably that he owed his Germanic surname.§ In the sanctuary of Saint Martin of Tours, instead of leading the habitual life of a fugitive of distinction, that is to say, passing the day in eating and drinking, without any sort of occupation, Duke Gonthramn was always on the watch for news, and took care to be informed of whatever occurred, that he might turn it to some account. He soon learnt the details of Merowig’s misfortunes, his forced ordination and exile in the monastery of Saint Calais. The idea struck him of forming out of these materials a plan of escape for himself, by inviting the son of Hilperik to join him, share his sanctuary, and then to concert with him the means of passing together into Austrasia. Gonthramn-Bose hoped by those means to augment his own chances of escape, from the far more numerous ones which might be opened to the young prince on account of his rank and the devotion of his friends. He confided his plans and his hopes to a sub-deacon of Frankish origin named Rikulf, who, out of friendship to him, undertook to go to Saint Calais, and obtain, if possible, an interview with Merowig.*
While the sub-deacon was journeying towards the town of Le Mans, Gailen, a young Frankish warrior attached to Merowig by the ties of vassalage and brotherhood in arms, watched in the environs of Saint Calais for the arrival of the escort which was to place the newly-made recluse in the hands of his superiors and gaolers. As soon as the escort appeared, a body of men lying in ambush rushed upon them, and by the superiority of their number, compelled them to fly and abandon the prisoner confided to their care.† Once more restored to liberty, Merowig joyfully quitted the clerical dress to resume the military costume of his nation; the shoes fastened round the leg by long strips of leather, light, short-sleeved tunic hardly reaching to the knees, and the jacket lined with furs, over which was passed the baldric from which the sword hung.‡ It was in this dress the messenger of Gonthramn-Bose met him, uncertain what direction it would be safe for him to follow. Rikulf’s proposal was accepted without much reflection, and the son of Hilperik, this time escorted by his friends, took the road to Tours. A travelling cloak, of which the hood covered his head, served to protect him from the astonishment and laughter which the sight of the head of a priest on the shoulders of a soldier would have excited. As soon as he arrived under the walls of Tours, he got off his horse, and his head still enveloped in the hood of his cloak, he marched towards the basilica of Saint Martin, the doors of which were at that moment all open.§
It was a solemn festival, and the Bishop of Tours, who officiated pontifically, had just administered to the faithful the communion of the two kinds. The bread which remained over after the consecration of the Eucharist, covered the altar, arranged on cloths by the side of the large two-handled chalice which held the wine. It was the custom for these loaves, which were not consecrated, but only blessed by the priest, to be cut in pieces and distributed among the congregation at the end of the mass; this was called giving the eulogies. The entire assembly, with the exception of excommunicated persons, participated in this distribution made by the deacons, as that of the Eucharist was by the priest or officiating bishop.* After going all over the basilica, giving each one his share of holy bread, the deacons of Saint Martin saw near the door a man unknown to them, and whose face being half hidden, seemed to indicate on his part the desire of not being recognized; they therefore passed him over, and offered him none.
The temper of young Merowig, naturally hot, was over-excited by care and the fatigue of the journey. On finding himself deprived of a distinction which all the rest of the congregation had obtained, he fell into a violent fit of rage. Making his way through the crowd which filled the nave of the church, he penetrated into the choir where Gregory and another bishop, Raghenemod, a Frank by origin, who had just succeeded Saint Germain in the see of Paris, sat. When he came opposite the place where Gregory sat, clothed in his pontifical robes, Merowig said in a rough and imperious tone: “Bishop, why are not the eulogies given to me as well as to the rest of the faithful? Tell me if I am excommunicated?”† At these words, he threw back the hood of his cloak, and discovered to the bystanders the face, crimson with rage, of a tonsured soldier.
The Bishop of Tours had no difficulty in recognizing the eldest of the sons of King Hilperik, for he had often seen him, and already knew all his story. The young fugitive appeared before him charged with a double infraction of the ecclesiastical laws, marriage within the prohibited degrees, and the renunciation of the sacred character of a priest, so serious a fault, that rigid casuists termed it apostasy. The extreme state of delinquency in which the secular costume and the arms he wore placed him, prevented Merowig from being admitted to the communion of the consecrated bread and wine, or even to that of the holy bread, which was, so to speak, the type of the first, without having been tried by the canonical laws. Bishop Gregory, with his usual cálmness and dignity of manner, informed him of this. But his serious and gentle speech served only to exasperate the young man’s anger, and, losing all regard and respect for the sanctity of the spot, he exclaimed: “Thou hast not the power to cut me off from the communion of the faithful, and if by thy own private authority, thou refusest me the communion, I will conduct myself like an excommunicated person, and kill some one on the spot.”* These words, pronounced in a very savage manner, terrified the audience, and created a feeling of profound regret in the mind of the bishop. Fearing to excite the frenzy of the young barbarian too far, and thus create further evils, he yielded from necessity; and after deliberating some time with his colleague from Paris, to save appearances at least, he distributed to Merowig some of the eulogies which he desired.†
As soon as the son of Hilperik, with Gailen his brother in arms, his young companions and numerous followers, had established themselves in the court of the basilica of Saint Martin, the Bishop of Tours hastened to fulfil certain formalities required by the Roman law; the principal one consisted in his giving notice to the competent magistrate and the civil authorities of the arrival of every new fugitive.‡ In the present case, King Hilperik was the sole judge and party interested; it was to him therefore that the declaration was to be made, whatever might be the necessity of soothing his resentment by a show of deference and respect. Accordingly a deacon of the metropolitan church of Tours was sent to Soissons, a royal city of Neustria, commissioned to give an exact account of all that had taken place. A relation of the bishop’s named Nicetius, who was going to Paris for his own affairs, was his companion in this embassy.§
Arrived at Soissons, and admitted to the royal presence, they began to disclose the motives of their journey, when Fredegonda suddenly interrupted them, exclaiming: “These men are spies, who are only come to see what the king is doing, in order to give the information they obtain to Merowig.” These words were sufficient to rouse Hilperik’s suspicions, and orders were given to arrest Nicetius and the deacon, who were the bearers of the message. They were stripped of all the money they had about them, and conducted to the confines of the kingdom, whence neither returned until after an exile of seven months.* While the messenger and the relation of Gregory of Tours were treated in this arbitrary manner, he himself received from King Hilperik a dispatch couched in these terms: “Drive the apostate from your basilica, otherwise I will lay waste all the surrounding country.” The bishop simply replied that such a thing had never occurred, not even in the times of the Gothic kings, who were heretics, and that it could not possibly happen now that the true Christian faith was established. Forced by this answer to proceed from threats to deeds, Hilperik made up his mind to act, but with apathy; and at the instigation of Fredegonda, who had no horror of the crime of sacrilege, it was resolved that an army should be raised, and the king place himself at its head, to punish the city of Tours and violate the sanctuary of Saint Martin.†
On learning the news of these preparations, Merowig was seized with a sort of religious terror: “God forbid,” he exclaimed, “that the holy basilica of Saint Martin should suffer any violence, or his country be devastated on my account!” He wanted instantly to depart with Gonthramn-Bose; and endeavour to reach Austrasia, where he flattered himself that he should find a safe asylum, repose, riches, and all the delights of power with Brunehilda; but nothing was ready for this long journey; they had neither men enough around them, nor sufficient influence with those at a distance. Gonthramn’s advice was, to wait, and not throw themselves from fear of one danger into a still greater one.‡ Incapable of attempting any thing without the help of his new friend, the young prince sought a refuge from his anxieties in acts of fervent devotion which were quite new to him. He resolved to pass a night in prayer in the sanctuary of the basilica, and taking with him his most valuable movables, he laid them as offerings on the tomb of Saint Martin; then, kneeling down near the sepulchre, he besought the saint to come to his assistance, and by his gracious interference to enable him soon to regain his liberty, and at some future day to become king.*
With Merowig, these wishes naturally followed each other, and the last it appears formed the principal topic of his conversations with Gonthramn-Bose, and of the projects they devised together. Gonthramn, full of confidence in the resources of his own mind, rarely invoked the aid of the saints; but on the other hand, he had recourse to fortune-tellers, in order to test the justness of his conclusions by their science. Leaving Merowig to pray alone, he sent one of his followers to a woman in whose predictions he had great confidence, and who had already foretold amongst other things, the year, day, and hour on which King Haribert was to die.† When interrogated in the name of duke Gonthramn on the future which was reserved for himself and the son of Hilperik, the sorceress, who probably knew them both very well, gave this answer, addressed to Gonthramn himself: “It will happen that King Hilperik will die in the course of the year, and that Merowig will obtain the throne, to the exclusion of his brothers: thou, Gonthramn, will be duke of all the kingdom for five years; but in the sixth, by the favour of the people, thou wilt receive the episcopal dignity in a town situated on the left bank of the Loire, and thou wilt in time depart this life old and full of days.”‡
Gonthramn-Bose, who passed his life in making dupes, was himself the dupe of sorcerers and conjurors. He was delighted with this extravagant prophecy, which was doubtless in accordance with his dreams of ambition and most secret thoughts. Thinking that the town so vaguely indicated could be no other than that of Tours, and seeing himself already in imagination the successor of Gregory on the pontifical throne, he took care to impart his future good fortune to him with a malicious satisfaction, for the title of bishop was much coveted by the barbarian chiefs. Gregory had just arrived at the basilica of Saint Martin to perform the night service, when the Austrasian duke made him this strange communication with the air of a man firmly convinced of the infallibility of the sorceress. The bishop answered: “You should ask such things of God,” and was unable to restrain his laughter.§ But this foolish and insatiable vanity reminded him but too painfully of the men and miseries of his time. He was preoccupied with these sad reflections during the chaunting of the Psalms; and when after the service of the vigils he was desirous of taking a short repose, and retired to bed for that purpose in a room near the church, the crimes of which that church seemed destined to be the theatre in the unnatural war between a father and son, and the misfortunes which he foresaw but was not able to prevent, haunted him until he fell asleep. During his slumber, the same ideas, but in colours still more terrible, presented themselves to his mind. He saw an angel traversing the air, hovering over the basilica, and crying in the most lugubrious accents: “Alas! alas! God has smitten Hilperik and all his sons! Not one of them will survive him, or possess his kingdom.”* This dream appeared to Gregory as a revelation of the future far more worthy of credit than the answers and predictions of fortune-tellers.
Fickle and inconsistent in character, Merowig soon had recourse to distractions more in accordance with his turbulent habits, than vigils and prayers by the tombs of saints. The law which sanctioned the inviolability of these religious asylums, also gave the fugitives full power to provide themselves with all sorts of provisions, so that it should be impossible for their pursuers to drive them out by means of famine. The priests of the basilica of Saint Martin took upon themselves the care of supplying the articles necessary to the subsistence of such of their guests as were poor, and consequently had no servants. The rich people were served either by their own servants, who were at liberty to go backwards and forwards, or by men and women from without, whose presence frequently caused a great deal of confusion and excess. The courts of the buildings, and the peristyle of the basilica, were at all hours filled by people engaged in business, or a crowd of idlers and loungers. At the time of the different repasts, the noise and confusion sometimes drowned the chaunting of the service, disturbing the priests in their stalls and the monks in their cells. Sometimes the guests, half intoxicated, quarreled until they came to blows, and bloody frays took place at the door, and even in the interior of the church.†
If similar disorders did not follow the banquet by which Merowig and his companions tried to divert themselves, boisterous merriment was not wanting; shouts of laughter and coarse jests resounded in the hall, and above all were heard joined with the names of Hilperik and Fredegonda. Merowig did not spare either of them. He related the crimes of his father, and the debauches of his stepmother, spoke of Fredegonda as an infamous adulteress, and of Hilperik as an imbecile husband, and the persecutor of his own children. “Although there was nothing in this but what was perfectly true,” says the cotemporary historian, “I think it was not agreeable to God that such things should be divulged by a son.”* This historian, Gregory of Tours himself, being one day invited to Merowig’s table, heard the young man’s scandalous speeches with his own ears. At the end of the repast, Merowig, who remained alone with his pious guest, felt himself in a devotional mood, and begged the bishop to read him something for the benefit of his soul. Gregory took the book of Solomon, and opening it at hazard, read the following verse: “The eye of him that mocketh at his father, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out.” This singular coincidence was looked upon by the bishop as a second revelation of the future, as menacing as the first.†
Meanwhile Fredegonda, more inveterate in her hatred and more active than her husband, resolved to be beforehand with the expedition which was in preparation, and to have Merowig murdered by an ambush. Leudaste, Count of Tours, who was anxious to be in the queen’s good graces, and who besides had to revenge the pillage committed in his house the preceding year, offered himself with eagerness to be the instrument of the murder. Reckoning on the want of circumspection of the man he wished to kill by surprise, he tried various stratagems to entice him beyond the limits of the sanctuary: he did not succeed. Either out of savage spite, or to excite the anger of the young prince so as to make him lose all feeling of prudence, he caused his followers to be attacked in the streets of the town.‡ Most of them were massacred, and Merowig, enraged at this news, would have run blindly into the snare, if the prudent Gonthramn had not withheld him. When he was railing violently, saying that he should have no rest until he had avenged himself on the lover of Fredegonda, Gonthramn counselled him to direct his retaliation where there was no risk, and where the advantage would be considerable; to punish for this insult, not Leudaste, who was on his guard, but some other, no matter whom, of the friends of King Hilperik.*
Marileïf, first physician to the king, a very rich man, and of an unwarlike disposition, was then at Tours, on his road from Soissons to Poitiers, his native city. He had with him but few followers and much baggage; and nothing was more easy than for the young warriors, Merowig’s companions, to carry him off from his inn. They entered it unawares, and cruelly ill treated the peaceful doctor, who, luckily for himself, contrived to escape, and took refuge in the cathedral almost naked, leaving his gold, silver, and the rest of his movables in the hands of the assailants.† All this was looked upon as lawful booty by the son of Hilperik, who, satisfied with the trick he had played his father, and thinking himself sufficiently revenged, was anxious to display his clemency. At the request of the bishop he announced to poor Marileïf, who did not venture to quit his asylum, that he was at liberty to continue his journey.‡ But at the moment that Merowig was congratulating himself on having so prudent a man as Gonthramn-Bose as companion of his fortunes and his intimate friend, the latter did not hesitate in selling his services to the mortal enemy of the young man who so inconsiderately placed entire confidence in him.
Far from sharing the hatred which King Hilperik felt for Gonthramn on account of the murder of Theodebert, Fredegonda was grateful to him for having rid her of one of her stepsons, as she would fain have been of the other two. The interest she displayed in favour of the Austrasian duke, had become still stronger ever since she had a glimpse of the possibility of using him as an instrument in Merowig’s destruction. Gothramn-Bose never willingly undertook a dangerous commission; but the ill success of the attempt of Count Leudaste, a man more violent than adroit, determined the queen to look for one who might, by his craft, render certain the murder which she meditated, although he did not execute it himself. She therefore sent a confidential person to Gonthramn with this message: “If thou canst contrive to decoy Merowig out of the basilica, so that he may be killed, I will make thee a magnificent present.”§ Gonthramn-Bose joyfully accepted the proposal. Persuaded that the artful Fredegonda had already taken her measures, and that suborned assassins kept watch in the environs of Tours, he went to Merowig and said to him in a most cheerful tone, “Why do we lead here the lives of cowards and idlers, skulking like fools round this basilica? Let us send for our horses, and take dogs and hawks with us, and let us go out hunting, to take exercise, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy the fine view.”*
The desire for space and fresh air which prisoners feel so keenly, spoke to Merowig’s heart, and the extreme facility of his character made him approve of every thing his friend proposed without examination. He accepted this attractive invitation with the readiness natural to his age. The horses were instantly brought into the court of the basilica, and the two fugitives set out completely equipped for hunting, their birds on their wrists, escorted by their servants, and followed by their dogs in couples. They fixed upon a domain belonging to the church of Tours, and situated in the village of Jocundiacum, now Jouay, at a short distance from the city, as the spot they were to go to. They spent the day in this manner, hunting and racing together, without Gonthramn’s giving the slightest sign of premeditation, or appearing to think of any thing but amusing themselves as much as possible. What he expected did not occur; either Fredegonda’s emissaries had not yet arrived at Tours, or else her instructions had not been properly followed up, but no armed troop appeared to fall upon Merowig, either in the various excursions of the day, or on the way home. Merowig, therefore, returned quietly to the sanctuary which afforded him security, rejoiced at getting his liberty for a few hours, and not at all aware that he had been in danger of perishing by the most signal treachery.†
The army which was to attack Tours was ready, but when it was necessary to depart, Hilperik suddenly became undecided and timid; he wished to know how great at that moment was Saint Martin’s susceptibility against the infringers of his privileges, and if the holy confessor was in an indulgent or choleric mood. As there was no one in the world who could give him the slightest information on this point, the king conceived the strange idea of writing to the saint himself, requesting a clear and positive answer. He therefore composed a letter, which expressed in law terms his paternal grievances against the murderer of his son Theodebert, and appealed to the justice of the saint against this great culprit. The conclusion of this request was the following peremptory demand: “Is it permitted me, or is it not, to take Gonthramn from the sanctuary?”* It is still more singular, that beneath this there was a stratagem by which King Hilperik thought to deceive his celestial correspondent, intending, if he received permission for Gonthramn, to make use of the same for Merowig, whose name he did not mention for fear of frightening the saint.† This singular epistle was brought to Tours by a student of Frankish race, named Baudeghisel, who placed it on Saint Martin’s tomb with a sheet of blank paper, on which the saint might write his answer. At the end of three days the messenger returned, and finding on the tombstone the paper just as he had left it, without the smallest word of writing, he supposed that Saint Martin refused to explain himself, and returned to King Hilperik.‡
What the king feared above all things was, that Merowig should join Brunehilda in Austrasia, and, aided by her counsels and money, should succeed in creating a party in his favour among the Neustrian Franks. In the mind of Hilperik this fear surpassed even his hatred for Gonthramn-Bose, whom he felt inclined to forgive, provided he in no way favoured the escape of his companion in confinement. This produced another plan in which Hilperik again displayed the same heavy and timorous policy. This plan consisted in obtaining from Gonthramn, without whom Merowig was unable to undertake a journey for want of resources and firmness, an oath not to leave the basilica without giving the king notice of it. King Hilperik hoped by this means to be warned in time to intercept all communications between Tours and the Austrasian frontier. He sent emissaries to confer secretly with Gonthramn; and in this struggle between two parties to overreach each other, the latter was not behindhand. Trusting little to the conciliatory speeches sent him by Hilperik, but thinking that it might be a last chance of safety if all others failed, he took the oath required of him, and swore in the sanctuary itself of the basilica, with one hand on the silken cloth which covered the high altar.* This done, he continued secretly, but with no less activity than before, to prepare for a sudden flight.
(ad 577.) Since the lucky blow which had thrown the Doctor Marileif’s money into the hands of the fugitives, these preparations had progressed rapidly. Mercenary soldiers, a class of men which conquest had created, offered themselves in numbers to serve as escort to the end of the journey; their number soon amounted to more than five hundred. With such a force, escape was easy, and the arrival in Austrasia highly probable. Gonthramn-Bose, judging that there was no longer any reason for delay, and taking care, notwithstanding his oath, that the king should not have the least notice of it, told Merowig that it was time to think of departing. Merowig, weak and irresolute when not roused by passion, just when he was on the point of making this great attempt, gave way, and again sunk into his former state of indecision. “But,” said Gonthramn to him, “have we not the predictions of the sorceress in our favour?” The young prince was not reassured by this; but to divert himself from his sad forebodings, he determined to seek for information as to the future from some better source.†
There was at that time a method of religious divination, which, although prohibited by the councils, was, notwithstanding, practised in Gaul by the wisest and most enlightened men of the time. Merowig determined to have recourse to it. He went to the chapel in which was the tomb of Saint Martin, and placed on the sepulchre three of the inspired books, the book of Kings, the Psalms, and the Gospels. During one whole night he prayed to God and the holy confessor to reveal to him what was to happen, and whether he might hope to obtain his father’s kingdom or not.‡ He then fasted three whole days, and on the fourth he returned to the tomb, and opened the three volumes one after another. The book of Kings was the one whose reply he was most anxious to obtain: it opened at a page at the top of which stood the following verse: “Because they forsook the Lord their God, and have served other gods; therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.” In opening the book of Psalms, he found this passage: “Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation!” Lastly, in the Gospels he read these words: “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.”§ It was impossible to imagine any thing more appalling for one who imagined he received an answer from God himself, than each of these words; it might have shaken a stronger mind than that of the son of Hilperik. He remained as if overpowered by the weight of this triple menace of treason, ruin, and violent death, and wept bitterly for a long while by the tomb of Saint Martin.* Gonthramn-Bose, who had equal faith in his oracle, and, moreover, found in it no cause of fear for himself, persisted in his resolution. By means of that influence which strong minds exercise in an almost magnetic manner upon weak and impressionable characters, he restored the courage of his companion so well, that the departure took place without delay, and Merowig mounted on horseback with a look of tranquillity and confidence. Gonthramn in this decisive moment had also a trial to go through; he was going to separate himself from his two daughters, who had taken refuge with him in the basilica of Saint Martin, and whom he feared to take with him, on account of the hazards of so long a journey. Notwithstanding his profound selfishness, and imperturbable duplicity, he was not completely devoid of good feeling, and amidst so many vices, he had at least one redeeming virtue, paternal love.† The society of his daughters was in the highest degree dear to him. If he was separated from them, he never hesitated to expose himself to danger that he might rejoin them, and if there was any danger to defend them from, he became fierce and courageous even to rashness. Compelled to leave them in an asylum which King Hilperik, if he became desperate, might cease to respect, he determined to fetch them away himself; and it was with this idea, the only good one which could find a place in his bosom, that he quitted the sanctuary, and galloped on by the side of Merowig.‡
Nearly six hundred horsemen recruited, to all appearance, among the adventurers and vagabonds of the country, both Franks and Gauls by origin, accompanied the two fugitives. Keeping along the left bank of the Loire, from south to north, they passed over King Gonthramn’s territories in good order. When they arrived near Orleans, they turned eastward to avoid passing through Hilperik’s dominions and reached the environs of the city of Auxerre without encountering any obstacle; but here their good fortune ceased. Erp or Erpoald, count of that city, refused to allow them to pass through it, either because he had received some dispatch from King Hilperik, requesting his friendly assistance or else did so of his own accord, to maintain peace between the two kingdoms. It appears that this refusal gave rise to a combat, in which the troops of the two fugitives were totally defeated. Merowig, whose anger had probably driven him to commit some imprudence, fell into the hands of Count Erpoald; but Gonthramn, always ready in a retreat, escaped with the remains of his little army.*
Fearing to venture further northwards, he determined to retrace his steps and reach one of the towns of Aquitania, belonging to the kingdom of Austrasia. It was very dangerous for him to approach Tours; it was to be feared that the news of his flight had decided Hilperik to order his troops to march, and that the town was full of soldiers. But all his prudence gave way to his paternal feelings; instead of passing at a distance with his small and badly armed band of fugitives, he marched straight to the basilica of Saint Martin. It was well guarded; nevertheless he forced his way in, and reappeared almost immediately with his daughters, whom he wished to place in safety out of Hilperik’s kingdom. After this bold manœuvre, Gonthramn took the road to Poitiers a town which had become Austrasian ever since the victory of Mummolus. He arrived there without accident, placed his two travelling companions in the basilica of Saint Hilary, and left them to go and see what was passing in Austrasia.† This time, for fear of a second misfortune, he made a long circuit, and directed his course northwards by Limousin, Auvergne, and the road leading from Lyons to Metz.
Before Count Erpoald was able to give information of this to King Gonthramn and receive his orders relative to the prisoner, Merowig succeeded in escaping from the place where he was confined. He took refuge in the principal church of Auxerre, one dedicated to Saint Germain, the apostle of the Bretons, and established himself there in safety as at Tours, under the shelter of the right of sanctuary.‡ The news of his flight reached King Gonthramn almost as soon as that of his arrest. This was more than sufficient to displease in the highest degree this timid and pacific king, whose principal care was to keep himself aloof from the quarrels which might spring up around him. He feared that Merowig’s remaining in his kingdom would create a deal of trouble, and wished either that the son of Hilperik should have been allowed to pass quietly, or else have been detained and strictly guarded. Accusing Erpoald at the same time of excess of zeal and want of skill, he summoned him instantly before him; and when the count was about to answer and justify his conduct, the king interrupted him, saying: “Thou didst arrest him whom my brother calls his enemy; but, if thy intentions were serious, thou shouldst have brought him to me without loss of time; otherwise thou shouldst not have interfered with a man whom thou didst not intend to keep prisoner.”*
The ambiguity of these expressions proved on the part of King Gonthramn as much repugnance to take part with the son as fear of quarrelling with the father. The weight of his displeasure fell on Count Erpoald, who was not only deprived of his office, but condemned moreover to pay a fine of seven hundred golden pieces.† It seems that in spite of Hilperik’s messages and entreaties, Gonthramn took no measure for disturbing the fugitive in his new asylum, and that, so far from it, he contrived, without compromising himself, and yet saving appearances, that Merowig should quickly find means to escape and continue his journey. Indeed, after a residence of two months in the basilica of Auxerre, the young prince departed accompanied by his faithful friend Gallen, and this time the roads were open to him. He at last arrived in the territory of Austrasia, where he hoped to find repose, friends, the delights of marriage and all the honours attached to the title of husband of a queen, but where new obstacles and misfortunes awaited him, which were only to end with his life.‡ The kingdom of Austrasia, governed in the name of a child by a council of nobles and bishops, was at that time the theatre of continual troubles and violent dissensions. The absence of all legal restraint and the headstrong wilfulness of individual wills, were felt there still more strongly than in any other part of Gaul. There was in this respect no distinction of race or state; barbarians or Romans, prelates or military chiefs, all men who felt themselves strong from power or wealth, rivalled each other in turbulence and ambition. Divided into opposite factions, they agreed only in one thing, a violent dislike to Brunehilda, whom they wanted to deprive of all influence in the government of her son. The principal chiefs of this formidable aristocracy were Ægidius, Bishop of Reims, notoriously sold to the King of Neustria, and Duke Raukhing, the richest of the Austrasians, the very type, if such an expression can be used, of those who did ill from a sheer love of it, as the other barbarians did from passion or interest.§ Traits of almost incredible cruelty, such as popular traditions impute to the nobles of the feudal times, and the remembrance of which is still attached to the ruins of their keeps and castles, were related of him. When he supped, lighted by a slave who held in his hand a waxen torch, one of his favourite amusements was to oblige the poor slave to extinguish the torch against his naked legs, then to light it again and put it out and relight it several times in the same way. The deeper the burn was, the more was Duke Raukhing amused and laughed at the contortions of the miserable wretch who was forced to submit to this species of torture.* He caused two of his serfs, a young man and woman, whose crime was their having married without his consent, and whom, at the entreaties of a priest, he had sworn not to separate, to be buried alive in the same grave. “I have kept my word,” said he with a ferocious sneer; “they are now united for ever.”†
This terrible man, whose insolence towards Queen Brunehilda exceeded all bounds, and whose conduct was a perpetual rebellion, had for his constant attendants Bertefred and Ursio, the one of Germanic origin, the other, son of a Gallo-Roman, but both thoroughly imbued with the cruelty and violence of Germanic manners. In their savage opposition, they attacked, not only the queen, but whoever sided with her and endeavoured to maintain order and public tranquillity. They had a peculiar hatred to the Roman Lupus, Duke of Champagne, or the Rhenish provinces, a severe and vigilant governor, and fully imbued with the traditions of the imperial government.‡ The domains of Lupus were almost daily ravaged, his houses pillaged, and his life threatened by Duke Raukhing’s faction. Once Ursio and Bertefred, with a troop of soldiers, fell upon him and his followers at the very gates of the palace where the young king and his mother lived. Attracted by the tumult, Brunehilda hastened to the spot, and courageously throwing herself among the armed men, she exclaimed, addressing herself to the chiefs of the assailants: “Why do you thus attack an innocent man? Do not commit this outrage; do not provoke a war which would be the ruin of the country!” “Woman,” replied Ursio with brutal haughtiness, “retire; let it suffice thee to have governed in thy husband’s lifetime; it is thy son who reigns now, and it is to our protection, not thine, that the kingdom looks for safety. Retire, then, or we will trample thee under our horses’ feet.”* This situation of things in Austrasia, ill accorded with the hopes in which Merowig had indulged; but the illusion did not last long. He had scarcely entered Metz, the capital of the kingdom, when he received from the council of regency the order to depart immediately, even if he was permitted to enter the town. The ambitious chiefs, who treated Brunehilda as a stranger without rights or power, were not likely to submit to the presence of the husband of this queen, whom they feared, although pretending to despise her. The more she prayed and entreated that Merowig should be received hospitably, and allowed to live with her in peace, the more harsh and inexorable those who governed in the name of the young king became. They alleged as their reason, the danger of a rupture with the King of Neustria; they did not fail to avail themselves of it, and their compliance with their queen’s wishes was confined to simply dismissing the son of Hilperik, without using violence, or giving him up to his father.†
Deprived of his last hope of refuge, Merowig retired by the same road he had come; but before passing the frontier of Gonthramn’s kingdom, he left the high road and wandered from village to village through the Rhenish country. He went at random, walking by night and concealing himself all day, especially avoiding people of high rank, who might have recognised him; in constant fear of being betrayed, and exposed to all sorts of evils, and with no prospect in view but that of reaching the sanctuary of Saint Martin of Tours in disguise. As soon as all traces of him were lost, it was supposed that he had taken that resolution, and the news of it soon reached Neustria.‡
At this report, King Hilperik dispatched his army to occupy the city of Tours, and guard the abbey of Saint Martin. The army, arrived in Touraine, pillaged, devastated, and destroyed the country, without even sparing the property of the church. All sorts of rapine were committed in the buildings of the abbey, which was converted into barracks, where soldiers were quartered to keep guard at all the entrances to the basilica. The gates were kept closed day and night, excepting one, through which a small number of priests were allowed to enter to chaunt the offices, and the people were excluded from the church, and deprived of Divine service.§ At the same time that these precautions were taken to cut off the retreat of the fugitive, King Hilperik, probably with the consent of the nobles of Austrasia, passed the frontier in arms, and searched every part of the territory where it was possible that Merowig had concealed himself. Although surrounded like a wild beast pursued by the hunters, the young man succeeded in escaping from his father’s search, thanks to the compassion of the lower classes of Franks, or those of Roman origin, in whom alone he could trust. After having fruitlessly scoured the country, and taken a military ride along the forest of Ardennes, Hilperik re-entered his kingdom without the troops whom he led on this reconnoitering expedition having committed any act of hostility against the inhabitants.*
Whilst Merowig saw himself reduced to lead the life of an outlaw and a vagrant, his old companion in adversity, Gonthramn-Bose, arrived in Austrasia from Poitiers. He was the only man of any importance in the country of whom the son of Hilperik could ask assistance; and he without doubt very soon learnt the retreat, and all the secrets of the unhappy fugitive. So completely desperate a state of things offered to Gonthramn two prospects, between which he was not accustomed to hesitate, an onerous fidelity, or the profits of an act of treachery; he decided in favour of the latter. Such was at least the general opinion; for, according to his usual way, he avoided compromising himself, by working in secret, and playing a double game, so as to enable him boldly to deny it, if the plot did not succeed. Queen Fredegonda, who never failed to act for herself whenever it happened (and it was not a rare occurrence) that her husband’s dexterity was at fault, seeing the little success of the chase after Merowig, resolved to have recourse to less noisy, but more certain measures. She communicated her plan to Ægidius, Bishop of Reims, who was united to her by friendship, and an assistant in her political intrigues; and through him Gonthramn-Bose once more listened to the instructions and brilliant promises of the queen. From the union of these two men with the implacable enemy of the son of Hilperik, arose a skilfully combined plot to hurry him to his ruin, by means of his greatest forble, the wild ambition natural to a young man, and his desire to reign.†
Some men from the country of Thérouanne, the country most devoted to Fredegonda, entered Austrasia secretly to obtain an interview with the son of Hilperik. Having found him in the retreat in which he kept himself concealed, they gave him the following message, in the name of their fellow-countrymen:—“Since thy hair has grown once more, we will submit to thee, and are ready to abandon thy father, if thou wilt come amongst us.”*
Merowig eagerly seized this offer; he even fancied himself secure of dethroning his father, on the good faith of persons he did not know, the delegates of an obscure canton of Neustria. He set out at once for Therouanne, accompanied by a few men blindly devoted to his fortunes; Gaïlen, his inseparable friend in fortune and adversity; Gaukil, count of the palace of Austrasia under King Sighebert, and now fallen into disgrace; and finally Grind, and several others whom the chronicler does not name, but whom he honours with the title of men of courage.†
They ventured into the Neustrian territory, without considering that the further they advanced, the more difficult retreat became. On the confines of the savage district which extended north of Arras to the coasts of the ocean, they found what had been promised them, troops of men who welcomed them, and received King Merowig with acclamations. Invited to rest in one of the farms which the Frankish population inhabited, they entered without mistrust; but the doors were instantly closed upon them, guards defended every issue, and armed bodies of men surrounded the house like a besieged city. At the same time, couriers mounted on horseback, and hastened to Soissons to announce to King Hilperik that his enemies had fallen into the snare, and that he might come and dispose of them.‡
At the noise of the barricaded doors, and the military preparations which rendered his departure impossible, Merowig, struck with the sense of his danger, remained pensive and dejected. The sad and thoughtful imagination of the man of the north, which formed the most striking trait in his character, gradually got the better of his reason; he was beset with ideas of violent death, and horrible images of tortures and punishments. A profound terror of the fate for which he was reserved seized on him with such intensity, that, despairing of every thing, he saw no resource but suicide.§ But, wanting the courage to strike the blow himself, he required for that purpose another arm than his own, and addressing his brother in arms: “Gaïlen,” said he, “we have never had but one soul and one mind until now: do not let me fall into the hands of my enemies, I conjure thee; take a sword and kill me.” Gaïlen, with the obedience of a vassal, drew the knife which he wore at his girdle, and struck the young prince a mortal blow. King Hilperik, who arrived in great haste to seize his son, found only his corpse.* Gaïlen was taken with the other companions of Merowig; he had clung to life, either from some remaining hope, or some inexplicable weakness.
There were persons who doubted the truth of these facts, and believed that Fredegonda, going straight to the point, had had her step-son murdered, and that the suicide was an invention to get over the paternal scruples of the king. However, the horrible treatment which Merowig’s companions met with, seemed to justify his forebodings for himself and his anticipated terrors. Gailen perished, mutilated in the most barbarous manner; his feet, hands, nose, and ears, were cut off: Grind had his limbs broken on the wheel, which was raised in the air, and where he expired: Gaukil, the eldest of the three, was the least unfortunate; he was simply beheaded.†
Thus Merowig paid the penalty of his disgraceful intimacy with the murderer of his brother, and Gonthramn-Bose became a second time the instrument of that fatality which seemed to attend upon the sons of Hilperik. He did not feel his conscience more loaded than before; and, like the bird of prey who, at the end of his chase, returns to the nest, he became anxious about his two daughters whom he had left at Poitiers. This town had just fallen again into the hands of the King of Neustria; the project of conquest which the victory of Mummolus (ad 578) had put an end to for the time, was recommenced after an interval of a year, and Desiderius, at the head of a numerous army, again menaced all Aquitania. Those who had been most remarkable for their fidelity to King Hildebert, or to whom King Hilperik had any particular dislike, were arrested in their houses, and sent under escort to the palace of Braine. The Roman Ennodius, Count of Poitiers, guilty of having attempted to defend that city, and the Frank Dak, son of Dagarik, who had shown himself in the field as a partisan leader, were seen passing in the same plight on the road from Tours to Soissons.‡ In such circumstances, the return to Poitiers was a perilous enterprise for Gonthramn-Bose; but this time he did not reflect, and determined, at any price, to deliver his daughters from the danger of being carried off from their asylum. Accompanied by a few friends, for he always found some in spite of his multiplied treacheries, he took the road to the south as the safest he could select, arrived at Poitiers without molestation, and was no less successful in withdrawing his two daughters from the basilica of Saint Hilary. This was not all; it was necessary to hasten away and reach promptly some spot where they might be safe from pursuit. Gonthramn and his friends remounted their horses without loss of time, and left Poitiers by the gate which opened on the road to Tours.*
They marched by the side of the covered wagon which contained the two young girls, armed with daggers and short lances, the ordinary equipment of the most peaceful travellers. They had not advanced more than a few hundred yards on the road, when they perceived some horsemen coming towards them. The two forces halted to reconnoiter each other, and that of Gonthramn-Bose placed itself on the defensive, for the men in front of it were soon discovered to be enemies.† These had for their leader a certain Drakolen, a very active partisan of the King of Neustria, and who was returning from the palace of Braine, whither he had been conveying the son of Dagarik and other captives, their hands tied behind their backs. Gonthramn felt that it was necessary to give battle; but before coming to an engagement, he tried to parley. He sent one of his friends to Drakolen, giving him the following instructions: “Go, and tell him this in my name: Thou knowest that formerly there was an alliance between us; I therefore pray thee to leave me a free passage: take what thou wilt of my property; I abandon every thing to thee, even should I remain naked; only let me and my daughters go where we intend.”‡
On hearing these words, Drakolen, who thought himself the stronger of the two, gave a shout of derision, and pointing to a bundle of cords which hung at his saddle-bow, he said to the messenger, “Here is the cord with which I bound the other culprits I have led to the king; it will do for him also.”* Instantly spurring his horse, he rushed upon Gonthramn-Bose, and attempted to give him a blow with his lance; but the blow was ill-directed, and the iron of the lance, detaching itself from the wood, fell to the ground. Gonthramn resolutely seized that moment, and striking Drakolen on the face, made him stagger in his saddle; some one else knocked him down and dispatched him with a stroke of a lance through the ribs. The Neustrians, seeing their leader dead, turned their horses’ heads, and Gonthramn-Bose continued his journey, but not before he had carefully stripped the body of his enemy.†
After this adventure, Duke Gonthramn travelled quietly into Austrasia. Arrived at Metz, he recommenced the life of a great Frankish noble, a life of savage and disorderly independence, which neither partook of the dignity of the Roman patrician, nor the chivalric manners of the feudal lord. History makes little mention of him during an interval of three years; we then suddenly meet with him at Constantinople, where he seems to have been drawn by his restless and truant disposition. It was in this journey that, through his mediation, the great intrigue of the century was planned, an intrigue which shook the whole of Gaul, in which the feeling of rivalry of the Austrasian Franks towards their western brethren, united with the national hatred of the southern Gauls, for the destruction of the two kingdoms of which Soissons and Châlons-sur-Saône were the capital towns.
THE HISTORY OF PRÆTEXTATUS, BISHOP OF ROUEN.
(ad 577.) Whilst the son of Hilperik, unable to find shelter in the kingdoms of his father or of his wife, wandered amidst the heaths and forests of Champagne, there was but one man throughout Neustria who had sufficient courage to proclaim himself his friend. This was Prætextatus, Bishop of Rouen, who, since the day that he held the young prince, at the baptismal font, had conceived for him one of those devoted, absolute, and unreflecting attachments, of which a mother or a nurse alone seems capable. The blind sympathy which had led him, in spite of the laws of the church, to favour the passion of Merowig for his uncle’s widow, only increased with the misfortunes which attended this inconsiderate passion. It was probably to the zeal of Prætextatus that the husband of Brunehilda was indebted for the money, by means of which he succeeded in escaping from the basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, and reaching the frontiers of Austrasia. At the news of the ill success of this escape, the bishop was not discouraged; on the contrary, he, as his spiritual father, increased his efforts to procure friends and a home for the fugitive persecuted by his natural father. He took very little trouble to disguise sentiments and actions, which appeared duties to him. No man of the least importance among the Franks, who inhabited his diocese, paid him a visit without hearing a long account of the misfortunes of Merowig, and the affection and support of the visitor being earnestly solicited for his godson; for his dear son, as he called him. These words formed a sort of burden, which, in the simplicity of his heart, he repeated constantly, and mixed up with all his conversation. If he happened to receive a present from some rich or powerful man, he hastened to return him double its value, obtaining from him the promise to come to Merowig’s assistance, and remain faithful to him in his reverses.*
As the Bishop of Rouen was careless of what he said, and confided without precaution in all sorts of people, it was not long before King Hilperik was informed of every thing, either through public rumour, or officious friends, and received false, or at least, exaggerated denunciations. Prætextatus was accused of distributing presents among the people to excite them to rebellion, and of organizing a conspiracy against the person and dignity of the king. At this news, Hilperik fell into one of those fits of rage and terror, during which he abandonded himself to the counsels and assistance of Fredegonda, being himself uncertain what course to pursue. Since the day that he had succeeded in separating Merowig and Brunehilda, he had almost forgiven Prætextatus for having solemnized their marriage; but Fredegonda, less forgetful, and less confined in her passions to the interest of the moment, had contracted a profound hatred towards the bishop, one of those hatreds which, with her, ended only with the life of whoever had the misfortune to excite it. Seizing this occasion, therefore, she persuaded the king to denounce Prætextatus before a council of bishops, as guilty of high treason according to the Roman law, and to insist at least on his being punished for infringing the canons of the church, even if he was not found guilty of any other crime.*
Prætextatus was arrested in his house, and conducted to the royal residence to undergo an examination on the facts which were imputed to him, and on his relations with Queen Brunehilda since the day that she left Rouen to return to Austrasia. They learnt from the answers of the bishop that he had not entirely restored to that queen the treasures she had entrusted him with at her departure; and that two bales full of stuffs and jewels, which were estimated at three thousand golden sols, and moreover a bag of golden pieces to the number of two thousand, still remained.† More rejoiced at this discovery than by any other information, Hilperik hastened to seize this deposit, and to confiscate it to his own profit; he then banished Prætextatus, under safe escort, far from his diocese until the meeting of the synod, which was to assemble and judge him.‡
Letters of convocation addressed to all the bishops of Hilperik’s kingdom, commanded them to come to Paris at the end of the spring of the year 577. Since the death of King Sighebert, the King of Neustria looked upon this city as his property, and disregarded the oath which forbade his entering it. Either because he really feared some enterprise on the part of the secret partisans of Brunehilda and Merowig, or to make more impression on the minds of the judges of Prætextatus, he made the journey from Soissons to Paris accompanied by a retinue so numerous that it might have passed for an army. These troops encamped at the gates of the king’s abode, which was, apparently, the ancientimperial palace which rose on the banks of the Seine, to the south of the city of Paris. Its eastern front was by the side of the Roman road, which, leaving the little bridge of the city, took a southern direction. Opposite the principal entrance, another Roman road, in an eastern, but afterwards in a south-eastern direction, led through vineyards to the greatest elevation of the southern range of hills. There stood a church dedicated to the invocation of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and which was probably chosen as the hall for the synodal meeting, on account of its proximity to the royal habitation, and the encampment of the soldiery.*
This church, which had been built half a century, contained the tombs of King Chlodowig, Queen Chlothilda, and St. Genovefe or Genevieve. Chlodowig had ordered its construction at Chlothilda’s entreaties at the moment of his departure to the war against the Wisigoths; when he arrived at the destined spot, he threw his axe straight before him, that the strength and reach of his arm might some day be judged of by the length of the edifice.† It was one of those basilicas of the fifth and sixth centuries, more remarkable for the richness of their decoration than the grandeur of their arthitectural proportions, ornamented in the interior with marble columns, mosaics, painted and gilt ceilings, and the exterior with a copper rool and a portico.‡ The portico of the church of St. Peter consisted of three galleries, one running along the front of the building, and the others forming on each side flying buttresses in the shape of horse-shoes. These galleries were decorated throughout their length with pictures in fresco, divided into four large compartments, representing the four phalanxes of the saints of the old and the new law, the patriarchs, the prophets, the martyrs and confessors.§
Such are the details furnished us by the original documents respecting the spot where this council assembled, the fifth of those held at Paris. On the day fixed by the letters of convocation, forty-five bishops met in the basilica of St. Peter. The king also came to the church; he entered it, attended by a few of his leudes armed only with their swords; and the crowd of Franks equipped for war remained under the portico, of which every avenue was filled. The choir of the basilica formed most probably the enclosure reserved for the judges, the plaintiff, and the defendant; as convicting evidence, the two bales and the bag of golden pieces seized in the house of Prætextatus were placed there. The king on his arrival pointed them out to the bishops, announcing that these were to play a conspicuous part in the cause which was to be discussed.* The members of the synod, who came either from the towns which were King Hilperik’s original possessions, or from those he had conquered since the death of his brother, were partly by origin Gauls and partly Franks. Among the former, who were by far the more numerous, were Gregory, Bishop of Tours, Felix of Nantes, Domnolus of the Mans, Honoratus of Amiens, Ætherius of Lisieux, and Pappolus of Chartres. Among the latter were Raghenemod, Bishop of Paris, Leudowald of Bayeux, Romahaire of Coutance, Marowig of Poitiers, Malulf of Senlis, and Berthramn of Bordeaux; the latter was, it appears, honoured by his colleagues with the dignity and functions of president.†
He was a man of high birth, nearly related to the kings through his mother Ingeltruda, and who owed to this relationship great riches and influence. He imitated the polish and elegance of Roman manners; he liked to appear in public in a car drawn by four horses, and escorted by the young priests of his church, like a patron surrounded by his clients.‡ To this taste for luxury and senatorial pomp, Bishop Berithramn added a taste for poetry, and composed Latin epigrams, which he boldly offered to the admiration of connoisseurs, although they were full of stolen lines and faults of rhythm.* More insinuating and adroit than men of the Germanic race usually were, he had preserved the love of open and shameless profligacy which characterized them. Following the example of the kings his relations, he took servants as concubines, and not content with them, he chose mistresses from among married women.† It was reported that he carried on an adulterous intercourse with Queen Fredegonda, and either from this, or some other cause, he had espoused the resentment of this queen against the Bishop of Rouen in the most violent manner. Generally speaking, the prelates of Frankish origin inclined to favour the king’s cause by sacrificing their colleague. The Roman bishops had more sympathy with the accused, more feeling of justice and respect for the dignity of their order; but they were alarmed by the military preparations by which Hilperik was surrounded, and especially by the presence of Fredegonda, who, mistrusting as usual her husband’s powers, had come to work herself at the accomplishment of her revenge. When the accused had been brought in, and the audience begun, the king rose, and instead of addressing himself to the judges, he hastily apostrophized his adversary, saying: “Bishop, how didst thou venture to marry my enemy Merowig, who should have been my son, to his aunt, I mean to say, to the wife of his uncle? Wert thou ignorant of what the canonical decrees ordain in this respect? Not only art thou convicted of having sinned thus, but moreover thou hast plotted with him of whom I speak, and hast distributed presents to get me assassinated. Thou hast made the son an enemy to his father; thou hast seduced the people with money, that none should bear me the fidelity which they owe me; thou hast endeavoured to betray my kingdom into the hands of another.” . .‡ These last words, pronounced with force amidst the general silence, reached the ears of the Frankish warriors, who, stationed along the church, pressed with curiosity to the doors, which had been closed when the meeting opened. At the voice of the king saying he was betrayed, this armed multitude answered instantly by a murmur of indignation, and cries of death to the traitor; then roused to fury, they attempted to force open the doors, enter the church, drag out the bishop, and stone him to death. The members of the council, terrified by this unexpected tumult, left their places, and the king himself was obliged to go to the assailants to appease them and restore them again to order.*
The assembly being sufficiently calmed to resume the proceedings, the Bishop of Rouen was permitted to speak in his defence. He was unable to exculpate himself from having infringed the canonical laws by the celebration of the marriage; but he absolutely denied the acts of conspiracy and treason which the king had imputed to him. Then Hilperik announced that he had witnesses to be heard, and ordered them to be brought forward. Several men of Frankish origin appeared, holding in their hands many valuable things which they placed under the eyes of the accused, saying to him: “Dost thou remember this? Here is what thou gavest us that we might swear fidelity to Merowig.”† The bishop, not at all disconcerted, replied: “You say truly; I made you presents more than once, but it was not in order that the king should be driven out of his kingdom. When you offered me a fine horse or any thing else, could I forgive myself for not showing myself as generous as yourselves, and returning gift for gift?”‡ There was some little equivocation in this reply, however sincere it might be on the whole: but the fact of any organized plot was not able to be proved by any valid evidence. The remainder of the debate brought no proof against the accused, and the king, discontented with the failure of this first attempt, closed the meeting and left the church to return to his palace. His leudes followed him, and the bishops went all together to rest in the vestry.§
As they were sitting in groups, conversing familiarly, though not without a certain reserve, for they mistrusted one another, a man who was only known by name to most of them, unexpectedly presented himself. This was Aëtius, a Gaul by birth, and archdeacon of the church of Paris. After saluting the bishops, he said to them, commencing at once the most dangerous topic of conversation, “Listen to me, priests of the Lord here assembled together, the present occasion is a great and important one for you. You are either going to honour yourselves with the glory of a good name, or else you will lose in the opinion of all the world the title of ministers of God. It is necessary to choose; show yourselves firm and judicious, and do not let your brother perish.”∥ This address was followed by a profound silence; the bishops not knowing whether they saw before them a spy sent by Fredegonda, only answered by placing a finger on their lips in token of discretion. They remembered with terror the ferocious cries of the Frankish warriors, and the blows of their war axes resounding against the doors of the church. They almost all, and the Gauls in particular, trembled to see themselves pointed out as suspicious to the distrustful loyalty of these fiery vassals of the king; they remained immovable, and as if stupefied, on their seats.*
But Gregory of Tours, more morally courageous than the others, and indignant at this pusillanimity, continued, of his own accord, the discourse and exhortations of the Archdeacon Aëtius. “I entreat you,” said he, “to pay attention to my words, most holy priests of God, and especially you who are intimately admitted to familiar intercourse with the king. Give him pious counsel worthy of the sacerdotal character; for it is to be feared that his animosity against a minister of the Lord will draw down on him the Divine anger, and deprive him of his kingdom and his glory.”† The Frankish bishops, to whom this discourse was especially addressed, remained silent like the rest, and Gregory added in a firm voice, “Remember, my lords and brethren, the words of the prophet, who says, ‘If the watchman see the sword coming, and blow not the trumpet; if the sword come and take away any person from among them, his blood will I require at the hand of the watchman.’ Therefore do not keep silence, but speak boldly, and place his injustice before the eyes of the king, for fear misfortune should befall him, and you become responsible for it.”‡ The bishop paused for a reply, but none of the bystanders said a word. They hastened to quit the place, some to avoid all appearance of their being accomplices to such discourses, and to shelter themselves from the storm which they already saw bursting over the head of their colleague; others, like Berthramn and Raghenemod, to pay their court to the king, and bring him the news.§ It was not long before Hilperik received a detailed account of all that had occurred. His flatterers told him that he had no greater enemy in this affair, these were their words, than the Bishop of Tours. The king, very much enraged, sent one of his courtiers instantly in all haste to fetch the bishop, and bring him before him. Gregory obeyed, and followed his conductor with an assured and tranquil demeanour.* He found the king outside the palace, under a hut made of boughs, in the midst of the tents and huts of the soldiery. Hilperik was standing with Berthramn, Bishop of Bordeaux, on his right, and on his left Raghenemod, Bishop of Paris, both of whom had acted the part of informers against their colleague. Before them stood a large bench covered with loaves, dressed meats, and different dishes destined to be offered to every new comer; for custom and a sort of etiquette required that no person should leave the king after a visit, without eating something at his table.†
At the sight of the man whom he had sent for in his anger, and whose inflexible character against threats he knew, Hilperik composed himself the better to attain his ends, and affecting a gentle and facetions tone instead of sharpness, he said, “O bishop, thy duty is to dispense justice to all men, and I cannot obtain it from thee; instead of that, I see clearly that thou dost connive with iniquity, and showest the truth of the proverb: ‘the crow does not pick out the crow’s eyes.’ ”‡ The bishop did not think proper to notice the joke; but with the traditional respect of the ancient subjects of the Roman empire for the sovereign power, a respect which in him, at least, excluded neither personal dignity nor the love of independence, he gravely answered, “If any one of us, O king, strays from the path of justice, he may be corrected by thee; but if thou art in fault, who will correct thee? We speak to thee, and if thou choosest, thou listenest to us; but if thou dost not choose, who shall condemn thee? He alone who has said that he was justice itself.”§ The king interrupted him, and replied, “I have found justice from all, and cannot get it from thee; but I know what I will do, that thou mayest be noted among the people, and that all may know that thou art an unjust man. I will assemble the inhabitants of Tours, and will say to them, Raise your voices against Gregory, and proclaim that he is unjust, and does justice to nobody; and while they proclaim this, I will add, If I who am king cannot obtain justice of him, how should you who are below me, obtain it?”∥
This species of cunning hypocrisy, by which a man who had power to do every thing endeavoured to represent himself as oppressed, raised in the heart of Gregory a contempt which he found it difficult to suppress, and which gave his words a drier and haughtier expression. “If I am unjust,” he replied, “it is not thou who knowest it; it is He who knows my conscience, and sees in the depths of hearts; and as to the clamours of the people whom thou wilt call together, they will avail nothing, for every one will know that thou hast caused them. But enough on this subject; thou hast the laws and the canons; consult them carefully, and if thou dost not observe what they ordain, know that the judgment of God is on thy head.”*
The king felt these severe words, and as if to efface from the mind of Gregory the disagreeable event which had called them forth, he assumed an air of cajolery, and pointing to a vase full of soup, which stood amid the loaves, the dishes of meat, and the drinking cups, he said, “Here is some soup which I have had prepared expressly for thee; nothing has been put into it but some poultry and gray pease.”† These last words were intended to flatter the self-love of the bishop; for holy persons in those days, and in general all those who aspired to Christian perfection, abstained from the coarser meats, and lived on vegetables, fish, and poultry only. Gregory was not the dupe of this new artifice, and shaking his head in token of refusal, he replied, “Our nourishment should be to do the will of God, and not to take pleasure in delicate food. Thou who taxest others with injustice, commence by promising that thou wilt not disregard the law and the canons, and we will believe that it is justice which thou seekest.”‡ The king, who was anxious not to break with the Bishop of Tours, and who, in an emergency, was never sparing in oaths, secure of finding later some method of eluding them, raised his head, and swore by the Almighty God that he would in no way transgress against the law and the canons. Then Gregory took some bread, and drank a little wine, a sort of hospitable communion, which could not be refused under any person’s roof without sinning deeply against respect and politeness. Apparently reconciled to the king, he left him to return to his apartments in the basilica of Saint Julia, near the imperial palace.§
The following night, whilst the Bishop of Tours, after chaunting the service of nocturns, was resting in his apartment, he heard reiterated knocks at the door of the house. Astonished at this noise, he sent down one of his servants, who brought him word that some messengers from the Queen Fredegonda wished to see him.* These people having been introduced, saluted Gregory in the name of the queen, and told him that they came to request him not to show himself opposed to what she desired in the affair submitted to the council. They added in confidence, that they were commissioned to promise him two hundred pounds of silver, if he destroyed Prætextatus by declaring himself against him.† The Bishop of Tours, with his habitual prudence and calmness, objected merely, that he was not sole judge in the cause, and that his voice, on whichever side it was, could not decide any thing. “Yes it would,” answered the envoys, “for we already have the promise of all the others; what we want is, that you should not go against us.” The bishop answered in the same tone, “If you were to give me a thousand pounds of gold and silver, it would be impossible for me to do any thing but what the Lord commands; all that I can promise is, that I will join the other bishops in whatever they have decided conformably to the canonical law.”‡ The envoys mistook the meaning of these words, either because they had not the smallest notion of what the canons of the church were, or because they imagined that the word Lord was applied to the king who in common conversation was frequently called by this title, and with many thanks they departed, joyful to be able to bring the queen the favourable answer which they thought they had received.§ Their mistake delivered Bishop Gregory from further importunities, and allowed him to rest till the next morning.
The members of the council assembled early for the second meeting, and the king, already quite recovered from his disappointment, arrived there with great punctuality.∥ In order to find a way of uniting the oath of the preceding day with the project of revenge which the queen persisted in, he had brought into play all his literary and theological learning; he had looked over the collection of canons, and stopped at the first article, which pronounced against a bishop the most severe punishment, that of deposition. There was nothing more for him to do, but to accuse the Bishop of Rouen on fresh grounds of a crime mentioned in this article, and this did not in the least embarrass him; certain, as he thought himself, of all the voices of the synod, he gave himself full liberty for accusations and lies. When the judges and the accused had taken their places, as in the former meeting, Hilperik spoke, and said with the gravity of a doctor commenting on ecclesiastical law: “The bishop convicted of theft must be deprived of episcopal functions; for so the authority of the canons has decided.”* The members of the synod, astonished by this opening, of which they understood nothing, asked unanimously what bishop was accused of the crime of theft. “It is he,” answered the king, turning with singular impudence to Prætextatus, “he himself; and have you not seen what he robbed us of?”†
They then remembered the two bales of stuff and the bag of money, which the king had shown them without explaining whence they came, or what connection they had in his mind with this accusation. However affronting this new attack was to him, Prætextatus patiently replied to his adversary: “I think you must remember, that after Queen Brunehilda had left Rouen, I came to you and informed you that I had in my house a deposit of that queen’s property, that is to say, five bales of considerable size and weight; that her servants frequently came demanding them of me, but I would not give them up without your permission. You then said to me: ‘Get rid of these things, and let them return to the woman to whom they belong, for fear that enmity should result between me and my nephew Hildebert.’ On my return to my metropolis, I sent one of the bales by the servants, for they could not carry any more.‡ They returned later to ask for the others, and I went again to consult your magnificence. The order that I received from you was the same as the first time: ‘Send away, send away all these things, O bishop, for fear they should breed quarrels.’ I therefore gave them two more bales, and the other two remained with me. Now, why do you calumniate me, and accuse me of theft, when this is no case of stolen goods, but simply of goods confided to my care?”§ “If this deposit had been placed in thy care,” replied the king, giving another turn to the accusation without the least embarrassment, and abandoning the part of plaintiff to become public accuser, “if thou wert the depositary, why didst thou open one of the bales, take out the trimmings of a robe woven of golden threads, and cut it in pieces, in order to give it to men who conspired to deprive me of my kingdom?”*
The accused answered with the same calmness: “I have already told thee once that these men had made me presents; having nothing of my own at that moment which I could give them in return, I drew from thence, and did not think I was doing wrong. I considered as my own property whatever belonged to my son Merowig to whom I stood godfather.”† The king did not know how to reply to these words, which so naively expressed the paternal feeling, which was an unceasing passion, a sort of fixed idea in the old bishop. Hilperik found himself at the end of his resources, and an air of embarrassment and confusion succeeded to the assurance he had at first shown; he abruptly ended the meeting, and retired still more disconcerted and discontented than the preceding day.‡
What most preoccupied him was the reception he would infallibly receive from the imperious Fredegonda after such a disaster, and it appears that his return to the palace was followed by a domestic storm, of which the violence consternated him. Not knowing what further to do to effect the ruin, as his wife wished, of the inoffensive old priest whose destruction she had vowed, he called to him the members of the council who were most devoted him, amongst others Berthramn and Raghenemod. “I confess,” said he to them, “that I am overcome by the words of the bishop, and I know that what he says is true. What shall I do that the will of the queen respecting him may be accomplished?”§ The priests, much embarrassed, did not know what to answer; they remained grave and silent, when the king, suddenly stimulated, and as if inspired by the mixture of love and fear which formed his conjugal affection, added with spirit: “Go to him, and seeming to advise him from yourselves, say: Thou knowest that King Hilperik is kind and easy to move, that he is with facility won to mercy; humble thyself before him, and say to please him that thou hast done the things of which he accuses thee; we will then all throw ourselves at his feet, and obtain thy pardon.”∥
Either the bishops persuaded their weak and credulous colleague that the king, repenting his accusations, only wished their truth not to be denied, or they frightened him by representing that his innocence before the council would not save him from royal vengeance if he persisted in braving it; and Prætextatus, intimidated, moreover, by his knowledge of the servile and venal disposition of most of his judges, did not reject these strange counsels. He kept in his mind as a last chance of safety, the ignominious resource which was offered him, thus giving a sad example of the moral enervation which was then spreading even to the men whose care it was to maintain the rules of duty, and the scruples of honour, in the midst of this half-destroyed society. Thanked by him whom they were betraying, as if for a kind action, the bishops brought King Hilperik news of the success of their errand. They promised that the accused, falling at once into the snare, would confess all at the first interpellation; and Hilperik, delivered by this assurance from the trouble of inventing any fresh expedient to revive the proceedings, resolved to abandon them to their ordinary course.* Things were therefore placed at the third meeting precisely at the point at which they stood at the end of the first, and the witnesses who had already appeared, were again summoned to confirm their former allegations.
The next day at the opening of the sitting, the king said to the accused, as if he had simply resumed his last speech of two days before, pointing out to him the witnesses who were standing there: “If thy only intention was to exchange gift for gift with these men, wherefore didst thou ask of them an oath of fidelity to Merowig?”† However enervated his conscience had become since his interview with the bishops, still, with an instinct of shame stronger than all his apprehensions, Prætextatus shrank from the lie he was to utter against himself: “I confess,” answered he, “that I requested their friendship for him, and I would have called not only men, but the angels of heaven to his assistance, if I had the power to do so, for he was, as I have already said, my spiritual son by baptism.”‡
At these words, which seemed to indicate on the part of Prætextatus the intention to continue to defend himself, the king, exasperated at finding his expectations deceived, broke out in the most terrible manner. His anger, which was as brutal at that moment as his stratagems had been patient until then, caused a nervous commotion in the feeble old man, which annihilated at once what moral courage remained to him. He fell on his knees, and prostrating himself with his face on the ground, said: “O most merciful king, I have sinned against Heaven and against thee; I am a detestable homicide; I have wished to kill thee and place thy son on the throne.”* . . . As soon as the king saw his adversary at his feet, his anger was pacified, and hypocrisy again predominated. Feigning to be carried away by the excess of his emotion, he threw himself on his knees before the assembly and exclaimed, “Do you hear, most pious bishops, do you hear the criminal avow this execrable attempt?” The members of the council all rushed from their seats, and ran to raise the king whom they surrounded, some affected to tears, and others, perhaps, laughing inwardly at the singular scene which their treachery of the preceding day had contributed to prepare.† As soon as Hilperik rose, he ordered that Prætextatus should leave the basilica, as if it had been impossible for him to bear any longer the sight of so great a culprit. He himself retired almost directly, in order to leave the council to deliberate, according to custom, before pronouncing judgment.‡
On his return to the palace, the king, without losing a moment, sent the assembled bishops a copy of the collection of canons taken from his own library. Besides the entire code of canonical laws incontestably admitted by the Gallican church, this volume contained a supplement of a new book of canons attributed to the apostles, but little spread at that time in Gaul, and little studied, and imperfectly known by the most erudite theologians. It was there that the article of discipline cited with so much emphasis by the king at the second meeting, when he took a fancy to turn the accusation for conspiracy into one for theft, was to be found. This article, which decreed the punishment of deposition, pleased him much on that account; but as the text no longer coincided with the confessions of the accused, Hilperik carrying duplicity and effrontery to their utmost extent, did not hesitate to falsify it, either with his own hand, or by that of one of his secretaries. In the altered copy were these words: “The bishop convicted of homicide, adultery, or perjury, shall be degraded from episcopacy.” The word theft had disappeared, and was replaced by the word homicide, and yet, what is still more strange, none of the members of the council, not even the Bishop of Tours, suspected the fraud. Only it appears that the upright and conscientious Gregory, the man of law and justice, made efforts to induce his colleagues to content themselves with the ordinary code, and to decline the authority of the pretended apostolic canons, but without success.§
When the deliberation was ended, the parties were again summoned to hear sentence pronounced. The fatal article, one of those composing the one and twentieth canon, having been read aloud, the Bishop of Bordeaux, as president of the council, addressing himself to the accused, said to him, “Listen, brother and co-bishop, thou canst no longer remain in communion with us, or enjoy our charity, until the day when the king, with whom thou art not in favour, shall grant thy pardon.”* At this sentence, pronounced by the mouth of a man who the day before had so shamefully taken advantage of his simplicity, Prætextatus stood silent, and as if stupefied. As to the king, so complete a victory was no longer sufficient for him, and he was trying to discover some additional means of aggravating his condemnation. Instantly raising his voice, he demanded that before the condemned man left their presence, his tunic should be torn on his back, or else that the 109th Psalm, which contains the curses applied to Judas Iscariot in the Acts of the Apostles, should be recited over him: “Let his days be few; let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let the extortioners catch all that he hath, and let the strangers spoil his labour; let there be none to extend mercy to him; let his posterity be cut off, and in the generation following, let their name be blotted out.”† The first of these ceremonies was the symbol of the lowest degradation, the second was only applied in cases of sacrilege. Gregory of Tours, with his tranquil and moderate firmness, raised his voice against such an aggravation of the punishment being admitted, and the council did not admit it. Then Hilperik, always in a caviling humour, wished the judgment which suspended his adversary from episcopal functions to be put down in writing, with a clause bearing that the deposition should be perpetual. Gregory also opposed this demand, and reminded the king of his solemn promise to confine this act within the limits marked by the tenour of the canonical laws.‡ This debate, which prolonged the meeting, was suddenly interrupted by a catastrophe in which might be recognized the hand and determination of Fredegonda, wearied by the slowness of the proceedings, and the subtleties of her husband. Armed men entered the church, and carried off Prætextatus from under the eyes of the assembly, which had then nothing left to do but to separate. The bishop was conducted to prison within the walls of Paris, in a gaol of which the ruins long existed on the left bank of the large branch of the Seine. The following night he attempted to escape, and was cruelly beaten by the soldiers who guarded him. After a day or two of captivity, he set out for his exile at the extremity of the kingdom, in an island near the shores of the Cotentin; it was probably that of Jersey, which, as well as the coast itself as far as Bayeux, had been colonized about a century before by pirates of the Saxon race.* The bishop was apparently to pass the rest of his life in the midst of this population of fishermen, and pirates; but after seven years of exile, a great event restored him to liberty and his church. In the year 584, King Hilperik was assassinated with circumstances which will be recounted elsewhere, and his death, which public opinion imputed to Fredegonda, became throughout the kingdom of Neustria the signal for a sort of revolution. All the malcontents of the last reign, all those who had to complain of annoyances and losses, righted themselves. They fell upon the royal officers who had abused their power, or who had exercised it with rigour, and without consideration for any one, caused their goods to be seized, their houses pillaged and burned; each one profited of this opportunity to retaliate on his oppressors and enemies. The hereditary feuds of family against family, of town against town, of canton against canton, were revived, and produced private broils, murders, and highway robberies.† Prisoners left their prisons, and outlaws returned to the kingdom, as if their sentence had been annulled by the death of the prince in whose name it was pronounced. It was thus that Prætextatus returned from exile, recalled by a deputation sent to him by the citizens of Rouen. He made his entry into the town escorted by an immense crowd amidst the acclamations of the people, who established him of their own authority in the metropolitan see, and expelled as an intruder the Gaul Melantius, whom the king had placed in his stead.‡
Meanwhile, Queen Fredegonda, accused of all the evils which had been done under her husband’s reign, had been compelled to take refuge in the principal church of Paris, leaving her only son of about four months old* in the hands of the Frankish nobles, who proclaimed him king, and assumed the government in his name. Having left this place of security when the disturbance became less violent, she was obliged to conceal herself in a retreat distant from the young king’s residence. Renouncing her habits of luxury and domination with much regret, she retired to the domain of Rotoialum, now the Val de Reuil, near the confluence of the Eure and the Seine. Thus circumstances led her within a few leagues of the town where the bishop whom she had caused to be deposed and banished was now re-established in spite of her. Although in her heart she neither forgot nor forgave, and although seven years of exile on the head of an old man had not rendered him less odious to her than the first day, she had not leisure at first to think about him; her thoughts and hatred were directed elsewhere.†
Unhappy at finding herself reduced to an almost private condition, she had perpetually before her eyes the happiness and power of Brunehilda, who was now the uncontrolled guardian of a son fifteen years of age. She said with bitterness: “That woman will think herself above me.” Such an idea in Fredegonda’s mind was synonymous with the idea of murder; as soon as her mind had dwelt upon it, she had no other occupation than dark and atrocious meditations on the means of perfecting the instruments of murder, and training men of an enthusiastic disposition to crime and fearlessness.‡ Those who appeared to answer her plans best were young clerks of barbaric race, ill disciplined in the spirit of their new state, and still preserving the habits and manners of vassalage. There were several of these among the inhabitants of her house; she kept up their devotion by largesses and a sort of familiarity; from time to time she had made on them the experiment of intoxicating liquors and cordials, of which the mysterious composition was one of her secrets. The first of these young men who appeared to her sufficiently prepared, received from her lips the order to go to Austrasia, to present himself as a deserter before Queen Brunehilda, gain her confidence, and kill her as soon as he should find an opportunity.§ He departed, and succeeded in introducing himself to the queen; he even entered her service, but at the end of a few days he excited suspicion, he was put on the rack, and when he had confessed every thing, he was dismissed without further injury, and was told, “Return to thy patroness.” Fredegonda, infuriated by this clemency, which appeared to her an insult and a defiance, revenged herself on her awkward emissary by depriving him of his feet and hands.* (ad 585.)
At the end of a few months, when she thought the moment was come for a second attempt, concentrating all her genius for evil, she had some daggers of a new sort made from her own instructions. These were long knives with sheaths, similar in shape to those which the Franks generally wore at their girdles, but of which the blade was carved all over with indented figures. Though apparently innocent, those ornaments had a truly diabolical purpose; they were made in order that the iron might be more thoroughly poisoned, by the venomous substance becoming incrusted in the carvings instead of running off the polished steel.† Two of these arms, rubbed with a subtile poison, were given by the queen to two young clerks whose loyalty had not been cooled by the sad fate of their companion. They were ordered to go dressed like beggars to the residence of King Hildebert, to watch him in his walks, and when an opportunity presented itself, both to approach him asking for alms, and then together strike him with their knives. “Take these daggers,” said Fredegonda to them, “and go quickly, that I may at last see Brunehilda, whose arrogance proceeds from that child, lose all power by its death, and become my inferior. If the child is too well guarded for you to approach it, kill my enemy; if you perish in the enterprise, I will load your relations with kindness, I will enrich them with my gifts, and will raise them to the first rank in the kingdom. Be therefore without fear, and take no concern about death.”‡
At this discourse, of which the explicitness left no other prospect than a danger without chance of escape, some signs of confusion and hesitation appeared on the faces of the two young clerks. Fredegonda perceived it, and instantly brought a beverage composed with all possible art to raise the spirts and flatter the palate. Each of the young men drained a cup of this drink, and its effect was not long in showing itself in their looks and manners.§ Satisfied with the experiment, the queen then added: “When the day is come to execute my orders, I desire that before going to work, you should take a draught of this liquor, to make you alert and courageous.” The two clerks departed for Austrasia, provided with their poisoned knives, and a bottle containing the precious cordial; but good watch was kept round the young king and his mother. At their arrival, Fredegonda’s emissaries were seized upon as suspicious, and this time no mercy was shown them. Both perished in tortures.* These events took place in the last months of the year 585; towards the commencement of (ad 586) the year following, it happened that Fredegonda, weary, perhaps of her solitude, left the Val de Reuil to spend some days at Rouen. She thus found herself more than once, in public meetings and ceremonies, in the presence of the bishop whose return was a sort of denial of her power. From what she knew by experience of the character of this man, she expected at least to find him in her presence with a humble and ill-assured countenance, and timid manners, like an outlaw only by action and simply tolerated; but instead of showing her the obsequious deference of which she was still more jealous since she felt herself fallen from her former rank, Prætextatus, it appears, was haughty and disdainful; his spirit, once so weak and effeminate, had in some sort been tempered by suffering and adversity.†
In one of the meetings which civil or religious ceremonies caused between the bishop and the queen, the latter allowing her hatred and vexation to overflow, said, loud enough to be heard by every person present: “This man should remember that the time may return for him to take once more the road to exile.”‡ Prætextatus did not overlook this speech, and braving the rage of his terrible enemy, he answered boldly, “In exile, and out of exile, I have never ceased to be a bishop; I am one, and shall always be one; but thou, canst thou say that thou wilt always enjoy regal power? From the depth of my exile, if I return to it, God will call me to the kingdom of heaven, and thou, from thy kingdom in this world, shalt be precipitated into the abyss of hell. It is time for thee to abandon henceforward thy follies and crimes, to renounce the pride which swells thee up, and to follow a better course, that thou mayest deserve eternal life, and lead up to manhood the child which thou hast brought into the world.”§ These words, in which the most bitter irony was mingled with the stately gravity of a sacerdotal admonition, roused all the passion contained in Fredegonda’s soul; but far from giving way to furious discourses, or publicly exhibiting her shame and anger, she went out without uttering a single word, to brood over the injury and prepare her revenge in the solitude of her house.*
Melantius, an ancient protégé and client of the queen’s, and who for seven years had unlawfully occupied the episcopal see, had joined her since her arrival at the domain of Reuil, and had not left her since that period.† It was he who received the first confidence of her sinister designs. This man, whom the regret of no longer being a bishop tormented enough to render him capable of daring every thing to become one again, did not hesitate to become the accomplice of a project which might lead him to the summit of his ambition. The seven years of his episcopacy had not been without influence on the persons forming the clergy of the metropolitan church. Many of the dignitaries promoted during that period, considered themselves as his creatures, and saw with displeasure the restored bishop, to whom they owed nothing, and from whom they expected little favour. Prætextatus, simple and confiding by nature, had not made himself uneasy on his return at the new faces he met in the episcopal palace; he never thought of those whom such a change could not fail to alarm, and as he was kindly disposed to all, he did not think he was hated by any one. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the warm and deep affection which the people of Rouen bore him, most of the members of the clergy felt but little zeal and attachment for him.
But with some, especially in the higher ranks, the aversion was excessive; one of the archdeacons or metropolitan vicars carried it to frenzy, either from devotion to the cause of Melantius, or because he aspired himself to the episcopal dignity. Whatever were the motives of the deadly hatred which he harboured against his bishop, Fredegonda and Melantius considered that they could not do without him, and admitted him as a third in the conspiracy. The archdeacon had conferences with them in which the means of executing it were discussed. It was decided, that among the serfs attached to the domain of the Church of Rouen, a man capable of being seduced by the promise of being enfranchised with his wife and children, should be sought for. One was found, whom the hope of liberty, however doubtful, infatuated to the extent of making him ready to commit the double crime of murder and sacrilege. This unfortunate man received two hundred pieces of gold as an encouragement; a hundred from Fredegonda, fifty given by Melantius, and the remainder by the archdeacon; all necessary measures were taken, and the blow decided for the Sunday following, the 24th of February.‡
That day, the Bishop of Rouen, whose movements had been watched by the murderer ever since the rising of the sun, repaired early to the church. He sat down in his accustomed place, a few steps from the high altar, on an isolated seat, in front of which was a praying desk. The rest of the clergy occupied the stalls which surrounded the choir, and the bishop commenced, as was the custom, the first verse of the morning service.* While the psalmody, taken up by the chaunters, continued in chorus, Prætextatus knelt down, folding his hands and resting his head on the praying desk before him. This posture, in which he remained for some time, furnished the assassin, who had introduced himself behind, with the opportunity he had been watching for since break of day. Profiting by the bishop, who was prostrated in prayer, seeing nothing of what was passing round him, he gradually approached until within arm’s length, and drawing the dagger which hung at his waist, struck him with it below the arm pit. Prætextatus, feeling himself wounded, screamed; but either from ill-will or cowardice, none of the priests present came to his assistance, and the assassin had time to escape.† Thus abandoned, the old man raised himself alone, and pressing his two hands on the wound, walked towards the altar and gathered strength enough to ascend the steps. When he reached it, he stretched out his two hands full of blood to attain the golden vase suspended with chains over the altar, and in which was kept the Eucharist reserved for the communion of the dying. He took a piece of the consecrated bread and swallowed it; then giving thanks to God that he had had time to provide himself with the holy viaticum, he fainted in the arms of his faithful attendants, and was carried by them to his apartment.‡
Informed of what had taken place, either by public rumour, or by the murderer himself, Fredegonda determined to give herself the pleasure of seeing her enemy in the agonies of death. She hastened to the house of the bishop, accompanied by the Dukes Ansowald and Beppolen, neither of whom knew what share she had taken in this crime, nor what strange scene they were to witness. Prætextatus was on his bed, his countenance bearing all the signs of approaching death, but still retaining feeling and consciousness. The queen dissembled the joy she felt, and assuming an appearance of sympathy, she said to the dying bishop in a tone of royal dignity: “It is sad for us, O holy bishop, as well as for the rest of thy people, that such an affliction should have befallen thy venerable person. Would to God that he who has dared to commit this horrible action could be pointed out to us, that he might be punished by torture proportioned to his crime.”*
The old man, whose suspicions were confirmed by this visit, raised himself on his bed of suffering, and fixing his eyes on Fredegonda, answered, “And who has struck the blow, if it is not the hand that has murdered kings, that has so frequently shed innocent blood, and done so much evil in the kingdom?”† No sign of uneasiness appeared on the queen’s face, and as if these words had been entirely devoid of meaning to her, and the simple effect of febrile derangement, she replied in the most calm and affectionate tone, “There are amongst us very learned physicians capable of healing this wound; permit them to visit thee.”‡ The patience of the bishop could not hold out against such effrontery, and in a transport of indignation which exhausted the remains of his strength, he said, “I feel that God is calling me from this world; but as for thou who hast conceived and directed the attempt which deprives me of life, thou wilt be in all centuries an object of execration, and Divine justice will avenge my blood upon thy head.” Fredegonda retired without uttering a word, and a few minutes afterwards, Prætextatus breathed his last.§
At the news of this event, all the town of Rouen was thrown into consternation; the citizens, Romans and Franks united, without distinction of races, in the same feelings of grief and horror. The former, possessing no political existence beyond the limits of the city, could only express an impotent sorrow at the crime of which the queen was the chief instigator; but amongst the latter, there was a certain number at least, those whose fortune or hereditary nobility procured them the title of lords, who, according to the old privilege of Germanic liberty, might find fault with any one whomsoever, and reach the culprit with the arm of justice.* There were in the neighbourhood of Rouen several of these chiefs of families, independent landholders, who sat in judgment on the most important cases, and showed themselves as proud of their personal rights as they were jealous of the preservation of ancient customs and national institutions. Among them was a man of courage and enthusiasm, possessing in the highest degree that fearless sincerity which the conquerors of Gaul regarded as the virtue of their race, an opinion which, becoming popular, gave rise to a new word, that of frankness. This man assembled some of his friends and neighbours, and persuaded them to join him in a bold undertaking, and convey to Fredegonda the announcement of a legal summons.
They all mounted their horses and departed from a domain situated at some distance from Rouen for the queen’s dwelling in the centre of the town. On their arrival, one only amongst them, the one who had counselled this visit, was admitted to the presence of Fredegonda, who increasing her precautions since her last crime, kept carefully on her guard; all the others remaining in the hall or under the portico of the house. When interrogated by the queen respecting the object of his visit, the chief of the deputation answered in accents of profound indignation: “Thou hast committed many crimes in thy life-time, but the greatest of all is what thou has recently done, in ordering the murder of a priest of God. May it please God soon to declare himself the avenger of innocent blood! But meanwhile, we will all of us make inquiry into the crime and prosecute the criminal, so that it may become impossible for thee to exercise similar cruelties.” After pronouncing this threat the Frank went out, leaving the queen disturbed in the depth of her soul by a declaration, of which the consequences were not without danger for her in her state of widowhood and loneliness.†
Fredegonda soon recovered her assurance and took a decisive course; she sent one of her servants to run after the Frankish lord and tell him, that the queen invited him to dinner. This invitation was received by the Frank, who had just joined his companions, as it deserved to be by a man of honour; he refused.‡ The servant having returned with his answer, again hastened to entreat him, if he would not remain for the repast, at least to accept something to drink, and not offer such an insult to a royal habitation as to leave it fasting. It was the custom always to grant such a request; habit and good manners, such as were then practised, this time got the better of the feeling of indignation, and the Frank, who was on the point of mounting his horse, waited in the hall with his friends.*
A moment afterwards the servant descended, bearing large cups of the drink which men of barbaric race preferred between meals; it was wine mixed with honey and absinth. The Frank, to whom the queen’s message was addressed, was the first served. He thoughtlessly emptied the cup of perfumed liquor at one draught; but he had hardly swallowed the last drop when atrocious sufferings and a sort of tearing in his inside told him that he had swallowed a most virulent poison.† For one instant silent under the empire of this awful sensation, when he saw his companions about to follow his example and do honour to the absinth wine, he cried out to them: “Do not touch this beverage; save yourselves, unfortunates, save yourselves, in order not to perish with me!” These words struck the Franks with a sort of panic terror: the idea of poison, which with them was inseparable from that of witchcraft and sorcery, and the presence of a mysterious danger which it was impossible to repel by the sword, put to flight these warriors, who would not have flinched from a battle. They all ran to their horses, the one who drank the poison did the same, and managed to mount, but his sight was getting dim, and his hands were losing the power to hold the bridle. Led by his horse, which he was no longer able to control, and which galloped with him after the others, he was dragged along for a few hundred paces and then fell dead on the ground.‡ The report of this adventure caused at a distance a superstitious dread, and none of the possessors of estates in the diocese of Rouen ever spoke again of summoning Fredegonda to appear before the great assembly of justice, which under the name of mâl met at least twice every year.
It was Leudowald, Bishop of Bayeux, who, as the first suffragan of the archbishopric of Rouen, was to undertake the government of the metropolitan church during the vacancy of the see. He went to the metropolis and from thence addressed officially to all the bishops of the province an account of the violent death of Prætextatus; then calling a municipal synod of the clergy of the town, he ordered, conformably to the advice of this assembly, that all the churches in Rouen should be closed, and that no service should be performed in them until a public inquiry had given some clue as to the authors and accomplices of the crime.§ Some men of Gallic race and of inferior rank were arrested as suspicious and put to the torture; most of them had had some knowledge of the plot against the life of the archbishop and had received overtures and offers on that account; their revelations served to confirm the general suspicion which rested on Fredegonda, but they did not name either of her two accomplices, Melantius and the archdeacon. The queen, feeling she could easily defeat this ecclesiastical proceeding, took the accused under her protection, and openly procured them the means of escaping from legal inquiry, either by flight, or by offering armed resistance.* Far from allowing himself to be discouraged by the obstacles of all kinds which he met with, Bishop Leudowald, a conscientious man and one attached to his sacerdotal duties, increased in zeal and endeavours to discover the author of the murder, and fathom the mysteries of this horrible plot. Fredegonda then brought into play the resources which she reserved for extreme cases; assassins were seen skulking about the bishop’s house, and attempting to enter it; Leudowald was obliged to be guarded day and night by his servants and clerks.† His resolution could not withstand such alarms; the proceedings, begun at first with a certain vigour, gradually abated, and the inquiry according to the Roman law was soon abandoned, as the prosecution before the Frankish judges assembled according to the Salic law had been.‡
The rumour of these events, which little by little was spreading throughout Gaul, reached King Gonthramn at his residence at Châlonssur-Saone. The emotion he felt at these reports was sufficiently strong to rouse him for a moment from the state of political lethargy in which he delighted. His character, as has been already seen, was formed of the most strange contrasts; of gentle piety and rigid equity, through which fermented, so to speak, or burst forth at intervals, the smouldering remains of a savage and sanguinary nature. The old leaven of Germanic ferocity betrayed its presence in the soul of the mildest of the Merovingian kings, sometimes by fits of brutal rage, sometimes by cold-blooded cruelties. Austrehilda, Gonthramn’s second wife, being attacked in the year 580, by an illness which she felt to be mortal, had the barbarous fancy of not choosing to die alone, but requested that her two physicians should be decapitated on the day of her funeral. The king promised it as the most simple thing possible, and had the doctors’ heads cut off.* After this act of conjugal complaisance, worthy of the most atrocious tyrant, Gonthramn had resumed with inexplicable facility his habits of paternal government and accustomed kindness. On learning the double crime of homicide and sacrilege of which general rumour accused the widow of his brother, he felt really indignant, and as the head of the Merovingian family, he thought himself called upon for a great act of patriarchal justice. He sent three bishops on an embassy to the nobles who governed in the name of the son of Hilperik, Artemius of Sens, Agrœcius of Troyes, and Veranus of Cavaillon in the province of Arles. These envoys received orders to obtain permission to seek for the person guilty of this crime by means of a solemn inquiry, and bring him by force if required into the presence of King Gonthramn.†
The three bishops repaired to Paris, where the child in whose name the kingdom of Neustria had been governed for two years was educated. Admitted into the presence of the council of regency, they delivered their message, insisting on the enormity of the crime of which King Gonthramn demanded the punishment. When they had ceased speaking, the Neustrian chief, who ranked first among the guardians of the young king, and who was called his foster-father, rose and said: “Such crimes displease us also extremely, and we more and more desire that they should be punished; but if there is any one amongst us guilty of them, it is not into your king’s presence that he is to be brought, for we have means of repressing with the royal sanction all the crimes committed amongst us.”‡
This language, firm and dignified as it appeared, covered an evasive answer, and the regents of Neustria had less regard for the independence of the kingdom than they had for Fredegonda. The ambassadors were not deceived, and one of them answered hastily: “Know, that if the person who has committed this crime is not discovered and brought to light, our king will come with an army and ravage all this country with fire and sword; for it is manifest that she who caused the death of the Frank by witchcraft, is the same who has killed the bishop by the sword.”§ The Neustrians were little moved by such a threat; they knew that King Gonthramn was always wanting in determination when the time came for action. They renewed their former answers, and the bishops put an end to this useless interview, by protesting beforehand against the reinstatement of Melantius in the episcopal see of Rouen.* But they had scarcely returned to King Gonthramn, before Melantius was re-established, thanks to the protecuon of the queen and the ascendant she had once more resumed through intrigue and terror. This man, a creature worthy of Fredegonda, went daily, for more than fifteen years, to sit and pray in the same place where the blood of Prætextatus had flowed.†
Proud of so much success, the queen crowned her work by a last stroke of insolence, a sign of the most unutterable contempt for all those who had ventured to find fault with her. She caused the hind whom she had herself paid to commit the crime, to be publicly seized and brought before her: “It is thou, then,” said she to him, feigning most vehement indignation, “thou who hast stabbed Prætextatus, Bishop of Rouen, and art cause of the calumnies circulated against me?” She then had him flogged under her own eyes, and delivered him up to the relations of the bishop, without troubling herself about the consequences any more than if the man had been perfectly ignorant of the plot of which he had been the instrument.‡ The nephew of Prætextatus, one of those violent-tempered Gauls, who, taking example from the Germanic manners, only lived for private revenge, and always went armed like the Franks, seized on this unfortunate wretch, and put him to the torture in his own house. The assassin was not long in giving his answers, and confessing all: “I struck the blow,” said he, “and I received a hundred sols of gold from Queen Fredegonda, fifty from the bishop, and fifty from the archdeacon of the town to induce me to strike it; and, moreover, freedom was promised to me and my wife.”*
However certain this information, it was clear that henceforward they could lead to no result. All the social powers of the epoch had in vain attempted to act in this frightful affair; the aristocracy, the priesthood, royalty itself had fruitlessly endeavoured to attain the true culprits. Persuaded that there would be no justice for him but at his own hands, the nephew of Prætextatus ended all by a deed worthy of a savage, but in which despair had as large a share as ferocity; he drew his sword, and cut in pieces the slave who had been given to him as his prey.† As it almost always happened in those disorderly times, one murder brutally committed was the sole reparation of another murder. The people alone did not neglect the cause of their murdered bishop; he was honoured with the title of martyr, and whilst the church enthroned one of the assassins, and bishops called him brother,‡ the citizens of Rouen invoked the name of the victim in their prayers, and knelt on his tomb. It is with this halo of popular veneration around him, that the memory of St. Prætextatus has endured for centuries, an object of pious homage to the faithful who know little of him beyond his name. If the details of a life thoroughly human from its adversities and weaknesses diminish the glory of the saint, they will at least obtain a feeling of sympathy for the man; for is there not something touching in the character of this old man, who died for having loved too well the child whom he had held at the baptismal font, thus realizing the ideal of the spiritual paternity instituted by Christianity?
THE HISTORY OF LEUDASTE, COUNT OF TOURS.—THE POET VENANTIUS FORTUNATUS.—THE CONVENT OF RADEGONDA AT POITIERS.
During the reign of Chlother the First, the island of Rhè, situated about three leagues from the coast of Saintonge, formed part of the dominions of the royal fisc. Its vines, the meagre produce of a soil incessantly beaten by the sea breezes, were then under the superintendence of a Gaul named Leocadius. This man had a son whom he called Leudaste, a Germanic name which probably belonged to some rich Frankish noble, well known in the country, and which the Gallic vine-dresser chose in preference to all others either to obtain useful patronage for the new-born infant, or else to place on his head a sort of omen of great success, and thus foster in him the illusions and hopes of paternal ambition.* Born a royal serf, the son of Leocadius, on emerging from childhood, was included in a body of young men chosen for the service of the kitchens, by the head steward of King Harbiert’s dominions.† This sort of impressment was exercised on many occasions by order of the Frankish kings on the families who peopled their vast estates; and persons of all ages, of all professions, and even of high birth, were compelled to submit to it.‡
Thus transported far from the little island where he was born, young Leudaste at first distinguished himself amongst all his companions in servitude, by his want of zeal for work, and his undisciplined spirit. He had weak eyes, and the acridity of the smoke was a great annoyance to him, a circumstance of which he availed himself with more or less reason as an excuse for carelessness and disobedience. After several useless attempts to fit him for the required duties, it was found necessary either to dismiss him or give him some other employment. The latter plan was adopted, and the son of the vine-dresser passed from the kitchen to the bakehouse, or, as his original biographer expressed it, from the pestle to the kneading trough.* Deprived of the pretext he could allege against his former occupation, Leudaste thenceforward studied dissimulation, and appeared to take an extreme delight in his new functions. He fulfilled them for some time with so much ardour, that he contrived to lull the watchfulness of his masters and guards; then, seizing the first favourable opportunity, he ran away.† He was pursued, brought back, and thrice again ran away. The disciplinary punishment of flogging and imprisonment, to which he was successively subjected as a runaway, being judged ineffectual against such confirmed obstinacy, the last and most efficacious of all was inflicted on him, that of marking by an incision made in one of the ears.‡
Although this mutilation rendered flight more difficult and less secure for the future, he once more ran away, at the risk of not knowing where to find a refuge. After wandering in different directions, always fearful of being discovered from the sign of his servile condition, which was visible to all eyes, and weary of this life of alarm and misery, he took a bold resolution.§ This was the period when King Haribert married Markowefa, a servant of the palace, and the daughter of a woolcomber. Leudaste had perhaps some acquaintance with this woman’s family; or perhaps he only confided in the goodness of her heart, and her sympathy for an old companion in slavery. Be this as it may, instead of marching forward to get at the greatest possible distance from the royal habitation, he retraced his steps, and concealing himself in some neighbouring forest, watched for the moment when he could present himself before the new queen without fear of being seen and arrested by some of the domestics.∥ He succeeded, and Markowefa, deeply interested by his entreaties, took him under her protection. She confided her best horses to his care, and gave him amongst her servants the title of Mariskalk, as it was called in the Germanic language.*
Leudaste, encouraged by this success and unexpected favour, soon ceased to limit his desires to his present position, and aspiring still higher, coveted the post of superintendent of the whole stud of his patroness, and the title of count of the stable, a dignity which the barbarian kings had borrowed from the imperial court.† He attained it in a very short time, aided by his good star, for he had more audacity and boasting than shrewdness and real talent. In this post, which placed him on an equality, not only with freedmen, but with the nobles of Frankish race, he completely forgot his origin, and his former days of slavery and distress. He became harsh and contemptuous to those beneath him, arrogant with his equals, greedy of money and all articles of luxury, and ambitious without bounds or restraint.‡ Elevated to a sort of favouritism by the queen’s affection, he interposed in all her affairs, and derived immense profits by unrestrainedly abusing her weakness and confidence.§ On her death, at the end of some years, he was already sufficiently enriched from plunder to sue by dint of presents, for the same post in King Haribert’s household which he had held in that of the queen. He triumphed over all his competitors, became count of the royal stables, and far from being ruined by the death of his protectress, he found in it the commencement of a new career of honours. After enjoying for a year or two the high rank which he occupied in the household of the palace, the fortunate son of a serf of the island of Rhe was promoted to a political dignity, and made Count of Tours, one of the principal cities of the kingdom of Haribert.∥
The office of count, such as it existed in Gaul ever since the conquest of the Franks, answered, according to their political ideas, to that of the magistrate whom they called graf in their language, and who, in every canton of Germany, administered criminal justice, aided by the heads of families or by the principal men of the canton. The naturally hostile relations of the conquerors with the population of the conquered towns, had induced the addition of military attributes and dictatorial power to these functions, which the men, who exercised them in the name of the Frankish kings, almost always abused, either from violence of disposition or from personal calculation. It was a sort of barbaric proconsulate, superadded in every important town to the ancient municipal institutions, without any care having been taken to regulate it so that it might harmonize with them. Notwithstanding their rarity, these institutions still sufficed for the maintenance of order and internal peace; and the inhabitants of the Gallic cities felt more terror than pleasure when a royal letter announced to them the arrival of a count to rule them according to their customs and administer justice fairly. Such was doubtless the impression produced at Tours by the arrival of Leudaste, and the repugnance of the citizens to their new judge could hardly fail to augment daily. He was illiterate, had no knowledge of the laws he was commissioned to enforce, and destitute even of that principle of uprightness and natural equity which was to be met with, although under a rough exterior, among the grafs of the cantons beyond the Rhine.
First accustomed to the manners of slavery, and then to the turbulent habits of the vassals of the royal household, he had none of that ancient Roman civilization with which he was about to find himself in contact, if we except the love of luxury, pomp, and sensual enjoyments. He behaved in his new situation as if he had only received it for himself and for the indulgence of his unruly appetites. Instead of making order reign in Tours, he sowed discord by his excesses and debauches. His marriage with the daughter of one of the richest inhabitants of the country did not render him more moderate or more discreet in his conduct. He was violent and haughty towards the men; of a profligacy which respected no woman; of a rapacity which far surpassed all that had been observed in him up to that period.* He put in activity all his cunning to create for opulent persons unjust lawsuits, of which he became the arbiter, or else he made false accusations against them, and made a profit out of the fines, which he divided with the fisc. By means of exactions and pillage he rapidly increased his riches, and accumulated in his house a great quantity of gold and valuables.† His good fortune and impunity lasted until the death of King Haribert, which took place in 567. Sighebert, in whose lot the city of Tours was included, had not the same affection as his elder brother for the former slave. On the contrary, his hatred was such, that Leudaste, to avoid it, hastily quitted the city, abandoning his property and the greatest portion of his treasures, which were seized or plundered by the followers of the King of Austrasia. He sought an asylum in Hilperik’s kingdom, and swore fidelity to that king, who received him as one of his leudes.* During his years of adversity, the ex-count of Tours subsisted in Neustria on the hospitality of the palace, following the court from province to province, and taking his place at the immense table at which the vassals and guests of the king sat, taking precedence according to age or rank.
(ad 572.) Five years after the flight of Count Leudaste, Georgius Florentius, who took the name of Gregory at his accession, was named Bishop of Tours by King Sighebert, at the request of the citizens, whose esteem and affection he had won in a devotional pilgrimage which he made to the tomb of Saint Martin from Auvergne his native country. This man, whose character has been already developed in the preceding narratives, was from his religious zeal, his love of the holy Scriptures, and the dignity of his manners, a perfect type of the high Christian aristocracy of Gaul, amongst which his ancestors had shone. From the time of his installation in the metropolitan see of Tours, Gregory, in virtue of the political prerogatives then attached to the episcopal dignity, and on account of the personal consideration with which he was surrounded, found himself invested with supreme influence over the affairs of the town, and the deliberations of the senate by which it was governed. The splendour of this high position was necessarily amply compensated by its fatigues, cares, and innumerable perils; Gregory was not long before he experienced this. (573.) In the first year of his bishopric, the city of Tours was invaded by the troops of King Hilperik, and taken again immediately after by those of Sighebert. In the following year (574), Theodebert, Hilperik’s eldest son, made a ravaging campaign on the banks of the Loire which filled the citizens of Tours with terror, and compelled them to submit a second time to the King of Neustria.† It appears that Leudaste, endeavouring to retrieve his fortune, had engaged in this expedition, either as leader of a company, or as one of the chosen vassals who surrounded the young son of the king.
On his entry into the town which he had compelled to acknowledge his father’s authority, Theodebert presented the former count to the bishop and municipal council, saying that the city of Tours would do well to submit to the government of him who had ruled it with wisdom and firmness in the times of the former partition.‡
Independently of the recollections which Leudaste had left at Tours, and which were well calculated to revolt the upright and pious mind of Gregory, this descendant of the most illustrious senatorial families of the Berry and Auvergne, could not see without repugnance a man of nothing, and who bore on his body the indelible mark of his servile extraction, raised to a post so near his own. But the recommendations of the young chief of the Neustrian army were commands, however deferentially expressed; the present interest of the town, menaced with plunder and fire, required that the fancies of the conqueror should be yielded to with a good grace, and this was done by the Bishop of Tours with that prudence, of which his life offers the continual example. The wishes of the principal citizens thus seemed to accord with the projects of Theodebert for the re-establishment of Leudaste in his functions and honours. This re-establishment was not long waited for; and a few days afterwards, the son of Leucadius received in the palace of Neustria his royal letter of appointment, a diploma, the tenour of which we find in the official formulas of the period, and which contrasted strangely with his character and conduct.
“If there are occasions in which the perfection of royal elemency is more especially displayed, it is in the choice it makes of upright and vigilant persons from among the whole people. It would not be proper for the dignity of judge to be conferred on some one whose integrity and firmness had not been previously tried. Therefore, being well assured of thy fidelity and merit, we have committed to thy care the office of count in the canton of Tours, to possess and exercise all its prerogatives,* in such a manner as to preserve an entire and inviolable faith with our government; that the men inhabiting within the limits of thy jurisdiction, whether Franks, Romans, or of any other nation whatsoever, may live in peace and good order under thy power and authority; that thou mayest direct them in the right way according to their laws and customs; that thou mayest show thyself the special defender of widows and orphans; that the crimes of thieves and other malefactors may be severely repressed by thee; finally, that the people, finding life pleasant under thy administration, may rejoice and remain quiet, and let what belongs to the fisc from the revenue of thy situation, be by thy care paid yearly into our treasury.”†
The new Count of Tours, who did not yet feel the ground quite secure under his feet, and who feared that the fortune of arms might again reduce the town to the power of the King of Austrasia, studied to live in perfect understanding with the municipal senators, and especially with the bishop, whose powerful protection might become necessary to him.* In the presence of Gregory he was modest and even humble in his manners and conversation, observing the distance which separated him from a man of such high birth, and carefully flattering the aristocratic vanity, of which a slight leaven was mixed with the solid qualities of this great and thoughtful mind. He assured the bishop that his greatest desire was to please him, and to follow his advice in all things. He promised to refrain from all excess of power, and to take justice and reason as his rules of conduct. Finally, to render his promises and protestations more worthy of belief, he accompanied them with numerous oaths on the tomb of Saint Martin. Sometimes he swore to Gregory, like a dependent to his patron, to remain faithful to him in all circumstances, and never to oppose him in any thing, whether in affairs which interested him personally, or in those in which the interests of the church were called in question.†
Things were in this position, and the city of Tours enjoyed a quiet which no one had at first expected, when Theodebert’s army was destroyed near Angoulême, and Hilperik, thinking his cause desperate, took refuge within the walls of Tournai, events of which detailed accounts are given in one of the preceding narratives.‡ The citizens of Tours, who only obeyed the King of Neustria from necessity, recognized the authority of Sighebert, and Leudaste again took flight, as he had done seven years before; but, owing, perhaps, to the mediation of Bishop Gregory, his property was this time respected, and he left the town without sustaining any loss. He retired into Lower Brittany, a country which then enjoyed complete independence from the Frankish kingdoms, and which often served as a place of refuge for outlaws, and the malcontents of those kingdoms.§
(ad 575.) The murder which in the year 575 put so sudden an end to Sighebert’s life, caused a double restoration, that of Hilperik as King of Neustria, and that of Leudaste as Count of Tours. He returned after an exile of a year, and reinstated himself in his office.∥ Henceforth sure of the future, he no longer took the trouble of restraining himself; he threw off the mask, and resumed the vices of his first administration. Abandoning himself at once to all the evil passions which can tempt a man in power, he exhibited the spectacle of the most notorious frauds, and the most revolting brutalities. When he held his public audiences, having as assessors the principal men of the town, nobles of Frankish origin, Romans of senatorial birth, and dignitaries of the metropolitan church, if some person with a lawsuit whom he wanted to ruin, or some culprit whom he wished to destroy, presented himself with assurance, asserting his rights and demanding justice, the count interrupted him, and shook himself on his judge’s bench like a madman.* If at those times the crowd, which formed a circle round the tribunal, testified by their gestures or their murmurs sympathy for the oppressed, it was against them that the anger of Leudaste was directed, and he loaded the citizens with insults and gross epithets.† As impartial in his violence as he should have been in his justice, he respected neither the rights, the rank, nor the condition of any one; he caused priests to be brought before him hand-cuffed, and had warriors of Frankish origin beaten with sticks. It seemed as if this upstart slave took a pleasure in confounding all distinctions, in braving all the conventions of the social order of his epoch, above which the accident of birth had at first placed him, and in which other chances had afterwards raised him to such a height.‡
Whatever were the despotic tendencies of Count Leudaste, and his wish to level every thing before his interest and caprice, there was in the town a rival power to his own, and a man against whom, for fear of losing himself, he was unable to dare any thing. He felt this; and it was cunning, and not open violence, which he resorted to, to compel the bishop to give way, or at least be silent before him. The reputation of Gregory, which was spread throughout Gaul, was great at the court of the King of Neustria; but his well-known affection for the family of Sighebert sometimes alarmed. Hilperik, always anxious about the possession of the city of Tours, which was his conquest, and the key of the country south of the Loire, which he wanted to possess. It was on this distrustful disposition of the king that Leudaste founded his hopes of annihilating the credit of the bishop, by rendering him more and more suspicious, and making himself looked upon as the man necessary to the preservation of the town, as an advanced sentinel, always on the watch, and exposed to hateful prejudices, and secret or declared enmities, on account of his vigilance. This was the surest way of obtaining absolute impunity for himself, and of finding opportunities for molesting at pleasure his most fearful antagonist the bishop, without appearing to exceed his duty.
In this war of intrigues and petty machinations, he sometimes had recourse to the most fantastic expedients. When any affair required his presence in the episcopal palace, he went there completely armed, his helmet on his head, his cuirass on his back, his quiver slung in his shoulder-belt, and a long lance in his hand, either to give himself a terrible appearance, or to make people believe he was in danger of ambushes and snares in that house of peace and prayer.* In the year 576, when Merowig, passing through Tours, deprived him of every thing he possessed in money and in precious furniture, he pretended that the young prince had only committed that plunder at Gregory’s counsel and instigation.† Then suddenly, from contradiction of character, or on account of the ill success of this unfounded accusation, he endeavoured to reconcile himself with the bishop, and swore to him, by the most solemn oath, holding in his hand the silken cloth which covered the tomb of Saint Martin, that he never would again in the course of his life attempt any unfriendly action against him.‡ But the inordinate desire of Leudaste to repair as promptly as possible the enormous losses he had sustained, excited him to multiply his exactions and plunderings. (ad 576—579.) Amongst the rich citizens whom he preferred attacking, several were intimate friends of Gregory’s, and they were not spared more than the rest. Thus, notwithstanding his last promises and prudent resolutions, the Count of Tours again found himself in indirect hostility with his rival in power. More and more carried away by the desire of accumulating riches, he began to encroach upon the property of the churches, and the differences between the two adversaries became personal.§ Gregory, with a forbearance partaking both of sacerdotal patience and the circumspect policy of the men of the aristocracy, at first only opposed in this struggle a moral resistance to acts of physical violence. He received blows without striking any himself, until the precise moment of action was arrived; and then, after two years of calm expectation, which might have been mistaken for resignation, he energetically took the offensive.
(ad 579.) Towards the end of the year 579, a deputation secretly sent to King Hilperik, denounced to him, with irrefragable proofs, the prevarications of Count Leudaste, and the numberless evils which he inflicted on the churches and inhabitants of Tours.∥ It is not known under what circumstances this deputation came to the palace of Neustria, nor what various causes contributed to the success of its mission, but it was perfectly successful; and notwithstanding the favour which Leudaste had so long enjoyed with the king, notwithstanding the numerous friends he possessed among the vassals and confidential domestics of the palace, his removal was certain. On dismissing the ambassadors. Hilperik sent with them Ansowald, his most intimate counsellor, to take measures to effect the change which they solicited. Ansowald arrived at Tours in the month of November; and, not content with declaring Leudaste deprived of his office, he left the nomination of a new count in the hands of the bishop and the body of the citizens. The suffrages were unanimous in favour of a man of Gallic race called Eunomius, who was installed in his charge amidst the acclamations and hopes of the people.*
Struck by this unexpected blow, Leudaste, who in his imperturbable presumption had never for one moment dreamt of the possibility of such a disaster, was roused to fury, and laid the blame upon his friends in the palace, whom he thought should have upheld him. He especially, and with great bitterness, accused Queen Fredegonda, to whose service he had devoted himself for good and for evil, whom he thought all-powerful to save him from this peril, and who only repaid him by ungratefully withdrawing her patronage.† These grievances, whether imaginary or not, took such firm root in the mind of the dismissed count, that he vowed henceforth a hatred to his former patroness, equal to that he bore the cause of his disgrace, the Bishop of Tours. He no longer separated them in his desire for revenge; and roused by anger, he commenced forming the most adventurous schemes, combining plans of new fortune and future elevation, in which entered, as one of his most ardent wishes, the ruin of the bishop, and what was still more astonishing, the ruin even of Fredegonda, her divorce, and the forfeiture of her queenly state.
There was then at Tours a priest named Rikulf, who, notwithstanding his Germanic name, was, perhaps, like Leudaste, whom he a good deal resembled in character, a Gaul by origin.‡ Born in that city, and of poor parents, he had risen in orders under the patronage of Bishop Euphronius, Gregory’s predecessor. His presumption and ambition were boundless: he thought himself out of his true place so long as he was not invested with episcopal dignity.§ To attain it with certainty, he had for some years placed himself under the patronage of Chlodowig, the last son of King Hilperik and Queen Audowera.∥ Although divorced and banished, this queen, a woman of free and probably distinguished origin, had preserved in her misfortunes numerous partisans, who hoped for her return to favour, and believed more in the good fortune of her sons, already grown up to manhood, than in that of the young children of her rival. Fredegonda, notwithstanding the brilliancy of her success and power, had never been able entirely to obliterate the memory of her original condition, or to inspire a firm confidence in the solidity of the happiness she enjoyed. There were doubts as to the continuance of the fascination which she exercised on the mind of the king; many people accorded her the honours of a queen with regret; her own daughter Righonta, the eldest of her four children, blushed for her, and with a precocious instinct of feminine vanity, felt very keenly the shame of having for mother a former servant of the palace.* Thus mental torments were not wanting to the beloved wife of Hilperik; and the most painful of all to her, besides the stain of her birth which nothing could efface, was the apprehension caused by the competition for their father’s kingdom, between her children and those of the first bed.
Delivered by a violent death of the two eldest sons of Audowera, she still saw Chlodowig, the third, holding in check the fortunes of her two sons, Chlodobert and Dagobert, the eldest of whom was not fifteen.† The ambitious hopes, desires, and opinions of the palace of Neustria, were divided between the future of the one, and that of the others; there were two opposite factions, who branched out from the palace, and were to be met with in every part of the kingdom. Both reckoned amongst them men long and firmly devoted, and passing recruits who attached and detached themselves according to the impulse of the moment. It was thus that Rikulf and Leudaste, the one an old adherent of the fortunes of Chlodowig, the other recently the enemy of that young prince, as he had been that of his brother Merowig, suddenly met and found a perfect conformity in their political sentiments. They soon became intimate friends, confided to each other all their secrets, and made their projects and hopes in common.—(ad 579, 580.) During the latter months of the year 579, and the beginning of the year following, these two men, equally accustomed to intrigues, had frequent conferences, to which they admitted as a third a subdeacon named Rikulf as well as the priest, the same who has been seen acting as the emissary of the cleverest intriguer of the epoch, the Austrasian, Gonthramn-Bose.‡
The first point agreed upon by the three associates, was to cause the rumours generally bruited respecting the conjugal infidelity and disorders of Fredegonda to reach the ears of King Hilperik. They thought that the more blind and confiding the king’s love was, in spite of evidences clear to every one else, the more terrible would his anger be, when he should be undeceived. Fredegonda expelled from the kingdom, her children hated by the king, banished with her and disinherited, Chlodowig succeeded to his father’s kingdom without contest or partition, such were the results which they looked upon as certain to follow from their officious informations. To obviate the responsibility of a formal denunciation against the queen, but at the same time to compromise their second enemy, the Bishop of Tours, they resolved by a tolerably subtle trick to accuse him of having repeated before witnesses the scandalous stories which were then circulated, and which they did not venture to repeat on their own account.*
In this intrigue, there was a double chance for the deposition of the bishop, either immediately, by a blow of King Hilperik’s anger, or later, when Chlodowig should take possession of the throne; and the priest Rikulf already considered himself his successor in the episcopal see. Leudaste, who guaranteed the infallibility of this promotion to his new friend, marked his place near King Chlodowig as that of the second great person in the kingdom, of which he should have the supreme administration, and the title of duke. In order that Rikulf, the subdeacon, should also find a comfortable situation, it was decided that Plato, archdeacon of the church of Tours, and the intimate friend of Bishop Gregory, should be compromised with him, and involved in his ruin.†
It appears that, after having thus arranged their plans, the three conspirators sent messages to Chlodowig to announce to him the enterprise formed in his interests, to communicate their intentions, and make conditions with him. The young prince, of a thoughtless disposition, and ambitious without prudence, promised, in case of success, to do all that was required of him, and a good deal more. The moment for action having arrived, the parts were distributed. That which devolved on the priest Rikulf, was to prepare the way for Gregory’s future deposition, by exciting against him in the town the abettors of disturbances, and those who from a spirit of provincial patriotism, did not like him because he was a foreigner, and wished for a native bishop in his stead. Rikulf, the subdeacon, formerly one of the most humble domestics of the episcopal palace, and who had purposely quarreled with his patron to be more free to visit Leudaste, assiduously returned to the bishop with submission and a show of repentance; he endeavoured, by regaining his confidence, to draw him into some suspicious act which might serve as a proof against him.* The ex-count of Tours took upon himself, without hesitation, the really perilous mission of going to the palace of Soissons, and speaking to King Hilperik.
He left Tours about the month of April 580, and immediately on his arrival, when admitted by the king to a tête-à-tête, said in a tone which he endeavoured to render at once serious and persuasive: “Until now, most pious king, I had guarded thy city of Tours, but now that I am dismissed from my office, thou must consider how it will be guarded for thee; for thou must know that Bishop Gregory intends to deliver it up to the son of Sighebert.”† Hilperik answered abruptly, like a man who rebels against disagreeable news, and pretends incredulity not to appear frightened: “That is not true.” Then, watching Leudaste’s countenance for the least appearance of trouble and hesitation, he added: “It is because thou hast been deprived of thy office that thou dost make these reports.”‡ But the ex-count of Tours, without losing his assurance, replied: “The bishop has done other things; he speaks in a manner offensive to thee; he says that thy queen has an adulterous connection with Bishop Bertramn.”§ Wounded in his most sensitive and irritable point, Hilperik was so enraged, that losing all consciousness of his regal dignity, he fell on the author of this unexpected revelation, striking and kicking him with all his might.∥
When he had thus vented his anger, without uttering a single word, and had become himself again, he found the power of speech, and said to Leudaste: “What! dost thou affirm that the bishop has said such things of Queen Fredegonda?”—“I affirm it,” answered he, nowise disconcerted by the brutal reception his confidence had met with, “and if thou wouldest permit Gallienus, the friend of the bishop, and Plato his archdeacon to be put to the torture, they will convict him before thee of having said it.”¶ —“But,” asked the king with great anxiety, “dost thou present thyself as a witness?” Leudaste replied that he could produce an auricular witness, a clerk of the church of Tours, on whose good faith he had founded his denunciation, and he named the subdeacon Rikulf, without demanding the torture for him as he had done a moment before for the friends of Bishop Gregory.* But the distinction which he endeavoured to draw in favour of his accomplice did not enter into the thoughts of the king, who equally furious against all those who had taken a part in the scandal by which his honour was wounded, caused Leudaste himself to be put in chains, and instantly sent in order to Tours for the arrest of Rikulf.†
This man, by means of consummate treachery, had, during the last month, completely succeeded in regaining the favour of Bishop Gregory, and he was once more received as a faithful dependent in his house and at his table.‡ After the departure of Leudaste, when he supposed, from the number of days which had elapsed, and the denunciation had been made, and his name mentioned in the king’s presence, he endeavoured to persuade the bishop into committing some suspicious act, by working on his kind-heartedness and pity for distress. He presented himself before him with an air of dejection and deep anxiety, and at the first words said by Gregory, inquiring what was the matter, he threw himself at his feet, exclaiming: “I am a lost man, if thou dost not quickly rescue me. Incited by Leudaste, I have said things which I ought not to have said. Grant me, without loss of time, thy permission to depart for another kingdom; for if I remain here, the king’s officers will seize me, and I shall be put to the torture.”§ A clerk in those days could not go any distance from the church to which he belonged without leave from his bishop, nor be received unto the diocese of another bishop, without a letter from his own, which served him as a passport. In soliciting leave to travel under pretence of the peril of death with which he said he was threatened, the subdeacon Rikulf played a double game; he endeavoured to occasion a very important circumstance capable of serving as a corroboration of Leudaste’s words, and moreover procured for himself the means of disappearing from the scene of action, and awaiting the issue of this great intrigue in perfect safety.
Gregory by no means suspected the motives of Leudaste’s departure, nor what was then going forwards at Soissons; but the request of the sub-deacon, obscurely worded, and accompained with a sort of pantomimic tragedy, instead of touching, only surprised and frightened him. The excesses of the times, the sudden catastrophes which daily under his own eyes ruined the most fortunate, the feeling of the precariousness there was then in the position and life of every one, had obliged him to adopt as a habit the utmost circumspection. He therefore held himself on his guard, and to the great disappointment of Rikulf, who had hoped by means of his feigned despair to draw him into the snare, answered, “If thou hast spoken contrary to reason and duty, may thy words rest upon thine own head; I shall not let thee go into another kingdom, for fear of making myself suspicious in the king’s eyes.”*
The sub-deacon arose confounded at the failure of this first attempt, and perhaps was preparing to try some other scheme, when he was quietly arrested by order of the king, and led to Soissons. Here, as soon as he arrived, he was subjected alone to an examination, in which, notwithstanding his critical position, he fulfilled in every respect the agreement he had made with his two accomplices. Declaring himself a witness of the fact, he deposed, that on the day on which Bishop Gregory had spoken ill of the queen, the archdeacon Plato and Gallienus were present, and that both had spoken in the same way. This formal testimony set at liberty Leudaste, whose veracity no longer appeared doubtful, and who seemed to have nothing further to tell.† Set at liberty whilst his companion in falsehood took his place in prison, he had a right to consider himself henceforth the object of a sort of favour; for by a singular choice, he was the person fixed upon by King Hilperik to go to Tours and seize Gallienus and the archdeacon Plato. This commission was probably entrusted to him, because, with his usual self-conceit, he boasted that he was the only man capable of succeeding in it, and that in order to make himself necessary, he gave accounts of the state of the town and the disposition of the citizens calculated to alarm the suspicious disposition of the king.
Leudaste, proud of his new character of a trustworthy man, and of the fortune he already fancied he had attained, set out during Easter-week. On the Friday of that week there was a great disturbance in the halls attached to the cathedral of Tours, occasioned by the turbulence of the priest Rikulf. This man, unmoved in his expectations, far from conceiving the least fear from the arrest of the sub-deacon, his namesake and accomplice, saw nothing in it but a step towards the conclusion of the intrigue which was to raise him to episcopacy.‡ In the hope of a success which he no longer doubted, his head became so excited that he was like a drunken man, incapable of regulating his words or actions. In one of those intervals of repose which the clergy took between the services, he passed backwards and forwards two or three times before the bishop with an air of bravado, and ended by saying aloud, that the city of Tours should be cleared of Auvergnats.* Gregory took little notice of this unmannerly speech, of which the motive escaped him. Accustomed, especially from the plebeians of his church, to meet with the coarseness of voice and manner which was more and more extending in Gaul, from the imitation of barbarian customs, he answered without anger, and with somewhat aristocratic dignity: “It is not true that the natives of Auvergne are strangers here; for, with the exception of five, all the bishops of Tours have come of families related to ours; thou shouldst not be ignorant of that.”† Nothing was more calculated to irritate to the highest pitch the jealousy of the ambitious priest than such a reply. It was so much increased, that unable to contain himself, he addressed to the bishop direct insults and threatening gestures. He would probably have passed from menaces to blows, if the other clerks, by their interposition, had not prevented the last effects of his frenzy.‡
The next day after this scene of disorder. Leudaste arrived at Tours; he entered it without show or armed followers, as if he only came about his private affairs.§ This discretion, so foreign to his character, was probably prescribed him in the king’s orders, as a means of effecting more certainly the two arrests he had to make. During some portion of the day, he appeared to be otherwise occupied, and then, suddenly darting on his prey, he invaded the houses of Gallienus and the archdeacon Plato with a troop of soldiers. These two unfortunate men were seized in the most brutal manner, deprived of their garments, and bound together with iron chains.∥ Whilst leading them thus through the town, Leudaste mysteriously announced that justice was going to be executed on all the queen’s enemies, and that it would not be long before a greater culprit was seized. Either wishing to give a great idea of his confidential mission, and the importance of his capture, or fearing really some ambush or insurrection, he took extraordinary precautions for leaving the town. Instead of crossing the Loire on the bridge of Tours, he took it into his head to cross it with the two prisoners and their guards, on a sort of flying bridge, composed of two boats joined together by boards, and towed by other boats.¶
When the news of these events reached the ears of Gregory, he was in the episcopal palace, occupied with numerous affairs, the regulation of which filled up every hour which his sacred ministry left vacant. The two certain misfortunes of his two friends, and the danger existing to himself in the vague but sinister reports which were beginning to spread, all this, joined to the still lively impression of the painful event of the preceding day, caused him profound emotion. Struck by a sadness mixed with anxiety and depression, he interrupted his occupations and entered his oratory alone.* He knelt down and prayed; but his prayer, fervent as it was, did not calm him. What is about to happen? he asked himself with grief; this question, full of doubts impossible to solve, he turned over in his mind, without being able to find an answer. To escape the torments of uncertainty, he did a thing which he had more than once censured in common with the councils and fathers of the church, he took the Pslams of David, and opened them at hazard, to see if he should not find, as he himself says, some consoling text.† The passage on which his eyes fell was the following: “They went forth full of hope, and were not afraid, and their enemies were swallowed up in the depths of the sea.” The accidental coincidents of these words with the ideas which beset him, made a stronger impression than either reason or faith alone had been able to do. He thought he saw in it an answer from on high, a promise of Divine protection for his two friends, and for whoever should be involved in the sort of proscription which public rumour announced, and of which they were the first victims.‡
Meanwhile, the ex-count of Tours, with the air of a prudent chief, accustomed to ambushes and stratagems, was endeavouring to effect the passage of the Loire with an attempt at military order. The better to direct the working of the plan, and to keep on the look-out, he took his place in the fore part of the raft; the prisoners were in the stern, the troop of guards occupied the middle of the flooring, and thus this clumsily built craft was loaded with people. The middle of the river, a spot which the violence of the current might render dangerous, was already passed, when a rash and inconsiderate order given by Leudaste, suddenly brought a great number of people on the fore part of the bridge. The boat which served to support it, sinking under the weight, became filled with water; the floor was weighed down on one side, and most of those who stood there, lost their balance, and fell into the river. Leudaste fell in among the first, and swam ashore, while the raft, partly beneath the water, partly sustained by the second boat on which the chained prisoners were, made its way with great difficulty towards the place of landing.* Excepting this accident, which failed to give a literal fulfilment to the text of David, the journey from Tours to Soissons took place without difficulty, and with all the celerity possible.
As soon as the two captives had been led before the king, their conductor made the greatest efforts to excite his anger against them, and to draw from him, before he had time for reflection, a sentence of capital punishment, and an order of execution.† He felt that such a blow struck at first would render the position of the Bishop of Tours an extremely critical one, and that once engaged in this path of atrocious violence, the king could no longer draw back; but his calculations and hopes were frustrated. Blinded anew by the seductions under the empire of which his life was passed, Hilperik had recovered from his doubts of Fredegonda’s fidelity, and the same violent irritability was no longer to be found in him. He looked at this affair with greater calmness. He wished to follow it for the future slowly, and even to carry the regularity of a lawyer into the examination of facts, and the whole proceeding; a sort of pretension he combined to that of being a clever versifier, a connoisseur in the fine arts, and a profound theologian.
Fredegonda employed all her strength and prudence in restraining herself. She artfully judged, that the best way for her to dissipate all shade of suspicion in her husband’s mind was to appear dignified and serene, to assume a matronly attitude, and appear in nowise anxious to see the legal inquiries ended. This double disposition, which Leudaste had not anticipated on either side, saved the lives of the prisoners. Not only was no harm done to them, but by a caprice of courtesy difficult to explain, the king, treating them far better than the subdeacon their accuser, left them in a kind of half-liberty under the guard of his officers of justice.‡
It then became necessary to seize the principal criminal; but there commenced King Hilperik’s embarrassment and perplexities. He had shown himself formerly full of decision, and even of animosity, in his prosecution of Bishop Prætextatus.§ But Gregory was not an ordinary bishop; his reputation and influence extended throughout Gaul; in him, so to speak, the moral power of episcopacy was concentrated and personified. Against such an adversary violence would have been dangerous, it would have given universal offence, which Hilperik, in the heat of his anger, might perhaps have disregarded, but which in cool blood he did not venture to face. Renouncing the idea of violence, therefore, he thought only of employing one of those palpably artful contrivances in which he delighted. Whilst reasoning with himself, it entered his head that the bishop, whose popularity frightened him, might in his turn be afraid of the power of royalty, and endeavour to secure himself by flight from the fearful chances of an accusation of high treason. This idea, which appeared to him a most luminous one, became the basis of his plan of action, and the text of the confidential orders which he hastily dispatched. He addressed them to Duke Berulf, who being, in virtue of his title, invested with a provincial government, commanded in chief at Tours, Poitiers, and several other towns recently conquered to the south of the Loire by the Neustrian generals.* According to these instructions, Berulf was to go to Tours, without any other apparent object than that of inspecting the means of defending the town. He was to await with circumspection and perfect dissimulation, the instant at which Gregory should openly compromise himself, and expose himself to be taken, by any attempt at flight.
The news of the great trial which was about to commence had reached Tours officially, confirmed and magnified as usual by a number of popular exaggerations. It was probably on the effect of these threats of danger that the confidant of King Hilperik relied for the success of his mission. He flattered himself that this sort of bugbear would serve, as in a hunt, to surround the bishop, and drive him into taking some step which would lead him into the snare. Berulf entered the city of Tours, and visited the ramparts, as was his custom at his periodical progresses. The new count, Eunomius, accompanied him, to receive his observations and orders. Whether the Frankish duke allowed the Roman to divine his secret, or whether he wished to deceive him, he said that King Gonthramn designed to seize the town, either by surprise or open force, and added, “This is the moment to watch incessantly; in order that there may be no negligence to fear, the town must have a garrison.”† Under cover of this fable, and the terror of an imaginary peril which soon spread, troops of soldiers were introduced without awakening the smallest suspicion; guard-houses were established, and sentinels placed at every gate of the town. Their orders were, not to look towards the country to see if the enemy was coming, but to watch the goings out of the bishop, and to arrest him if he passed in any disguise, or equipped for a journey.‡
These stratagems were useless, and the time passed in expectation of their effect. The Bishop of Tours appeared to be in no way thinking of flight, and Berulf found himself obliged to work underhand to determine him to it, or to suggest the idea to him. By means of money he gained over some persons intimately acquainted with Gregory, who went one after another with an air of deep sympathy to speak to him of the danger he was in, and of the fears of all his friends. Probably, in these treacherous insinuations, the character of King Hilperik was not spared; and the epithets of the Herod and Nero of the century, which were applied to him secretly by many, were this time pronounced with impunity by the agents of treason.* Recalling to the bishop these words of the holy Scriptures, “Fly from city to city before thy persecutors,” they advised him to carry away secretly the most valuable things his church possessed, and retire to one of the cities of Auvergne, there to await better days. But, either because he suspected the true motives of this strange proposal, or because such advice, even if sincere, appeared to him unworthy of adoption, he remained unmoved, declaring that he would not depart.†
There was therefore no other way left of securing the person of this man, whom they dared not touch unless he gave himself up; and it was necessary for the king to come to the determination of awaiting the voluntary appearance of the accused, whom he wished to prosecute legally. As a preparation for this great trial, letters of convocation were addressed to all the bishops of Neustria, as in the cause of Prætextatus; they were ordered to be at Soissons at the beginning of the month of August of the year 580. From all appearances this synod was to be still more numerous than that of Paris in 577; for the bishops of several southern cities recently conquered from the kingdom of Austrasia, and amongst others, that of Albi, were summoned to attend.‡ The Bishop of Tours received this summons in the same form as his colleagues; and making it in some sort a point of honour, he hastened to obey it instantly, and arrived one of the first at Soissons.
Public expectation was then raised to the utmost in the town, and this arrangement of one of such high rank, virtue, and renown, excited universal interest. His calm and dignified bearing, perfectly free from affectation, his serenity, as great as if he had come to sit as judge in the cause of another, his assiduous vigils in the churches of Soissons, at the tombs of the martyrs and confessors, turned the popular respect and curiosity into a real enthusiasm. All the men of Gallo-Roman birth, that is to say, the mass of the inhabitants, took part, before any legal inquiry had been made, with the Bishop of Tours against his accusers, whoever they were. The lower classes especially, less reserved and less timid in presence of power, gave free career to their sentiments, and expressed them in public with the most undaunted vehemence. While awaiting the arrival of the members of the synod and the opening of the debates, the preparations for the trial were continued upon no other foundation than the evidence of one man. The subdeacon Rikulf, who was never weary of making fresh declarations in support of the first, and of multiplying the lies against Gregory and his friends, was frequently led from the prison to the king’s palace, where his examinations took place with all the mystery observed in the most important affairs.* On the way there and back, a number of mechanics, leaving their work-shops, assembled on his passage, and pursued him with murmurs, hardly restrained by the fierce aspect of the Frankish vassals who escorted him. Once, as he returned, his head erect, and with an air of triumph and satisfaction, a carpenter, named Modestus, said to him, “Miserable man! who plottest with such animosity against thy bishop, wouldst thou not do better to ask his pardon, and endeavour to obtain thy forgiveness?”† At these words, Rikulf, pointing to the man who addressed him, exclaimed in the Germanic language to his guards, who had not understood the apostrophe of the Roman, or else cared little for it, “There is one who counsels me silence, that I may not assist in discovering the truth: there is an enemy of the queen, who wants to prevent those who have slandered her from being informed against.”‡ The Roman workman was seized amidst the crowd, and led away by the soldiers, who went immediately to inform Queen Fredegonda of the scene which had taken place, and ask what was to be done with the man.
Fredegonda, wearied, perhaps, by the news which was daily brought her of what was said in the city, had a moment of impatience in which she relapsed into her natural character, and departed from the mildness she had hitherto observed. By her orders, the unfortunate workman was flogged; other tortures were then inflicted on him, and finally he was thrown into prison in irons.§
Modestus was one of those men, not uncommon at that period, who combined unlimited faith with an ecstatic imagination. Persuaded that he was suffering in the cause of justice, he never for a moment doubted that the Almighty Power would interfere to release him. Towards midnight, the two soldiers who guarded him fell asleep, and he instantly began to pray with all the fervour of his soul, entreating God to visit him in his distress, by sending the holy bishops, Martin and Medardus, to him.* His prayer was followed by one of those strange but attested facts, in which the belief of former days saw miracles, and which the science of our own has endeavoured to explain by attributing them to the phenomena of the ecstatic state. Perhaps the firm conviction that his prayer had been granted, suddenly gave the prisoner an extraordinary increase of strength and adroitness, a kind of new sense more subtle and powerful than the others. Perhaps there was nothing more in his deliverance than a series of lucky accidents; but, from the authority of an eye-witness, he succeeded in breaking his chains, opening the door, and escaping. Bishop Gregory, who kept watch that night in the basilica of Saint Medardus, to his great surprise saw him enter and weepingly implore his blessing.†
The report of this adventure, which spread from mouth to mouth, was well calculated to increase the general excitement at Soissons. However inferior the condition of men of Roman race was at that epoch in the social state, there was something in the voice of a whole town exclaiming against the prosecution of the Bishop of Tours, which must have annoyed the adversaries of the bishop to the last degree, and even acted in his favour in the minds of the judges. Either to withdraw the members of the synod from this influence, or to remove himself from the scene of a popularity which displeased him, Hilperik decided that the assembly of bishops and the judgment of the cause should take place at the royal estate of Braine. He went thither with all his family, followed by all the bishops already assembled at Soissons. As there was no church there, but only private oratories, the members of the council received orders to hold their assemblies in one of the houses on the estate, perhaps in the great hall of wood which was used twice a year when the king resided at Braine, for the national meetings of the chiefs and freedmen of the Frankish race.‡
The first event which signalized the opening of the synod was a literary one; it was the arrival of a long piece of poetry composed by Venantius Fortunatus, and addressed to King Hilperik and to all the bishops assembled at Braine.§ The singular career which this Italian, the last poet of the aristocratic Gallo-Roman society, had created for himself by his talents and the elegance of his manners, demands here an episodical digression.∥
Born in the environs of Treviso, and educated at Ravenna, Fortunatus came to Gaul to visit the tomb of St. Martin, in fulfilment of a pious vow; but this journey being in all ways delightful to him, he made no haste to terminate it.* After having accomplished his pilgrimage to Tours, he continued to travel from town to town, and was sought and welcomed by all the rich and noble men who still piqued themselves on their refinement and elegance.† He travelled all over Gaul, from Mayence to Bordeaux, and from Toulouse to Cologne, visiting on his road the bishops, counts, and dukes, either of Gallic or Frankish origin, and finding in most of them obliging hosts, and often truly kind friends.
Those whom he left, after a stay of a longer or shorter period in their episcopal palaces, their country houses, or strong fortresses, kept up a regular correspondence with him from that period, and he replied to their letters by pieces of elegiac poetry, in which he retraced the remembrances and incidents of his journey. He spoke to every one of the natural beauties and monuments of their country; he described the picturesque spots, the rivers and forests, the culture of the land, the riches of the churches and the delights of the country-houses.‡ These pictures, sometimes tolerably accurate, and sometimes vaguely emphatic, were mixed up with compliments and flattery. The poet and wit praised the kindness, the hospitality of the Frankish nobles, not omitting the facility with which they conversed in Latin, and the political talents, the ingenuity, and the knowledge of law and business which characterized the Gallo-Roman nobles.§ To praise of the piety of the bishops and their zeal in building and consecrating new churches, he added approbation of their administrative works for the prosperity, ornament, or safety of towns. He praised one for having restored ancient edifices, a prætorium, a portico, and baths; a second for having turned the course of a river, and dug canals for irrigation; a third for having erected a citadel fortified with towers and machines of war.∥ All this, it must be owned, was marked with signs of extreme literary degeneracy, being written in a style at once pedantic and careless, full of incorrect and distorted expressions and of puerile puns; but, setting these aside, it is pleasant to witness the appearance of Venantius Fortunatus rekindling a last spark of intellectual life in Gaul, and to see this stranger becoming a common bond of union between those who, in the midst of a society declining into barbarism, here and there retained the love of literature and mental enjoyments.* Of all his friendships, the deepest and most permanent was one which he formed with a woman, Radegonda, one of the wives of King Chlother the First, then living retired at Poitiers in a convent which she had herself founded, and where she had taken the veil as a simple nun.
(ad 529.) In the year 529, Chlother, King of Neustria, had attached himself as an auxiliary to his brother Theoderik, who was marching against the Thorings or Thuringians, a people of the Saxon confederacy, and both a neighbour and enemy of the Austrasian Franks.† The Thuringians lost several battles; the bravest of their warriors were cut in pieces on the banks of the Unstrudt; their country, ravaged with fire and sword, became tributary to the victorious kings, who made an equal division of booty and prisoners.‡ Two children of royal race fell to the lot of the King of Neustria, the son and daughter of Berther, the last king but one of the Thuringians. The young girl, Radegonda, was hardly eight years old; but her grace and precocious beauty made such an impression on the sensual mind of the Frankish prince, that he resolved to have her educated so that she might one day become one of his wives.§
(ad 529 to 538.) Radegonda was carefully guarded in one of the royal palaces of Neustria, on the estate of Aties on the Somme. There, from a praiseworthy fancy of her master and future husband, she received, not the simple education of girls of the Germanic race, who learnt little besides spinning and hunting, but the refined education of rich Gallic women. To all the elegant occupations of a civilized woman, were added the study of Roman literature, and an acquaintance with the profane poets and the ecclesiastical writers.∥
Either her mind was naturally sensitive to all delicate impressions, or else the ruin of her country and family, and the scenes of barbaric life which she had witnessed, had saddened and disgusted her, for she loved books as if they had opened to her an ideal world, better than that which surrounded her.¶ When she read the Scriptures and the lives of the saints, she wept and longed for martyrdom; and probably also, less dismal dreams, dreams of peace and of liberty, accompanied her other readings. But religious enthusiasm, which then absorbed all that was noble and elevated in human faculties, soon predominated in her; and this young barbarian, in attaching herself to the ideas and customs of civilization, embraced them in their purest form, a Christian life.*
Turning her thoughts more and more from the men and things of this century of violence and brutality, she saw a marriageable age, and the moment (538) of becoming wife to the king whose captive she was, approach with terror. When the order was given to send her to the royal residence for the celebration of the nuptials, compelled by an instinct of invincible repugnance, she took flight; but she was caught, brought back, and against her will was married at Soissons, and became queen, or rather one of the queens of the Neustrian Franks; for Chlother, faithful to the customs of ancient Germany, was not, in spite of his numerous concubines, contented with one wife.† Inexpressible disgust, which in a mind like Radegonda’s the attractions of power and riches could not diminish, followed this forced union between the barbarian king and the woman who was estranged from him by the very moral perfections which he had rejoiced to find, and which he himself had caused to be cultivated in her.
(ad 538 to 544.) In order to withdraw herself, at least partly, from the duties of her condition, which weighed on her like a chain, Radegonda imposed on herself others apparently more rigorous; she devoted all her leisure to works of charity or of Christian austerity; she devoted herself personally to the service of the poor and sick. The royal house of Aties, where she had been brought up, and which she had received as a wedding gift, became a hospital for indigent women. One of the queen’s favourite occupations was, going, not merely to visit it, but to fulfil the office of nurse in all its most revolting details.‡ The pleasures of the court of Neustria, the noisy banquets, the perilous chases, the reviews and warlike tilts, the society of vassals with their loud voices and uncultivated minds, fatigued and saddened her. But if any bishop, or polished and well-informed clerk, a man of peace and mild conversation arrived, she instantly abandoned all for his society; she remained with him for hours, and when the time came for his departure, she loaded him with presents as tokens of remembrance, wished him a thousand times adieu, and relapsed into her former melancholy.*
She was never ready, either purposely or from forgetfulness, at the hours of meals which she took with her husband, and was always absorbed in instructive reading or pious exercises. It was necessary to remind her several times, and the king, tired of waiting, quarreled with her violently, without succeeding in making her more exact.† At night, under some pretext or other, she got up from his side, and went to sleep on the ground on a simple mat or hair-cloth, only returning to the nuptial couch when she was benumbed with cold, and associating in a curious manner Christian mortifications with the sentiment of insurmountable aversion with which her husband inspired her.‡ All these signs of disgust did not, however, weary the love of the King of Neustria. Chlother was not a man to feel any scruples of delicacy on that point; provided the woman whose beauty pleased him remained in his possession, he was quite indifferent to the moral violence which he exercised over her. Radegonda’s reluctance irritated him without causing any real discomfort, and in his conjugal annoyances, he contented himself with saying: “It is a nun, and not a queen that I have got.”§
And in truth, there was but one refuge, a conventual life, for this soul, wounded in all the ties which bound it to the world. Radegonda’s whole wishes aspired to it; but the obstacles were great, and six years passed before she ventured to brave them. (544.) A last family misfortune gave her courage to do so. Her brother, who had grown up at the court of Neustria as a hostage of the Thuringian nation, was put to death by the king’s orders, perhaps for some patriotic regrets or inconsiderate menaces.¶ As soon as the queen learnt this horrible news, her resolution was taken; but she concealed it. Feigning only to seek religious consolation, but in reality seeking a man capable of becoming her deliverer, she went to Noyon, to the Bishop Medardus, the son of a Frank and a Roman, a personage then celebrated throughout Gaul for his reputation of sanctity.* Chlother had not the least suspicion of this pious step, and not only did not oppose it, but even ordered every thing for the queen’s departure himself; for her tears annoyed him, and he was anxious to see her more calm and in a less melancholy humour.†
Radegonda found the Bishop of Noyon in his church, officiating at the altar. When she found herself in his presence, the feelings which agitated her, and which she had until then repressed, burst forth, and her first words were a cry of distress: “Most holy priest, I wish to leave this world, and to change my costume! I entreat thee, most holy priest, to consecrate me to the Lord!”‡ Notwithstanding the intrepidity of his faith, and fervour of proselytism, the bishop, surprised at this sudden request, hesitated, and begged for time to reflect. It was a perilous determination, that of breaking a royal marriage contracted according to the Salic law and the Germanic customs—customs, which the church, though it abhorred them, still tolerated for fear of alienating the minds of the barbarians.§
Moreover, a combat of another kind also sprang up for St. Medardus, besides the internal struggle between prudence and zeal. The Frankish nobles and warriors who had followed the queen, surrounded her, and cried to him with menacing gestures: “Do not dare to give the veil to a woman who has united herself to the king! Priest, beware of depriving the prince of a solemnly espoused queen!” The most violent, laying hands on him, dragged him with vehemence from the steps of the altar into the nave of the church, whilst the queen, frightened by the tumult, sought a refuge with her women in the vestry.∥ But there, collecting her thoughts, instead of abandoning herself to despair, she conceived an expedient in which there was as much feminine address as strength of will. To give it the best chance of success, and to put the religious zeal of the bishop to the greatest trial, she threw the dress of a nun over her royal apparel, and marched in this disguise towards the sanctuary, where sat St. Medardus, sad, pensive, and irresolute.* “If thou delayest to consecrate me,” said she in a firm voice, “and fearest men more than God, thou wilt have to render an account, and the shepherd will demand of thee the soul of his lamb.”† This unexpected apparition, and these mystical words, struck the imagination of the old bishop, and suddenly revived his expiring will. Elevating his conscience as a priest above human fears and politic cautions, he hesitated no longer, but of his own authority annulled the marriage of Radegonda, and ordained her a deaconess.‡ The nobles and vassals also partook of the enthusiasm; they did not dare to bring back by force to the royal abode, one who to them bore in future the doubly sacred character of a queen and a woman devoted to God.
The first thought of the new convert (that was the name then given to express the renunciation of the world), was to strip herself of all the jewels and valuables she wore. She covered the altar with her head ornaments, her bracelets, her clasps of precious stones, and the fringes of her robes, woven of purple and golden threads; she broke her rich girdle of massive gold with her own hands, saying, “I give it to the poor;”§ and then thought of saving herself from all danger by instantaneous flight. Free to choose her road, she directed her steps towards the south, leaving the centre of Frankish domination from an instinct of safety, and perhaps also from an instinct of refinement, which attracted her towards those regions of Gaul, in which barbarism had made least inroads; she arrived at the town of Orleans, and embarked on the Loire, which she descended as far as Tours. There she halted, to await, under the protection of the numerous sanctuaries open near the tomb of St. Martin, what the husband whom she had abandoned, would determine respecting her.∥ She led thus for some time the disturbed and restless life of the outlaws who sought refuge in sanctuaries, trembling for fear of being surprised, if she took one step beyond the protecting bounds, sending petitions to the king, sometimes haughty, sometimes suppliant, negotiating with him through the medium of the bishops, to induce him to resign himself to never seeing her again, and permitting her to accomplish her monastic vows.
(ad 544 to 550.)—Chlother at first showed himself deaf to prayers and entreaties; he claimed his right as a husband, attested the laws of his ancestors, and threatened to go himself to seize the fugitive, and bring her back. Terrified when public rumour or the letters of her friends brought her news of this kind, Radegonda then gave herself up to an increase of austerities, to fasts, vigils, and macerations in hair cloth, in hopes at the same time of obtaining assistance from above, and losing all the charms she possessed for the man who persecuted her with his love.* To augment the distance which separated them, she went from Tours to Poitiers, from the sanctuary of Saint Martin to the no less revered sanctuary of Saint Hilary. The king, however, was not to be discouraged, and he once came to Tours under the false pretext of devotion; but the energetic remonstrances of Saint Germain, the illustrious Bishop of Paris, prevented his going any further.† Controlled, so to speak, by that moral power before which the vehement will of the barbarian kings was forced to give way, he, weary of the struggle, consented that the daughter of the Thuringian kings should found a monastery for women at Poitiers; following the example given in the town of Arles by a Gallo-Roman matron, Cæsaria, the sister of the Bishop Cæsarius, or Saint Cæsaire.‡
Every thing which Radegonda had received from her husband, according to the Germanic custom, either as dowry or as morning gift, was devoted by her to the establishment of the congregation which was to form her chosen family in the place of that which she had lost by the disasters of a conquest, and the suspicious tyranny of the conquerors of her country. She laid the foundations of the new monastery, which was to be an asylum open to all women who wished to escape by retreat, from the seductions of the world or the invasions of the barbarians, in a piece of ground which she possessed at the gates of the city of Poitiers. Notwithstanding the anxiety of the queen and the assistance of Pientius, Bishop of Poitiers, several years elapsed before the building was completed;§ it was a Roman villa, with all its appurtenances, gardens, porticos, baths, and a church. Either as some symbol, or as a precaution for bodily safety against the violence of the times, the architect had given a military aspect to the exterior of this peaceful convent. The walls were high and strong like ramparts, and several towers were erected at the principal entrance.* These somewhat strange preparations made a strong impression on the general imagination, and the announcement of their progress spread abroad like news of great importance: “See,” it was said in the mystical language of the time; “see the ark which is building amongst us against the deluge of the passions, and the storms of this world.”†
The day on which every thing was ready, and the queen entered this place of refuge, which her vows ordered her never to quit until she was dead, was a day of popular rejoicing. The squares and streets of the town which she was to pass through were filled by an immense crowd; the roofs of the houses were covered with spectators anxious to see her, before the gates of the convent closed upon her.‡ She made the passage on foot, escorted by a large number of young girls, who, attracted to her by the fame of her Christian virtues, and perhaps also by the grandeur of her rank, were going to share her seclusion. Most of them were of Gallic race, and daughters of senators.§ These were the women who, from their habits of reserve and domestic tranquillity, were most likely to profit by the maternal care and pious intentions of their directress; for the women of Frankish race brought some of the original vices of barbarism even into the cloister. Their zeal was impetuous, but of short duration; and, incapable of keeping within any rule or measure, they suddenly passed from the most unbending rigidity to the complete forgetfulness of all duty and subordination.∥
(ad 550.)—It was about the year 550 when Radegonda commenced the life of peace and retirement which she had so long desired. This long dreamed-of life was a sort of compromise between the monastic austerity and the indolently luxurious habits of civilized society. The study of literature occupied the first rank among the occupations imposed on all the community; two hours of each day were to be devoted to it, and the rest of the time was employed in religious exercises, the reading of holy books, and needlework. One of the sisters read aloud during the working, which was done all together; and the most intelligent, instead of spinning, sewing, or embroidering, were busy in another room transcribing books, to multiply the copies of them.* Although severe on certain points, such as abstinence from meat and wine, the rules tolerated some of the comforts, and even some of the pleasures of a worldly life: the frequent use of the bath in large tanks of warm water, and amusements of all kinds were permitted, and, amongst others, the game of dice.† The foundress and dignitaries of the convent received as visitors not only bishops and members of the clergy, but also laymen of distinction. A sumptuous table was frequently spread for visitors and friends; delicate collations, sometimes perfect banquets were set before them, of which the queen did the honours out of courtesy, although abstaining from taking any part in them herself.‡ (ad 550 to 567.) This craving for society gave rise to parties of another kind in the convent; dramatic scenes were represented on various occasions, in which young girls from without, and probably also the novices of the house, appeared in brilliant costumes.§
Such was the order established by Radegonda in her convent of Poitiers, a compound of her personal inclinations and of the traditions preserved for half a century in the celebrated convent of Arles. After having thus traced out the plan and given the impulse to it, either from Christian humility or a stroke of policy, she abdicated all official supremacy, and made the community elect an abbess whom she took care to point out, placing herself as well as the other sisters, under her absolute authority. The woman she selected for this office was named Agnes, a girl of Gallic race, much younger than herself, but whom she had loved from infancy, and who was in turn devoted to her.* Thus willingly reduced to the rank of a simple nun, Radegonda, when her turn came, cooked, swept the house, and carried wood and water, like the rest; but, notwithstanding this apparent equality, she was queen in the convent, from her royal birth, her title of foundress, and the ascendency of intellect, learning, and goodness.† It was she who maintained the rules, or modified them at pleasure; she who strengthened wavering souls by daily exhortations; she who explained and commented on the text of the Holy Scriptures, mingling her grave homilies with little sentences full of tenderness and peculiarly feminine grace: “You, whom I have chosen, my daughters; you tender plants, objects of all my cares; you, my eyes; you, my life—you, my repose and sole happiness. . .”‡
(ad 567.)—The monastery of Poitiers had already attracted the attention of the whole Christian world for more than fifteen years, when Venantius Fortunatus, in his pilgrimage of devotion and pleasure through Gaul, visited it as one of the most remarkable sights which his travels afforded him. He was received there with flattering distinction; the warm reception which the queen was accustomed to give to men of talent and refinement was lavished on him as the most illustrious and amiable of their guests. He saw himself loaded by her and the abbess with care, attentions, and praises. This admiration, reproduced each day under various forms, and distilled, so to speak, into the ear of the poet by two women, the one older, the other younger than himself, detained him by some new charm longer than he had expected.§ Weeks, months passed, and all delays were exhausted; and when the traveller spoke of setting forth again, Radegonda said to him: “Why should you go? Why not remain with us?” This wish, uttered by friendship, was to Fortunatus a decree of fate (ad 567 to 580); he no longer thought of crossing the Alps, but settled at Poitiers, took orders there, and became a priest of the metropolitan church.*
This change of profession facilitated his intercourse with his two friends, whom he called his mother and sister, and it became still more assiduous and intimate than before.† Apart from the ordinary necessity of women being governed by a man, there were imperious reasons in the case of the foundress and abbess of the convent of Poitiers, which demanded an union of attention and firmness only to be met with in a man. The monastery had considerable property, which it was not only necessary to manage, but also to guard with daily vigilance against impositions and robberies. This security was only to be obtained by means of royal diplomas, threats of excommunication from the bishops, and perpetual negotiations with dukes, counts, and judges, who were little anxious to act from duty, but who did a great deal from interest or private friendship. A task like this demanded both address and activity, frequent journeys, visits to the courts of kings, the talent of pleasing powerful men, and of treating with all sorts of people. Fortunatus employed in it all his knowledge of the world and the resources of his mind with as much success as zeal; he became the counsellor, confidential agent, ambassador, steward, and secretary, of the queen and the abbess.‡ His influence, absolute in external matters, was hardly less so on the internal order and arrangements of the house; he was the arbitrator of little quarrels, the moderator of rival passions and feminine spite. All mitigations of the rules, all favours, holidays, and extra repasts were obtained through his intervention and at his request.§ He even had, to a certain extent, the direction of consciences; and his advice, sometimes given in verse, always inclined to the least rigid side.∥ Moreover, Fortunatus combined great suppleness of mind with considerable freedom of manners. A Christian chiefly through his imagination, as has been frequently said of the Italians, his orthodoxy was irreproachable, but in his practice of life he was effeminate and sensual. He abandoned himself without restraint to the pleasures of the table; and not only was he always found a jovial guest, a great drinker, and an inspired singer at the banquets given by his rich patrons, both Romans and barbarians, but, in imitation of the customs of imperial Rome, he sometimes dined alone on several courses.* Clever as all women are at retaining and attaching to themselves a friend by the weak points of his character, Radegonda and Agnes rivaled each other in encouraging this gross propensity, in the same way that they flattered in him a less ignoble defect, that of literary vanity. They sent daily to Fortunatus’ dwelling the best part of the meals of the house;† and not content with this, they had dishes, which were forbidden them by the rules, dressed for him with all possible care. These were meats of all kinds, seasoned in a thousand different ways, and vegetables dressed with gravy or honey, and served up in dishes of silver, jasper, and crystal.‡ At other times he was invited to take his repast at the convent, and then not only was the entertainment of the most delicate kind, but the ornaments of the dining-room were of a refined coquetry. Wreaths of odoriferous flowers adorned the walls, and rose-leaves covered the table instead of a table-cloth.§ Wine flowed into beautiful goblets for the guests to whom it was interdicted by no vow; there was almost a reflex of the suppers of Horace or Tibullus in the elegance of this repast, offered to a Christian poet by two recluses dead to the world. The three actors in this singular drama addressed each other by tender names, the meaning of which a heathen would certainly have misunderstood. The names of mother and sister, from the lips of the Italian, were accompanied by such epithets as these: my life, my light, delight of my soul; and all this was only, in truth, an exalted but chaste friendship, a sort of intellectual love.∥ With regard to the abbess, who was little more than thirty when this liaison began, this intimacy appeared suspicious, and became the subject of scandalous insinuations. The reputation of the priest Fortunatus suffered from them, and he was obliged to defend himself, and to protest that he only felt for Agnes like a brother, a purely spiritual love, a celestial affection. He did it with dignity, in some verses, in which he takes Christ and the Virgin as witnesses of the innocence of his heart.*
This man of frivolous and gay disposition, whose maxim was to enjoy the present, and always to look on the bright side of life, was, in his conversations with the daughter of the King of Thuringia, the confidant of deep suffering, of melancholy reminiscences of which he felt himself incapable.† Radegonda had attained the age when the hair begins to whiten, without having forgotten any of the impressions of her early childhood; and at fifty, the memory of the days spent in her own country amidst her friends, came to her as fresh and as painful as at the moment of her capture. She often said, “I am a poor captive woman:” she delighted in retracing, even in their smallest details, the scenes of desolation, of murder, and of violence, of which she had been a witness, and partly a victim.‡ After so many years of exile, and notwithstanding a total change of tastes and habits, the remembrance of the paternal fireside, and the old family affections, remained to her objects of worship and of love; it was the remnant, the only one she had retained, of the Germanic manners and character. The images of her dead or banished parents never ceased to be present to her, in spite of her new attachments, and the peace of mind she had acquired. There was even something vehement, an almost savage ardour, in her yearnings towards the last remnants of her race, towards the son of her uncle, who had taken refuge at Constantinople, towards cousins born in exile, and whom she only knew by name.§ This woman, who, in a strange land, had never been able to love any thing which was not both Christian and civilized, coloured her patriotic regrets with a rude poetry, a reminiscence of national songs which she had formerly heard in the wooden palace of her ancestors, or on the heaths of her country. The traces of them are still visibly, though certainly in a softened degree, to be met with here and there in some pieces of poetry, in which the Italian poet, speaking in the name of the queen of the barbarians, endeavours to render her melancholy confidences in the way that he received them from her:
“I have seen women carried into slavery, with bound hands and flowing hair; one walked barefooted in the blood of her husband, the other passed over the corpse of her brother.* Each one has had cause for tears, and I, I have wept for all. I have wept for my relations who have died, and I must weep for those who remain alive. When my tears cease to flow, when my sighs are hushed, my sorrow is not silent. When the wind murmurs, I listen if it brings me any news; but no shadow of my relations presents itself to me.† A whole world divides me from what I love most. Where are they? I ask it of the wind that whistles; I ask it of the clouds that float by: I wish some bird would come and tell me of them.‡ Ah! if I was not withheld by the sacred walls of this convent, they would see me arrive at the moment when they least expected me. I would set out in bad weather; I would sail joyfully through the tempest. The sailors might tremble, but I should have no fear. If the vessel split, I would fasten myself to a plank, and continue my voyage; and if I could seize no fragment, I would swim to them.”§
Such was the life which Fortunatus had led since the year 567, a life consisting of religion without moroseness, of affection without anxiety, of grave cares, and leisure filled with agreeable trifling. This last and curious example of an attempt at uniting Christian perfection with the social refinements of ancient civilization, would have passed away without leaving any trace, if the friend of Agnes and Radegonda had not himself, in his poetical works, noted even the smallest phases of the destiny, which with so perfect an instinct of happiness, he had chosen for himself. In them is found inscribed almost day by day, the history of this society of three persons connected by a strong sympathy, the love of every thing elegant, and the want of lively and intellectual conversation. There are verses on all the little events of which this sweet and monotonous mode of existence was made up—on the pain of separation, the dulness of absence and the delights of return; on little presents made and received, on flowers, fruits, and all sorts of dainties, on willow-baskets, which the poet amused himself in plaiting with his own. hands as gifts for his two friends.* There are some on the suppers of the three in the convent, animated by delicious chats,† and for the solitary repasts in which Fortunatus, whilst eating his utmost, regretted having only one pleasure at a time, and not having his eyes and ears charmed as well.‡ Finally, there are some on the sad and happy days which every year brought round, such as the anniversary of Agnes’ birth, and the first day of Lent, when Radegonda, in obedience to a vow, shut herself up in a cell, to pass there the time of that long fast.§ “Where is my light hidden? Wherefore does she conceal herself from my eyes?” the poet then exclaimed in a passionate accent which might have been thought profane; and when Easterday, and the end of this long absence arrived, he then, mingling the similes of a madrigal with the grave reflections of the Christian faith, said to Radegonda: “Thou hadst robbed me of my happiness; now it returns to me with thee: thou makest me doubly celebrate this solemn festival.”∥
To the delights of a tranquillity unique in that century, the Italian emigrant added that of a glory which was no less so, and he was even able to deceive himself as to the duration of the expiring literature of which he was the last and most frivolous representative. The barbarians admired him, and did their best to delight in his witticisms;¶ his slightest works, such as notes written whilst the bearer was waiting, simple distichs improvised at table, spread from hand to hand, were read, copied, and learned by heart; his religious poems and verses addressed to the kings were objects of public expectation.* On his arrival in Gaul, he had celebrated the marriage of Sighebert and Brunehilda, in the heathen style, and the conversion of the Arian Brunehilda to the Catholic faith in the Christian style.† The warlike character of Sighebert, the conqueror of the nations beyond the Rhine, was the first theme of his poetical flatteries; later, when settled at Poitiers in the kingdom of Haribert, he wrote the praise of a pacific king in honour of that unwarlike prince.‡ Haribert died in the year 567, and the precarious situation of the town of Poitiers, alternately taken by the Kings of Neustria and Austrasia, obliged the poet to observe a prudent silence for a long while, and his tongue became unloosed only on the day on which the city he inhabited appeared to him to have definitely fallen into the power of King Hilperik. He then composed for that king his first panegyric in elegiac verses; this was the piece mentioned above, and the sending of which to Braine gave rise to this long episode.
(ad 580.) The occasion of the holding of this council was adroitly seized by Fortunatus in the interest of his literary success, for the bishops assembled at Braine were the first of the men of science and talent of Gaul, forming a real academy. Besides, in placing his work under their patronage, he carefully refrained from making the slightest allusion to the difficult case they were called upon to judge. Not a word on the painful trial to which Gregory of Tours, the first of his literary confidants, his friend and benefactor, was about to submit.§ Nothing, in this piece of a hundred and fifty lines, which related to the circumstances which presented a reflection of the local colouring, or a feature of individual physiognomy. Nothing was to be seen in it but fine generalities applicable to all times and places; an assembly of venerable prelates, a king, a model of justice, enlightenment, and courage, a queen admirable for her virtues, grace, and amiability; fancy figures, pure abstractions, as unlike the reality, as was the political state of Gaul to the peaceful retreat of the convent of Poitiers.∥
After the bishops had admired with the false feeling and easy taste of epochs of literary degeneracy, the poetical tricks, the exaggerations and subtleties of the panegyrist, they were obliged to return from the chimeras of this ideal to the impressions of real life. The opening of the synod took place, and all the judges took their seats on benches set round the hall of assembly. The vassals and Frankish warriors pressed in crowds to the doors of the hall, as in the trial of Prætextatus, but with very different dispositions with regard to the accused.* Far from trembling with rage and indignation at his sight, they showed him only respect, and even shared the exalted sympathies of the Gallo-Roman population in his favour. King Hilperik’s face wore a look of starched gravity which was not habitual to him. It seemed either as if he was afraid to face the adversary whom he had himself provoked, or that he felt himself embarrassed by the scandal of a public inquiry into the queen’s morals.
At his entrance he saluted all the members of the council, and having received their blessing, he sat down.† Then Berthramn, Bishop of Bordeaux, who passed for the accomplice of Fredegonda’s adulteries, spoke as the accusing party; he exposed the facts of the case, and summoning Gregory, he required him to declare if it was true that he had uttered any such imputations against him and the queen.‡ “Truly, I have never said any thing of the kind,” answered the Bishop of Tours. “But,” instantly returned Berthramn with a vivacity which might appear suspicious, “these wicked rumours have been spread; thou must know something about them?” The accused answered in a calm voice: “Others have said so; I may have heard them, but I never believed them.”§
The slight murmur of satisfaction which these words excited in the assembly, was converted outside into stamping and clamour. Notwithstanding the king’s presence, the Frankish vassals, strangers to the idea which the Romans entertained of the majesty of royalty, and the sacredness of judiciary assemblies, suddenly interposed in the debate with exclamations expressive of a rude liberty of speech. “Why are such things imputed to a priest of God? Whence comes it that the king prosecutes such an affair? Is the bishop capable of saying such things even about a slave? Ah! Lord God! help thy servant!”∥ At these cries of opposition, the king rose, but without anger, and as if used by long experience to the brutal frankness of his leudes. Raising his voice so that the crowd outside might hear his apology, he said to the assembly, “The imputation directed against my wife is an outrage to me; it was my duty to resent it. If you think right that witnesses against the bishop should be produced, here they are present; but if you think that this should not be done, but that the veracity of the bishop should be trusted, say so, and I willingly abide by whatever you determine.”*
The bishops, delighted and somewhat surprised at this moderation and docility in King Hilperik, permitted him immediately to bring forward the witnesses whose presence he announced; but he was only able to introduce one, the subdeacon Rikulf.† Plato and Gallienus persisted that they had nothing to declare. As to Leudaste, profiting by his liberty and the disorder which prevailed at the settling of these proceedings, not only had he not come to the meeting, but had moreover taken the precaution of absenting himself from the scene of the debates. Rikulf, audacious to the end, began to speak; but the members of the synod stopped him, calling out on all sides, “A priest of inferior rank cannot in law he believed against a bishop.‡ ”
All witnesses being thus set aside, nothing remained but to be satisfied with the word and oath of the accused; the king, faithful to his promise, made no objection to the principle, but caviled respecting the form. Either from some caprice of imagination, or because vague remembrances of some old Germanic superstitions came into his mind under Christian forms, he wanted the justification of Bishop Gregory to be accompanied by strange acts, tending to make it resemble a sort of magic trial. He insisted that the bishop should say mass three times following at three different altars, and that, at the end of each mass, standing on the steps of the altar, he should swear that he had not held the language which was attributed to him.§
There was already something unsuited to the ideas and practices of orthodoxy in the celebration of mass added to an oath, with the view of rendering it more terrible; but the accumulation of oaths for one and the same fact was formally contrary to the canons of the church. The members of the synod acknowledged this, but were nevertheless of opinion that this concession to the king’s singular fancies should be made. Gregory himself consented to infringe the rule which he had so many times proclaimed. Perhaps, being personally accused, he made it a point of honour not to draw back from any kind of trial; perhaps also, in that house, where every thing had a Germanic look, where the appearance of the men was that of barbarians, and customs still half heathenish, he did not possess the same energy, the same liberty of conscience, as in the inclosure of the Gallic towns, or under the roofs of the basilicas.*
Whilst these events were passing, Fredegonda, retired at some distance, awaited the decision of the judges, feigning a passive calmness, and meditating in her heart on a cruel retaliation on the condemned, whoever they might be. Her daughter Rigontha, more from antipathy to her than any sincere feeling of affection for the Bishop of Tours, seemed to be deeply moved by the tribulations of this man, whom she hardly knew but by name, and whose merits she was moreover incapable of appreciating. Shut up that day in her apartment, she fasted and made her attendants fast, until the hour that a servant whom she had bribed came to announce that the bishop was declared innocent.† It appears that the king, in order to give a sign of his full and entire confidence in the members of the council, abstained from following up in person the trials which he had demanded, and left the bishops alone to accompany the accused to the oratory of the palace of Braine, where the three masses were said and the three oaths taken on the three altars. Immediately afterwards, the council met again; Hilperik had already taken his seat; the president of the assembly remained standing, and said with majestic gravity, “O king! the bishop has accomplished all the things which had been prescribed to him; his innocence is proved; and now what have we to do? It only remains for us to deprive thee and Berthramn, the accuser of one of his Christian brethren, of Christian communion.”‡ Astonished at this unexpected sentence, the king changed countenance, and, with the confused look of a schoolboy who throws his fault on his accomplices, he answered, “But I said nothing but what I had heard.” “Who said it first?” asked the president of the council in a firmer tone of authority.§ “It is from Leudaste that I learned all,” replied the king still agitated by having heard the sound of the terrible word excommunication in his ears.
The order was at once given to bring Leudaste to the bar of the assembly, but he was neither to be found in the palace nor its neighbourhood; he had prudently made his escape. The bishops determined to outlaw and excommunicate him.∥ When the deliberation was ended, the president of the synod rose, and pronounced the anathema according to the accustomed formula:—
“By the judgment of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and in virtue of the power granted to the apostles and the successors of the apostles, of loosing and unloosing in heaven and on earth, we all together decree that Leudaste, a sower of scandal, the accuser of the queen and false denouncer of a bishop, seeing that he has avoided the assembly to avoid its decision, shall henceforth be separated from the pale of the holy mother church, and excluded from Christian communion in the present life, and in the life to come.* Let no Christian salute him, or give him the kiss of peace. Let no priest celebrate mass for him, nor administer to him the holy communion of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Let no person keep company with him, nor receive him in his house, nor treat of any affair with him, nor eat, drink, nor converse with him, unless it be to induce him to repent.† Let him be cursed by God the Father, who made man; let him be cursed by God the Son, who suffered for man; let him be cursed by the Holy Ghost, who enters into us when we are baptized; let him be cursed by all the saints who since the commencement of the world have found grace in the sight of God. Let him be cursed wherever he is, in the house or in the field, in the high road or in the footpath. Let him be cursed living or dying, waking or sleeping, working or resting. Let him be cursed in all the vigour and all the organs of his body. Let him be cursed in all his limbs, and let him not have a single healthy part, from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.‡ Let him be delivered to eternal torments with Dathan and Abiron, and with those who have said to the Lord: Retire thou from us. And as fire is extinguished in the water, so let his light be extinguished forever, unless he should repent and come to give satisfaction.” At these last words all the members of the council, who had listened until then in devout silence, raised their voices, and exclaimed several times, “Amen, so be it, so be it; let him be anathematized; Amen, Amen.”§
This verdict, of which the religious threats were truly fearful, and the civil effects equivalent to outlawry for the condemned, was announced in a circular letter to all those bishops of Neustria who had not attended the council.* They then passed to the judgment of the subdeacon Rikulf, convicted, by the justification of the Bishop of Tours, of giving false evidence. The Roman law, which was that of all ecclesiastics, without distinction of race, punished the calumnious accusation of a capital crime, such as high treason, with death:† this law was applied in all its rigour, and the synod pronounced a sentence against the priest Rikulf, which delivered him over to the secular arm. This was the last act of the assembly; it separated immediately afterwards, and each of the bishops, having taken leave of the king, prepared to return to his diocese.‡ Before thinking of departure, Gregory solicited the pardon of the man who had pursued him with his impostures with such perversity and effrontery. Hilperik was then in a mild mood, either from the joy which he felt at the termination of the embarrassments into which the care of his conjugal honour had hurried him, or because he had at heart the wish of atoning, by polite attention, for the wrongs of the Bishop of Tours. At his prayer, he remitted the capital punishment, and only retained the torture, which, according to the Roman legislature, was inflicted, not as a punishment, but as a supplementary examination.§
Fredegonda herself decided that it was in her policy to ratify this act of clemency, and to leave life to one whom a solemn judgment had delivered into her hands. But it seems as if in sparing him she wanted to try on him the experiment of how much pain a man could endure without dying; and in this ferocious amusement, she was but too well seconded by the officious zeal of the vassals and servants of the palace, who emulated each other as the executioners of the condemned. “I do not think,” says the cotemporary narrator, who is here no other than the Bishop of Tours, “I do not think that any inanimate thing, any metal could have resisted all the blows with which this poor unfortunate was bruised. From the third hour of the day to the ninth, he remained suspended from a tree by his hands tied behind his back. At the ninth hour he was taken down, and stretched on a rack where he was beaten with sticks, rods, and leathern straps doubled, and this, not by one or two men, but as many as could approach him set to work and struck him.∥ ”
His sufferings, as well as his resentment against Leudaste, whose tool he had been, combined to make him reveal the still unknown foundation of this dark intrigue. He said that in accusing the queen of adultery, his two accomplices and himself had for object her expulsion from the kingdom with her two sons, in order that Chlodowig, the son of Audowera, should alone remain to succeed his father. He added that, according to their hopes, in case of success, Leudaste was to be made a duke, the priest Rikulf a bishop, and himself Archdeacon of Tours.* These revelations did not directly charge young Chlodowig with participating in the plot, but his interests had been connected with those of the three conspirators; Fredegonda did not forget it, and from that moment he was marked in her mind among her mortal enemies.
News traveled slowly in that century, unless carried by express; and thus several weeks elapsed before the issue of the trial carried on at Soissons and judged at Braine, could be known. During these days of uncertainty, the citizens, anxious respecting the fate of their bishop, suffered moreover from the troubles caused by the turbulence and boasting of the enemies of Gregory. Their chief, the priest Rikulf, had of his own private authority, installed himself in the episcopal palace, and there, as if he had already possessed the title of bishop, the object of his vain ambition, exercised the absolute power then attached to that title.† Disposing of the property of the metropolitan church as if he was its master, he made out an inventory of all the plate; and to secure himself adherents, he began by distributing rich gifts to the principal members of the clergy, giving valuable furniture to one, and fields or vineyards to others. As to the priests of inferior rank, of whom he thought he was in no want, he treated them in a perfectly different manner, and only let them feel the power he had arrogated to himself, by acts of rigour and violence. For the least fault, he had them beaten with sticks, or struck them with his own hand, saying, “acknowledge your master.”‡ He repeated constantly in a tone of emphatic vanity: “It is I, who by my wisdom, have purged the city of Tours of that brood which came from Auvergne.”§ If his intimate friends ever expressed any doubt of the success of this usurpation, and the sincerity of those whom his extravagant largesses attracted to him, he said with a smile of superiority: “Leave me alone; a prudent man is never taken by surprise; he can only be deceived by perjury.”*
This braggart, so full of himself, was suddenly roused from his dreams of ambition by the arrival of Gregory, who made his entry into Tours amidst universal rejoicing. Compelled to restore the episcopal palace to its legitimate possessor, Rikulf did not come to salute the bishop, as not only the members of the clergy but all the other citizens did on that day. At first he affected airs of scorn, and a kind of silent bravado; then his impotent malice turned to frenzy, he used furious language, and talked of nothing but threats of death.†
Gregory, always observant of forms, did not hasten to use force against this dangerous enemy; but, proceeding calmly and without intimidation, he united the suffragans of the see of Tours in a provincial synod. His letters of convocation were addressed individually to the bishops of all the cities of the third Lyonnese province, excepting those possessed by the Bretons, a people as jealous of their religious as of their political independence, and whose national church had no fixed and regular relations with the church of the Gauls.‡ The bishops of Angers, of the Mans, and of Rennes, took deeply to heart the peace of the church of Tours, and the interest of its bishop. But Felix, Bishop of Nantes, either by his absence from the synod, or the part he took in the deliberations, gave unequivocal signs of ill-will to Gregory, and partiality to his enemies. He was a man of Gallic race and of high birth, who said he was descended from the ancient sovereign chiefs of the territory of Aquitania, and reckoned amongst his ancestors prefects of the pretorium, patricians and consuls.§ To this nobility, of which he was very proud, he added qualities rare in his time; a strong and enterprising mind, the talent of speaking with eloquence and writing with facility, and a spark of that administrative genius which shone in Gaul under the Roman government.∥
Bishop of a frontier incessantly menaced by the hostile inroads of the Bretons, and which the Merovingian kings were unable always to protect, Felix had taken upon himself to provide for every thing, to watch at the same time over the safety and prosperity of his diocese.* In default of an army, he opposed vigilant policy and adroit negotiations to the encroachments of the Bretons; and when security was restored around him, he executed out of his own funds works of public utility.† In the midst of this life of activity and impulses given to improvements, his character had contracted something fierce and imperious, very different from the ideal of a priest according to the apostolical traditions. He once happened to have a great desire for a domain which the church of Tours possessed near Nantes, and which was perhaps necessary to him for the accomplishment of a great enterprize, that of altering the course of the Loire, and of making a new bed for the river, a plan advantageous both to agriculture and commerce.‡ With his scrupulous and somewhat rigid regularity, Gregory refused to give up the smallest portion of the property of the church; and this dispute becoming violent by degrees, gave rise to a pen and ink warfare, which doubtless caused great scandal. (ad 576—580.) They addressed to one another, in the form of letters, diatribes, which they took care to communicate to their friends, and which circulated publicly like real pamphlets.
In this conflict of bitter words and injurious accusations, the Bishop of Tours, more candid, less bad tempered, and less witty than his adversary, was far from having the advantage.—To the cutting and furious reproaches with which Felix loaded him on account of his refusal to relinquish the contested property, he answered with doctoral good humour: “Remember the words of the prophet: Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!”§ And when the irascible Bishop of Nantes, setting aside the object of the controversy, endeavoured to throw ridicule and odium on the person and family of his antagonist, Gregory found only sallies of this kind in reply: “Oh! if Marseilles had thee for its bishop, the ships would no longer bring in oil or other provisions of that kind; nothing but cargoes of papyrus, that thou mightest have wherewith to write at thy ease, to defame worthy people; but the want of paper puts a stop to thy idle talk . . .”*
Perhaps the misunderstanding which divided the Bishops of Tours and Nantes had deeper causes than this accidental dispute. The imputation of immoderate pride, which Gregory addressed to Felix, gives us reason to think that some rivalry of aristocracy existed between them.† It seems as if the descendant of the ancient princes of Aquitania suffered at finding himself hierarchically submitting to a man of nobility inferior to his own, or that, from an exaggerated sentiment of local patriotism, he would have wished the ecclesiastical dignities in the western provinces to have been the exclusive patrimony of the great families of the country. Thence arose probably his sympathy and understanding with the faction at Tours, who hated Gregory because he was a stranger; for he had long known and even favoured the intrigues of the priest Rikulf.‡
(ad 580.) These evil dispositions of the most powerful and talented of the suffragans of the bishopric of Tours, did not prevent the provincial synod from assembling regularly and administering justice. Rikulf, condemned as an abettor of disturbances and a rebel to his bishop, was sent into seclusion in a monastery, the place of which is not mentioned.§ Hardly a month had elapsed after he had been shut up there under careful superintendence, when some trusty adherents of the Bishop of Nantes dexterously introduced themselves to the abbot who governed the monastery. They employed all sorts of stratagems to circumvent him; and with the aid of false oaths they obtained from him permission for the absence of the prisoner, under promise of his return. But Rikulf, when he found himself outside, took flight, and hastened to Felix, who received him with pleasure, thus braving the authority of his metropolitan in the most insulting manner.∥ This was the last and perhaps the keenest annoyance caused to the Bishop of Tours by this wretched affair; for it was the work of a man of the same origin, the same rank, and the same education as himself; a man of whom he could not say, as of his other enemies, whether of barbarian race, or equally ignorant and slaves to their passions as the barbarians, “My God, they know not what they do.”
Meanwhile, Leudaste, outlawed by a sentence of excommunication, and by a royal edict, which forbade every one from procuring for him either a home, bread, or shelter, led a wandering life, full of perils and obstacles. He came from Braine to Paris with the intention of taking refuge in the basilica of St. Peter; but the anathema which declared him excluded from the asylum offered to all outlaws, obliged him to renounce this plan, and confide in the fidelity and courage of some friend.* Whilst he was hesitating what direction he should take, he learnt that his only son was just dead; this news, it appears, awoke in him all his family affections, and inspired him with an irresistible desire to see his own fireside again. Concealing his name, and walking alone in the poorest dress possible, he took the road to Tours; and on his arrival crept stealthily into the house which his wife inhabited.† When he had devoted to paternal emotions some moments which the fickleness of his character and his pressing anxieties must have rendered very short, he hastened to place in safety the money and valuables which he had amassed by his plunder while in office.
He kept up relations of mutual hospitality in the country of Bourges with some persons of Germanic origin, relations which, according to the barbarian customs, imposed duties so sacred that neither the prohibitions of the law nor even the menaces of religion could prevail against them. It was in the care of his hosts that he resolved to place all the riches he possessed, until better days; and he had time to send off the largest portion of them before the edict of proscription issued against him was promulgated at Tours.‡ But these moments of respite were not of long duration; the royal messengers brought the fatal decree, escorted by a troop of armed men, who, from evidence gathered from stage to stage, followed the trace of the outlaw. They surrounded Leudaste’s house; he had the good fortune to escape; but his wife, less fortunate, was seized and conveyed to Soissons, and afterwards, by the king’s orders, exiled to the neighbouring country of Tournai.§
The fugitive, taking the same road as the wagons which carried his treasure, went towards the town of Blois, and entered the territory of King Gonthramn, where Hilperik’s followers did not venture to pursue him. He arrived at his host’s house at the same time as his baggage, the aspect and volume of which, unfortunately for him, tempted the inhabitants of the place.∥ Thinking the property of a stranger a fair prize, they assembled to seize it; and the judge of the district placed himself at their head, in order to have his share of the booty. Leudaste had with him no power able to repulse such an attack, and if his hosts endeavoured to assist him, their resistance was fruitless. Every thing was pillaged by the aggressors, who carried off the money-bags, the gold and silver plate, the furniture, and the clothes, only leaving the plundered man what he had on, and threatening to kill him if he did not depart as quickly as possible.* Again obliged to fly, Leudaste retraced his steps, and audaciously took the road to Tours: the want to which he now found himself reduced, had inspired him with a desperate resolution.
As soon as he had reached the frontier of the kingdom of Hilperik, and of his own former government, he announced in the first village, that there was a good move to be made on the estates of King Gonthramn, at the distance of a day’s march, and that every man of courage who would run the risk of this adventure, should be generously rewarded. Young peasants and vagabonds of all classes, who were then never wanting on the high roads, assembled at this news, and followed the ex-count of Tours without much inquiring where he was leading them. Leudaste took his measures so as to arrive speedily at the spot which his spoilators inhabited, and fell suddenly on the house where he had seen the produce of their plunder stored away. This bold manœuvre was perfectly successful; the Tourangeaux attacked bravely, killed one man, wounded several, and took back a considerable portion of the booty which the people of the Berri had not yet divided amongst themselves.†
Elated by this stroke of policy, and the protestations of devotion which he received after distributing his bounty, Leudaste thought himself in future powerful against any enemy whomsoever, and recovering his former presumption, took up his abode in (581) the neighbourhood of Tours, taking no care to conceal his presence. On the reports of it which were spread, Duke Berulf sent his officers with a troop of armed men to seize the outlaw.‡ Leudaste narrowly escaped falling into their hands; just on the point of being seized, he contrived to slip away, but it was by abandoning all the money and furniture which remained to him.
Whilst an inventory of the wrecks of his fortune was being made out, as belonging to the fisc, and sent off to Soissons, he himself, following the opposite road, endeavoured to reach Poitiers, there to take refuge, despairing of his cause, in the basilica of St. Hilary.*
It seems as if the neighbourhood of the convent of Radegonda, and even the character of this mild and revered woman had shed over the church of Poitiers an indulgent spirit which distinguished it from all others. This is, at least, the only possible explanation of the charitable reception which a man at once outlawed and excommunicated found in the bosom of this church, after having found the sanctuary of St. Martin of Tours and the basilicas of Paris closed against him. Leudaste’s joy at finding himself once more in safety was at first very great, but it soon diminished; and he felt only what was insupportable to his vanity, the humiliation of being one of the poorest of those who shared with him the sanctuary of St. Hilary. To avoid this, and to satisfy his inveterate love of sensuality and debauchery, he organized into a band of robbers the most worthless and the most determined of his companions in the sanctuary. When the police of the town was less strong or less vigilant than usual, the ex-count of Tours, informed of it by his spies, left the basilica of St. Hilary at the head of his troop, and running to some house which had been pointed out to him as a rich one, he carried off by force the money and valuable plate, or ransomed the terrified proprietors on his own terms.† Loaded with booty, the bandits instantly re-entered the inclosure of the basilica, where they divided it, and then ate, drank, quarreled, or played dice together.
Sometimes the holy sanctuary became the scene of still more shameful excesses; Leudaste brought there women of disorderly lives, some of whom, married women, were found in adultery with him under the porticos of the church.‡ Either because at the report of these scandalous occurrences, an order was issued from the Court of Soissons prescribing the rigorous execution of the sentence passed at Braine, or because Radegonda herself, shocked by these profanations, begged for the expulsion of Leudaste, he was driven from the sanctuary of St. Hilary as unworthy of all pity.§ Not knowing where to rest his head, he once more applied to his friends in the Berri. Notwithstanding the obstacles raised around them by recent events, their friendship contrived to find him a retreat, which he himself abandoned after some time, impelled to it by his petulant humour and vicious inclinations.* He resumed the wandering and adventurous life which was to lead him to his ruin: but even had he been endowed with prudence and foresight, there was no longer any safety for him; an inevitable fatality hung over his head, the revenge of Fredegonda, who could sometimes wait, but never could forget.
HILPERIK A THEOLOGIAN.—THE JEW PRISCUS.—CONTINUATION AND END OF THE HISTORY OF LEUDASTE.
(ad 580.)—After the fortunate issue of the accusation made against him, the Bishop of Tours had resumed the course of his religious and political occupations which had been for a short time interrupted. Not only the affairs of his diocese and the care of his municipal government demanded daily vigilance on his part, but interests still more general, those of the Gallican church, and the national peace, continually broken by the Frankish kings, caused him much anxiety. Alone, or in company with other bishops, he made frequent journeys to the various residences which the court of Neustria successively occupied; and in that palace of Braine, where he had been summoned, accused of high treason, he found himself surrounded with honours and attentions.† In order suitably to receive such a guest, King Hilperik studied to assume all the externals of Roman civilization, and to give proofs of his knowledge and good taste. He even made confidential readings of his compositions to the bishop, asking his advice, and displaying before him with naïve vanity his slightest literary performances.
These rude essays, the fruits of a praiseworthy, but useless, because unsteady love of imitation, touched upon all sorts of studies, grammar, poetry, the fine-arts, jurisprudence, theology; and in his fits of love of civilization, the barbarian king passed from one subject to another with all the petulance of an inexperienced scholar. The last of the Latin poets, Fortunatus, had celebrated this royal caprice as a subject of hope for the friends of ancient intellectual cultivation, who were more and more discouraged;‡ but Bishop Gregory, less sanguine in disposition, and less dazzled by the splendour of power, did not share those illusions. Whatever might be his countenance and language on receiving the literary confidences of the grandson of Chlodowig, he felt only a bitter contempt for the writer, whom as king he was obliged to flatter. He saw only in the Christian poems composed by Hilperik, on the model of those by the priest Sedulius, trashy, unformed verses, crippled in all their feet, and in which, for want of the simplest notions of prosody, long syllables were substituted for short, and short for long. As to his less ambitious works, such as hymns or parts of the mass, Gregory considered them inadmissible; and amid the awkward stumblings of this rude mind striving on all sides to develop itself, he did not sufficiently distinguish the many serious attempts and good intentions there were.*
Guided by a spark of real good sense, Hilperik had thought of the possibility of rendering the sounds of the Germanic language in the Latin character. With this view, he imagined the addition of four letters, of his own invention, to the alphabet, among which was one added to the pronunciation, which has since been rendered by the w. The proper nouns of Germanic origin were thus to receive a fixed and exact orthography in the Latin writings. But neither this result, which was sought for later with great difficulty, nor the measures then taken to obtain it, appear to have found favour in the eyes of the too fastidious or too prejudiced bishop. He only smiled with pity to see a potentate of barbarian race with the pretension of rectifying the Roman alphabet, and ordering, by letters addressed to the counts of towns and the municipal senates, that in all public schools the books used for teaching should be erased with pumice-stone, and re-written according to the new system.*
One day King Hilperik, having taken the Bishop of Tours apart as if for an affair of the greatest importance, made one of his secretaries read to him a little treatise he had just written on important theological points. The principal thesis sustained in this singularly daring book was, that the Holy Trinity should not be designated by the distinction of persons, and that it should have but one name, that of God; that it was an unworthy thing that God should receive the appellation of person, like a man of flesh and blood; that He who is the Father is the same as the Son and the same as the Holy Ghost; and that He who is the Holy Ghost, is the same as the Father and the same as the Son; that it was thus that He appeared to the patriarchs and the prophets, and that He was announced by the law.† At the first words of this new creed Gregory was violently agitated, for he recognized with horror the heresy of Sabellius, the most dangerous of all after that of Arius, because, like the latter, it seemed to rest on some rational foundation.‡ Whether the king had imbibed from his reading the doctrine he thus reproduced, or had arrived at it himself by abuse of reasoning, he was then as convinced that he held the truth of the Christian tenets, as he was proud of having learnedly expounded it. The more and more visible signs of dislike which escaped from the bishop, surprised and irritated him to the last degree. With the vanity of the logician who believes himself perfectly right, and the despotism of the master who will not allow any one to think him wrong, he said in a sharp tone, “I insist that thou and the other doctors of the Church shall believe this.”§
At this imperious declaration, Gregory, resuming his calmness and habitual gravity, replied, “Most pious king, it is necessary for thee to abjure this error, and follow the doctrine left us by the apostles, and after them by the fathers of the Church, which Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, and Eusebius, Bishop of Verceil, have taught, and which thou thyself didst profess at thy baptism.”∥ “But,” replied Hilperik, with increasing ill-humour, “it is manifest that Hilary and Eusebius were strongly opposed to one another on this point.” This objection was embarrassing, and Gregory found that he had placed himself upon dangerous ground. To elude the difficulty of a direct answer, he spoke in these terms: “Thou must be careful not to utter words which offend God or his saints;”* then passing to an exposition of the orthodox creed, such as he might have pronounced from the pulpit, he continued, “Know that, considering them in their separate persons, the Father is one, the Son is one, the Holy Ghost is one. It is not the Father who made Himself flesh, nor is it the Holy Ghost; it is the Son who for the redemption of mankind, being the Son of God, became also the son of a Virgin. It is not the Father who suffered death, nor is it the Holy Ghost; it is the Son; that He who made Himself flesh in this world, might be offered as a sacrifice for the world. As to the persons of whom thou speakest, they are not to be understood literally, but figuratively; and thus, although in reality they are three, there is among them but one glory, one eternity, one power.”†
This sort of pastoral instruction was interrupted by the king, who, not choosing to listen to any thing further, exclaimed angrily, “I shall have it read to wiser persons than thou, and they will be of my opinion.”‡ Gregory was piqued by his speech, and excited on his side into incautiously answering, “There will not be one man of sense or learning, there will be none but a fool who will ever admit what thou propoundest.”§ It is impossible to say what passed in Hilperik’s mind at that minute; he left the bishop without saying a word, but a shudder of rage proved that the literary and theological king had lost none of his ancestral violence of temper. Some days afterwards, he made a trial of his book upon Salvius, Bishop of Alby; and this second attempt not being more successful than the first, he was immediately discouraged, and abandoned his opinions on the Divine nature with as much ease as he had at first been obstinate in maintaining them.∥
(ad 581.) There was no vestige remaining of this grave dissension, when, in the year 581, King Hilperik chose as a summer residence the domain of Nogent, on the banks of the Marne, and near its confluence with the Seine. The Bishop of Tours, perfectly reconciled, came to pay the king a visit in his new domicile, and whilst he was inhabiting it, a great event occurred, which caused a diversion to the habitual monotony of the internal life of the palace.* This was the return of an embassy sent to Constantinople to congratulate the Emperor Tiberius, the successor of Justin the Younger, on his accession to the throne. The ambassadors, loaded with presents from the new emperor to King Hilperik, had returned by sea to Gaul; but instead of landing at Marseilles, a city which King Gonthramn and the guardians of young King Hildebert were then disputing about, they had preferred a strange harbour, that of Agde, in the kingdom of the Goths, as being safer for them.† Overtaken by a storm in sight of the coast of Septimania, their vessel struck on some breakers, and whilst they were trying to save themselves by swimming, all the cargo was pillaged by the inhabitants of the country. Fortunately, the officer who governed the town of Agde in the name of the King of the Goths, thought it either his duty or his policy to interfere, and caused, if not all the baggage, at least the greatest part of the rich presents destined to their king to be restored to the Franks.‡ They arrived thus at the palace of Nogent to the great delight of Hilperik, who hastened to display to his leudes and guests all the precious stuffs, gold plate and ornaments of all kinds which had been sent him by the emperor.§ Amongst a large number of curious and magnificent things, what the Bishop of Tours examined most attentively, perhaps because he was delighted to see in them a symbol of civilized sovereignty, were large golden medals bearing on one side the head of the emperor with this inscription: Tiberius Constantinus for ever Augustus, and on the other a winged figure and these words: Glory of the Romans. Every coin weighed a pound, and they had been struck in commemoration of the beginning of the new reign.∥ In the presence of these splendid productions of the arts of the empire, and signs of imperial grandeur, the King of Neustria, as if he feared for himself some unfavourable comparison, was piqued into displaying proofs of his own magnificence. He sent for, and placed by the side of the presents which his leudes contemplated, some with naïve astonishment, others with looks of envy, an enormous golden basin decorated with precious stones, which had been made by his orders. This basin, destined to appear on the royal table on grand occasions, weighed no less than fifty pounds.* At the sight of it, all the bystanders exclaimed with admiration on the costliness of the material and the beauty of the workmanship. The king enjoyed for some time in silence the pleasure which these praises caused him, and then said with a mingled expression of pride and satisfaction: “I have done this to give splendour and renown to the nation of the Franks, and if God gives me life, I will do many other things.”†
The counsellor and agent of Hilperik in his plans of royal luxury and purchases of valuable things, was a Parisian Jew, named Priscus. This man, whom the king liked very much, and often sent for, and with whom he condescended to indulge in a certain degree of familiarity, was then at Nogent.‡ After having devoted some time to the superintendence of the works, and the verification of the agricultural produce of his great estate on the Marne, Hilperik took a fancy to go and settle at Paris, either in the ancient imperial palace, of which the ruins still exist, or in another less extensive palace built within the walls of the city at the western extremity of the island. On the day of departure, at the moment when the king was giving the order to put the horse to the baggage wagons, the file of which he was to follow on horseback with his leudes, Bishop Gregory came to take leave of him, and whilst the bishop was making his adieus, the Jew Priscus arrived to make his also.§ Hilperik, who was that day in a good-humoured mood, playfully took the Jew by the hair, and pulling him gently to make him bend his head, said to Gregory: “Come, priest of God, and bless him.”∥
As Priscus excused himself, and drew back with terror from a benediction which would, according to his belief, have rendered him guilty of sacrilege, the king said to him: “Oh! hard of heart and ever incredulous race, which will not comprehend the Son of God promised by the voice of its prophets, which does not understand the mysteries of the church as symbolized in its services.”¶ As he uttered this exclamation, Hilperik let go the Jew’s hair, and left him at liberty; the latter, immediately recovering from his fright, and returning attack for attack, answered: “God does not marry, he does not need it, he has no posterity born to him, and he suffers no companion of his power, he who has said by the mouth of Moses: ‘See, see, I am the Lord, and there is no other God but me! It is I who kill and who give life, I who smite and who make whole.’ ”*
Far from feeling indignant at such boldness of speech, King Hilperik was delighted that what had at first been only play, furnished him with an opportunity of displaying in a regular controversy his theological science, free this time from all reproach of heresy. Assuming the grave look and solemn tone of an ecclesiastical doctor instructing his catechumens, he replied: “God has spiritually engendered from all eternity a Son who is neither younger than himself, nor less powerful, and of whom he has himself said, ‘I have conceived you before the morning star.’ This Son, born before all centuries, he sent him some centuries ago into the world to save it, according to what thy prophet says: ‘He sent his Holy Spirit, and they were made whole.’ And when thou dost pretend that he does not generate, listen to what thy prophet says, speaking in the name of the Lord: ‘Shall not I, who cause others to bring forth, bring forth myself likewise?’ By that, he means the people who were to be regenerated in him through faith.”† The Jew, more and more emboldened by the discussion, resumed: “Is it possible that God should have been made man, that he should have been born of a woman, should have been beaten with rods, and have been condemned to death?”‡
This objection, which addressed itself to the simplest, and it may also be said, the commonest human understanding, touched one of the weak points of the king’s mind; he appeared astonished, and finding nothing to answer, he remained silent. This was the moment for the Bishop of Tours to interfere.§ “If the Son of God,” said he to Priscus, “if God himself made himself man, it is for us, and by no means from a necessity of his own; for he could only redeem man from the chains of sin and the dominion of the devil, by assuming human nature. I will not take my proofs from the Gospels and the apostles, in whom thou dost not believe, but from thine own books, in order to kill thee with thine own sword, as it is said David formerly killed Goliah.* Learn, then, from one of the prophets that God was to become man: ‘God is man,’ said he, ‘and who doth not know it?’ and elsewhere, ‘This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of him; he hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob his servant, and to Israel his beloved; afterward did he shew himself upon earth, and conversed with men.’ Respecting his being born of a virgin, listen likewise to thy prophet when he says, ‘Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, that is, God with us.’ And about his being beaten with rods, pierced with nails, and submitted to other ignominious tortures, another prophet has said, ‘they pierced my hands and feet, and they parted my garments among them;’ and again: ‘they gave me gall to eat; and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.’ ”†
“But,” replied the Jew, “what obliged God to submit to these things?” The bishop saw by this question that he had been little understood, and perhaps badly listened to; however he resumed, without betraying the least impatience:‡ “I have already told thee; God created man innocent, but deceived by the cunning of the serpent, man disobeyed God’s commands, and for this fault he was expelled from Paradise, and subjected to the labours of this world. It is by the death of Christ, the only Son of God, that he has been reconciled to the Father.”§
“But,” again retorted the Jew, “could not God send prophets or apostles to bring men back into the paths of salvation, without humiliating himself by becoming flesh?”∥ The bishop, always calm and grave, replied: “The human race has never ceased to sin from the beginning: neither the inundation of the deluge, the burning of Sodom, the plagues of Egypt, nor the miracles which opened the Red Sea, and the waters of the Jordan, none of these were able to terrify it. It has always resisted the law of God, it has not believed the prophets, and not only has not believed, but has put to death those who came to preach repentance. Thus, if God himself had not come to redeem it, no other could have accomplished the work of redemption.¶ We have been regenerated by his birth, cleansed by his baptism, healed by his wounds, raised by his resurrection, glorified by his ascension; and to tell us that He was to come bringing the remedy for all our ills, one of thy prophets has said, ‘with his stripes are we healed.’ And elsewhere: ‘and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.’ And again: ‘he is brought like a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth; he was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation? His name is the Lord of Hosts.’ Jacob himself, from whom thou boastest thou art descended, when blessing his son Judah, said, as if he were speaking to Christ the Son of God: ‘thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art grown up; he stoopeth down to sleep like a lion; who shall rouse him up?’ ”* . . .
These discourses, desultory in their logic, but bearing in their very rudeness the marks of a certain grandeur of character, produced no effect on the mind of the Jew Priscus; he ceased to dispute, but without appearing the least shaken in his belief.† When the king saw that he remained silent like a man who will not give way, he turned to the Bishop of Tours and said, “Holy priest, let this wretched man go without thy blessing; I will say to thee what Jacob said to the angel with whom he conversed: ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’ ”‡ After these words, which were neither wanting in grace nor dignity, Hilperik asked for some water for himself and the bishop to wash their hands in; and when both had washed, Gregory, laying his right hand on the king’s head, pronounced the blessing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.§
There stood near, on a table, some bread and wine, and probably other dishes, destined to be offered to the persons of distinction who came to pay their farewell salutations to the king. According to the rules of Frankish politeness, Hilperik invited the Bishop of Tours not to leave him without eating something at his table. The bishop took a piece of bread, made the sign of the cross upon it, then breaking it in two, he kept one piece, and presented the other to the king, who ate with him standing. Then having both poured out a little wine, they drank together, wishing each other adieu.∥ The bishop prepared to resume the road to his diocese; the king mounted on horseback in the midst of his leudes and attendants, escorting with them the covered wagon which contained the queen and her daughter Rigontha. The royal family of Neustria, once so numerous, was now reduced to these two persons. The two sons of Hilperik and Fredegonda had been carried off in the preceding year by an epidemic; the last of Audowera’s sons had perished almost at the same time by a bloody catastrophe, the sombre details of which will form the subject of our next narrative.*
This scene of religious controversy, so singularly produced by a jest, had, it appears, left a strong impression on the mind of King Hilperik. During his residence in Paris, he reflected seriously on the impossibility of convincing the Jews, and drawing them into the pale of the church by reasoning with them. These reflections continued to preoccupy him even in the midst of great political troubles, and the cares of the invasive war he was making on his southern frontier;† the result was, in the year 582, a royal proclamation, which ordered that all the Jews living at Paris should be baptized. This decree, addressed in the usual style to the count or judge of the town, ended with a formula of the king’s invention, a truly barbarous one, which he was accustomed to use, sometimes as a bugbear, and sometimes with the serious intention of conforming to the letter of it: “If any one disregard our command, let him be punished by having his eyes put out.”‡
Struck with terror, the Jews obeyed, and went to church to receive Christian instruction. The king took a childish pride in attending the ceremonies of their baptism with great pomp,§ and even in standing godfather to some of these converts by compulsion. One man, however, dared to resist, and refused to abjure; it was the same Priscus whose logical defence had been so obstinate. Hilperik was patient; he tried anew the power of persuasion on the mind of the reasoner who had contended with him;∥ but, after an useless conference, irritated at finding for the second time his eloquence of no avail, he exclaimed, “If he will not believe willingly, I will make him believe whether he will or no.”¶ The Jew Priscus, then thrown into prison, did not lose courage; adroitly profiting by the intimate knowledge he possessed of the king’s character, he took advantage of his foible, and offered him rich gifts, on condition of obtaining a short respite in return. His son, he said, was soon to marry a Jewess at Marseilles, and he only wanted the time to conclude this marriage, after which he would submit like the others and change his religion.* Hilperik cared little whether the pretext was true, and the promise sincere, and the bait of the gold suddenly calming his proselytizing mania, he ordered the Jew merchant to be set at liberty. Thus Priscus alone remained free from apostacy, and calm of conscience amongst his fellow believers, who, agitated in various ways by fear and remorse, assembled secretly to celebrate the Sabbath-day, and the next attended as Christians the services of the church.†
Amongst those of the new converts whom King Hilperik had honoured by the favour of his spiritual paternity, was a certain Phatir, a native of the kingdom of the Burgondes, and recently established at Paris. This man, of a gloomy disposition, had no sooner forsaken the faith of his ancestors, than he felt deep remorse for so doing; the consciousness of the opprobrium into which he had fallen soon became insupportable to him. The bitterness of his feelings turned into a violent jealousy of Priscus, who, more fortunate than himself, could walk with his head erect, exempt from the shame and torments which gnaw the heart of an apostate.‡ This secretly-cherished hatred increased to frenzy, and Phatir resolved to assassinate the man whose happiness he envied. Every Sabbath day Priscus went secretly to fulfil the rites of Jewish worship, at a lone house south of the town, on one of the two Roman roads which met at a short distance from the little bridge.—Phatir conceived the plan of awaiting his passage, and taking with him his slaves armed with swords and daggers, posted himself in ambush in the portico of the basilica of Saint Julian. The unfortunate Priscus, suspecting nothing, followed his usual road: according to the custom of the Jews when they went to the temple, he had no sort of weapon, but wore, tied round his body like a sash, the veil with which he was to cover his head during the prayer and the chaunting of the psalms.§ Some of his friends accompanied him, but they were, like himself, without means of defence. As soon as Phatir saw them within his reach, he fell upon them, sword in hand, followed by his slaves, who, animated by their master’s fury, struck without distinction of persons, and massacred both Priscus and his friends. The murderers, instantly making for the safest and nearest sanctuary, took refuge in the basilica of Saint Julian.*
Either because Priscus was highly esteemed by the inhabitants of Paris, or because the sight of dead bodies lying on the ground was sufficient to rouse public indignation, the people flocked to the place where the murder had been committed, and a considerable crowd, crying out, “death to the murderers,” surrounded the basilica on all sides. The alarm was so great among the clerks, guardians of the church, that they sent in great haste to the king’s palace to ask for protection, and orders as to what they were to do. Hilperik replied, that it was his will that the life of his godson Phatir should be saved, but that the slaves were all to be turned out of the sanctuary, and punished with death. These, faithful to the last to the master whom they had served in evil as well as in good, saw him escape alone by the help of the clerks, without murmuring, and prepared to die.† To escape from the sufferings with which the anger of the people threatened them, and the torture which, according to the law, was to precede their execution, they resolved unanimously that one of them should kill the others, and then kill himself; and they named by acclamation the one who was to undertake the office of executioner. The slave who was to execute the general desire struck his companions one after the other; but when he saw himself alone remaining, he hesitated at turning the steel against his own breast.‡ A vague hope of escape, or the thought of at least selling his life dearly, impelled him to rush from the basilica into the midst of the assembled people. Brandishing his sword dripping with blood, he attempted to force a passage through the crowd; but, after a struggle of a few moments, he was crushed by the multitude, and perished, cruelly mutilated.§ Phatir solicited from the king, for his own security, permission to return to the country whence he came; he departed from Gonthramn’s kingdom, but the relations of Priscus followed in his traces, overtook him, and by his death avenged that of their relation.∥
Whilst these things were passing in Paris, an unexpected event, about the end of the year 582, set the city of Tours in an uproar, after the tolerably peaceful state it had enjoyed under the government of Eunomius, its new count. Leudaste, the ex-count, reappeared there, no longer in a mysterious manner, but publicly, with his habitual confidence and presumption. He was the bearer of a royal edict which gave him permission to recall his wife from exile, to resume his estates, and inhabit his former residence.* He owed this favour, which he looked upon as the first step to new prosperity, to the solicitations of the numerous friends he possessed at court among the chiefs of the Frankish race, whose turbulent dispositions sympathized with his own. During nearly two years, they had never ceased to importune with their entreaties, sometimes King Hilperik, sometimes the bishops of the council of Braine, sometimes Fredegonda herself, who had become more accessible to them since the death of her two sons on whom her fortunes depended. Yielding to a desire of popularity, and her hatred and love of revenge giving way before the interest of the moment, she consented on her side, that the man who had accused her of adultery should be released from the sentence of excommunication pronounced against him. At this promise of pardon and oblivion, the friends of Leudaste set out to solicit more earnestly the indulgence of the bishops. They went from one to the other, praying them to place their names at the bottom of a written paper, in the form of a pastoral letter, which contained a declaration that the condemned of Braine should be in future received into the bosom of the church and the Christian communion. They succeeded in this way, in collecting the adhesion and signature of a considerable number of bishops; but, either from delicacy, or the fear of not succeeding, no application was made to the one whom Leudaste had endeavoured to ruin by his false accusations.
Gregory was therefore extremely surprised to learn that his greatest enemy, who had been excommunicated by a council and outlawed by the king, was returning with a letter of pardon to inhabit the territory of Tours. He was still more so, when an emissary from Leudaste came and presented to him the letter signed by the bishops, requesting him to consent with them to a repeal of the excommunication.† Suspecting some new plot designed to compromise him, he said to the messenger: “Canst thou also show me letters from the queen, on whose account in particular he was separated from the Christian communion?” The answer was in the negative, and Gregory resumed: “When I have seen orders from the queen, I will receive him without delay into my communion.”‡ The prudent bishop did not confine himself to these words; he sent off an express, with orders to obtain information for him of the authenticity of the document which had been presented to him, and of the intentions of Queen Fredegonda. She replied to his questions by a letter couched in these terms: “Pressed by a number of persons, I was unable to do otherwise than permit him to return to Tours; I now beg thee not to grant him thy peace, nor to give him the eulogies with thy hand, until we have fully determined what ought to be done.”*
Bishop Gregory knew Fredegonda’s style; he saw clearly that she was meditating, not pardon, but revenge and murder.† Forgetting his own wrongs, he took compassion on the man who had formerly plotted his ruin, and who was now rushing to his own destruction for want of judgment and prudence. He sent for Leudaste’s father-in-law, and showing him this note of sinister brevity, conjured him to see that his son-in-law acted with caution, and again keep himself concealed until he was quite certain of having pacified the queen.‡ But this counsel, inspired by evangelical charity, was misunderstood, and ill received; Leudaste, judging others by himself, imagined that a man whose enemy he was could only think of laying snares for him, or doing him some bad turn. Far from becoming more cautious, he acted as if he had taken the advice in a contrary sense, and passing from security to the most audacious rashness, he resolved to go of his own accord and present himself before King Hilperik. He left Tours in the middle of the year 583, and took the direction of the town of Melun which the king was then attacking, and which he besieged in person.§
This siege was to be the prelude only of an entire invasion of the states of Gonthramn, an invasion planned by Hilperik, from the moment that he had seen his first ambitious hopes realized by the conquest of almost all the towns of Aquitania. Having become in less than six years, owing to the military talent of the Gallo-Roman Desiderius,∥ sole master of the vast territory contained within the southern limits of the Berri, the Loire, the Ocean, the Pyrenees, the Aude and the Cevennes, he conceived, perhaps at the instigation of that adventurous warrior, a still more daring project, that of uniting to the Neustrian provinces the entire kingdom of the Burgondes. To insure the execution of this difficult enterprise, he intrigued with the principal nobles of Austrasia, gained over several by money, and received from them an embassy empowered to conclude with him, in the name of young King Hildebert, an offensive alliance against Gonthramn.* The compact was made and confirmed by reciprocal oaths, in the early months of the year 583; King Hilperik instantly assembled his troops, and commenced the war on his own account, without waiting for the actual co-operation of the Austrasian forces.†
His plan of campaign, in which it was easy to trace the ideas of an intellect superior to his own, and another fruit of the counsels of the talented Gallo-Roman chief, consisted in seizing at once, by a simultaneous attack, the two most important places of the eastern frontier of the kingdom of the Burgondes, the town of Bourges and the castle of Melun. The king chose to command the army that was to march against the latter place himself, and gave Desiderius, whom he had made Duke of Toulouse, the care of conducting the operations against Bourges, with the assistance of a great body of men levied south of the Loire. The order sent from the Neustrain chancery to the dukes of Toulouse, Poitiers, and Bordeaux, for the general arming of the militia of their provinces was of singularly energetic conciseness: “Enter the territory of Bourges, and having arrived as far as the city, administer the oath of fidelity in our name.”‡
Berulf, Duke of Poitiers, proclaimed war in Poitou, Touraine, Anjou, and the country of Nantes. Bladaste, Duke of Bordeaux, called to arms the inhabitants of the two banks of the Garonne, and Desiderius, Duke of Toulouse, assembled under his banners the freedmen of the countries of Toulouse, Alby, Cahors, and Limoges. The two last-mentioned chiefs, uniting their forces, entered the Berri by the southern, and Duke Berulf by the western road.§ The two invading armies were almost entirely composed of men of the Gallo-Roman race; the southern one, commanded in chief by Desiderius, the best of the Neustrian generals, was more expeditious than the other, and notwithstanding the enormous distance it had to travel over, arrived first in the territory of Bourges. Informed of his approach, the inhabitants of Bourges and its district were unintimidated by the peril which threatened them. Their city, formerly one of the most powerful and warlike in Gaul, preserved ancient traditions of glory and courage; and to this national pride was added the splendour with which it had shone under the Roman administration, by its title of metropolis of a province, its public edifices, and the nobility of its senatorial families.
Although very much fallen since the reign of the barbarians, such a town could still give proofs of energy, and it was not easy to compel it to do what it did not choose. Therefore, either on account of the bad reputation of Hilperik’s government, or that they might not see themselves bandied about from one domination to another, the citizens of Bourges clung firmly to that of which they had formed a part ever since the union of the ancient kingdom of Orleans and the kingdom of the Burgondes into one state. Resolved not only to sustain a siege, but also to go out themselves and face the enemy, they sent out of the city 15,000 men completely equipped for war.*
This army encountered a few leagues to the south of Bourges that of Desiderius and Bladaste, far more numerous, and moreover superior from the talent of its commander-in-chief. Notwithstanding such disadvantages, the men of the Berri did not hesitate to accept the combat; they held out so well, and the struggle was so obstinate, that according to public report, more than seven thousand men perished on either side.† For one moment thrown back, the southrons were victorious at last by the superiority of their numbers. Chasing before them the remains of the vanquished army, they continued their march towards Bourges, and all along the road imitated the barbarian hordes in the recklessness of their ravages; they burned houses, pillaged churches, tore up vines, and cut off trees at the roots. It was thus they arrived under the walls of Bourges, where the army of Duke Berulf joined them.‡ The city had closed its gates, and the defeat of its citizens in the open plain rendered it neither less haughty nor more disposed to surrender at the summons of the Neustrian chiefs. Desiderius and his two colleagues of Frankish race, surrounded it on all sides, and according to the almost extinct traditions of the art of the Romans, they began to trace their intrenchments and construct besieging machines.§
The place of meeting assigned to the troops who were to act against Melun, was the city of Paris; during several months they flowed in from all sides, and made the inhabitants suffer all sorts of vexations and losses.∥ In this army, recruited in the north and centre of Neustria, the men of Frankish origin formed the greater number, and the indigenous Gallic race was found only in a minority. When King Hilperik thought he had assembled a sufficient number, he gave the order for departure, and set out at the head of his troops by the south-eastern Roman road. The troops followed the left bank of the Seine, which, in the immediate neighbourhood of Paris, belonged to the kingdom of Gonthramn. They marched without order or discipline, went out of their way right and left to pillage and burn, carrying off the furniture of the houses, the cattle, horses, and men, who, tied two and two as prisoners of war, followed the long file of baggage wagons.*
The devastation spread over the country to the south of Paris, from Etampes to Melun, and continued round the latter city when the Neustrian bands halted to besiege it. Under the command of so inexperienced a warrior as King Hilperik, it was impossible for the siege not to be of long duration. The castle of Melun, situated like Paris in an island of the Seine, was then reputed very strong from its position; it had almost nothing to fear from the violent but irregular attacks of a body of men unskilful in military warfare, and capable only of bravely skirmishing in boats at the foot of its walls. Days and months passed in fruitless renewed attempts at assault, in which the Frankish warriors no doubt displayed much valour, but which exhausted their patience. Weary of so prolonged an encampment, they became more and more unruly, neglected the service which was commanded them, and only busied themselves with ardour in scouring the country to amass booty.†
Such were the dispositions of the army encamped before Melun, when Leudaste arrived at King Hilperik’s quarters full of hope and assurance. He was welcomed by the leudes, who found in him an old companion in arms, brave in combat, jovial at table, and enterprising at play; but when he endeavoured to gain admission to the king’s presence, his requests for an audience, and the solicitations of the highest in rank and credit among his friends, were repulsed. Tolerably forgetful of injuries when his anger was calmed, and he did not feel his interests especially wronged, Hilperik would have complied with the entreaties of those who surrounded him, and admitted the accuser of Fredegonda to his presence, if the fear of displeasing the queen, and incurring her reproaches, had not withheld him. The ex-count of Tours, after having employed the mediation of nobles and chiefs of tribes, to no purpose, thought of a new expedient, that of making himself popular in the inferior ranks of the army, and exciting in his favour the interests of the multitude.‡
He succeeded completely, owing to the very faults of his character, his capricious disposition and imperturbable assurance, and this crowd of men, whom idleness rendered inquisitive and easy to excite, soon became animated with a passionate sympathy for him. When he thought the time for trying his popularity had arrived, he begged the whole army to entreat the king to receive him into his presence; and one day, when Hilperik was passing through the camp, this request, uttered by thousands of voices, suddenly resounded in his ears.* The entreaties of armed troops, undisciplined and discontented, were equivalent to commands; the king submitted, for fear of his refusal causing a disturbance, and he announced that the outlaw of Braine might present himself before him. Leudaste instantly appeared, and prostrated himself at the king’s feet, begging forgiveness.—Hilperik raised him up, said that he sincerely forgave him, and added in an almost paternal tone of kindness: “Behave thyself prudently until I have seen the queen, and it is settled that thou art to be restored to her good graces; for thou knowest that she has a right to consider thee very guilty.”†
Meanwhile the report of the double aggression attempted against Melun and Bourges, roused King Gonthramn from his inertia and unwarlike habits. Ever since the first conquests of the Neustrians in Aquitania, he had only lent assistance to the cities of his division by sending his generals, and he had never placed himself in person at the head of an army. Threatened with seeing his western frontier attacked at two different points, and the Neustrian invaders penetrate this time into the heart of his kingdom, he did not hesitate to march himself against the King of Neustria, and to provoke a decisive battle, which, according to his belief, a compound of Germanic traditions and Christian ideas, was to declare the judgment of God. He prepared himself for this great event by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving, and assembling his best troops, he took with them the road to Melun.‡
When arrived at a short distance from that town, and Hilperik’s encampment, he stopped, and whatever confidence in the Divine protection he might feel, he chose, following the instinct of his cautious nature, leisurely to observe the position and arrangement of the enemy. He was not long before he received information of the want of order which prevailed in the camp, and the carelessness with which guard was kept both night and day. At this news, he took his measures to approach as near as he could to the besieging army, without inspiring sufficient fear to induce greater vigilance; and one night, seizing the occasion when a large body of the troops had dispersed abroad to forage and plunder, he directed a sudden and well-conducted attack against the diminished forces. The Neustrian soldiers, surprised in their camp at the moment when they least expected to fight, were unable to sustain the shock of the assailants, and the gangs of foragers, returning one by one, were cut to pieces. At the end of a few hours, King Gonthramn remained master of the field of battle, and thus won his first and last victory as a general.*
It is not known what King Hilperik’s behaviour was in this bloody fray; perhaps he fought bravely during the action; but after the defeat, when it was necessary to rally the remains of his army and prepare a retaliation, his courage failed him. As he was quite wanting in foresight, the least reverse disconcerted him, and suddenly deprived him of all bravery and presence of mind. Disgusted with the enterprise for which he had made such warlike preparations, he thought only of peace, and on the morning which followed this night of disasters, he sent proposals of reconciliation to King Gonthramn. Gonthramn, always pacific, and nowise elated by the pride of triumph, had himself but one wish, that of promptly ending the quarrel, and returning to his usual state of repose. He on his side deputed envoys, who, meeting those of Hilperik, concluded with them a compact of reconciliation between the two kings.†
According to this compact, worded after the ancient Germanic custom, the kings treated together, not as independent sovereigns, but as members of one tribe, submitting, notwithstanding their rank, to a superior authority, that of the national law. They agreed to refer to the decision of the elders of the people, and the bishops, and promised each other, that whoever of the two was convicted of having exceeded the limits of the law, should compound with the other. and indemnify him according to the decision of the judges.‡ To suit his actions to his words, the King of Neustria sent off on the spot orders to three dukes who were besieging Bourges, to raise the siege and evacuate the country. He himself took the road to Paris, his army diminished in numbers, and followed by a crowd of wounded; less haughty in appearance, but with the same want of discipline, and avidity of devastation.§
Peace thus restored, the army returned through a friendly country; but of this the Neustrian soldiery took no account, and began to plunder, ravage, and take prisoners on the road. Either from some scruple of conscience which was unusual with him, or from some latent feeling of the necessity of order, Hilperik saw with sorrow these acts of robbery, and resolved to suppress them. The injunction which he gave the chiefs, to watch their people and keep them strictly within bounds, was too unusual not to meet with resistance; the Frankish nobles murmured at it, and one of them, the Count of Rouen, declared that he should not prevent any body from doing what had always been allowed. As soon as these words had their effect, Hilperik, suddenly finding his energy, had the count seized and put to death, to serve as an example to others. He ordered, moreover, that all the booty should be restored and all the captives released, measures which, if taken in time, would no doubt have prevented the ill success of his campaign.* Thus he entered Paris more master of his troops, and more capable of leading them successfully, than he had been at his departure; unfortunately, these qualities, so essential to the leader of an army, were developed in him at a time when his thoughts were entirely turned to peace. The rude lesson of the battle of Melun had put an end to his projects of conquest, and for the future he thought only of keeping by stratagem what he had hitherto gained by force.
Leudaste, who returned safe and sound, had followed the king to Paris, where Fredegonda then resided. Instead of avoiding this town, a dangerous one for him, or only passing through it with the army, he stayed there, reckoning that the good graces of the husband would in case of necessity be his protection against the ill-will of the wife.† After some days spent without much precaution, finding himself neither pursued nor threatened, he thought he was forgiven by the queen, and judged that the time was come when he might present himself before her. One Sunday, when the king and queen attended mass together in the cathedral of Paris, Leudaste went to the church, traversed with an air of bold assurance the crowd which surrounded the royal seat, and prostrating himself at the feet of Fredegonda, entreated her to forgive him.‡
At this sudden apparition of a man she so mortally hated, and who seemed to have come there less to implore pardon than to brave her anger, the queen was seized with a most violent fit of rage. The colour mounted to her brow, tears streamed down her cheeks, and casting a bitterly disdainful look at her husband, who stood immovable by her side, she exclaimed: “Since I have no son left on whom I can repose the care of avenging my injuries, it is to thee, Lord Jesus, that I must leave that care.”* Then, as if to make a last appeal to the conscience of him whose duty it was to protect her, she threw herself at the feet of the king, saying with an expression of violent grief and wounded dignity: “Wo is me! who see my enemy and can do nothing against him.”† This strange scene touched all who witnessed it, and King Hilperik more than any one, for on him fell both the reproach and the remorse of having too easily forgiven an insult to his wife. To atone for his premature indulgence, he ordered that Leudaste should be turned out of the church, promising himself to abandon him for the future, without mercy or redress, to the vengeance of Fredegonda. When the guards had executed the order of expulsion which they had received, and the tumult had ceased, the celebration of mass, for a moment suspended, was resumed and continued without any new incident.‡
Simply conducted out of the church, and left free to escape wherever he liked, Leudaste never thought of profiting by this good fortune, which he owed only to the precipitation with which Hilperik had given his orders. Far from having his eyes opened to the peril of his position by such an admonition, he imagined that if he had been unsuccessful with the queen, it was from having been wanting in address, and presenting himself suddenly before her, instead of preceding his request by some handsome present. This absurd idea prevailing over every other, he decided to remain in the town, and immediately to visit the shops of the most renowned jewelers and merchants of stuffs.§
There was near the cathedral, and on the road from the church to the king’s palace, a vast space, limited on the west by the palace and its appurtenances, and on the east, by the road where the bridge which joined the two banks of the southern branch of the Seine ended. This space, destined to commerce, was lined with counters and shops in which merchandize of all kinds was displayed.∥ The excount of Tours walked through it, going from one shop to another,¶ looking carefully at every thing, playing the rich man, talking of his affairs, and saying to those who stood there: “I have suffered great losses, but I still possess treasures of gold and silver.” Then, like an experienced purchaser, he began deliberating with himself and choosing with discretion; he handled the stuffs, tried the jewels on his own person, weighed the valuable plate, and when his choice was made, he added in a loud and haughty tone: “This is good; put this aside; I intend taking all that.”*
Whilst he was thus buying things of great value, without troubling himself as to where he should find money to pay for them, mass ended, and the faithful left the cathedral in large numbers. The king and queen, walking together, took the most direct road to the palace, and crossed the square of Commerce.† The crowd which followed them, and the people who made way before them, admonished Leudaste of their passage; but he took no notice of it, and continued to converse with the merchants under the wooden portico which surrounded the square, and served as a sort of anteroom to the different shops.‡ Although Fredegonda had no reason to expect to meet him there, with the piercing eye-sight of a bird of prey, she discovered her enemy at the first glance among the crowd of loungers and buyers. She passed on, not to frighten the man whom she wanted to seize by a well-aimed blow, and as soon as she had set her foot within the threshold of the palace, she sent several of her bravest and most dextrous men to surprise Leudaste, seize him alive, and bring him chained before her.§
In order to approach him without inspiring any mistrust, the queen’s servants laid their swords and bucklers behind one of the pillars of the portico; then, distributing their parts, they advanced in such a manner as to render flight and resistance impossible.∥ But their plan was badly executed, and one of them, too impatient for action, laid hands on Leudaste before the others were near enough to surround and disarm him. The ex-count of Tours, guessing the peril with which he was threatened, drew his sword, and struck the man who attacked him. His companions drew back, and seizing their arms, returned sword in hand and bucklers on their arms, furious against Leudaste and determined no longer to spare his life.¶ Assailed before and behind at the same time, Leudaste received in this unequal combat a blow with a sword on his head, which carried off the hair and skin of a great part of the skull. He succeeded, in spite of his wound, in scattering the enemy in his front, and ran, covered with blood, towards the little bridge, in order to leave the city by the southern gate.*
This bridge was of wood, and its state of decay bespoke either the decay of municipal authority, or the rapine and exactions of the agents of the royal fisc. There were places in which the planks rotten with age, left empty spaces between two rafters of the wood-work, and obliged the passengers to walk with caution. Close pressed in his flight, and compelled to cross the bridge at full speed, Leudaste had no time to avoid false steps; one of his feet, slipping between two ill-joined beams, became so entangled, that he was thrown down, and in falling broke his leg.† His pursuers having captured him, owing to this accident, tied his hands behind his back, and as they could not present him to the queen in such a state, they put him on a horse, and conveyed him to the town prison until further orders.‡
Orders came, given by the king, who, impatient to regain Fredegonda’s good graces, tortured his wits to devise something perfectly agreeable to her. Far from having the least pity for the unfortunate man, whose presumptuous delusions and imprudence had been encouraged by his own acts of forgetfulness and pardon, he began to think what sort of death could be inflicted on Leudaste, calculating in his own mind the advantages and disadvantages of various kinds of torture, to discover what would best succeed in contenting the queen’s revenge. After mature reflections, made with atrocious coolness, Hilperik found that the prisoner, so seriously wounded as he was, and weakened by great loss of blood, would sink under the slightest torture, and he resolved to have him cured, to render him capable of supporting to the end the agonies of a prolonged punishment.§
Entrusted to the care of the most skilful physicians, Leudaste was taken from his unhealthy prison, and carried out of the town to one of the royal domains, that the fresh air and delightfulness of the spot might hasten his recovery.
Perhaps, by a refinement of barbarous precautions, he was allowed to think that this kind treatment was a sign of mercy, and that he would be set free when he recovered his health; but all was useless, his wounds mortified, and his condition became desperate.∥ This news reached the queen, who was unable to let her enemy die in peace; and whilst a little life still remained in him, she ordered he should be finished by a singular punishment, which she had apparently the pleasure of inventing. The dying man was dragged from his bed and stretched on the pavement, with the nape of his neck resting on an immense iron bar, whilst a man armed with another bar struck him on the throat, and repeated the blows until he had breathed his last sigh.*
Thus ended the adventurous existence of this parvenu of the sixth century, the son of a Gallo-Roman serf, raised by an act of royal favour to the rank of the chiefs of the conquerors of Gaul. If the name of Leudaste, hardly mentioned in the most voluminous histories of France, was not deserving of being rescued from oblivion, his life, intimately connected with that of many celebrated persons, affords one of the most characteristic episodes of the general life of the century. Problems on which the opinions of the learned have been divided, are, it may be said, solved by the facts of this curious history. What fortune the Gaul and the man of servile condition could make under the Frankish domination? How the episcopal towns were then governed, placed under the double authority of their count and bishop? What the mutual relations of these two powers, naturally enemies, or at least rivals, of one another, were! These are questions which the simple narrative of the adventures of the son of Leucadius clearly answer.
Other points of historical controversy will have been, I hope, set beyond any serious debate by the preceding narratives. Although full of details, and marked by essentially individual touches, these narratives have all a general meaning, easy to trace in each of them. The history of the Bishop Prætextatus is the picture of a Gallo-Frankish council; that of young Merowig describes the life of an outlaw, and the interior of religious sanctuaries; that of Galeswintha paints conjugal life and the domestic customs of the Merovingian palaces; finally, that of Sighebert presents in its origin the national hostility of Austrasia against Neustria. Perhaps these different views of men and things in the sixth century, rising from a purely narrative groundwork, may on that account alone become to the reader more clear and precise. It has been said that the object of the historian is to narrate, and not to prove. I know not how that may be, but I am persuaded that the best sort of proof in history,—that which is most capable of striking and convincing all minds, that which admits of the least mistrust, and which leaves the fewest doubts, is a complete narrative, exhausting texts, assembling scattered details, collecting even to the slightest indications of facts and of characters, and from all these forming one body, into which science and art unite to breathe the breath of life.
THE END.In dumis habitant, lustrisque cubilia condunt,Et gaudent rapto vivere more feræ.Rex Murmanus adest cognomine dictus eorum,Dici si liceat rex, quia nulla regit.Sæpius ad nostros venerunt tramite fines,Sed tamen inlæsi non redière suos(Ermoldi Nigelli carmen, lib. iii. p. 39.) “Salve, Witchar ait, Murman, tibi dico salutemCæsaris armigeri, pacificique, pii.”Suscipiens prorsùs reddit cui talia Murman,Oscula more dedit: “Tu quoque, Witchar, ave,Pacifico Rugusto opto salus sit vitaque perpes,Et regat imperium sæcla per ampla suum.”(Ibid. p. 40.) Witchar ut audivit verois contraria verba,Protinùs ore tulit hæc quoque verba suo:“Murman, ait, regi quæ vis mandata remitte;Jam nunc tempus adest jussa referre mihi.”Ille quidem tristes volvens sub pectore curas,“l’empora siut placiti hæc mihi noctis, ait.”(Ibid. p. 41.) Olli respondit furiato pectore Murman;Se solio ad tolens Britto superba canit:“Missilibus millena manent mihi plaustra paratis,Cum quibus occurram concitus acer eisScuta mihi fucata, tamen sunt candida vobis,Multa manent; belli non timor ullus adest.”(Ermoldi Nigelli carmen, lib. iii. p. 42.) Per dumosa procul, silicum per densa reposti,Apparent rari, prœlia voce gerunt:Bella per angustos agitabant improba calles;Ædibus inclusi prœlia nulla dabant.(Ibid. p. 45.) Scandit equum velox, stimulis præfigit acutis,Frena tenens; gyros dat quadrupes variosEt salit antè fores potus prægrandia vasa,Ferre jubet solito; suscipit atque bibit.(Ibid.) Si fortuna foret, possim quo cernere regem,Namque sibi ferrum missile forte darem,Proque tributali hæc ferrea dona dedissem.(Ibid. p. 46.) Protinus hunc Murman verbis compellat acerbis.“France, tibi primo hæc mea dona daboHæc servata tibi jamdudùm munera constant,Quæ tamen accipiens, post memor esto mei.”. . . . . . .“Britto superbe tuæ suscepi munera dextræ,Nunc decet accipias qualia Francus habet.”(Ermoldi Nigelli carmen, lib. iii. p. 46.) Mox caput affertur collo tenùs ense revulsum,Sanguine fœdatum absque decore suo.Witchar adesse jubent, prorsus orantque referri,Vera aut falsa canant, eligat ipse rogant.Is caput extemplò latice perfundit et ornatPectine: cognovit mox quoque jussa sibi.(Ermoldi Nigelli carmen, lib. iii. p. 47.) Æthera mole sua tabulata palatia pulsant ...Singula silva favens ædificavit opus.Altior innititur, quadrataque porticus ambit,Et sculpturata lusit in arte faber.
[* ] Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. ix. cap. xv. t. i. p. 326, ed. Luchi.
[† ] V. pactum legis Salicæ, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. iv. p. 159; et ibid., Marculf. Formul., p. 475.
[* ] Fiscalini, Liti, Lidi, Lazi. Vide Recueil des Historiens de la France et des Gaules, t. iv. passim.
[† ] Cùm ergo ille ad prandium invitatus venisset, conspicit, gentili ritu, vasa plena cervisiæ domi adstare. Quod ille sciscitans quid sibi vasa in medio posita vellen . . . (Vita S. Vedasti, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. iii. p. 373.)
[* ] Tractavi mercedem illam implere, quam me tua dulcedo expetnt. Et requirens virum divitem atque sapientem, quem tuæ sorori deberem adjungere, nihil melius quam meipsum inveni. Itaque noveris quia eam conjugem accept, quod tibi displicere non credo. At illa. quod bonum, inquit, videtur in oculis domini mei faciattantum ancilla tua cum gratia regis vivat. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 205.)
[* ] Exin regressus, quinquagesimo primo regni sui anno, dum in Cotia silva venationem exerceret, a febre corripitur, et exinde Compendium villam rednt (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 214.)
[† ] Chilpericus vero, post patris funera, thesauros, qui in villa Brinnaco erant congregati, accepit, et ad Francos utiliores petnt, ipsosque muneribus mollitos sibi subdidit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 214.)
[‡ ] Koning signifies king, in the dialect of the Franks. Vide “Lettres sur l’Histoire de France,” Letter ix.
[§ ] Et mox Parisius ingreditur, sedemque Childeberti regis occupat. (Greg. Turon. loc. sup. cit.)Admirande mihi nimium rex, cujus opimePrœlia robur agit, catinina lima polit.Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. ix. p. 580.Cum sis progenitus clara de gente Sycamber,Floret in eloquio lingua Latina tuo.Ibid. p. 560.
[* ] Confectique duos libros, quasi sedulium meditatus, quorum versicuh debiles nullis pedibus subsistere possunt (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 291.)
[† ] Sed non diuhoc et licuit possidere, nam conjuncti fratres ejus eum exinde repulere. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 214.)
[‡ ] Et sic inter se hi quatuor . . . . divisionem legitimam faciunt, deditque sors Chariberto regnum Childeberti, sedemque habere Parisius; Guntchramno vero regnum Chlodomeris, ac tenere sedem Aurelianensem; Chilperico vero regnum Chlotacharli patris ejus cathedramque Suessiones habere, Sigiberto quoque regnum Theuderici sedemque habere Remorum. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 214.)
[§ ] That is, towns which were in the territories of one king, though belonging to another.Si veniant aliquæ variato murmure causæ,Pondera mox legum regis ab ore tluunt.Quamvis confusas referant certamina voces,Nodosæ litis solvere fila potes.Qualis es in propria docto sermone loquela,Qui nos Romanos vincia in eloquioVenantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. iv. p. 560.
[* ] Ecce pauper remansit fiscus noster, ecce divitiæ nostræ ad ecclesias sunt translatæ: nulli penitus, nisi soli episcopi regnant: periit honor noster, et translatus est ad episcopos civitatum. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 291.)
[† ] Habebat tunc temporis Ingoberga in servitium suum duas puellas pauperis cujusdam filias, quarum prima vocabatur Marcovefa, religiosam vestem habens; alia vero, Merofledis; in quarum amore rex valde detinebatur; erant enim, ut diximus, artificis lanarii filiæ. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 215.)
[‡ ] Quo operante, vocavit regem. Ille autem sperans aliquid novi videre, adspicit hunc eminus lanas regias componentem: quod videns, commotus in ira, reliquit Ingobergam (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 215.)
[* ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 215, et seq.
[The thoughtful reader will not fail to compare this indifference on the part of Haribert to the ecclesiastical anathema with that manifested by Napoleon, who, on receiving the sentence of excommunication from Pius VII., ordered his general to seize the Pope, and bring him a prisoner to Fontainebleau, which was done; and he will further contrast the inefficiency of the papal vengeance in these cases, with the terrible might of such a power in the hands of a Gregory the VIIth. In the instance of Haribert, we see the unripeness of the ecclesiastical power; in that of Henry the IVth, Emperor of Austria, its maturity; and in that of Napoleon, its decay.—Ed.]
[* ] Domina mea, ecce dominus rex victor revertitur, quomodo potest filiam suam gratanter recipere non baptisatam? (Gesta Reg. Francor., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 561.)
[† ] Numquid similem tui invenire poterimus, quæ eam suscipiat? moda tumetipsa suscipe eam. (Gesta Reg. Francor., apud Script. Rer Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 561.)
[‡ ] Cum qua dominus meus rex dormiet hac nocte? quia domina mea regina commater tua est de filia tua Childesinde. Et ille art. St cum illa dormire nequeo, dormiam tecum. (Gesta Reg. Francor., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 561.)
[§ ] Nefandem rem facisti per simplicitatem tuam: jam enim conjux mea esse non poteris amplius. (Gest. Reg. Francor., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 561.)
[∥ ] Rogavitque eam sacro velamine induere cum ipsa filia sua, deditque et prædia multa et villas; episcopum vero, qui eam baptisavit, exilio condemnavit; Fredeguadem vero copulavit sibi ad reginam. (Ibid.)
[* ] Porro Sigibertus rex, cùm videret quod fratres ejus indignas sibimet uxores acciperent, et per vilitatem suam etiam ancillas in matrimonium sociarent . . . (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 216.)
[† ] Erat enim puella elegans opere, venusta adspectu, honesta moribus atque decora, prudens consilio, et blanda conloquio. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 216.)
[‡ ] Ille vero, congregatis senioribus secum, præparatis epulis cum immensa lætitia atque jocunditate eam accipit uxorem. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 216.)
[§ ] Rex enim cùm inter prandendum quoddam vas lapideum vitrei coloris auro gemmisque mirabiliter ornatum juberet offeri plenum mero. (Vita S. Fridolini, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 388.)Te mihi constituit rex Sigibertus opem,Tutior ut graderer tecum comitando viator,Atque pararetur hinc equus, inde cibus(Venantii Fortunati carmen ad Sigoaldum, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 528.) Vix modo tam nitido pomposa poemata cultuAudit Trajano Roma verenda foro.(Venantii Fortunati Carmina, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 487.) O virgo miranda mihi, placitura jugali,Clarior ætherea, Brunechildis, lampade fulgens,Lumina gemmarum superasti lumine vultus ...Sapphirus, alba adamas, crystalla, smaragadus, iaspis,Cenant cuncta; novam genuit Hispania gemmam!(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. iv. p. 658.)
[† ] V. Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 227, de Andarchio et Urso, Ibid. lib. ix. p. 342, de Sichario et Chramnisindo.—Ibid. lib. iv. p. 210, de Cautino episcopo, et Catone presbytero.
[* ] For the orthography of this name, I adopt the form proper to the Gothic dialect; that which answers to it in the dialect of the Franks is Galeswinde or Gaileswinde.
[† ] Quod videns Chilpericus rex, cúm jam plures haberet uxores, sororem ejus Galsuintham expetnt, promittens per legatos se alias relicturum, tantum condignam sibi regisque prolem mereretur accipere. Pater vero ejus has promissiones accipiens. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 217.)
[* ] Accedere ad me ei non pigeat cum thesauris suis, ego enim accipiam eam faciamque magnam in populis. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 216.)
[† ] Rectius est enim ut hi thesauri penes me habeantur, quam post hanc, quæ indigne germani mei thorum adivit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic et Francic., t. ii. p. 216.)
[* ] Ut quisquis sine fratris voluntate Parisius urbem ingrederetur, amitteret partem suam, essetque Polioctus martyr, cum Hilario atque Martino confessoribus, judex ac retributor ejus. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 295.)
[† ] De civitatibus vero, hoc est Burdegala, Lemovica, Cadurco, Benarno et Begarro, quas Gailesindam . . . tam in dote quam in Morgane giba, hoc est matutinali dono, in Franciam venientem certum est adquisisse. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. ix., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 344.)Hoc ubi virgo metu audituque exterrita sensit,Currit ad amplexus, Goisuintha, tuos.Brachi constringens nectit sine fune catenam,Et matrem amplexu per sua membra ligat.(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 561.) Instant legati germanica regna requiri,Narrantes longæ tempora tarda viæ.Sed matris moti gemitu sua viscera solvunt . . .Prætereunt duplices, tertia, quarta dies.(Venantii Fortunatii Carmin., lib. vi. p. 561.) Quid rapitis? differte dies, cùm disco dolores,Solamenque mali sit mora sola mei.Quando iterum videam, quando hæc mihi lumina ludant?Quando iterum natæ per pia colla cadam? . . .Cur nova rura petas, illic ubi non ero mater?(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.) Dat causas spatu genitrix, ut longius iret;Sed fuit optanti tempus nerque breve.Pervenit quo mater, ait, sese inde reverti,Sed quod velle prius, postea nolle fuit.(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.) Quod superest gemebundus amor hoc mandat euntiSis, precor, o felix, sed cave valde Vale(Venatii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.) Econtra genitrix post natam lumina tendens,Uno stante loco, pergit et ipse simulTota tremens, agiles raperet ne mula quadrigas...Illuc mente sequens, qua via flectit iter,Donec longe oculis spatioque evanuit amplo(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.)
[§ ] (Hadriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. ix. p. 24.)Post, aliquas urbes, Pictavis attigit acres,Regali pompa, prætereundo viam.Hanc ego nempe novus conspexi prætereuniemMolliter argenti turre rotante vehi.(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.)
[∥ ] It is more than probable that Fortunatus heard from the persons who accompanied Galeswintha the circumstances of her departure, and even the touching expressions which, in the midst of declamatory speeches, are to be found in his piece of poetry. This is the reason that I have considered this composition as an historical document.Jungitur ergo thoro regali culmine virgo,Et magno meruit plebis amore coliUtque fidelis ei sit gens armata, per armaJurat, jure suo se quoque lege ligat.(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.)
[† ] Legatis sane Anthanahildi regis quærentibus, ut tactis sanctorum pignoribus fides firmaretur, quod Galsonta in vita sua solio regni non pelleretur, Chilpericus non abnuit... (Aimoini Monachi Floriac de Gest Franc., lib. iii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 68.Hos quoque muneribus permulcens, vocibus illos,Et, licet ignotos, sic facit esse suos.(Venantii Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 562.)
[† ] Dum Dominus ab initio præcepit ut relinquat homo patrem et matrem, et adhæreat suæ uxori, ut sint duo in carne una, et quod Dominus conjunxit, homo non separet, ego enim in Dei nomine, ille, illi dulcissimæ conjugi meæ, dum et ego te per solidum et denarium secundum legem Salicam visus fui sponsare, ideo in ipsa amoris dulcedine, dabo ergo tibi... (Formul. Bignon. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iv. p. 539.) Ego Chilpericus rex Francorum, vir. inluster... (Ibid. passim.) De civitatibus vero, hoc est Burdegala, Lemovica, Cadurco, Benarno et Begorra tam in dote quam in morganegiba....cum terminis et cunto populo suo. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. ii. ibid. t. ii. p. 344, 345.)
[‡ ] Per hanc chartulam libelli dotis sive per festucam atque per andelangum. (Formul. Lindenbrog., ibid. t. iv. p. 555.)—Handelang or handelag, from the word hand, expressed, in the Germanic language, the action of delivering, giving, transmitting with the hand.
[* ] A quo etiam magno amore diligebatur. Detulerat enim secum magnos thesauros. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 217.)
[† ] Sed per ainorem Fredegundis, quam prius habuerat, ortem est inter eos grande scandalum. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. cap. xxvii., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 217.)
[‡ ] Cumque se regi quereretur assidue injurias perferre, diceretque nullam se dignitatem cum eodem habere, petiit ut, relictis thesauris quos secum detulerat, liberam redire permitteret ad patriam. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Quod ille per ingenia dissimulans, verbis eam lenibus demulstit. Ad extremum eam suggillari jussit á puero, mortuamque reperit in strato...Rex autem. cúm eam mortuam deflesset, post paucos dies Frodegundem recepit in matrimonio. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 217.)
[* ] Post quod factum reputantes ejus fratres, quod sua emissione antedicta regina fuerit interfecia, eum de regno dejiciunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 217.) Non tulerunt fratres, tanto scelere maculatum consortem esse suum, sed conjurati simul regno pellere moliti sunt. Quod consilium non tam astu Chilperici quam ipsa levitate qua cœptum fuerat, dissipatum est. (Aimoini Monachi Floriac. de Gest. Franc., lib. iii. cap. v. ibid. t. iii. p. 68.) The passage in Gregory of Tours is obscure from the words regno dejiciunt; if taken literally, we must suppose that there is some deficiency in the accounts, as we can find no later narrative to show that Hilperik regained his kingdom. Aimoin, an historian of the tenth century, has corrected the words of Gregory of Tours, perhaps with the help of some documents now lost. I have followed his text, according to the example of Adrian of Valois, who ends it by the following induction: “Tamen bellum Chilperico a fratribus, præsertim a Sigiberto, qui, instigante Brunichilde uxore, sororem ejus Gailesuintham ulcisci cupiebat, denunciatum puto, et priusquam ad arma veniretur, Guntchramni Francorumque decreto pacem inter ambos compositam discordiamque dijudicatam esse...” (Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. ix. p. 26.)
[* ] Lychnus enim ille, qui fune suspensus coram sepulchro ejus ardebat, nullo tangente, fune disrupto, in pavimantum corruit et fugiente ante eum duritia pavimenti, tanquam in aliquod molle elementum descendit, atque medius est suffossus nec omino contritus, quod non sine grandi miraculo videntibus fuit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic et Francic. t. ii. p. 463.)—Fortunati Carmin., lib. vi. p. 463.
[* ] This class of men is still designated in the laws and public acts by the name of Rachimburgu, Racimburdi, (Rekin-burghe,) good securities.
[† ]Malbergum. Mallobergum, Malleborgium, locus judicil, conventus judicialis, ipsum judicium, populus ad judicium congregatus. (Ducange, Glossar.) V. Leg, Salic. et Leg. Ripuar., apud Script. Rer Gallic et Francic t. iv. p. 120, et seq.
[‡ ] This judgment is recalled and verified to us by the famous treaty of Andelau, of which it forms one of the grounds: per judicium gloriosissimi domni Guntchramni regis, vel Francorum. (Exemplar pactionis apud Andelaum factæ an. 587. Greg. Turon Hist. Franc., lib. ix. apud Script Rer Gallic. et Francic t. iv. p. 159.)
[§ ] Si antrustio antrustionem de quacumque causa admallare voluerit, ubicumque eum convenire potuerit, super septum noctes cum testibus eum rogare debet, ut ante judicem ad Mallobergo debeat convenire. Sic postea iterato ad noctes xiv. eum rogare debet ut ad illum Mallobergo debeat venire ad dandum responsum (Leg. Salic. tit. lxxvi., apud Script. Rer. Gallic et Francic. t. iv. p. 159.)
[* ] Et ille postea qui rogatus fuerat, si se ex hoc idone um esse cognoscat, se debet cum duodecim per sacramenta absolvere; si vero major causa fuerit, se adhuc majori numero. (Leg. Salic. tit. lxxvi., apud Script. Rer. Gallic et Francic t. iv. p. 159.) The oath of the co-jurors was called in the Germanic language, Weder-ed, (Vedredum,) that is, reiterated oath. Si quis Ripuarius sacramento fidem fecerit, super xiv. noctes sibi septimus seu duodecimus vel septuagesimus secundus cum legitimo termino noctium studeat conjurare (Leg. Ripuar., tit. lxvi., apud Script Rer Gallic. et Francic t. iv. p. 248.)
[† ] Si autem contentio orta fuerit quod sacramentum in die placito non conjurasset, tunc cum tertia parte juratorum suorum adfirmare studeat, aliquibus a dextris seu a sinistris stantibus. Sin autem nec sic satisfecerit, tunc secundum præsentiam judicis vel secundum terminationem sextam juratorum suorum cum dextera armata tam prius quam posterius sacramentum in præsentia judicis confirmare studeat. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Si qui Rathinburghii legem voluerint dicere in Mallebergo residentes...debet eis qui causam requirit dicere: Dicite nobis legem salicam. Si illi tunc noluerint dicere, tunc iterum qui causam requirit, dicit: Vostangano ut mihi et isto legem dicatis. Bis autem et tertio hoc debet facere. (Leg. Salic. tit. lx., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic t. iv. p. 155.)
[§ ] Leg Salic tit. xliv et xlv., apud Script. Rer Gallic. et Francic. t. iv. pp. 147, 148. According to the new valuation given by Mr. Guérard, in his Mémoires sur le Système Monétaire des Francs sous les deux Premières Races (French Numismatic Review, the numbers for November and December, 1837), the golden sol (solidus), of which the real value was 7s. 8½d., was equal to 4l. 2s. 11d. of our present money.
[* ] The word Trustee exists in the English language. Si vero eum qui in truste dominica est occiderit. sol. DC. culp. jud. (Leg. Salic. tit. xliv.) Si Romanus homo conviva regis occisus fuerit sol CCC componatur. (Ibid.) Si quis gravionem occiderit, sal. DC culp. jud. (Ibid. tit. lvii.) Si quis sagibaronem aut gravionem occiderit qui puer regius fuerat, sol. CCC, culp. jud. (Leg. Salic., tit. lvii., apud Script. Rer. Gallic et Francic., t. iv. p. 154.)
[† ] De civitatibus vero, hoc est Burdegala, Lemovica, Cadurco, Benarno et Begorra quas Gailesuindam germanam domnæ Brunichildis tam in dote quam in morganegiba, hoc est matutinali dono, in Franciam venlentem certem est adquisisse ... Quas etiam per judicium gloriosissimi domni Guntchramni regis, vel Francorum, superstitibus Chilperico et Sigiberto regibus, domna Brunichildis noscitur adquisisse: ita convenit...... (Exemplar Pactionis apud Andelaum factæ; Greg. Turon Hist. Franc., lib. ix., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 344.) Adrian of Valois has drawn from this passage the same conclusion as myself; according to him, compensation was imposed by judgment “Guntchramni Francorumque decreto pacem inter ambos compositam discordiamque dijudicatam esse; quinque urbibus nimirum Burdigala, Lemovicis, Cadurcis, Benarno et Bigorra quæ ab Chilperico, dolis donique matutini nomine, Gailesuinthæ collatæ fuerant Brunichildi ejus sorori Sigiberti Austrasiorum regis conjugi adjudicatis.” (Adriani Valesii. Rer. Francic., lib. ix. t. ii. p. 27.)
[* ] Et nullo unquam tempore de jam dicta morte, nec de ipsa leude, nec ego ipse, nec ullus de heredibus meis. nec quislibet ullas calumnias, nec repetitiones agere, nec repetere non debeamus... Et si fortasse ego ipse, aut aliquis de heredibus meis, vel quicumque te ob hoc inquietare voluerit, et a me defensatum non fuerit, inferamus tibi duplum quod nobis dedisti. (Marculfi Formul., lib. ii., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. iv. pp. 495. 512.)
[* ] Cùm Chilpericus Turonis ac Pictavis pervasisset, quæ Sigiberto regi per pactum in partem venerat. . (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 227.)
[† ] Conjunctus rex ipse cum Guntchramno fratre suo, Mummolum eligunt, qui has urbes ad eorum dominium revocare deberet. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 227.)
[‡ ] See Gregory of Tours, lib. iv. chap. xlii. and xlv.
[§ ] Qui Turonis veniens, fugato exinde Chlodovecho, Chilperici filio, exactis a populo ad partem regis Sigiberti sacramentis, Pictavos accessit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 227.)
[* ] Ut omnes pagenses vestros, tam Francos, Romanos vel reliquas nationes degentes, bannire, et locis congruis per civitates, vicos et castella congregare faciatis; quatenus; præsente misso nostro, fidelitatem nobis leode et samio per loca sanctorum, debeant promittere et conjurare. (Marculfi Formul., lib. i., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iv. p. 483.)
[† ] Sed Basilius et Sicharius, Pictavi cives, collecta multitudine, resistere voluerunt: quos de diversia partibus circumdatos oppressit, obruit, interemit, et sic Pictavos accedens sacramenta exegit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 227.)
[‡ ] Chlodovechus vero, Chilperici filius, de Turonico ejectus, Burdegalam abiit. (Ibid. p. 228.)
[* ] Denique cùm apud Burdegalensem civitatem, nullo prorsus inquietante, resideret Sigulfus quidam a parte Sigiberti se super eum objecit. (Greg. Turon. Hist Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 228.)—Chlodoveus, filius Chilperici, Burdegalam pervadit a Sigulfo duce superatus, fugacitur ad patrem redit. (Fredegaril Hist. Franc. Epitomat Ibid. t. ii. p. 407.)—Super quem Sigulfus dux partium Sigiberti irruens.. (Aimoini Monac. Floriac. de Gest Franc., ibid. t. iii. p. 71.)
[† ]Mark, limit, frontier; graf, chief of a district, governor, judge.
[* ] Quem fugientem cum tubis et buccinis, quasi labentem cervum fugans, insequebatur. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 228.)
[† ] Qui vix ad patrem regrediendi liberum habuit aditum. Tamen per Andegavis regresaus ad eum rednt (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Chilpericus autem rex, in ira commotus, per Theodobertum filium suum seniorem, civitates ejus (Sigiberti) pervadit, id est Turonis et Pictavis, et reliquas citra Sigerim sitas. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 228.)
[§ ] Guntohramnos rex omnes episcopos regni sui congregat, ut inter utrosque quid veritas haberet, edicerent. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Sed ut bellum civile in majore pernicitate cresceret, eos audire peccatis facientibus distulerunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 228.)—War continued in spite of a solemn judgment, and the law of compensation was infringed. We must distinguish, as Adrian of Valois has done, between this officious mediation and the judgment given in the year 569. See above, p. 124, and Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. ix., p. 26 and 51.
[* ] Qui Pictavis veniens contra Gundobaldum ducem pugnavii. Terga autem vertente exercitu partis Gundobaldi, magnam ibi stragem de populo illo fecit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 288.)
[† ] Sed et de Turonica regione maximam partem incendit, et nisi ad tempus manus dedissent, totam continuo debellasset. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Commoto autem exercitu, Lemovicinum, Cadurcinum, vel reliquas illorum provincias pervadit, vastat, evertit; ecclesias incendit, ministeria detrahit, clericos interficit, monasteria virorum dejicit, puellarum deludit, et cuncta devastat. (Ibid.)
[* ] Fuitque illo in tempore pejor in ecclesus gemitus, quam tempore persecutionis Diocletiani (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 228.)
[† ] Et adhuc obstupescimus et admiramur cur tante super eos plagæ irruerint: sed recurrainus ad illud quod parentes eorum egerunt, et isti perpetrant. Illi de fanis ad ecclesias sunt conversi; isti quotidie de ecclesiis prædes detrahunt. Illi monasteria et ecclesias ditaverunt, isti eas diruunt ac subvertunt. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Nolite, o barbari, nolite hic transire: beati enim Martini istud est monasterium. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Illuc transgrediuntur et, imi,ico stimulanta, monachos cædunt, monasterium evertunt, resque diripiunt de quibus facientes sarcinas, navi imponunt. (Ibid. p. 229.)
[* ] Et uniuscujusque ferrum. quod contra se tenebat, pectori difigitur . Quibus interfectis, monachi ipsos et res suas ex alveo detrahentes, illos spelientes res suas domui restituunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.)
[† ] Dum hæc agerentur, Sigibertus rex gentes illas quæ ultra Rhenum habentur commovet, et bellum civile ordiens, contra fratrem suum Chilpericum ire destinat (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Nam ita Christiani sunt isti barbari, ut multos priscæ superstitionis ritus observent, humanas hostias aliaque impia sacrificia divinationibus adhibentes. (Procopii de Bello Gothico, lib. ii. cap. xxv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 37.)
[* ] Quod audiens Chilpericus, ad fratrem suum Guntchramnum legatos mittit. Qui conjuncti pariter fœdus ineunt, ut nullus fratrem suum perire sineret. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.)
[† ] Sed cúm Sigibertus gentes illas adducens venisset, et Chilpericus de alia parte cum suo exercitu resideret, nec haberet rex Sigibertus, super fratrem suum iturus, ubi Sequanam fluvium transmearet—(Ibid.) Sigibertus cum exercitu Arciaca recedens Chilpericus Duodecim Pontes. . . . . . (Fredegarii Hist. Franc. Epitom. ibid., p. 402.)
[‡ ] Fratri suo Guntchramno mandatum mittit, dicens: Nisi me permiseris per tuam sortem hunc fluvium transire, cum omni exercitu meo super te pergam. (Greg. Turon. loc. super. cit.)
[* ] See Lettres sur l’Histoire de France, lettre vi.
[† ] Quod ille timens, fœdus cum eodem iniit, eumque transire permisit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.)—Trecas junxerunt, et in ecclesia sancti Lupi sacramenta ut pacem servarent, dederunt. (Fredegarii Hist. Franc. Epitom., ibid., p. 407.)—This author confuses facts in a most strange manner, but I have availed myself of the geographical indications he gives, and which are not to be met with elsewhere.
[‡ ] Denique sentiens Chilpericus quod Guntchramnus, relicto eo, ad Sigibertum transisset, castra movit et usqua Avallocium Carnotensem vicum abnt. (Greg. Turon. loc. supr. cit.)
[§ ] Qeum Sigibertus insecutus, campum sibi preparari petiit. (Greg. Turon., Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.) Man of nothing, Nihtig, Nihting, Niding, according to the Germanic dialects; this formula was employed in challenges and proclamations of war.
[* ] Ille vero timens ne, conliso utroqus exercitu, etiam regnum eorum conrueret, pacem petnt, civitatesque ejus, quas Theodobertus male pervaserat, reddidit. (Greg. Turon. loc. supr. cit.)
[† ] Deprecans ut nullo casu culparentur earum habitatores; quos ille injuste igni ferroque opprimens adquisierat. (Greg. Turon., Hist. Franc., lib. iv., and Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.)
[‡ ] Tunc ex gentibus illis contra eum quidam murmuraverunt, cur se a certamine substraxisset. Sed ille, ut erat intrepidus, ascenso equo, ad eos dirigit. (Greg. Turon., Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229). Adversus Sigibertum rumorem levant, dicentes. Sicut promisisti, da nobis ubi rebus ditemur, aut prœliemur; alioquin ad patriam non revertimur. (Fredegarii Hist. Franc. Epitom., ibid., p. 307.)
[* ] Vicos quoque, qui circa Parisius erant, maxime tunc flamma consumsit; et tam domus quam res reliquæ ab hoste direptæ sunt, ut etiam et captivi ducerentur. Obtestabatur enim rex ne hæc fierent, sed furorem gentium, quæ de ulteriore Ghent amnis parte venerant, superare non poterat. (Greg. Turon., Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.)
[† ] Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. ix. p. 55.
[‡ ] Sed omnia patienter ferebat, donec redire posset ad patriam . . . . . . Multos ex eis postea lapidibus obrui præcipiens. (Ibid.)
[* ] Post annum iterum Chilpericus ad Guntchramnum fratrem suum legatos mittit, dicens Veniat frater mecum, et videamus nos, et pacificati persequamur Sigibertum inimicum nostrum. (Ibid.)
[† ] Quod cùm fuisset factum, seque vidissent, ac muneribus honorassent, commoto Chilpericus exercitu, usque Rhenis accessit, cuncta incendens atque debellans. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 229.)
[‡ ] Quod audiens Sigibertus, iterim convocatis gentibus illis, quarum supra memoriam fecimus......contra fratrem suum ire disponit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Parisius venit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.) Ecce pactiones quæ inter nos factæ sunt, ut quisquis sine fratris voluntate Parisius urbem ingrederetur, amittent partem suam, essetque Polyeuctus martyr, cum Hilario atque Martino confessoribus, judex ac retributor ejus. Post hæc ingressus est in eam germanus meus Sigibertus, qui judicio Dei interiens, armisit partem suam . . juxta Dei judicium et maledictiones pactionum. (Ibid., lib. vii. p. 295.)
[† ] Mittens nuntios Dunensibus et Turonicis, ut contra Theodobertum ire deberent. Quod illi dissimulantes ..... Leg. Ripuar., tit. lxv. ibid. t. iv. p. 248. Leg. Wisigoth., lib. ix. ibid. p. 425.
[* ] Rex Godegiselum et Guntchramnum duces in capite dirigit. Qui commoventes exercitum adversus cum pergunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 229.)
[† ] At ille, derelictus a suis, cum paucis remansit: sed tamen ad bellum exire non dubitat. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Theodobertus devictus in campo prosternitur, et ab hostibus exanime corpus, quod dici dolor est spoliatur. Tuno ab Arnulfo quodam collectus, ablutusque, ac dignis vestibus est indutus, et ad Ecolismensem civitatem sepultus. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Chilpericus vero cognoscens, quod iterum se Guntchramnus cum Sigiberto pacificasset, se infra Tornacenses muros cum uxore et filns suis communivit. (Ibid. p. 230.)
[* ] Sigibertus vero obtentis civitatibus iliis, quæ citra Parisius sunt positæ, usque Rothomagensem urbem accessit, volens easdem urbes hostibus cedere; quod ne faceret, a suis prohibitus est. (Ibid.)
[† ] Tunc Franci, qui quondam ad Childebertum adspexerant seniorem ad Sigibertum legationem mittunt, ut ad eos veniens, derelicto Chilperico, super se ipsum regem stabilirent. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 230.) Convertimini ad me ut sub mea sitis defensione (Ibid. lib. ii. p. 184.)
[‡ ]Mund, from which the words mundeburdis, mundiburdium, mundeburde, etc. are derived. Sub sermone tutionis nostræ visi fuimus recepisse, ut sub mundeurde vel defensione in lustris viri illius majoris domus nostri ... (Marculfi Formul lib. i. apud Script Rer. Gallic. et Francic., i. iv. p. 447.) From certain roots in the Teutonic languages, it appears that the mouth was among the ancient Germans the symbol of authority, and the ear that of servitude.
[* ] Omnes causæ ejus aut amicorum suorum, tam illorum qui cum illo pergunt, quam qui ad propria eorum resident. (Marculfi Formul. lib. i. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. iv. p. 447.)
[† ] Regressus inde, Parisus est ingressus ibique ad eum Brunichildis cum filis venit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. ii. p. 230.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic. lib. ix. p. 57.
[* ] Eo tempore quando minor erat numerus populi Christiani, et cum Dei auxillo licebat residere quietum, tum apostoli dicebant. Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile, ecce nunc dies salutis. Nunc e contrario tain funestos et luctuesos ante occulos habentes dies, flentes dicimus: Ecce dies tribulationis et perditionis nostræ. (Germani Paris. episc. epist. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic. t. iv. p. 80.)
[† ] Vulgi verba iterantes, quæ nos maxime terrent, vestræ pietati in notitiam deponimus, quæ ita disseminata eloquentium ore detrahunt, quasi vestro voto, consilio et instigatione dominus gloriosissimus. Sigibertus rex tam ardue hanc velit perdere regionem. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ad hoc vos hæc regio suscepisse gratuletur, ut per vos salutem, non interitum percipere videatur. In hoc populi restinguitis verba, si mitigatis furorem, si Dei facitis expectare judicium. (Ibid. t. iv. p. 81.)
[* ] Proptera hæc dolens scribo, quavideo qualiter præcipitantur et reges et populi, ut Dei incurrant offensam. (Ibid.)
[† ] Inhonesta victoria est fratrem vincere, domesticas domos humiliare, et possessionem a parentibus constructam evertere. Contra semetipsos pugnant suamque felicuatem exterminant; de sua perditione gaudet accelerans inimicus. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] The Brynhilda of the Scandinavian Edda, and the Brunhill of the Niebelungen: this resemblance of names is purely accidental.
[* ] Ille vero hæc audiens, misit qui fratrem suum in supra memorata civitate obsiderent, ipse illuc properare deliberans. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 230.)
[† ] Si abieris, et fratrem tuum interficere nolueris, vivus et victor redibis; sin autem aliud cogitaveris, morieris. Sic enim Dominus per Salomonem dixit: Foveam quam fratri tuo parabis, in eam conrues. Quod ille, peccatis facientibus, audire neglexit. (Ibid.)Hinc cui barbaries, illinc romania plaudit:Diversis linguis laus sonat una viri.
[‡ ] (Fortunati Carmen de Chariberto rege, apud Bibl. Patrum, t. x. p. 560.)
[* ] Omnes Neustrasiæ ad eum venientes se suæ ditioni subjecerunt. Ansoaldus tantum cum Chilperico remansit. (Fredegarii Hist. Franc. Epitom. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 407.)
[† ] Veniente autem illo ad villam, cui nomen est Victoriacum, collectus est ad eum omnis exercitus, impositumque super clypeo sibi regem statuunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 230.)—Plaudentes tam palmis quam vocibus, eum clypeo evectum super se regem constituunt. (Ibid., lib. ii. p. 184.)
[‡ ] Quem mater ob metum mortis a se abjecit, et perdere voluit. Sed cù non potuisset, objurgata a rege, eum baptizari præcepit. Qui baptizatus, et ab ipso episcopo susceptus . . . (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 249.)—Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. ix. t. ii. p. 60.
[* ] Tunc duo pueri cum cultris validis, quos vulgo scramasaxos vocant, infectis veneno, maleficati a Fredegunde regina ...... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 230.) Tunc Fredegundis memor artium suarum inebriavit duos pueros tarwannenses, dixitque eis: Ite ad cuneum Sigiberti eumque interficite Stevaderitis vivi, ego mirifice honorabo vos et sobolem vestram, si autem corruerritis, ego pro vobis eleemosynas ...... (Gesta. Reg. Franc., ibid. p. 562.) Skramasax means a knife.
[* ] Cùm alliam causam se gerere simularent, utraque ei latera feriunt. At ille vociferans, atque corruens, non post multo spatio emisit spiritum ibique et Charegisilus cubicularius ejus conruit. ibi et Sigila, qui quondam ex Gothia venerat ... multum laceratus est. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 230.) Adrianii Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. ix. t. ii. p. 61.
[† ] Chilpericus autem in ancipiti casu defixus, in dubium habebat an evaderet, an periret, donec ad eum missi veniunt de fratris obitu nuntiantes. Tunc egressus a Turnaco cum uxore et filus, eum vestitum apud Lambras vicum sepelivit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iv. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 230.)
[* ] Godinus autem, qui a sorte Sigiberti se ad Chilpericum transtulerat, et multis ab eo muneribus locupletatus est. . Villas vero quas ei rex a fisco in territorio Suessionico indulserat. (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 233.) Siggo quoque referandarius, qui annulum regis Sigiberti tenuerat, et ab Chilperico rege provocatus erat .. Multi autem et alii de his qui se de regno Sigiberti ad Chilpericum tradiderant. (Ibid. p. 234.) Sig is a familiar diminutive.
[* ] Tunc remoti paululum, dum hinc inde sermocinaremur, ait mihi: Videsne super hoc tectum quæ ego suspicio? Cui ego: Video enim supertegulum, quod nuperrex poni gussit Et ille: Aliud. inquit, non adspicis? Cui ego: Nihil aliud enim video. Suspicabar enim quod aliquid joculariter loqueretur, et adjeci: Si tu aliquid magis cernis, enarra. At ille, alta trahens suspiria, ait: Video ego evaginatum iræ divinæ gladnum super domum hanc dependentem. (Ibid., lib. v. t. ii. p. 264.)
[† ] Igitur, interempto Sigiberto rege, Brunechildis regina cum filiis Parisius residebat. Quod factum cùm adi eam perlatum fuisset, et conturbata dolore et luctu, quid. ageret ignoraret .. (Ibid.)
[* ] Gondobaldus dux adprehensum Childebertum filium ejus parvulum furtim abstulit: ereptumque ab imminenti morte, collectisque gentibus super quas pater ejus regnum tenuerat, regem instituit, vix lustro ætatis uno jam peracto. (Ibid. p. 233.) Sed factione Gondoaldi ducis, Childebertus in pera positus, per fenestram a puero acceptus est, et ipse puer singulus eum Mettis exhibuit (Fredegarii Hist. Francor. Epitom ibid., p. 407.)
[† ] Chilpericus rex Parisius venit, adprehensamque Brunichildem... thesaurosque ejus quos Parisius detulerat, abstulit. (Greg. Turon. loc. supr. cit.)
[‡ ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 245.
[* ] Brunichildem apud Rotomagensem civitatem in exilium trusit ..Filias vero ejus Meldis urbe teneri præcepit. (Ibid. p. 233.)
[† ] Eo quod Guntchramnus (dux) Fredegundis reginæ occultis amicitris potiretur pro interfectione Theodoberti. (Ibid. p. 246.)
[‡ ] Chilpericus vero filium suum Merovechum cum exercitu Pictavis dirigit. (Ibid. p. 233.)
[* ] At ille, relicta ordinatione patris, Turonis venit ibique et dies sanctos Paschæ tenuit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Multum enim regionem illam exercitus ejus vastavit. (Ibid.) Adventente autem Turonts Merovecho, omnes res ejus (Merovechus) usquequaque diripuit. (Ibid. p. 261.)—See fifth Narrative.
[‡ ] Ipse vero simulans ad matrem suam ire velle, Rothomagum petnt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. v apud Script Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 233.)
[§ ] Et ibi Brunichildi reginæ conjungitur, eamque sibi in matrimonio sociavit. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Proprium mihi esse videbatur, quod filio meo Merovecho erat, quem de lavacro regenerationis excepi. (Ibid. p. 245.)
[* ] See the fourth Narrative.
[† ] Hæc audiens Chilpericus, quod scilicet contra fas legemque canonicam uxorem patrui accepisset, valde amarus, dicto citius ad supra memoratum oppidum dirigit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib v apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 233.)
[‡ ] At illi cùm hæc cognovissent, quod eosdem separare decerneret, ad basilicam sancti Martini, quæ super muros civitatis ligneis tabulis fabricata est, confugium faciunt. (Ibid.)
[* ] Rex vero adveinens, cùm in multis igeniis eos exinde auferre niteretur et ille dolose eum putuntes facere, non crederent, juravit eis, dicens: Si, inquit, voluntas Dei fuerit, ipse hos separare non conaretur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Hæc illi sacramenta audientes, de basilica egressi sunt, exosculatisque et dignenter acceptis, epulavit cum eis. Post dies vero paucos, adsutnto secum rex Merovecho, Suessionas rednt. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Collecti aliqui de Campania, Suessionas urbem adgrediuntur, fugataque ex ea Fredegonda regina, atque Chlodovecho filio Chilperici, volebant sibi subdere civitatem ... Godinus autem caput belli istius fuit. (Ibid.)—Siggo quoque referandarius ... ad Childebertum regem Sigiberti filium, relicto Chilperico, transvit. (Ibid. p. 234.)
[* ] Quod ut Chilpericus rex comperit, cum exercitu illuc direxit, mittens nuntios ne sibi injuriam facerent...Illi autem, hæc negligentes, præparantur ad bellum, commissioque prœlio invaluit pars Chilperici......Fugatisque reliquis, Suessionas ingreditur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Quæ postquam acta sunt, rex, propter conjugationem Brunichildis, suspectum habere cœpit Merovechum filium suum, dicens hoc prœlium ejus nequitia surrexisse. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Spoliatumque ab armis, datis custodibus, libere custodiri præcepit, tractans quid de eo in posterum ordinaret. (Ibid. p. 233.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. x. p. 73.
[§ ] Tunc quoque Chilpericus legationem suscepit Childeberti junioris, nepotis sui, petentis matrem suam sibi reddi Brunichildem. Cujus ille non aspernatus preces, eam cum munere pacis poscenti remisit filio. (Aimoini, de Gest Franc., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 73.)
[* ] Duo volucia speciebus et diversis ornamentis referta quæ adpreciabantur amplias quam tria millia solidorum. Sed et sacculum cum numismatis auri pondere tenentem quasi millia duo ...... quia res ejus, id est quinque sarcinas, commendatas haberem (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 245.)
[† ] Chilpericus rex Chlodovechum filium suum Turonis transmisit. Qui, congregato exercitu, in terminum Turonicum et Andegavum ...... (Ibid. p. 239.)
[‡ ] Ibid. lib. viii. t. ii. p. 332. Desiderius Francorum dux, Gothis satis infestus. (Chron. Joannis Biclariensis apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 21.)
[* ] Usque Santonas transiit, eamque pervasit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)
[† ] Mummolus vero, patricius Guntchramni regis, cum magno exercitu usque Lemovicinum transiit, et contra, Desiderium, ducem Chilperici regis, belium gessit. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] In quo prœlio cecidere de exercitu ejus quinque millia; de Desiderii vero viginti quatuor millia. Ipse quoque Desiderius fugiens vix evasit. Mummolus vero patricius per Arvernum rediit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ibid., p. 281, 282, 296, 303, etc.
[† ] Solemne enim est Francorum regibus nunquam tonderi: sed a pueris intonsi manent: cæsaries tota decenter eis in humeros propendet: anterior coma e fronte discriminata in utrumque latus detlexa... Idque velut insigne quoddam eximiaque honoris prærogativa regio generi apud eos tribuitur. Subditi enim orbiculatim tondentur. (Agathiæ Histor. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 49.)
[‡ ] Post hæc Merovechus, cùm in custodia a patre retineretur, tonsuratus est, mutataque veste qua clericis uti mos est, presbyter ordinatur. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)
[* ] Et ad monasterium Cenomannicum, quod vocatur Aninsula, dirigitur, ut ibi sacerdotali erudiretur regula. (Ibid.) In viridi ligno hæ frondes succissæ sunt, nec omnino arescunt, sed velociter emergent ut crescere queant. (Ibid., lib. ii. p. 185.)—V. Adriani Valesn Notit. Galliar. p. 22.
[† ] Ut scilicet Guntchramnum, qui tunc de morte Theodoberti impetebatur, a basilica sancta deberemus extrahere. (Greg. Turon., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 234.)—See the second Narrative.
[* ] Quod si non faceremus, et civitatem et omnia suburbana ejus juberet incendio concremari. Quo audito mittimus ad eum legationem, dicentes: hæc ab antiquo facta non fuisse, quæ hic fieri deposcebat... Sed (Roccolenus) mandata aspera remittit dicens: “Nisi hodie projeceritis Guntchramnum ducem de basilica, ita cuncta virentia quæ sunt circa urbem adteram, ut dignus fiat aratro locus ille.” (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 234, 235.)
[† ] Cùm in domo ecclesiæ ultra Ligerim resideret, domum ipsam quæ clavis adfixa erat, disfixit. Ipsos quoque clavos Cenomannici, qui tunc cum eodem advenerant, impletis follibus portant, annonas evertunt et cuncta devastant. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ipsis prodentibus Francis, quibus familiare est ridendo fidem frangere. (Flav. Vopsic, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. i. p. 541.)
[§ ]Bose, in modern German Böse, signifies malicious, wicked.—Verumtamen nulli amicorum sacramentum dedit, quod non protinus omisisset. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 241.)
[* ] Hæc audiens Guntchramus Boso, qui tunc in basilica Sancti Martini, ut diximus, residebat, misit Riculfum subdiaconum, ut ei consilium occulte præberet expetendi basilicam Sancti Martini. (Ibid. p. 239.)
[† ] Ab alia parte Gailenus puer ejus advenit. Cùmque parvum solatium qui eum ducebant haberent, ab ipso Gaileno in itinere excussus est. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Quorum pedes primi perone setoso talos ad usque vinciebantur; genua, crura, suræque sine tegmine. Præter hoc vestis alta, stricta, versicolor, vir appropinquans poplitibus exertis: manicæ sola brachiorum principia velantes... Penduli ex humero gladii balteis super currentibus strinxerant clausa bullatis latera rhenonibus. (Sidon. Apollinar. Epist. apud Script. Rer. Gallic., et Francic., t. i. p. 793.)—V. Monachi Sangallensis de Gestis Caroli Magni. lib. i. ibid. t. v. p. 121, et Vitam Caroli Magni per Eginhardum scriptam, ibid. p. 93.
[§ ] Opertoque capite, indutusque veste sæculari, beati Martini templum expetit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)—These words opertoque capite are explained by the following passage of the same author, as bearing the meaning which I have attributed to them:—Et tectocapite ne agnoscaris silvam pete ... et ille accepto consilio, dum obtecto capite fugere niteretur, extracto quidam gladio caput ejus cum cucullo decidit. (Lib. vii. p. 310.)—The use of cloaks with hoods to them had passed from Gaul to Rome. See the Satires of Juvenal, passim, the Père Montfaucon, Antiquité expliquée.
[* ] Nobis autem missas celebrantibus in sanctum basilicam, aperta reperiens ostia, ingressus est. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)—Præfatio D. Theod. Ruinart. ad Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., ibid. p. 95.
[† ] Petiit, ut ei eulogias dare deberemus. Erat autem tunc nobiscum Ragnemodus Parisiacæ sedis episcopus, qui sancto Germano successerat. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)—In rendering thus literally this speech, I have employed a form of expression very common in the History of Gregory of Tours: Quid tibi visium est, o episcope, etc. See the fourth Narrative.
[* ] Quod cùm refutaremus, ipse clamare cœpit et dicere, quod non recte eum a communione sine fratrum conniventia suspenderemus ... Minabatur enim aliquos de populo nostro interficere, si communionem nostram non meruisset (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)
[† ] Illo autem hæc dicente, cum consensu fratris qui præsens erat contestata causa canonica, eulogias a nobis accepit. Veritas autem sum, ne dum unum a communione suspendebam, in multos existerem homicida. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Law of the Emperor Leon respecting sanctuaries (466). See Histoire Ecclésiastique de Fleury, t. vi. p. 562.
[§ ] Nicetius vir neptis meæ, propriam habens causam, ad Chilpericum regem abiit cum diacono nostro, qui regi fugam Merovechi narraret. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 239.)
[* ] Quibus visis, Fredegundis regina ait: “Exploratores sunt, et ad sciscitandum quid agat rex advenerunt, ut sciant quid Merovecho renuntient.” Et statim exspoliatos in exilium retrudi præcepit, de quo mense septimo expleto relaxati sunt. (Ibid.)
[† ] Igitur Chilpericus nuntios ad nos direxit, dicens: “Ejicite apostatam illum de basilica, sin autem, totam regionem illam igni succindam” Cúmque nos rescripsissemus impossibile esse quod temporibus hæreticorum non fuerat Christianorum nunc temporibus fieri, ipse exercitum commovet. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Cùm videret Merovechus patrem suum in hac deliberatione intentum, adsumto secum Guntchramno duce ad Brunichildem pergere cogitat, dicens: Abait ut propter meam personam basilica domini Martini violentiam perferat, aut regio ejus per me captivitati subdatur. (Ibid. p. 240.)
[* ] Et ingressus basilicam, dum vigilias ageret, res quas secum habebat, ad sepulchrum beati Martini exhibuit, orans ut sibi sanctus succurreret, atque ei concederet gratiam suam, ut regnum accipere posset. (Ibid. p. 241.)
[† ] Tunc direxit Guntchramnus puerum ad mulierem quamdam, sibi jam cognitam a tempore Chariberti regis, habentem spiritum Pythonis, ut ei quæ erant eventura narraret. (Ibid. p. 240.)
[‡ ] Quæ hæc ei per pueros mandata remisit: “Futurum est enim ut rex Chilpericus hoc anno deficiat, et Merovechus rex, exclusis fratribus, omne capiat regnum. Tu vero ducatum totius regni ejus annis quinque tenebis. Sexto vero anno in una civitatum, quæ super Ligeris alveum sita est in dextra ejus parte, favente populo, episcopatus gratiam adipisceris .....” (Ibid.). By the words dextra parte we must here understand the right side of the river, going up towards its source V. Adriani Valesli Notitiam Galliarum.
[§ ] Statim ille vanitate elatus, tanquam si jam in cathedra Turonicæ ecclesiæ resideret, ad me hæc detulit verba Cujusego, inridens stultitiam, dixi: “A Deo hæc poscenda sunt ..” Illo quoque cum confusione discedente, valde inridebam hominem, qui talia credi putabat. (Greg. Turon., Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 240.)
[* ] Vigiliis in basilica sancti antistitis celebratis, dum lectulo decubans obdormissem, vidi angelum per aera volantem: cùmque super sanctam basilicam præteriret, voce magna ait: “Heu! heu! percussit Deus Chilpericum, et omnes filios ejus, nec superabit de his qui processerunt ex lumbis ejus qui regat regnuni illius in æternum.” (Ibid.)
[† ] Nam sæpe cædes infra ipsum atrium, quod ad pedes Beati extat, exegit (Eberulfus,) exercens assidue ebrietates ac vanetates ...... Introeuntes puellæ, cum reliquis pueris ejus, suspiciebant picturas parietum, rimabanturque ornamenta beati sepulchri: quod valde facinorosum religiosis erat ...... hæc ille cùm post cœnam vino madidus advertisset ...... Furibundus ingreditur. (Ibid. lib. vii. t. ii. p. 300.)
[* ] Merovechus vero de patre atque noverca multa crimina loquebatur; quæ cùm ex parte vera essent, credo acceptum non fuisse Deo, ut hæc per filium vulgarentur. (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 240.)
[† ] Quadam enim die, ad convivium ejus adscitus, dum pariter sederemus, suppliciter petnt aliqua ad instructionem animæ legi. Ego vero, reserato Salomonis libro, versiculum qui primus occurrit arripui, qui hæc continebat: “Oculum qui adversus adspexerit patrem, effodiant eum corvi de convallibus.” Illo quoque non intelligente, consideravi hunc versiculum a Domino præparatum. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Leudastes tunc comes, cùm multas ei in amore Fredegundis insidias tenderet, ad extremum pueros ejus, qui in pago egressi fuerant circumventos dolis gladio trucidavit, ipsumque interimere cupiens si reperire loco opportuno potuisset. (Ibid.)
[* ] Sed ille consilio usus Guntchramni, et se ulcisci desiderans...... (Ibid.)
[† ] Redeunte Marileifo archiatro de præsentia regis (eum) comprehendi præcepit, cæsumque gravissime, ablato auro argentoque ejus, et reliquis rebus quas secum exhibebat, nudum reliquit. Et interfecisset utique, si non, inter manus cædentium elapsus, ecclesiam expetisset. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Quem nos postea indutum vestimentis, obtenta vita, Pictavum reinismus. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Misit ad Gunichramnum Bosoneum Fredegundis regina, quæque ei jam pro morte Theodoberti patrocinabatur, occulte dicens: Si Merovechum ejicere potueris de basilica ut interficiatur, magnum de me munis accipies. (Ibid.)
[* ] At ille presto putans esse interfectores, ait ad Merovechum: “Ut quid hic quasi segnes et timidi residemus, et ut hebetes circa basilicam banc occulimur? Veniant enim equi nostri, et acceptis accipitribus, cum canibus exerceamur venatione, spectaculisque patulis jocundemur.” Hoc enim agebat callide, ut eum a sancta basilica separaret. (Ibid.)
[† ] Egressi itaque, ut diximus, de basilica ad Jocundiacensem domum civitati proximam progressi sunt: sed a nemine Merovechus nocitus est. (Ibid. p. 241.)
[* ] Et quia impetebatur tunc Guntchramnus de interitu ut diximus, Theodoberti, misii Chilpericus rex nuntios et epistolam scriptam ad sepulchrum sancti Martini, quæ habebat insertum, ut ei beatus Martinus rescriberet, utrum liceret extrahi Guntchramnum de basilica ejus an non. (Ibid.)
[† ] [This attempt of savage cunning to outwit its fears, and juggle with the higher powers, is very characteristic of the mixture of superstition, obtuseness, and low cunning of that epoch. Nine centuries later we meet with a still more singular case of this juggling with infernal power. Gilles de Retz, whose fourteen years’ horrible worship of the devil (to whom he offered up no less than 140 infants as sacrifices!) blackens the annals of France, at the very time that he was committing this infamy felt himself sure of heaven, having, as he thought, deceived or corrupted his Supreme Judge “by masses and processions!” Michelet, Histoire de France, livre xi.—Editor.]
[‡ ] Sed Baudegisleus diaconus, qui hanc epistolam exhibuit, chartam puram cum eadem quam detulerat, ad sanctum tumulum misit. Cùmque per triduum expectasset, et nihil rescripti reciperet, redivit ad Chilpericum. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 241.)
[* ] Ille vero misit alios, qui a Guntchramno sacramenta exigerent, ut sine ejus scientia basilicam non relinqueret. Qui, ambienter jurans, pallam altaris fidejussorem dedit nunquam se exinde sine jussione regia egressurum. (Ibid.)
[† ] Merovechus vero non credens Pythonissæ... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Tres libros super Sancti sepulchrum posuit, id est, Psalterii, Regum, Evangeliorum: et vigilans tota nocte, petnt ut sibi beatus confessor quid eveniret ostenderet, et utrum possit regnum accipere, an non ut Domino indicante cognosceret. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Post hæc continuato triduo in jejuniis, vigiliis, atque orationibus, ad beatum tumulum iterum accedens, revol vit librum, qui erat, Regum, versus autem primus paginæ quam reseravit, hic erat ... (Ibid.)—See 1 Kings ix. 9 Ps. lxxii. 18. Matt. xxvi. 2.
[* ] In his responsionibus ille confusus flens diutissime ad sepulchrum beati antistitus. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 241.)
[† ] Guntchramnus vero alias sane bonus. Nam ad perjuria nimium præparatus erat... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Adsumto secum Guntchramno duce, cum quingentis aut eo amplius viris discessit. Egressus autem basilicam ... (Ibid.)
[* ] Cùm iter ageret per Antisiodorense territorium, ab Erpone duce Guntchramni regis comprehensus est. (Ibid.)
[† ] Guntchramnus Boso Turonis cum paucis armatis veniens, filias suas, quas in basilica sancta reliquerat, vi abstulit, et eas usque Pictavis civitatem, quæ erat Childeberti regis, perduxit. (Ibid. p. 249.)
[‡ ] Cùmque ab eo Erpone detineretur, casu nescio quo dilapsus, basilicam Sancti Germani ingressus est. (Ibid. p. 241.)
[* ] “Retinuisti, ut ait frater meus, inimicum suum quod si hoc facere cogitabas, ad me eum debuisti prius adducere. sin autem aliud, nectangere debueras quem tenere dissimulabas.” (Ibid.)
[† ] Guntchramnus rex in ira commotus Erponem septingentis aureis damnat, et ab honore removet. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Merovechus prope duos menses ad antedictam basilicam residens, fugam iniit, et ad Brunichildem reginam usque pervenit. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Rauchingus vir omni vanitate repletus, superbia tumidus, elatione protervus; qui se ita cum subjectis agebat, ut non cognosceret in se aliquid humanitatus habere, sed ultra modem humanæ maliciæ atque stultitiæ in suos desæviens nefanda mala gerebat. (Ibid. p. 233.)
[* ] Num si ante eum, ut adsolet, convivio urentem puer cereum tenuisset, nudari ejus tibias faciebat, atque tamdiu in his cereum comprimi, donec lumine privaretur: iterum cùm inluminatus fuisset, similiter faciebat usque dum totæ tibiæ famuli tenentis exurerentur; fiebatque ut, hoc flente, iste magna lætitia exultaret. (Ibid. p. 234.)
[† ] Sepelivitque eos viventes dicens: “Quia non frustravi juramentum meum, ut non separarentur hi in sempiternum...” In talibus enim operibus valde nequisissimus erat, nuliam aliam habens potius utilitatem, nisi in cachinnis ac dolis. (Ibid.)Illis consulibus Romana potentia fulsit;Te duce sed nobis hic modo Roma redit.Justitia florente, favent, te judice, leges,Causarumque æquo pondere libra manet ...
[‡] (Fortunati carmen de Lupo duce, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 514.)
[* ] Hæc illa loquente, respondit Ursio: “Recede a nobis, o mulier, sufficiat tibi sub viro tenuisse regnum. Nunc autem filius tuus regnat; regnumque ejus non tua, sed nostra tuitione salvatur. Tu vero recede a nobis, ne te ungulæ equorum nostrorum cum terra confodiant. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 267.)
[† ] Sed ab Austrasiis non est collectus (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 241.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. x. p. 83.)
[‡ ] Merovechus vero dum in Remensi campania latitaret, nec palam se Austrasiis crederet. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 246.) Post hæc sonuit, quod Merovechus iterum basilicam sancti Martini conaretur expetere. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Exercitus autem Chilperici regis usque Turonis accedens, regionem illam in prædas mittit, succendit atque devastat: nec rebus sancti Martini pepercit. (Ibid. p. 241.) Chilpericus vero custodiri basilicam jubet, et omnes claudi aditus. Custodes autem unum ostium, per quod pauci clerici ad officium ingrederentur, relinquentes, reliqua ostia clausa tenebant, quod non sine tædio populis fuit. (Ibid. p. 246.)
[* ] Pater vero ejus exercitum contra Campanenses commovit, putans eum ibidem occultari: sed nihil nocuit, nec eum potuit reperire. (Ibid. t. ii. p. 241.)
[† ] Loquebantur etiam tunc homines, in hac circumventione Egidium episcopum et Gunichramnum Bosonem fuisse maximum caput, eo quod Guntchramnus Fredegundis reginæ occultis amicitris potiretur pro interfectione Theodoberti: Egidius vero quod er jam longo tempore esset carus ...... (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 246.)
[* ] Merovechus vero a Tarrabennensibus circumventus est, dicentibus, quod, relicto patre ejus Chilperico, er se subjugarent, si ad eos accederet.—(Ibid.) Danihelem quondam clericum, cæsarie capitis crescente, regem Franci constituunt. (Erchanberti fragmentum, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 690.)
[† ] Qui velociter, adsumtis secum viris fortissimis, ad eos venit. (Greg. Turon Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 246.)
[‡ ] Hi præparatos detegentes dolos, in villiam eum quamdam concludunt, et circumseptum cum armatis, nuntios patri dirigunt. Quod ille audiens, illuc properare destinat. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Sed hic cùm in hospitiolo quodam retineretur, timens ne ad vindictam inimicorum multas lueret pœnas ......... (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 246.)
[* ] Vocato ad se Gaileno familiari suo, ait: Una nobis usque nunc et anima et consi lium fuit: rogo ne patiaris me manibus inimicorum tradi: sed accepto gladio inruas in me. Quod ille nec dubitans, eum cultro confodit. Adveniente autem rege, mortuus est repertus. (Ibid.)
[† ] Extiterunt tunc qui adsererent verbo Merovechi, quæ superius diximus, a regina fuisse conficta; Merovechum vero ejus fuisse jussu clam interemptum. Gailenum vero adprehensum, abscissis manibus et pedibus, auribus et narium summitatibus, et aliis multis cruciatibus adfectum infeliciter necaverunt. Grindionem quoque, intextum rotæ, in sublime sustulerunt Gucilionem, qui quondam comes palatii Sigiberti regis fuerat abscisso capite interfecerunt. (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 246.)
[‡ ] Chilpericus quoque rex Pictavum pervasit, atque nepotis sui homines ab ejus sunt hominibus effugati. Ennodium ex comitatu ad regis præsentiam perduxerunt ...... Cùm Dacco, Dagarici quondam filius, relicto rege Chilperico, huc illucque vagaretur, a Dracoleno duce, qui dicebatur industrius, fraudulenter adprehensus est, quem vinctum ad Chilpericum regem Brennacum deduxit ...... (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 246.)
[* ] His diebus Guntchramnus Boso filias suas a Pictavo auferre conabatur. (Ibid. p. 249.)
[† ] Dracolenus se super eum objecit: sed illi, sicut erant parati resistentes, se defensare nitebantur. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Guntchramnus vero misit unum de amicis suis ad eum, dicens: Vade et dic er. Scis enim quod fœdus inter nos initum habemus, rogo ut te de meis removeas insidus Quantum vis de rebus tollere non prohibeo; tantum mihi etsi nudo liceat cum filiabus meis accidere quo voluero. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ecce, inquit, funiculum, in quo alii culpabiles ad regem, me ducente, directi sunt: in quo et hic hodli ligandus illuc deduceter vinctus. (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 250.)
[† ] Elevatoque conto, Dracolenum artat in faucibus. Suspensumque de equo sursum, unus de amicis suis eum lancea latere verberatum finivit. Fugatisque sociis, ip. soque spoliato, Guntchramnus cum filiabus liber abscessit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. pp. 244, 245. Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. x. p. 89, et seq.
[* ] Audiens Chilpericus quod Prætextatus, Rothomagensis episcopus, contra utilitatem suam populis munera daret, eum ad se arcessiri præcepit. (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 243.)
[† ] Quo discusso, reperit cum eodem res Brunichildis reginæ commendata. (Ibid. lib. v. t. ii. p. 243.) Duo volucla speciebus et diversis ornamentis referta quæ adpreciabantur amplias quain tria millia solidorum. Sed et sacculum cum numismatis auri pondere tenentem quasi millia duo. (Ibid. p. 245.) According to the valuation made by Mr. Guérard, three thousand golden sols are intrinsically worth 1115l. and relatively worth 11,944l. 2s. 8d.
[‡ ] Ipsisque (rebus) ablatis, eum in exsilio usque ad sacerdotalem audientiam retineri præcepit. (Ibid. p. 243.)
[* ] See l’Histoire de Paris, by Dulaure, tom. i. aux Articles Palais des Thermes, rue Saint Jacques, rue Galande, et rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève.
[† ] Tunc rex projecit a se in directum bipennem suam, quod est Francisca; et dixit: Fiatur ecclesia beatorum apostolorum, dum auxiliante Deo revertimur. (Gest. Reg. Franc., apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 554.)
[The curious practice of measuring certain boundaries by throwing the axe, the hammer, or the javelin, is copiously illustrated in Michelet’s “Origines du Droit Francais,” pp. 70-77. Ed.]
[‡ ] V. D. Theod Ruinart præfat ad Greg. Turon. pp. 95, 96. Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. ii. cap. xiv. et xvi. Fortunati Carmina. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 479. Ibid. t. iii. p. 437.
[§ ] Cui est porticus applicata triplex, necnon et patriarcharum et prophetarum, et martyrum atque confessorum, veram vetusti temporis fidem, quæ sunt tradita libris et historiarum paginis, pictura refert. (Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 370.) V. Dulaure, Hist. de Paris, t. i. p. 277.
[* ] Ostenderat autem nobis ante diem tertiam rex duo volucla ... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 245.)
[† ] Conjuncto autem consilio, exhibitus est. Erant autem episcopi qui advenerant apud Parisius, in basilica sancti Petri apostoli. (Ibid. p. 243.) Ibid. lib. vii. cap. xvi. et passim. It has been objected to this double classification, that in the sixth century Roman or Germanic names are not always an infallible sign of the origin of those who bear them, for that some Germanic names are to be found in Gallo-Roman families. I am aware of this; but these are rare exceptions which prove the rule. If, until we have distinct proofs to the contrary, we may not class as Franks all those of the Merovingian times who bear Germanic names, and as Gauls those who bear Roman ones, history is no longer possible.Huc ego dum famulans comitatu jungor eodem,Et mea membra cito dum veherentur equo ......
[‡] (Fortunati Carmen ad Bertechramnum Burdigal. Episc. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 487.)Sed tamen in vestro quædam sermone notavi,Carmine de veteri furta novella loqui.Ex quibus in paucis superaddita syllaba fregit,Et, pade læsa suo, musica clauda jacet.(Ibid.)
[† ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. viii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 316.—Abstulisti uxorem meam cum famulis ejus, et ecce, quod sacerdotem non decet, tu cum ancillis meis, et illa cum famulis tuis dedecus adulterii perpetratis. (Greg. Turon., lib. ix. ibid., p. 352.) Tum Bertechramnus Burdigalensis civitatis episcopus cui hoc cum regina crimen impactum fuerat ... (Ibid., lib. v. p. 263.)
[‡ ] Cui rex ait: Quid tibi visum est, o episcope, ut inimicum meum Merovechum, qui filius esse debuerat, cum amita sua, id est patrui sui uxore, conjungeres? An ignarus eras, quæ pro hac causa canonum statuta sanxissent? (Ibid., p. 243.)
[* ] Hæc eo dicente, infremuit multitudo Francorum, voluitque ostia basilicæ rumpere, quasi ut extractum sacerdotem lapidibus urgeret: sed rex prohiburt fieri. (Ibid.)
[† ] Cùmque Prætextatus episcopus ea quæ rex dixerat facta negaret, advenerunt falsi testes, qui ostendebant species aliquas, dicentes: Hæc et hæc nobis dedisti, ut Merovecho fidem promitti deberemus. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ad hæc ille dicebat: Verum enim dicitis vos a me sæpius muneratos, sed non hæc causa exstitit, ut rex ejiceratur a regno ... (Ibid.)
[§ ] Recedente vero rege ad metatum suum, nos collecti in unum sedebamus in secretario basilicæ beati Patri. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Confabulantibusque nobis, subito advenit Aëtius, archidiaconus Parisiacæ ecclestæ, salutatisque nobis, ait Audite me, o sacerdotes Domini, qui in unum collecti estis. (Ibid.)
[* ] Hæc eo dicente, nullus sacerdotum ei quicquam respondit. Timebant enim reginæ furorem, cujus instinctu hæc agebantur. Quibus intentis, et ora digito comprimentibus. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ego aio: Adtenti estote, quæso, sermonibus meis, o sanctissimi sacerdotes Dei, et præsertim vos, qui familiariores esse regi videmini: adhibete ei consilium sanctum et sacerdotale ... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Illis vero silentibus adjeci: Mementote, Domini mei sacerdotes, verbi prophetici quod ait: si viderit speculator ... (Ibid.) Ezek. xxxiii. 6.
[§ ] Hæc me dicente, non respondit ullus quicquam, sed erant omnes intenti et stupentes. Duo tamen adulatores ex ipsis, quod de episcopis dici dolendum est, nuntiaverunt regi ... (Ibid., p. 244.)
[* ] Dicentes: Quia nullum majorem inimicum in suis causis quam me haberet. Illico unus ex aulicis cursu rapido ad me repræsentandum dirigitur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Cùmque venissem, stabat rex juxta tabernaculum ex ramis factum et ad dexteram ejus Bertechramnus episcopus, ad lævam vero Ragnemodus stabat; et erat ante eos scamnum pane desuper plenum cum diversis ferculis. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Visoque me rex ait: O episcope, justitiam cunctis largiri debes, et ecce ego justitiam a te non accipio; sed, ut video, consentis iniquitati, et impletur in te proverbium illud, quod corvus oculum corvi non eruit. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Ad hæc ego: Si quis de nobis, o rex, justitiæ tramitem transcendere voluit, a te corrigi potest; si vero tu excesseris, quis te corripiet? Loquimur enim tibi, sed si volueris, audis; si autem nolueris, quis te condemnabit? (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Ad hæc ille, ut erat ab adulatoribus contra me accensus, ait: Cum omnibus enim inveni justitiam, et tecum invenire non possum. Sed scio quid faciam, ut noteris in populis ... (Ibid.)
[* ] Ad hæc ego: Quod sim injustus, tu nescis. Scit enim ille conscientiam meam, cui occulta cordis sunt manifesta. Quod vero falso clamore populus te insultante vociferatur, nihil est, quia sciunt omnes a te hæc emissa ... (Ibid.)
[† ] At ille quasi me demulcens, quod dolose faciens putabat me non intelligere, conversus ad juscellum quod coram erat positum, ait: Propter te hæc juscella paravi, in quibus nihil aliud præter volatilia, et parumper ciceris continetur. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ad hæc ego, cognoscens adulationes ejus, dixi: Noster cibus esse debet facere voluntatem Dei, et non his deliciis delectari ... (Ibid.)
[§ ] Ille vero, porrecta dextra, juravit per omnipotentem Deum, quod ea quæ lex et canones edocebant, nullo prætermitteret pacto. Post hæc, accepto pane, hausto etiam vino, discessi. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ostium mansionis nostræ gravibus audio cogi verbe ribus: missoque puero, nuntios Fredegundis reginæ adstare cognosco. (Ibid.)
[† ] Deinde precantur pueri, ut in ejus causis contrarius non existam, simulque ducentas argenti promittunt libras, si Prætextatus me impugnante opprimeretur. (Ibid.) According to Mr. Guérard’s valuation, two hundred pounds of silver were really equivalent to £559 15s., and relatively equivalent to £5,972 10s.
[‡ ] Dicebant enim: Jam omnium episcoporum promissionem habemus: tantum tu adversus non incedas. Quibus ego respondi: Si mihi mille libras auri argentique donetis, numquid aliud facere possum, nisi quod Dominus agere præcipit. (Ibid.)
[§ ] At ilii non intelligentes quæ dicebam, gratias agentes dicesserunt. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Convententibus autem nobis in basilica sancti Petri, mane rex adfuit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Dixitque: Episcopus enim in furtis deprehensus, ab episcopali officio ut evellatur canonum auctoritas sanxit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Nobis quoque respondentibus, quis ille sacerdos esset cui furti crimen inrogaretur, respondit rex: Vidisti enim species quas nobis furto abstulit. (Ibid. 245.)
[‡ ] Hæc enim dicebat rex, sibrab episcopo fuisse furata. Qui respondit: Recolere vos credo, discedente a Rothomagensi urbe Brunichilde regina, quod venerim ad vos, dixique vobis, quia res ejus, id est quinque sarcinas, commendatas haberem ...... (Ibid.)
[§ ] Reversi iterum requirebant alia: iterum consului magnificentiam vestram. Tu autem præcepisti dicens: Ejice, ejice hæc a te, o sacerdos, ne faciat scandalum hæc causa . . . Tu autem quid nunc calumniaris, et me furti argois cùm hæc cansa non ad furtum, sed ad custodiam debeat deputari? (Ibid.)
[* ] Ad hæc rex: Si hoc depositum penes te habebatur ad custodiendum, cur solvisti unum ex his, et limbum aureis contextum filis in partes dissecasti, et dedisti per viros, qui me a regno dejicerent? (Ibid.)
[† ] Jam dixi tibi superius, quia munera eorum acceperam; ideoque cùm non haberem de præsenti quod darem, hinc præsumpsi et eis vicissitudinem munerum tribui. Proprium mihi esse videbatur, quod filio meo Merovecho erat, quem de lavacro regenerationis excepi. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Videns autem rex Chilpericus, quod eum his calumniis superare nequiret, adtonitus valde, a conscientia confusus, discessit a nobis. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Vocavitque quosdam de adulatoribus suis, et ait: Victum me verbis episcopi fateor, et vera esse quæ dicit scio: quid nunc faciam, ut reginæ de eo voluntas adimpleatur? (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Et ait: Ite, et accedentes ad eum dicite, quasi consilium ex vobismetipsis dantes; Nosti quod sit rex Chilpericus pius atque compunctus, et cito flectatur ad misericordiam: humiliare sub eo, et dicite ab eo objecta a te perpetrata fuisse ... (Ibid.)
[* ] His seductus Prætextatus episcopus, pollicitus est se ita facturum. (Ibid.)
[† ] Mane autem facto, convenimus ad consuetum locum adveniensque et rex, ait ad episcopum: Si munera pro muneribus his hominibus es largitus, cur sacramenta postulasti ut fidem Merovecho servarent. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Respond it episcopus Petii, fateor, amicitias eorum haberi cum eo; et non solum hominem, sed, si fas fuisset, angelum de cœlo evocassem, qui esset adjutor ejus; filius enim mihi erat, ut sæpe dixi spiritalis ex lavacro. (Ibid.)
[* ] Cùmque hæc altercatio altius tolleretur, Prætextatus episcopus, prostratus solo, ait. Peccavi in cœlum et coram te, o rex misericordissime, ego sum homicida nefandus; ego te interficere volui et filium tuum in solio tuo erigere. (Ibid.)
[† ] Hæc eo dicente, prosternitur rex coram pedibus sacerdotum, dicens: Audite, o pnssimi sacerdotes, reum crimen exsecrabile confitentem. Cùmque nos flentes regem elevassemus a solo. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Jussit eum basilicam egredi. Ipse vero ad metatum discessit ...... (Ibid.)
[§ ] Transmittens librum canonum, in quo erat quaternio novus adnexus, habens canones quasi apostolicos, continentes hæc: Episcopus in homicidio, adulterio, et perjurio deprehensus, a sacerdotio divellatur (Ibid.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. x. p. 94. D. Theod. Ruinart, præfat. ad Greg. Turon., p. 86.
[* ] His ita lectis, cùm Prætextatus staret stupens, Bertechramnus episcopus ait: Audi, o frater et co-episcope, quia regis gratiam non habes, ideoque nec nostra caritate uti poteris, priusquam regis indulgentiam merearis (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 245.)
[† ] His ita gestis, lectis, rex, ut aut tunica ejus scinderetur, aut centesimus octavus psalmus, qui maledictiones Ischariotichas continet, super caput ejus recitaretur. (Ibid. p. 246.)
[‡ ] Aut certe judicium contra eum scriberetur, ne in perpetuum communicaret. Quibus conditionibus ego restiti, juxta promissum regis, ut nihil extra canones gereretur. (Ibid.)
[* ] Tunc Prætextatus a nostris raptus oculis, in custodiam positus est. De qua fugere tentans nocte, gravissime cæsus, in insulam maris, quod adjacet civitati Constantinæ, in exsilium est detrusus. (Ibid.) V. Dulaure, Hist. de Paris, t. i. V. History of the Norman Conquest, books i. and ii.
[† ] Qui (Audo judex) post mortem regis ab ipsis (Francis) spoliatus ac denudatus est, ut nihil ei præter quod super se auferre potuit remaneret. Domos enim ejus incendio subdiderunt, abstulissent utique et ipsam vitam, ni cum regina ecclesiam expetisset. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vii. apud Script Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p.299.) Defuncto igitur Chilperico ...... Aurelianenses cum Blesensibus juncti super Dunenses inruunt, eosque inopinanter proterunt, domos annonasque, vel quæ movere facile non poterant, incendio tradunt, pecora diripiunt. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Quem cives Rothomagenses post excessum regis de exsilio expetentes cum grandi lætitia et gaudio civitati suæ restituerunt. (Ibid.)
[* ] Chlother, born in 584, after the death of all the other sons of Hilperik and Fredegonda.
[† ] Ibid. pp. 294. 299. Adriani Valesli Rer. Francic., lib. xii. p. 214.
[‡ ] Postquam autem Fredegundis regina ad supradictam villam (Rotoïalensem) abiit, cum esset valde mœsta, quid ei potestas ex parte fuisset ablata, meliorem se existimans Brunichildem ..... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 299.)
[§ ] Misit occulte clericum sibi familiarem, qui eam circumventam dolis interimere posset, videlicet ut cum se subuliter in ejus subderet famulatum ...... (Ibid., p. 300.)
[* ] Redire permissus est ad patronam: reseransque quæ acta fuerant, effatus quod jussa patrare non potuisset, manuum ac pedum abscissione multatur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Fredegundis duos cultros ferreos fieri præcepit: quos etiam caraxari profundius, et veneno infici jusserat, scilicet si mortalis adsultus vitales non dissolveret fibras, vel ipsa veneni infectio vitam posset velocius extorquere. (Ibid., lib. viii. t. ii. p. 324.)
[‡ ] Quos cultros duobus clericis cum his mandatis tradidit, dicens. Accipite hos gladios, et quantocius pergite ad Childebertum regem, adsimulantes vos esse mendicos . . ut tandem Brunichildis, quæ ab illo adrogantiam sumit, eo cadente conruat, mihique subdatur. Quod si tanta est custodia circa puerum, ut accedere nequeatis, vel ipsam interimite inimicam. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Cumque hæc mulier loqueretur, clericitremere cœperunt, difficile putantes hæc jussa posse compleri. At illa dubios cernens, medificatos potione direxit quo ire præcepit; statimque robur animorum adcrevit. (Ibid., p. 325.)
[* ] Nihilominus vasculum hac potione repletum ipsos levare jubet, dicens: In die illa cùm hæc quæ præcipio facitis, mane priusquam opus incipiatis, hunc potum sumite ..... (Ibid.)
[† ] Dum hæc agerentur, et Fredegundis apud Rothomagensem urbem commoraretur ...... (Ibid., p. 326.)
[‡ ] Verba amaritudinis cum Prætextato pontifice habuit, dicens venturum esse tempus, quando exsilia in quibus detentus fuerat, reviseret. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Et ille: Ego semper et in exsilio et extra exsilium episcopus fui, sum et ero: nam tu non semper regali potentia perfrueris. Nos ab exsilio provehimur, tribuente Deo, in regnum; tu vero ab hoc regno demergeris in Abyssum. (Ibid.)
[* ] Hæc effatus, cùm verba illius mulier graviter acciperet, se a conspectu ejus felle fervens abstraxit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ubique relinquentes eam (Fredegundem) cum Melantio episcopo, qui de Rothomago submotus fuerat ...... (Ibid., lib. vii. p. 299.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xiii. p. 303.
[‡ ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. viii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 331. Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xiii. p. 303.
[* ] Cùm sacerdos ad implenda ecclesiastica officia, ad ecclesiam maturius properasset, antiphonas juxta consuetudinem incipere per ordinem cœpit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. viii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 326.)
[† ] Cúmque inter psallendum formulæ decumberet, crudelis adfuit homicida qui episcopum super formulam quiescentem, extracto balthei cultro, sub ascella percutit. Ille vero vocem emittens, ut clerici qui aderant adjuvarent, nullius auxilio de tantis adstantibus est adjutus. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ex quo lethali ictu erumpente cruore ...... propius ad aram accessit divinaque humiliter expetiit sacramenta. Factus igitur aræ et mensæ dominicæ ex voto particeps ...... (Bollandi Acta Sanctor., t. iii. p. 465.) At ille plenas sanguine manus super altarium extendens, orationem fundens et Deo gratias agens, in cubiculum suum inter manus fidelium deportatus ..... Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. viii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 326.) V. Ducange, Glossar. ad Script. Med. et infim. Latinitat. voc. Columba.
[* ] Statimque Fredegundis cum Beppoleno duce et Ansovaldo adfuit, dicens: Non oportuerat hæc nobis ac reliquæ plebi tuæ, o sancte sacerdos, ut ista tuo culti evenirent: sed utinam indicaretur qui talia ausus est perpetrare, ut digna pro hoc acelere supplicia sustineret. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. viii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 327.)
[† ] Sciens autem eam sacerdos hæc dolose proferre, ait: Et quis hæc fecit, nisi is qui reges interemit, qui sæpius sanguinem innocentem effudit? ...... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Respondit mulier: Sunt apud nos peritissimi medici, qui huic vulneri mederi possunt; permitte ut accedant ad te. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Et ille: Jam, inquit, me Deus præcepit de hoc mundo vocari. Nam tu quæ his sceleribus princeps inventa es, eris maledicta in sæculo, et erit Deus ultor sanguinis mei de capite tuo. (Ibid.)
[* ] Magnus tunc omnes Rothomagenses cives, et præsertim seniores loci illius Francos, mœror obsedit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ex quibus unus senior ad Fredegundem veniens, ait: Multa enim mala in hoc sæculo perpetrasti, sed adhuc pejus non feceras, quam ut sacerdotem Dei juberes interfici. Sit Deus ultor sanguinis innocentis velociter. Nam et omnes erimus inquisitores mali hujus, ut tibi diutius non liceat tam crudelia exercere. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Cùm autem hæc dicens discederet a conspectu reginæ, misit illa qui eum ad convivium provocaret. Quo renuente ...... (Ibid.)
[* ] Rogat ut si convivio ejus uti non velit, saltem poculum vel hauriat, ne jejunus a regali domo discedat. Quo expectante ..... (Ibid.)
[† ] Accepto poculo, bibit absinthium cum vino et melle mixtum, ut mos barbarorum habet; sed hic potus veneno imbutus erat. Statem autem ut bibit, sensit pectori suo dolorem validum imminere; et quasi si incideretur intrinsecus ...... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Exclamat suis dicens: Fugite, o miseri, fugite malum hoc, ne mecum pariter periamini. Illis quoque non bibentibus, sed festinantibus abire, ille protinus excæcatus, ascensoque equo, in tertio ab hoc loco stadio cecidit, et mortuus est. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Post hæc, Leudovaldus episcopus epistolas per omnes sacerdotes direxit, et accepto consilio ecclesias Rothomagenses clausit, ut in his populus solemnia divina non spectaret, donec indagatione communi reperiretur hujus auctor sceleris. (Ibid.)
[* ] Sed et aliquos adprehendit, quibus supplicio subditis, veritatem extorsit, qualiter per consilium Fredegundis hæc acta fuerant; sed ea defensante, ulcisci non potuit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ferebant etiam ad ipsum percussores venisse, pro eo quod hæc inquirere sagaciter destinaret; sed custodia vallato suorum, nihil ei nocere potuerunt. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] In mallo hoc est ante Theada, vel Tunginum. (Lex. Salica, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iv. p. 151.)
[* ] Greg Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 254.
[† ] Itaque cùm hæc ad Guntchramnum regem perlata fuissent, et crimen super mulierem jaceretur, misit tres episcopos ad filium, qui esse dicitur Chilperici ...... ut scilicet cum his qui parvulum nutriebant perquirerent hujus sceleris personam, et in conspectu ejus exhiberent. (Ibid., lib. viii. p. 327.)
[‡ ] Quod cùm sacerdotes locuti fuissent, responderunt seniores: Nobis prorsus hæc facta displicent, et magis ac magis ea cupimus ulcisci. Nam non potest fieri ut si quis inter nos culpabilis invenitur, in conspectum regis vestri deducatur. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Tunc sacerdotes dixerunt: Noveritis enim, quia si persona quæ hæc perpetravit in medio posiia non fuerit, rex noster cum exercitu huc veniens, omnem hanc regionem gladio incendioque vastabit; quia manifestum est hanc interfecisse gladio episcopum, quæ maleficiis Francum jussit interfici. (Ibid.)
[* ] Et his dictis dicesserunt, nullum rationabile responsum accipientes, obtestantes omnino ut numquam in ecclesia illa Melantius, qui prius in loco Prætextati subrogatus fuerat, sacerdotis fungeretur officio. (Ibid., p. 328.)
[† ] Fredegundis vero Melantium, quem prius episcopum posuerat, ecclesiæ instituit. (Ibid., p. 331.)
[‡ ] Illa quoque quo facilius detergeretur a crimine, adprehensum puerum cædi jussit vehementur, dicens: Tu hoc blasphemium super me intulisti, ut Prætextatum episcopum gladio adpeteres. Et tradidit eum nepoti ipsius sacerdotis. (Ibid.) Gregory of Tours appears to me to have mistaken the motives of this strange action.
[* ] Qui cùm eum in supplicio posuisset, omnem rem evidenter aperuit, dixitque: A regina enim Fredegunde centum solidos accepi, ut hoc facerem; a Melantio vero episcopo quinquaginta; et ab archidiacono civitatis alios quinquaginta; insuper et promissum habui ut ingenuus fierem, sicut et uxor mea. (Ibid.)
[† ] In hac voce illius, evaginato homo ille gladio prædictum reum in frustra concidit. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] V. Gregorii Magni Papæ I. Epist. xxix. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iv. p. 29.
[* ] Cracina Pictavensis insula vocitatur, in qua a fiscalis vinitoris servo, Leocadio nomine, nascitur. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 261.) V. Adriani Valesii Notit. Galliar., p. 463.
[† ] Exinde ad servitium arcessitus, culinæ regiæ deputatur. (Greg. Turon., loc. supr. cit.)
[‡ ] Ipse vero (Chilpericus) jam regressus Parisius, familias multas de domibus fiscalibus auferri præcipit et in plaustris componi ...... multi vero meliores natu, qui vi compellebantur abire, testamenta condiderunt. (Ibid., lib. vi. p. 289.)
[* ] Sed quia lippis erat in adolescentia oculis, quibus fumi acerbiias non congruebat, amotus a pistillo promovetur ad cophinum. (Ibid., lib. v. t. ii. p. 261.)
[† ] Sed dum inter fermentatas massas se delectari consimulat, servitium fugam iniens dereliquit. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Cùmque bis aut tertio reductus a fugæ lapsu teneri non posset, auris unius incisione multatur. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Dehinc cùm notam intlictam corpori occulere nulla auctoritate valeret ...... (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Ad Marcovefum reginam, quam Charibertus rex nimium diligens, in loco sororis thoro adsciverat, fugit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Quæ libenter eum colligens, provocat, equorumque meliorum deputat esse custodem.—(Ibid.) Si mariscalcus, qui super xii. caballos est, occiditur ... (Lex Alemannor. tit. lxxix. § iv.) Lex salica, tit. ii. § vi.
[Hence, obviously, the modern words, Marschalk, Marischal, Maréchal, Marshal]—Ed.
[† ] Hinc jain obsessus, vanitati ac superbiæ deditus, comitatum ambit stabulorum (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. v. apud Script Rer. Gallic et Francic., t. ii. p. 261.) V. Ducange, Glossar. ad Script. med. et infin. Latinit voce Comes.
[‡ ] Quo accepto, cunctos despicit ac postponit: inflatur vanitate, luxuria dissolvitur (Greg. Turon., Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 261.)
[§ ] Cupiditate succenditur, et in causis patronæ alum nus proprius huc illucque defertur. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Cujus post obitum refertus prædis locum ipsum cum rege Chariberto oblato munerious tenere cœpit. Post hæc, peccatis populi ingruentibus, comes Turonis destinatur. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ubique se amplius honoris gloriosi supercilio jactat; ibi se exhibet rapacem prædis, turgidum rixis, adulteriis lutulentum. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ubi seminando discordias. et inferendo calumnias, non modicos thesauros adgregavit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Post obitum vero Chariberti, cùm in Sigiberti sortem civitas illa venisset, transeunte eo ad Chilpericum, omnia quæ inique adgregaverat, a fidelibus nominati regis direpta sunt. (Ibid.)
[† ] Pervadente igitur Chilperico rege per Theodobertum filium urbem Turonicas, cùm jam ego Turonis advenissem. (Ibid.) See above, Second Narrative.
[‡ ] Mihi a Theodoberto strenue commendatur, ut scilicot comitatu quem prius habuerat, potiretur. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 261.)
[* ] Ergo dum et fidem et utilitatem tuam videmur habere compertam, ideo tibi actionem comitatus in pago illo ...... tibi ad agendum regendumque commisimus. (Charta de ducatu vel comitatu., Marculfi Formul., lib. i. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 472.)
[† ] Viduis et pupillis maximus defensor appareas; latronum et malefactorum scelera a te severissime reprimantur; ut populi bene viventes sub tuo regimine gaudentes debeant consistere quieti: et quidquid de ipsa actione in fisci ditionibus speratur, per vosmetipsos annis singulis nostris ærariis inferatur. (Ibid.)
[* ] Timaebat enim, quod postea evenit, ne urbem illam iterum rex Sigibertus in suum dominium revocaret (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script Rer. Gallic et Francic., t. ii. p. 261.)
[† ] Multum se nobis humilem subditumque reddebat, jurans sæpius super sepulcrum sancti Antistitis, numquam se contra rationis ordinem esse venturum, seque mihi, tam in causis propriis, quam in ecclesiæ necessitatibus, in omnibus esse fidelem. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] See above, Second Narrative.
[§ ] Sed dum Sigibertus duos annos Turonis tenuit, hic in Britannis latuit (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Quo defuncto, succedente iterum Chilperico in regeum, iste in comitatum accedit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Jam si in judicio cum senioribus, vel laicis, vel clericis resedisset, et vidisset hominem justitiam prosequentem, protinus agebatur in furias. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ructabat convicia in cives. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Presbyteros manicis jubebat extrahi, milites fustibus verberari; tantaque utebatur crudelitate, ut vix referri possit. (Ibid.)
[* ] In tali levitate elatus est, ut in domo ecclesiæ cum thoracibus atque loricis, præcinctus pharetra, et contum manu gerens, capite galeato ingrederetur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Discedente autem Merovecho, qui res ejus diripuerat, nobis calumnatior exsistit, adserens fallaciter Merovechum nostro usum consilio, ut res ejus auferret. (Ibid.) See above, the Third Narrative.
[‡ ] Sed post inlata damna, iterat iterum sacramenta, pallamque sepulchri beati Martini fidejussorem donat, se nobis nunquam adversaturum. (Ibid., p. 262.)
[§ ] Igitur post multa mala quæ in me meusqe intulit, post multas direptiones rerum ecclesiasticarum .... . (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Audiens autem Chilpericus omnia mala quæ faciebat Leudastes ecclesiis Turonicis et omni populo .. . (Ibid., p. 260.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. x. p. 118.
[* ] Ansovaldum illud dirigit qui veniens ad festivitatem sancti Martini, data nobis et populo optione, Eunomius in comitatum erigitur. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 261.)
[† ] See above, the Third Narrative.
[‡ ] Adjuncto sibi Riculfo presbytero, simili malitia perverso. Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 262.)
[§ ] Nam hic sub Eufronio episcopo de pauperibus provocatus archidiaconus ordinatus est. Exinde ad presbyterium admotus Semper elatus, inflatus, præsumptuosus. (Ibid., p. 264.)
[∥ ] Riculfus vero presbyter, qui jam a tempore beati Euphronii episcopi, amicus erat Chlodovechi. (Ibid.)
[* ] Rigunthis autem filia Chilperici, cúm sæpius matri calumnias inferret, diceretque se esse dominam, genitricemque suam servitio redhiberi et multis eam et crebro conviciis lacessiret ...... (Ibid., lib. ix. p. 352.)
[† ] Samson, born at Tournay during the siege of that city, died in 577.
[‡ ] See above, the Third Narrative.
[* ] Ad hoc erupit ut diceret me crimen in Fredegundem reginam dixisse. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 262.)
[† ] Hoc reginæ crimen objectum, ut ejecta de regno, interfectis fratribus, a patre Chlodovechus regnum acciperet; Leudastes ducatum, Riculfus vero presbyter ...... episcopatum Turonicum ambiret, huic Riculfo clerico, archidiaconatu promisso. (Ibid.)
[* ] Hic vero Rifulcus subdiaconus, simili levitate perfacilis, ante hunc annum consilio cum Leudaste de hac causa habito, causas offensionis requirit quibus scilicet me offenso, ad Leudastem transiret: nactusque tandem ipsum adivit, ac per menses quatuor dolis omnibus ac muscipulis præparatis, ad me: revertitur, depræcans ut eum debeam recipere excusatum. (Ibid.)
[† ] Usque nunc, o piissime rex, custodivi civitatem Turonicam: nunc autem, me ab actione remoto, vide qualiter custodiatur .... (Ibid., p. 261.)
[‡ ] Quod audiens rex ait: Nequaquam, sed quia remotus es, ideo hæc adponis. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Et ille: Majora, inquit, de te ait episcopus: dicit enim reginam tuam in adulterio cum episcopo Bertchramno misceri. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Tunc iratus rex, cæsum pugnis et calcibus .... (Ibid.)
[¶ ] Adserens si archidiaconus meus Plato, aut Gallienus amicus noster subderentur pœnæ, convincerent me utique hæc locutum. (Ibid., p. 262.)
[* ] Nam Riculfum clericum se habere dicebat, per quem hæc locutus fuisset. (Ibid.)
[† ] ... Oneratum ferro recludi præcepit in carcere. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Feci, fateor, et occultum hostem publice in domum suscepi. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Discedente vero Leudaste, ipse se pedibus meis sternit, dicens: Nisi succurras velociter, periturus sum. Ecce, instigante Leudaste, locutus sum quod loqui non debui. Nunc vero aliis me regnis emitte. Quod nisi feceris, a regalibus comprehensus, mortales pœnas sum luiturus. (Ibid.)
[* ] Cui ego aio: Si quid incongruum rationi effatus es, sermo tuus in caput tuum erit; nam ego alteri te regno non mittam, ne suspectus habear coram rege. (Ibid.)
[† ] At ille iterum vinctus, relaxato Leudaste, custodiæ deputatur, dicens Gallienum eadem die et Platonem archidiaconum fuisse præsentes, cum hæc est episcopus elocutus. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Sed Riculfus presbyter, qui jam promissionem de episcopatu a Leudaste habebat, in tantum elatus fuerat, ut magi Simonis superbiæ æquaretur. (Ibid.)
[* ] In die sexta Paschæ, in tantum me conviciis et sputis egit ......—(Ibid.) Turonicam urbem ab Arvernis populis emundavit. (Ibid., p. 264.)
[† ] Ignorans miser, quod præter quinque episcopos, reliqui omnes qui sacerdotium Turonicum susceperunt, parentum nostrorum prosapiæ sunt conjuncti. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ut vix a manibus temperaret fidus scilicet doli quem præparaverat. (Ibid.)
[§ ] In crastina autem die, id est sabbati in ipso Pascha, venit. Leudastes in urbem Turonicam, adsimilansque aliud negotium agere. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Adprehensos Platonem archidiaconum et Gallienum in vincula connectit; catenatosque ac exutos veste jubet eos ad reginam deduci. (Ibid.)
[¶ ] Interea ingressi in fluvium super pontem qui duabus lintribus tenebatur.—(Ibid., p. 262.) This interpretation appears to me the only one capable of giving an explanation of this obscure passage. It would be utterly impossible to throw over the Loire in the month of April, a bridge of planks supported only by two boats duabus lintribus. Besides, the rest of the passage indicates, in the most positive manner, that the two boats which supported the planks were not moored, but at liberty: navis illa quæ Leudastem vehebat ....
[* ] Hæc ego audiens, dum in domo ecclesiæ residerem mœstus, turbatusque ingressus oratorium. (Ibid.)
[† ] Davidici carminis sumo librum, ut scilicet apertus aliquem consolationis versiculum daret. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] In quo ita repertum est: Eduxit eos in spe, et non timuerunt; et inimicos eorum operuit mare. (Ibid.)
[* ] Navis illa quæ Leudastem vehebat, demergitur; et nisi nandi fuisset adminiculo liberatus, cum sociis forsitan interisset. Navis vero alia, quæ huic innexa erat, quæ et vinctos vehebat, super aquas, Dei auxilio, elevatur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Igitur deducti ad regem qui vincti fuerant, incusantur instanter, ut capitali sententia finirentur. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Sed rex recogitans, absolutos a vinculo in libera custodia reservat inlæsos. (Ibid.)
[§ ] See above, the Fourth Narrative.
[* ] Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. x. p. 119.
[† ] Berulfus dux cum Eunomio comite fabulam fingit, quod Guntchramnus rex rapere vellet Turonicam civitatem: et idcirco ne aliqua negligentia accederet, oportet, ait, urbem custodia consignari. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 262.)
[‡ ] Ponunt portis dolose custodes, qui civitatem tueri adsimulantes, me utique custodirent. (Ibid.)
[* ] Chilpericus, Nero nostri temporis et Herodes. (Ibid., lib. vi. p. 290.)
[† ] Mittunt etiam qui mihi consilium ministrarent, ut occulte adsumtis melioribus rebus ecclesiæ, Arvernum fuga secederem; sed non adquievi. (Ibid., lib. v. p. 263.)
[‡ ] Igitur rex, arcessitis regni sui episcopis, causam diligenter jussit exquiri. (Ibid., pp. 263, 264.)
[* ] Cùmque Riculfus clericus sæpius discuteretur occulte, et contra me vel meos multas fallacias promulgaret ...... (Ibid., p. 264.)
[† ] Modestus quidam faber lignarius ait ad eum: O infelix, qui contra episcopum tuum tam contumaciter ista meditaris satius tibi erat silere ...... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ad hæc ille clamare cœpit voce magna, ac dicere: En ipsum, qui mihi silentium indicit, ne prosequar veritatem: en reginæ inimicum, qui causam criminis ejus non sinit inquiri (Ibid.)
[§ ] Nuntiantur protinus hæc reginæ. Adprehenditur Modestus, torquetur, flagellatur, et in vincula compactus custodiæ deputatur. (Ibid., p. 263.)
[* ] Cùmque inter duos custodes catenis et in cippo teneretur vinctus, media nocte dormientibus custodibus, orationem fudit ad Dominum, ut dignaretur ejus potentia miserum visitare, et qui innocens conligatus fuerat, visitatione Martini præsulis ac Medardi absolveretur. (Ibid.)
[† ] Mox disruptis vinculis, confracto cippo, reserato ostio, sancti Medardi basilicam nocte, nobis vigilantibus, introivit. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Congregati igitur apud Brennacum villam episcopi, in unam domum residere jussi sunt. (Ibid.)
[§ ]Ad Chilpericum regem quando synodus Brinnaco habita est. Fortunati Pictav., episc., lib. ix. carmen i. apud ejus Opera, Romæ, 1786, in 4to.
[∥ ] See the First Narrative.
[* ] Vita Fortunati, præfixa ejus Operibus, auctore Michaele Angelo Luchi.
[† ] Quemdam virum religiosum, nomine Fortunatum, metricis versibus insignem, qui a multis potentibus honorabilibus viris, in his Gallicis et Belgicis regionibus per diversa loca, tunc vitæ ac scientiæ suæ merito invitabatur .... Hincmarus de Egidio Rem. Episc. in Vita S. Remigii, apud Fortunati Vitam, p. 61.
[‡ ] V. Fortunati, lib. i. carm. 19-21; lib. iii. carm 6, 8, et passim.
[§ ] Fortunati Opera, lib. i. carm. 1-5. 15, 16; lib. ix. carm. 16 et passim; lib. vii. carm. 7-13, 14; lib. x. carm. 23. et passim.
[∥ ] Fortunati lib. i. carm. 18, ad Leontium Burdegalensem Episcopum de Bissono, villa Burdegalensi. Ibid., lib. iii. carm. 10, ad Felicam Nannetensem episc cùm alibi detorqueret fluvium. Ibid. carm. 12, ad Nicetium Trevirensem de castello super Mosellam.
[* ] Vita Fortunati, p. 47-49. Fortunatus Italicus apud Gallias in metrica insignis habebatur. (Flodoard, Hist. Rem. Eccl. (Ibid., p. 61.)
[† ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 190.
[‡ ] Patrata ergo victoria regionem illam capessunt, in suam redigunt potestatem (Ibid.)
[§ ] Chlotharius vero rediens, Radegundem filiam Bertharii regis secum captivam abduxit, sibique eam in matrimonium sociavit. (Ibid.) Quæ veniens in sortem præcelsi regis chlotharii ... (Vita sanctæ Radegundis, auctore Fortunato, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 456.)
[∥ ] In Veromandensem ducta Attelas in villa regia nutriendi causa custodibus est deputata. Quæ puella inter alia opera quæ sexui ejus congruebant, litteris est erudita. (Ibid.)
[¶ ] Tempestate barbarica, Francorum victoria regione vastata ... (Vita S. Radegundis, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 486.)
[* ] Nec fuit arduum rudimentis illam liberalibus informari, cujus annos et sexum non minus acumen ingenn quam castitatis insignia superabant. (Vita S. Radegundis, auctore Hildeberto, Cenoman episc. apud Bolland Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 84.) Frequenter loquens cum parvulis, si conferret sors temporis, martyr fieri cupiens .... (Vita S. Radegundis, auctore Fortunato, ibid. p. 68.)
[† ] Quam cùm præparatis expensis Victuriaci voluisset rex prædictus accipere, per Betarcham ab Atteias nocte cum paucis elapsa est. Deinde Suessionis cùm eam direxisset, ut reginam erigeret. (Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 456.) The probabilities of this polygamous union are a great cause of anxiety to the modern historians, who have occupied themselves about Saint Radegonda’s actions. Father Mabillon remarks the difficulty, and despairs of solving it. locus sane lubricus ac difficilis. (Annales Benedictini, t. i. p. 124.)
[‡ ] Sic devota femina, nata et nupta regina, palatii domina, pauperibus serviebat ancilla. (Vita S. Radegundis, auctore Fortuuato, apud Bolland. Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 68.) Atteias domum instruit, quo lectis culte composltis, congregatis egenis feminis, ipsa eas lavans in thermis, morborum curabat putredines. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ad ejus opinionem si quis servorum Dei visus fuisset, vel per se, vel vocatus occurrere, videres illam cœlestem habere lætitiam ... Ipsa se totam occupabat juxta viri justi verba ... retentabatur per dies ... Et si venisset pontifex, in aspectu ejus lætificabatur et remuneratum relaxabat, ipsa tristis, ad propria. (Ibid., p. 69.)
[† ] Unde hora serotina, dum si nuntiaretur tarde quod eam rex quæreret ad mensam circa res Dei dum satagebat, rixas habebat a conjuge. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Nocturno tempore, cùm reclinaret cum principe, rogans se pro humana necessitate consurgere, et levans, egressa cubiculo, tamdiu ante secretum orationi incumbebat jactato cilicio, ut solo calens spiritu, jaceret gelu penetrata, tota carne præmortua. (Bolland. Acta Sanctorum Augusti, p. 68.)
[§ ] De qua regi dicebatur habere se magis jugalem monacham quam reginam. (Ibid., p. 69.)
[¶ ] Cujus fratrem postea injuste per homines iniquos occidit. Illa quoque ad Deum conversa ...... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. iii. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 190.) Ut hæc religiosius viveret, frater interficitur innocenter. (Vita S. Radegundis, auctore Fortunato. Ibid., t. iii. p. 456.)
[* ] Pater igitur hujus nomine Nectardus de forti Francorum genere, non fuit infimus libertate: mater vero Romana, nomine Protagia, absolutis claruit servitute natalibus. (Vita S. Medardi., Ibid., p. 451, 452.)
[† ] Directa a rege veniens ad B. Medardum Noviomago .... (Vita S. Medardi, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 456.)
[‡ ] Supplicat instanter ut ipsam, mutata veste, Domino consecraret. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Sed memor dicentes apostoli, Si qua ligata sit conjugi, non quærat dissolvi; differebat reginam ne veste tegeret monachica. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Adhoc beatum viram perturbabant proceres, et per basilicam graviter ab altari retrahebant., ne velaret regi conjunctam, ne videretur sacerdoti ut præsumeret principi subducere reginam, non publicanam sed publicam. (Vita S. Radegundis, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 456.)
[* ] Intrans in sacrarium, monachica veste induitur, procedit ad altare, beatissimum Medardum his verbis alloquitur dicens ..... (Ibid.)
[† ] Si me consecrare distuleris, et plus hominem quam Deum timueris, de manu tua a pastore ovis anima requiratur. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Quo ille contestationis concussus tonitruo, manu super posita, consecravit diaconam. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Mox indumentum nobile ..... exuta ponit in altare, blattas gemmataque ornamenta ..... Cingulum auri ponderatum fractum dat in opus pauperum. (Ibid.) Stapionem, camisas, manicas, cofeas, fibulas, cuncta auro, quædam gemmis exornata .... (Ibid., p. 457.)
[∥ ] Hinc felici navigio Turonis appulsa .... quid agerit circa S. Martini atria, templa basilicam, flens lachrymis insatiata, singula jacens per limina. (Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 70.)
[* ] Cùm in villa ipsa adhuc esset, fit sonus quasi eam rex iterum vellet accipere ...... hæc audiens beatissima, nimio terrore perterrita, se amplius cruciandam tradidit cilicio asperrimo, ac tenero corpori aptavit. (Ibid., p. 76.)
[† ] Sicut enim jam per internuntios cognoverat quod timebat, præcelsus rex Chlotharius cum filio suo præcellentissimo Sigiberto Turones advenit, quasi devotionis causa, quo facilius Pictavis accederet, ut suam reginam acciperet. (Ibid. Vita S. Radegundis, auctore Baudonivia moniali æquali.)
[‡ ] Tunc rex timens Dei judicium, quia regina magis Dei voluntatem fecerat quam suam . . . . (Ibid.) Pictavis inspirante et co-operante Deo, monasterium sibi per ordinationem præcelsi regis Chlotharii construxit. (Ibid. Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 356, 357, 359.)
[§ ] Quam fabricam vir apostolicus Pientius, episcopus, et Austrasius dux, per ordinationem dominicam celeriter fecerunt. (Vita S. Radegundis, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 457.)
[* ] Transeuntibus autem nobis sub muro, iterum caterva virginum per fenestras turrium, et ipsa quoque muri propugnacula, voces proferre ac lamentari desuper cœpit. (Greg. Turon., lib. de Gloria Confessorum, cap. cvi.) Tota congregatio supra murum lamentans . . . Rogaverunt desursum ut subtus turrim repausaretur feretrum. (Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 82.)
[† ] Quasi recentior temporis nostri Noe, propter turbines et procellas, sodalibus vel sororibus in latere ecclesiæ monasterii fabricat arcam. (Vita S. Cæsarii, Arelet. episc. apud Annal. Franc. Ecclesias., t. i. p. 471.)
[‡ ] Quanta vero congressio popularis extitit die qua se sancta deliberavit recludere, ut quos plateæ non caperent, ascendentes tecta complerent. (Acta Sanctorum Augusti. t. iii. p. 72.)
[§ ] Multitudo immensa sanctimonialium, ad numerum circiter ducentarum, quæ per illius prædicationem conversæ vitam sanctam agebant, quæ secundum sæculi dignitatem non modo de senatoribus, verum etiam nonnullæ de ipsa regali stirpe hac religionis forma florebant. (Greg. Turon., lib. de Gloria Confessorum, cap. cvi.)
[∥ ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., (de Chrodielde, moniali filia Chariberti regis, et de Basina filia Chilperici,) lib. ix. p. 354 et seq. (De Ingeltrude religiosa et Berthegunde ejus filia,) p. 351, 359. (De Theodechilde regina, lib. iv. p. 216.)
[* ] Omnes litteras discant. Omni tempore duabus horis, hoc est a mane usque ad horam secundam, lectioni vacent. Reliquo vero dier spatio faciant opera sua . . . . Reliquis vero in unum operantibus, una de sororibus usque ad tertiam legat. (Regula S. Cæsariæ, apud Annal. Franc. Ecclesiast., t. i. p. 477.) Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 61.
[† ] De balneo vero . . . . pro calcis amaritudine, ne lavantibus noceret novitas ipsius fabricæ jussisse domnam Radegundem, ut servientes monasterii publice hoc visitarent, donec omnis odor nocendi discederet . . . .De tabula vero respondit, et si lusisset vivente domna Radegunde, se minus culpa respiceret: tamen nec in regula per scripturam prohiberi, nec in canonibus retulit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. ix. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 374.)
[‡ ] Atque seculares cum abbatissa reficerent . . . . De conviviis etiam ait se nullam novam fecisse consuetudinem, nisi sicut actum est sub domna Radegunde. (Ibid., p. 374, 375.)
[§ ] De palla holoserica vestimenta nepti suæ temerarie fecerit: foliola aurea, quæ fuerant in gyro pallæ, inconsulte sustulerit, et ad collum neptis suæ facinorose suspenderit: vittam de auro exornatam eidem nepti suæ superflue fecerit: barbatorias intus eo quod celebraverit. (Ibid.) Mabillon, Annales Benedictini, t. i. p. 199.
[* ] Electione etiam nostræ congregationis domnam et sororem meam Agnetem, quam ab ineunte ætate loco filiæ colui et educavi, abbatissam institut, ac me post Deum ejus ordinationi regulariter obedituram commisi. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. ed. Ruinart, p. 472.)
[† ] Nos vero humiles desideramus in ea doctrinam, formam, vultum, personam, scientiam, pietatem, bonitatem, dulcedinem, quam specialem a Domino inter ceteros homines habuit. (Vita S. Radegundis, auctore Baudonivia, apud Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 81.) See Fortunatus’ poems on Saint Radegonda’s sciences and readings. She read assiduously Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Saint Basilius, Saint Athanasius, Saint Hilary, Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint Augustin, Sedulius, and Paul Orosius. (Lib. v. carm. i.)
[‡ ] Nobis dum prædicabat dicebat: Vos elegi filias, vos mea lumina, vos mea vita, vos mea requies toraque felicitas, vos novella plantatio ...... (Vita S. Radegundis, apud Acta Sanctorum Augusti, t. iii. p. 77.)
[§ ] Hoc quoque quod delectabiliter adjecistis: me domne meæ Radigundæ muro charitatis inclusum, scio quidem quia non ex meis meritis, sed ex illius consuetudine quam circa cunctos novit impendere, colligatis. (Fortunati epist. ad Felicem, episc. Namnet, inter ejus Opera, lib. iii. p. 78.)Mabillon, Annales Benedictini, t. i. p. 155.Martinum cupiens, voto Radegundis adhæsi,Quam genuit cœlo terra Toringa sacro.(Fortunati, lib. viii. carm. i.)
[† ] V. Fortunati Opera, lib. viii. carm. 2, et passim.
[‡ ] Vita Fortunati, præfixa ejus Operibus, pp. xliii-xlix.Accessit votis sors jucundissima nostris,Dum meruere meæ sumere dona preces:Profecit mihimet potius cibus ille sororum:Has satias epulis, me pietate foves(Fortunati, lib. xi. carm. 8, ad Abbatissam.) Fortunatus agens Agnes quoque versibus orant.Et lassata nimis vina benigna bibas(Ibid., carm. 4. ad domnam Radegundem.)
[* ] V. Fortunati Opera, lib. iii. carm. 15-19; lib. vii. carm. 25, 26, 29, 30; lib. ix. carm. 22; lib. x. carm. 12; lib. xi. carm. 16, 22-24, et passim.
[† ] Fortunati, lib. xi. carm. 12 de eulogiis, 13 pro castaneis, 14 pro lacte, 15 aliud pro lacte, 18 pro prunellis, 19 pro aliis deliciis et lacte, 20 pro ovis et prunis.Deliciis variis tumido me ventre tetendi,Omnia sumendo lac, holus, ova, butyr.(Ibid., carm. 23.) Hæc quoque prima fuit hodiernæ copiæ cœnæ:Quod mihi perfuso melle dedisiis holus ....Præterea venit missus cum collibus altis,Undique carnali monte superbus apexDeliciis cunctis quas terra vel unda ministrant,Compositis epulis hortulus intus erat.(Fortunati, lib. xi. carm. 9.)Carnea dona tumens, gavata argentea perfert,Quo nimium pingui jure natabat olus.Marmoreus defert discus quod gignitur hortis.Quo mihi mellitus fluxit in ore sapor.Intumint pullis vitreo scutella rotatuSubductis pennis, quam grave pondus habent!(Ibid., carm. 10.) Molliter arridet rutilantum copia florum,Vix tot campus habet quot modo mensa rosas.Insultant epulæ stillanti gerinine fuliæ,Quod mantile soiet; cur rosa pulchra tegit?Enituit paries viridi pendente chorymbo.Quæ loca calces habet, huc rosa pressa rubet.(Ibid., carm. 11.)
[∥ ] V. Fortunati Opera, lib. xi. passim.Mater honore mihi, soror autem dulcis amore,Quam pietate, fide, pectore, corde, colo.Cœlesti affectu, non crimine corporis ullo.Non caro, sed hoc quod spiritus opiat, amoTestis adest Christus ......(Ibid., lib. xi. carm. 6.) Quamvis doctiloquax te seria cura fatiget,Huc veniens festos misce poeta jocos . . .Pelle palatinas post multa negotia rixas,Vivere jucunde mensa benigna monet.(Ibid., lib. vii. carm. 26-28.) Post patriæ cineres, et culmina lapsa parentum,Quæ hostili acie terra Thoringa tulit,Si loquar infausto certamine bella peracta,Quas prius ad lacrymas femina rapta trabar.(Fortunati libellus ad Artarchin ex persona Radegundis, inter ejus Opera, t. i. p. 482.)
[§ ] Ibid. et libel. de Excidio Thuringiæ, p. 474.Nuda maritalem calcavit planta cruorem,Blandaque transrbat, fratre jacente, soror.(Fortunati Opera, t. i. p. 475.) Sæpe sub humecto conlidens lumina vultu,Murmura clausa latent, nec mea cura tacet.Specto libens aliquam si nunciet aura salutem,Nullaque de cunctis umbra parontis adest.(Ibid.) Quæ loca to teneant, si sibilat aura, requiro,Nubila si volitant pendula, posco locum ......Quod si signa mihi nec terra nec æquora mittunt,Prospera vel veniens nuntia ferret avis.(Ibid., p. 467.) Imbribus infestis si solveret unda carinam,Te peterem tabula remige vecta mari.Sorte sub infausta si prendere ligna vetarer,Ad te venissem lassa natante manu.(Ibid.)
[* ] Fortunati, lib. viii. carm. 2, de itinere suo, cum ad domnum Germanum ire deberet, et a domna Radegunde teneretur. Lib. viii. carm. 10, ad domnam Radegundem de violis et rosis., 12 ad eamdem, pro floribus transmissis Lib. xi. carm. 7, ad Abbatissam et Radegundem, absens, 17, de munere suo; 21, de absentia sua; 26, de munere suo; 27, de itinere suo; 28, aliud de itinere suo. See the Cours d’Histoire Moderne de M Guizot, in the year 1829, the Eighteenth Part.Blanda magistra suum verbis recreavit et escis,Et satiat vario deliciante joco(Fortunati, lib. xi. carm. 25.) Quis mihi det reliquas epulas, ubi voce fideli,Delicias animæ te loquor esse meæ?A vobis absens colui jejunia prandens,Nec sine te poterat me saturare cibus(Ibid., carm. 16.)
[§ ] Fortunati, lib. xi. carm. 3, de natalitio Abbatissæ, 5, ad Abbatissam de natali suo. Lib. viii. carm. 13, ad domnam Radegundem, cùm se recluderet., 14, ad eamdem cùm rediit. Lib. xi. carm. 2, ad domnam Radegundem quando se reclusit.Quo sine me mea lux oculis errantibus abdit,Nec patitur visu se reserare meo?(Fortunati, lib. xi. carm. 2.)Abstuleras tecum, revocas mea gaudia tecum,Paschalemque facis bis celebrare diem.(Ibid., lib. viii. carm. 14.)
[¶ ] Ubi mihi tantumdem volebat raucum gemere quod cantare, apud quos nihil dispar erat aut stridor anseris aut canor oloris; sola sæpe bombicans, barbaros leudos harpa relidebat ...... quo residentes auditores inter acernea pocula, laute bibentes, insana, Baccho judice, debaccharent. (Fortunati, lib. i. Proœmium ad Gregorium episc. Turon. p. 2.)
[* ] Hic B. Martini vitam quatuor in libris heroico in versu contexuit, et multa alia, maximeque hymnos singularum festivitatum, et præcipue ad singulos amicos versiculos, nulli poetarum secundus, suavi et diserto sermone composuit. (Paulus diaconus, apud Fortunati Vitam, p. lxi.)
[† ] Fortunati, lib. vi. carm. 2, 3. See the First Narrative.
[‡ ] Fortunati, lib. vi. carm. 4.
[§ ] V. Fortunati, Opera, lib. v. carm. 3-5, 9-12, 14-16, 19, 20. Lib. viii. carm. 19-26.Quid de justitiæ referam moderamine, princeps,Quo male nemo redii, si bene justa petit .....Te arma ferunt generi similem sed littera præfert,Sic veterum regum par simul atque prior ...Omnibus excellens meritis, Fredegundis opimaAtque serena suo fulget ab ore dies.(Fortunati, lib. ix. carm. 1.)
[* ] See the Fourth Narrative.
[† ] Dehinc adveniente rege, data omnibus salutatione ac benedictione accepta, resedit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 263.)
[‡ ] Tunc Berichramnus Burdegalensis civitatis episcopus, cui hoc cum regina crimen impactum fuerat, causam proponit, meque interpellat, dicens a me sibi ac reginæ crimen objectum. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Negavi ego in veritate me hæc locutum, et audisse quidem alios me non excogitasse. (Ibid.) See the opinion of the learned editor Dom Ruinart, on the meaning of this passage, præfat. p. 114.
[∥ ] Nam extra domum rumor in populo magna erat dicentium: Cur hæc super sacerdotem Dei objiciuntur? cur talia rex prosequitur? Numquid potuit episcopus talia dicere vel de servo? Heu, heu! Domine Deus, largire auxilium servo tuo. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 263.)
[* ] Rex autem dicebat. Crimen uxoris meæ meum habetur opprobrium. Si ergo censetis ut super episcopum testes adhibeantur, ecce adsunt. Certe si videtur ut hæc non fiant, et in fidem episcopi committantur, dicite, libenter audiam quæ jubetis. (Ibid.)
[† ] Mirati sunt omnes regis prudentiam vel patientiam simul. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Tunc cunctis Berichramnus Non potest persona inferior super sacerdotem credi ...... (Ibid.)
[§ ] Restitit ad hoc causa, ut dictis missis in tribus altaribus, me de his verbis exuerem sacramenta (Ibid.)
[* ] Et licet canonibus essent contraria, pro causa tamen ragis impleta sunt. (Ibid.)
[† ] Sed nec hoc sileo, quod Riguntis regina condolens doloribus meis jejunium cum omni domo sua celebravit, quousque puer nuntiaret me omnia sic implesse, ut fuerant instituta. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Impleta sunt omnia ab episcopo quæ imperata sunt, o rex. Quid nunc ad te nisi ut cum Bertchramno accusatore fratris communione priveris? (Ibid.)
[§ ] Et ille: Non, inquit, ego nisi audita narravi. Quærentibus illis quis hæc dixerit, respondit se hæc a Leudaste audisse. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Ille autem, secundum infirmitatem vel consilii vel propositionis suæ, jam fugam inierat. Tunc placuit omnibus sacardotibus ut ...... (Ibid.)
[* ] Formulæ excommunicationum, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iv. p. 611 et 612. Ut sator scandali, infitiator reginæ, accusator episcopi, ab omnibus arceretur ecclesiis, eo quod se ab audientia subtraxisset. (Greg. Turon., loc. supr. cit.)
[† ] Nullus Christianus ei ave dicat, aut eum osculari præsumat. Nullus presbyter cum eo missam celebrare audeat. Nemo ei jungatur in consortio, neque in aliquo negotio ...... (Formulæ excommunicationem, apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iv. p. 611 et 612.)
[‡ ] Maledictus sit ubicumque fuerit, sive in domo, sive in agro, sive in via, sive in semita ...... Maledictus sit in totis viribus corporis ...... Maledictus sit in totis compaginibus membrorum; a vertice capitis usque ad plantam pedis non sit in eo sanitas. (Ibid., p. 613.)
[§ ] Et sicut aqua ignis extinguitur, sic extinguatur lucerna ejus in secula seculorum, nisi resipuerit et ad satisfactionem venerit. (Ibid., p. 612.) Et respondeant omnes tertio: Amen, aut fiat, fiat, aut anathema sit. (Ibid., p. 611.)
[* ] Unde et epistolam subscriptam aliis episcopis qui non adfuerant transmiserunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 263.)
[† ] Comprimatur unum maximum humanæ vitæ malum, delatorum exsecranda pernicies ...... ita ut judices nec calumniam nec vocem prorsus deferentes admittant Sed qui delator extiterit capitali sententiæ subjugetur. (Cod. Theod. constit. anni 319.) Ibid., constit. anni 323, de calumniatoribus.
[‡ ] Et sic unusquisque in locum suum regressus est. (Greg. Turon. loc. supr. cit.)
[§ ] At Riculfus clericus ad interficiendum deputatur, pro cujus vita vix obtinui; tamen de tormentis excusare non potui. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 263.) V. Cod. lib. ix. tit. xii. de quæstionibus, et Digest., lib. xlviii. tit. xviii.
[∥ ] Nam nulla res, nullum metallum tanta verbera potuit sustinere, sicut hic miserrimus ...... Cædebatur fustibus, virgis, ac loris duplicibus, et non ab uno vel duobus, sed quot accedere circa miseros potuissent artus, tot cæsores erant. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic et Francic., t. ii. p. 263, 264.)
[* ] Cùm autem jam in discrimine esset, tunc aperuit veritatem, et arcana doli publice patefecit. Dicebat enim ob hoc reginæ crimen objectum, ut ejecta de regno. (Ibid.)
[† ] Nam me adhuc commorante cum rege, hic, quasi jam esset episcopus, in domum ecclesiæ ingreditur impudenter. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Argentum describit ecclesiæ, reliquasque res sub suam redigit potestatem. Majores clericos muneribus ditat, largitur vineas, prata distribuit. minores vero fustibus plagisque multis, etiam manu propria adfecit, dicens: Recognoscite dominum vestrum. (Ibid., p. 264.)
[§ ] Cujus ingenium Turonicam urbem ab Arvernis populis emundavit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Illud sæpe suis famlliaribus dicere erat solitus, quod hominem prudentem non aliter, nisi in perjuriis, quis decipere possit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Sed cùm me reversum adhuc despiceret, nec ad salutationem meam, sicut reliqui cives fecerant, adveniret, sed magis me interficere minitaretur ...... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] V. Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. vi. p. 281. et ceteros libros passim.Maxima progenies titulis ornata vetustis,Cujus et a proavis gloria celsa tonat;Nam quicumque potens Aquitanica rura subegit,Extitit ille tuo sanguine, luce, parens.(Fortunati Opera, lib. iii. carm. 8.) Flos generis, tutor patriæ, correctio plebis ...Cujus in ingenium huc nova Roma venit.(Ibid.) Restituis terris quod publica jura petebant.Temporibus nostris gaudia prisca ferens ......(Fortunati Opera, lib. iii. carm. 5.)
[† ] Britanni eo anno valde infesti circa urbem fuere Namneticam atque Rhedonicam ...... Ad quos cùm Felix episcopus legationem misisset. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 251.) Fortunati Opera, lib. iii. carm. 12.Auctor apostolicus, qui jura Britannica vincens,Tutus in adversis, spe crucis, arma fugas.(Ibid., carm. 5.) Quæ prius in præceps, veluti sine fruge, rigabant,Ad victum plebis nunc famulantur aquæ;Altera de fluvio metitur seges orta virorum,Cum per te populo parturit unda cibum.(Fortunati Opera, lib. iii. carm. 5.)
[§ ] Felix, Namneticæ urbis episcopus, litteras mihi scripsit plenas obprobriis, scribens etiam fratrem meum ob hoc interfectum, eo quod ipse cupidus episcopatus episcopum interfecisset ..... Villam ecclesiæ concupivit. Quam cùm dare nollem, evomuit in me, ut dixi, plenis furore, obprobria mille. Cui aliquando ego respondi: Memento dicti prophetici ...... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 235.) Isaiah 5. 8.
[* ] O si te habuisset Massilia sacerdotem! nunquam navesoleum aut reliquas species detulissent, nisi tantum chartam, quo majorem opportunitatem scribendi ad bonos infamandos haberes. (Sed paupertas chartæ finem imponit verbositate. (Greg. Turon. loc. supr. cit.)
[† ] Immensæ enim erat cupiditatis atque jactantiæ (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 235.)
[‡ ] Felicis episcopi ... qui memoratæ causæ fautor extiterat. (Ibid., p. 264.)
[§ ] Cum consilio comprovincialium eum in monasterium removeri præcipio. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Cùmque ibidem actius distringeretur, intercedentibus Felicis episcopi missis ...... circumvento perjuriis abbate, fuga elabitur, et usque ad Felicem accedit episcopum; eumque ille ambienter colligit quem exsecrari debuerat. (Ibid.)
[* ] Leudastes vero ...... basilicam sancti Petri Parisius expetiit. Sed cùm audisset edictum regis, ut in suo regno a nullo colligeretur .... (Ibid., p. 263.)
[† ] Et præsertim quod filius ejus, quem domi reliquerat, oblisset, Turonis occulte veniens . . . (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Quæ optima habuit in Biturico transposuit. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Prosequentibus vero regalibus pueris, ipse per fugam labitur. Capta quoque uxor ejus in pagum Tornacensem exsilio retruditur. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Leudastes vero in Bituricum pergens, omnes thesauros quos de spoliis pauperum detraxerat secum tulit. (Ibid., p. 264.)
[* ] Nec multo post inruentibus Bituricis cum judice loci super eum, omne aurum argentumque, vel quod secum detulerat, abstulerunt, nihil ei nisi quod super se habuit relinquentes, ipsamque abstulissent vitam, nisi fuga fuisset elapsus. (Ibid.)
[† ] Resumiis dehinc viribus, cum aliquibus Turonicis iterum inruit super prædones suos; interfectoque uno, aliqua de rebus ipsis recepit. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Et in Turonicum revertitur. Audiens hæc Beruifus dux, misit pueros suos cum armorum adparatu ad comprehendendum eum. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ille vero cernens se jam jamque capi, relictis rebus, basilicam sancti Hilarii Pictavensis expetiit. Berulfus vero dux res captas regi transmisit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Leudastes enim egrediebatur de basilica, et inruens in domos diversorum prædas publicas exercebat. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Sed et in adulteriis sæpe infra ipsam sanctam porticum deprehensus. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Commota autem regina, quod scilicet locus Deo sacratus taliter pollueretur, jussit eum a basilica sancti ejici. (Ibid.) Quem sancta Radegundis, quæ ibi morabatur, jussit citius removeri, ne per eum ecclesia pollueretur. (Chron. Turon. apud Edmundi Martene Collect. t. v. col. 940.) It is probable that the author of this chronicle, who lived at the close of the twelfth century, had seen in some manuscript of Gregory of Tours a comment, in which the name of Radegonda followed the word Regina.
[* ] Qui ejectus, ad hospites suos iterum in Bituricum expetit, deprecans se occuli ab eis. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 264.)
[† ] Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. et seq. passim.
[‡ ] Fortunati, lib. ix. carm. I, ad Chilpericum regem.
[* ] Scripsit alios libros idem rex versibus, quasi Sedulium secutus; sed versiculi illi nulli penitus metricæ conveniunt rationi. (Ibid., p. 260.) Confecitque duos libros, quasi Sedulium meditatus, quorum versiculi debiles nullis pedibus subsistere possunt, in quibus dum non intelligebat, pro longis syllabas breves posuit, et pro brevibus longas statuebat; et alia opuscula, vel hymnos, sive missas, quæ nulla ratione suscipi possunt. (Ibid., lib. vi. p. 291.)
[* ] Addidit autem et litteras litteris nostris, id est Ω sicut Græci habent, Æ, The, Vui, quorum characteres subscripsimus: hi sunt Ω, ψ, Z, Δ. Et misit epistolas in universas civitates regni sui, ut sic pueri docerentur, ac libri antiquitus scripti, planati pumice, rescriberentur. (Ibid., lib. v. t. ii. p. 260.) Nullamque se asserebat esse prudentiorem. (Ibid., lib. vi. p. 291.)
[† ] Per idem tempus Chilpericus rex scripsit indiculum, ut sancta Trinitas non in personarum distinctione, sed tantum Deus nominaretur: adserens indignum esse, ut Deus persona, sicut homo carneus, nominaretur .... Cùmque hæc mihi recitari jussisset, alt ...... (Ibid., lib. v. t. ii. p. 259.)
[‡ ] V. Fleury, Hist. Ecclésiast., t. ii. p. 338.
[§ ] Sic, inquit, volo ut tu et reliqui doctores ecclesiarum credatis. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. v. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 259.)
[∥ ] Cui ego respondi: Hac credulitate relicta, pie rex, hoc te oportet sequi, quod nobis, post apostolos, alii doctores ecclesiæ reliquerunt ...... (Ibid.)
[* ] Observare te convenit, neque Deum, neque sanctos ejus habere offensos. (Ibid.)
[† ] Nam scias, quia in persona aliter Pater, aliter Filius, aliter Spiritus Sanctus. Non Pater adsumsit carnem, neque Spiritus Sanctus, sed Filius .... De personis vero quod ais, non corporaliter, sed spiritaliter sentiendum est .. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] At ille commotus ait: Sapientioribus te hæc pandam qui mihi consentiant. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Et ego Nunquam erit sapiens, sed stultus, qui hæc quæ proponis sequi voluerit. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Ad hæc ille frendens siluit. Non post multos vero dies adveniente Salvio, Albigensi episcopo, hæc ei præcepit recenseri ..... Quod ille audiens ita respuit, ut si chartam in qua hæc scripta tenebantur, potuisset adtingere, in frusta discerperet. Et sic rex ab hac intentione quievit. (Ibid.)
[* ] Tunc ego Novigentum villam ad occursum regis abieram. (Ibid., lib. vi. p. 266.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xi. p. 125.
[† ] Legati Chilperici regis, qui ante triennium ad Tiberium imperatorem abierant, regressi sunt non sine gravi damno aique labore. Nam cum Massiliensem portum, propter regum discordias, adire ausi non essent ..... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 266.)
[‡ ] Res autem quas undæ littori invexerant, incolæ rapuerunt: ex quibus quod melius fuit recipientes, ad Chilpericum regem retulerunt. Multa tamen ex his Agathenses secum retinuerunt. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Multa autem et alia ornamenta quæ a legatis sunt exhibita, ostendit. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Aureos etiam singularum librarum pondere, quos imperator misit, ostendit, habentes ab una parte iconem imperatoris pictam, et scriptum in circulo: Tiberii Constantini Perpetui Augusti; ab alia vero parte habenies quadrigam et ascensorem, continentesque scriptum: Gloria Romanorum. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ibique nobis rex missorium magnum, quod ex auro gemmisque fabricaverat in quinquaginta librarum pondere ostendit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ego hæc ad exornandam atque nobilitandam Francorum gentem feci. Sed et plurima adhuc, si vita comes fuerit, faciam. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Judæus quidam, Priscus nomine, qui el ad species coemendas familiaris erat ..... (Ibid., p. 267.)
[§ ] Igitur Chilpericus rex impedimenta moveri præcipiens Parisius venire disponit. Ad quem cùm jam vale dicturus accederem, Judæus advenit. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Cujus cæsarie rex blande adprehensa manu, ait ad me, dicens: Veni, sacerdos Dei, et impone manum super eum. (Ibid.)
[¶ ] Illo autem renitente, ait rex: O mens dura, et generatio semper incredula, quæ non intelligit Dei Filium sibi prophetarum vocibus repromissum! (Ibid.)
[* ] Judæus ait: Deus non eget conjugio, neque prole ditatur, neque ullum consortem regni habere patitur ......... (Ibid.)
[† ] Ad hæc rex ait: Deus ab spiritali utero Filium genuit sempiternum, non ætate juniorem, non potestate minorem, de quo ipse ait ..... Quod autem ais, quia ipse non generet, audi prophetam tuum dicentem ex voce dominica ... (Ibid.) Ps. cix. 3. cvi. 21. Isaiah lxvi. 9.
[‡ ] Ad hæc Judæus respondit: Numquid Deus homo fieri potuit, aut de muliere nasci, verberibus subdi, morte damnari? (Greg. Turon., loc. supr. cit.)
[§ ] Ad hæc rege tacente, in medium me ingerens dixi ...... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 267.)
[* ] Ut Deus, Dei filius, homo fieret, non suæ sed nostræ necessitatis exstitit causa ...... Ego vero, non de enangeliis et apostolo, quæ non credis, sed e tuis libris testimonia præbens, proprio te mucrone confodiam, sicut quondam David Goliam legitur trucidasse. (Ibid.)
[† ] Igitur quod homo futurus esset, audi prophetam tuum ... Quod autem de Virgine nascitur, audi similiter prophetam tuum dicentem .....—(Ibid.) Baruch iii. 36—38. Isa. vii. 14. Ps. xxi. 17; lxix. 22.
[‡ ] Judæus respondit: Quæ Deo fuit necessitas, ut ista pateretur? Cul ego ...... (Greg. Turon., lib. vi. p. 268.)
[§ ] Jam dixi tibi, Deus hominem creavit innoxium, sed astu serpentis circumventus ...... (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Non poterat Deus mittere prophetas aut apostolos, qui eum ad viam revocarent salutis, nisi ipse humiliatus fuisset in carne? (Ibid.)
[¶ ] Ad hæc ego: A principio genus semper deliquit humanum, quem nunquam terruit nec submersio diluvii, nec incendium Sodomæ, nec plaga Egypti. (Ibid.)
[* ] Quod autem morbis nostris mederi venturus erat, propheta tuus ait ...... De hoc et Jacob ille, de cujus te jactas venisse generatione, in illa filii sui Judæ benedictione, quasi ad ipsum Christum Filium Dei loquens, ait ...... (Ibid.) Isa. liii. 5, 12; vii. 8. liv. 5. Gen. lix. 8, 9, 12.
[† ] Hæc et alia nobis dicentibus, nunquam compunctus est miser ad credendum. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Tunc rex, silente illo, cùm videret eum his sermonibus non compungi, ad me conversus, postulat ut, accepta benedictione, discederet; ait enim: Dicam, inquit, tibi, o sacerdos, quod Jacob dixit ad angelum ...... (Ibid., t. ii. p. 268.) Gen. xxxii. 26.
[§ ] Et hæc dicens, aquam manibus porrigi jubet, quibus ablutis, facta oratione ...... (Greg. Turon., loc. supr. cit.)
[∥ ] Accepto pane, gratias Deo agentes, et ipsi accepimus, et regi porreximus, haustoque mero, vale dicentes discessimus. (Ibid.)
[* ] Rex vero, ascenso equite, Parisius est regressus cum conjuge et filia et omni familia sua. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 268.)
[† ] See the Third and Fifth Narratives.
[‡ ] Rex vero Chilpericus multos Judæorum eo anno baptizari præcepit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 275.) Et in præceptionibus, quas ad judices pro suis utilitatibus dirigebat, hæc addebat: Si quis præcepta nostra contemserit, oculorum avulsione mulctetur. (Ibid., p. 291.)
[§ ] Ex quibus plure excepit e sancto lavacro. (Ibid., p. 275.)
[∥ ] Priscus vero ad cognoscendam veritatem nulla penitus potuit ratione deflecti. (Ibid., p. 276.)
[¶ ] Tunc iratus rex jussit eum custodiæ mancipari, scilicet ut quem credere voluntarie non poterai, saltem credere faceret vel invitum. (Ibid.)
[* ] Sèd ille, datis quibusdam muneribus, spatium postulat, donec filius ejus Massiliensem Hebræam accipiat. pollicetur dolose se deinceps quæ rex jusserat impleturum. (Ibid.)
[† ] Nonnulli tamen eorum corpore tantum, non corde abluti, ad ipsam quam prius perfidiam habuerant, Deo mentiti regressi sunt, ita ut et sabbatum observare, et diem dominicam honorare viderentur. (Ibid., p. 275, 276.)
[‡ ] Interea oritur intentio inter illum et Phatirem ex Judæo conversum, qui jam regis filius erat ex lavacro (Ibid.)
[§ ] Cùmque die sabbati Priscus præcinctus orario, nullum in manus ferens ferramentum, Mosaicas leges quasi impleturus, secretiora competeret. (Ibid., p. 276.)
[* ] Subito Phatir adveniens, ipsum gladio cum soctis qui aderant jugulavit. Quibus interfectis, ad basilicam sancti Juliani cum pueris suis, qui ad propinquam platæam erant, confugit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Cùmque ibidem residerent, audiunt quod rex dominum vita excessum, famulos tamquam malefactores a basilica tractos, juberet interfici. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Tunc unus ex his evaginato gladio, domino suo jam fugato, socios suos interficit. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Ipse postmodum cum gladio de basilica egressus ... sed inruente super se populo, crudeliter interfectus est. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Phatir autem, accepta licentia, ad regnum Guntchramni, unde venerat, est regressus: sad non post multos dies a parentibus Prisci interfectus est. (Ibid.)
[* ] Leudastes in Turonicum cum præcepto regis advenit, ut uxorem reciperet, ibique commoraretur (Ibid., p. 282.)
[† ] Sed et nobis epistolam sacerdotum manu subscriptam detulit, ut in communionem acciperetur. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Sed quoniam litteras reginæ non vidimus, cujus causa maxime a communione remotus fuerat, ipsum recipere distuli dicens. Cùm reginæ mandatum suscepero, tunc eum recipere non morabor. (Ibid.)
[* ] Interea ad eam dirigo: quæ mihi scripta remisit dicens: Compressa a multis, aliud facere non potui, nisi ut eum abire permitterem; nunc autem rogo, ut pacem tuam non mereatur, neque eulogias de manu tua suscipiat, donec a nobis quid agi debeat plenitus pertractetur. (Ibid.) For the distribution of the eulogies to non-excommunicated persons, see the Third Narrative.
[† ] At ego hæc scripta relegens timui ne interficeretur. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 282.)
[‡ ] Accersitoque socero ejus hæc ei innotui, obsecrans ut se cautum redderet, donec reginæ animus leniretur. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Sed ille consilium meum, quod pro Dei intuitu simpliciter insinuavi, dolose suspiciens, cùm adhuc nobis esset inimicus, noluit agere quæ mandavi ...... Spreto ergo hoc consilio, ad regem dirigit, qui tunc cum exercitu in pago Miglidunensi degebat. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] See Third Narrative.
[* ] Chilpericus rex legatos nepotis sui Childeberti suscepit, inter quos primus erat Egidius Remensis episcopus (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 281.)
[† ] Quod cum juramento firinassent, obsidesque inter se dedissent, discesserunt. Igitur fidens in promissis eorum Chilpericus, commoto regni sui exercitu ...... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Tunc misit nuntios ad supradictos duces, dicens: Ingredimini Bituricum, et accedentes usque ad civitatem, sacramenta fidelitatis exigite de nomine nostro. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Berulfus vero dux cum Turonicis Pictavis Andegavisque, atque Namneticis, ad terminum Bituricum venit; Desiderius vero et Bladastes, cum omni exercitu provinciæ sibi commissee, ab alia parte Bituricum vallant. (Ibid.)
[* ] Biturici vero cum quindecim millibus ad Mediolanense castrum (Château Meillan) confluunt. (Ibid.)
[† ] Ibique contra Desiderium ducem configunt: factaque est ibi strages magna, ita ut de utroque exercitu amplius quam septem millia cecidissent. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Duces quoque cum reliqua parte populi, ad civitatem pervenerunt, cuncta diripientes vel devastantes: talisque depopulatio inibi acta est, qualis nec antiquitus est audita fuisse, ut nec domus remaneret, nec vinea nec arbores; sed cuncta succiderent, incenderent, debellarent. Nam et ab ecclesiis auferentes sacra ministeria ...... (Ibid., p. 281, 282.)
[§ ] Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xi. p. 157.
[∥ ] Chilpericus ...... Parisius venit; ubi cúm resedisset, magnum dispendium rerum incolis intulit. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 281, 212.)
[* ] Chilpericus vero jussit exercitum qui ad eum accessit, per Parisius transire. Quo transeunte et ipse transiit, atque ad Miglidunense castrum abiit, cuncta incendio tradens atque devastans. (Ibid., p. 281.)
[† ] Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xi. p. 157.
[‡ ] Ibid., p. 160.
[* ] Deprecatusque est populum, ut regi preces funderet ut ejus præsentiam mereretur. Deprecante igitur omni populo ...... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 282.)
[† ] Rex se videndum ei præbuit, prostratusque pedibus ejus veniam flagitavit: cui rex. Cautum, inquit, te redde paulisper, donec visa regina conveniat qualiter ad ejus gratiam revertaris, cui multum inveniris esse culpabilis. (Ibid., p. 282, 283.)
[‡ ] Guntchramnus vero rex cum exercitu contra fratrem suum advenit totam spem in Dei judicio collocans (Ibid.) Ipse autem rex, ut sæpe diximus, in eleemosynis magnus, in vigilis atque jejuniis promptus erat. (Ibid., lib. ix. p. 347.)
[* ] Qui die una jam vespere, misso exercitu, maximam partem de germani sui exercitu interfecit. (Ibid. lib. vi. t. ii. p. 282.) Cuneumque hostium, præ cupiditate ab aliis segregatum, crepusculo noctis egressus ultima labefactavit pernicie. (Aimoini, Monachi Floriac. de Gest Franc. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. iii. p. 90.)
[† ] Mane autem concurrentibus legatis, pacem fecerunt. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 282.) Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xi. p. 158.
[‡ ] Pollicentes alter alterutro, ut quicquid sacerdotes vel seniores populi judicarent, pars parti componeret quæ terminum legis excesserat. (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 282.)
[§ ] Et sic pacifici discesserunt ...... At isti qui Biturigas obsidebant, accepto mandato ut reverterentur ad propria... (Ibid.)
[* ] Chilpericus vero rex cùm exercitum suum a prædis arcere non posset, Rothomagensem comitem gladio trucidavit, et sic Parisius rednt omnem relinquens prædam, captivosque relaxans. (Ibid.)
[† ] At ille, ut erat incautus ac levis, in hoc fidens quod regis præsentiam meruisset. (Ibid., p. 283.)
[‡ ] Die dominica in ecclesia sancta reginæ pedibus provolvitur veniam deprecans. (Ibid.)
[* ] At illa frendens et exsecrans, adspectum ejus a se repulit, fusisque lacrymis, ait. Et quia non exstat de filiis, qui criminis mei causas inquirat, tibi eas, Jesu Domine, inquirendas committo. (Ibid.)
[† ] Prostrataque pedibus regis adjecit; Væ mihi, quæ video inimicum meum, et nihil ei prævaleo. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Tunc repulso eo a loco sancto, missarum solemnia celebrata sunt. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xi. p. 161.
[∥ ] See Dulaure’s History of Paris, vol. i.
[¶ ] Leudastes usque ad plateam est prosecutus, inopinans quid ei accideret: domosque negotiantum circumiens ... (Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 283.)
[* ] Species rimatur, argentum pensat, atque diversa ornamenta prospicit, dicens: Hæc et hæc comparabo, quia multum mihi aurum argentumque resedit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Igitur egresso rege cum regina de ecclesia sancta ... (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ista illo dicente ...... (Ibid.) The absence of any vestige of Roman masonry leads us to conjecture that the buildings of that public place were of wood, a very common occurrence at that period in the northern cities of Gaul. The wood architecture often employed in the construction of churches, and other large edifices, was not without taste. (V. Fortunati carmen de Domo lignea, apud Biblioth. Patrum, t. x. p. 583.)
[§ ] Adriani Valesii Rer. Francic., lib. xi. p. 161.
[∥ ] Subito advenientes reginæ pueri, voluerunt eum vincire catenis. (Greg. Turon Hist. Franc., lib. vi. apud Script. Rer. Gallic. et Francic., t. ii. p. 283.)
[¶ ] Ille vero evaginato gladio unum verberat: reliqui exinde succensi felle adprehensis parmis et gladiis, super eum inruerunt. (Ibid.)
[* ] Ex quibus unus librans ictum maximam partem capitis ejus a capillis et cute detexit. (Ibid.)
[† ] Cùmque per pontem urbis fugeret, elapso inter duos axes qui pontem faciunt pede, effracta oppressus est tibia. (Ibid.)
[‡ ] Ligatisque post tergum manibus custodiæ mancipatur. (Ibid.)
[§ ] Fulsitque rex ut substentaretur a medicis quoadusque ab his ictibus sanatus diuturno supplicio cruciaretur. (Ibid.)
[∥ ] Sed cùm ad villam fiscalem ductus fuisset, et com putrescentious plagis extremam ageret vitam. ...... (Ibid.)
[* ] Jussu reginæ in terram projicitur resupinus, positoque ad cervicem ejus vecte immenso ab alio ei gulam verberant; sicque semper perfidam agens vitam, justa morte finivit. (Ibid.)