Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECOND NARRATIVE. ad 568—575. - The Historical Essays and Narratives of the Merovingian Era
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SECOND NARRATIVE. ad 568—575. - 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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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.
[* ] 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.