Front Page Titles (by Subject) FOURTH NARRATIVE. 577—586. - The Historical Essays and Narratives of the Merovingian Era
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FOURTH NARRATIVE. 577—586. - 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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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?
[* ] 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.)
[† ] 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.