Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks

The Conversion of Clovis  From The Chronicle of St. Denis, I.18-19, 23:


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The Franks

Date 2001

A History of the Franks.  Franks.  Clovis.  Christianity and the Franks

The Franks were a group of Germanic tribes that, about the middle of the 3rd century AD, dwelt along the middle and lower Rhine River. The Franks appeared in the Roman provinces around 253 and soon thereafter established themselves in two principal groups, the Salian and the Ripuarian. The Salian Franks inhabited the territory along the lower stretches of the Rhine, and the Ripuarian Franks lived along the middle course of the river. The Salians were conquered by the Roman emperor Julian in 358 and became allies of Rome. During the early 5th century, when the Romans retired from the Rhine, the Salians established themselves in most of the territory north of the Loire River.

Under the Salian king Clovis I, founder of the Merovingian dynasty, the power and extent of the Frankish kingdom grew considerably. In 486 Clovis overthrew Syagrius, the last Roman governor in Gaul, and then successively subjugated the Alamanni, the Bourguignons, the Visigoths of Aquitania, and the Ripuarian Franks. Ultimately, the borders of his kingdom extended from the Pyrenees Mountains to Friesland and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Main River. Clovis was converted to Christianity in 496, and thus began the close connection between the Frankish monarchy and the papacy.

After the death of Clovis, the kingdom was divided among his four sons, and for the following century it went through several divisions and reunifications until finally consolidated by Clotaire II in 613. Shortly after his death, however, the kings ceased to exercise any influence, and authority passed into the hands of the great officers of state, most notably, the mayor of the palace (major domus). The office of major domus existed in all of the Frankish kingdoms. In the eastern part, Austrasia, however, arose a powerful family, the Carolingian, which retained exclusive possession of the palace mayoralty for more than 100 years, ruling as monarchs in fact if not in name. In 687 Pepin of Herstal, the Austrasian mayor of the palace, overthrew the forces of Neustria (the western part) and Burgundy, setting himself up as major domus of a united Frankish kingdom. His son, Charles Martel, extended the frontiers of the kingdom in the east and in 732 repelled the Moors in a decisive battle fought at a site between Tours and Poitiers. Frankish power attained its greatest development under Charles Martel's grandson, Charlemagne, who in his time was the most powerful monarch in Europe. On December 25, 800, he was crowned Carolus Augustus, emperor of the Romans, by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne's imperial title was later borne by the Holy Roman emperors until the early 19th century. His Frankish lands, more specifically, developed into the kingdom of France, which is named for the Franks.


Clovis Founds The Kingdom Of The Franks: It Becomes Christian

Author:      Guizot, Francois P. G.


Part I.


486 - 511


     Clovis, the sturdy Frank, wrought marvellous changes in Gaul.  His

marriage to the Christian princess Clotilde was followed by the conversion of

himself and, gradually, that of his people.  With a well-disciplined army he

pulled down and swept away the last pillars of Roman power out of Gaul.

Guizot gives a graphic account of the transition of the Franks, during two

hundred and fifty years, from being isolated wandering tribes, each

constantly warring against the other, to a well-ordered Christian kingdom,

which led to the establishment of the French monarchy.  The climax of this

period of transition came in the reign of Clovis, with whom commences the

real history of France.  Under his strong hand the various tribes were

gradually brought under his sole rule.


     When Clovis, at the age of fifteen, succeeded his father, Childeric, as

king of the Salian tribe, his people were mainly pagans; the Salian domain

was very limited, the treasury empty, and there was no store of either grain

or wine.  But these difficulties were overcome by him; he subjugated the

neighboring tribes, and made Christianity the state religion.  The new faith

was accorded great privileges and means of influence, in many cases favorable

to humanity and showing respect to the rights of individuals.  So great an

advance in civilization is an early milestone on the path of progress.


     About A.D. 241 or 242 the Sixth Roman legion, commanded by Aurelian, at

that time military tribune, and thirty years later emperor, had just finished

a campaign on the Rhine, undertaken for the purpose of driving the Germans

from Gaul, and was preparing for eastern service, to make war on the

Persians.  The soldiers sang:


     "We have slain a thousand Franks and a thousand

     Sarmatians; we want a thousand, thousand,

     Thousand Persians."


     That was, apparently, a popular burthen at the time, for on the days of

military festivals, at Rome and in Gaul, the children sang, as they danced:


     "We have cut off the heads of a thousand, thousand, thousand Thousand;

     One man hath cut off the heads of a thousand, thousand, thousand,

     Thousand thousand;

     May he live a thousand thousand years, he who

     Hath slain a thousand thousand!

     Nobody hath so much of wine as he

     Hath of blood poured out."


     Aurelian, the hero of these ditties, was indeed much given to the

pouring out of blood, for at the approach of a fresh war he wrote to the



     "I marvel, conscript fathers, that ye have so much misgiving about

opening the Sibylline books, as if ye were deliberating in an assembly of

Christians, and not in the temple of all the gods.  Let inquiry be made of

the sacred books, and let celebration take place of the ceremonies that ought

to be fulfilled.  Far from refusing, I offer, with zeal, to satisfy all

expenditure required with captives of every nationality, victims of royal

rank.  It is no shame to conquer with the aid of the gods; it is thus that

our ancestors began and ended many a war."


     Human sacrifices, then, were not yet foreign to pagan festivals, and

probably the blood of more than one Frankish captive on that occasion flowed

in the temple of all the gods.


     It is the first time the name of Franks appears in history; and it

indicated no particular, single people, but a confederation of Germanic

peoplets, settled or roving on the right bank of the Rhine, from the Main to

the ocean.  The number and the names of the tribes united in this

confederation are uncertain.  A chart of the Roman Empire, prepared

apparently at the end of the fourth century, in the reign of the emperor

Honorius - which chart, called tabula Peutingeri, was found among the ancient

MSS. collected by Conrad Peutinger, a learned German philosopher, in the

fifteenth century - bears, over a large territory on the right bank of the

Rhine, the word Francia, and the following enumeration: "The Chaucians, the

Ampsuarians, the Cheruscans, and the Chamavians, who are also called Franks;"

and to these tribes divers chroniclers added several others, "the Attuarians,

the Bructerians, the Cattians, and the Sicambrians."


     Whatever may have been the specific names of these peoplets, they were

all of German race, called themselves Franks, that is "freemen," and made,

sometimes separately, sometimes collectively, continued incursions into Gaul

- especially Belgica and the northern portions of Lyonness - at one time

plundering and ravaging, at another occupying forcibly, or demanding of the

Roman emperors lands whereon to settle.  From the middle of the third to the

beginning of the fifth century the history of the Western Empire presents an

almost uninterrupted series of these invasions on the part of the Franks,

together with the different relationships established between them and the

imperial government.  At one time whole tribes settled on Roman soil,

submitted to the emperors, entered their service, and fought for them even

against their own German compatriots.  At another, isolated individuals, such

and such warriors of German race, put themselves at the command of the

emperors, and became of importance.  At the middle of the third century the

emperor Valerian, on committing a command to Aurelian, wrote, "Thou wilt have

with thee Hartmund, Haldegast, Hildmund, and Carioviscus."


     Some Frankish tribes allied themselves more or less fleetingly with the

imperial government, at the same time that they preserved their independence;

others pursued, throughout the empire, their life of incursion and adventure.

From A.D. 260 to 268, under the reign of Gallienus, a band of Franks threw

itself upon Gaul, scoured it from northeast to southeast, plundering and

devastating on its way; then it passed from Aquitania into Spain, took and

burned Tarragona, gained possession of certain vessels, sailed away, and

disappeared in Africa, after having wandered about for twelve years at its

own will and pleasure.  There was no lack of valiant emperors, precarious and

ephemeral as their power may have been, to defend the empire, and especially

Gaul, against those enemies, themselves ephemeral, but forever recurring;

Decius, Valerian, Gallienus, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, and Probus

gallantly withstood those repeated attacks of German hordes.  Sometimes they

flattered themselves they had gained a definitive victory, and then the old

Roman pride exhibited itself in their patriotic confidence.  About A.D. 278,

the emperor Probus, after gaining several victories in Gaul over the Franks,

wrote to the senate:


     "I render thanks to the immortal gods, conscript fathers, for that they

have confirmed your judgment as regards me.  Germany is subdued throughout

its whole extent; nine kings of different nations have come and cast

themselves at my feet, or rather at yours, as suppliants with their foreheads

in the dust.  Already all those barbarians are tilling for you, sowing for

you, and fighting for you against the most distant nations.  Order ye,

therefore, according to your custom, prayers of thanksgiving, for we have

slain four thousand of the enemy; we have had offered to us sixteen thousand

men ready armed; and we have wrested from the enemy the seventy most

important towns.  The Gauls, in fact, are completely delivered.  The crowns

offered to me by all the cities of Gaul I have submitted, conscript fathers,

to your grace; dedicate ye them with your own hands to Jupiter,

all-bountiful, all-powerful, and to the other immortal gods and goddesses.

All the booty is retaken, and, further, we have made fresh captures, more

considerable than our first losses; the fields of Gaul are tilled by the oxen

of the barbarians, and German teams bend their necks in slavery to our

husbandmen; divers nations raise cattle for our consumption, and horses to

remount our cavalry; our stores are full of the corn of the barbarians - in

one word, we have left to the vanquished naught but the soil; all their other

possessions are ours.  We had at first thought it necessary, conscript

fathers, to appoint a new governor of Germany; but we have put off this

measure to the time when our ambition shall be more completely satisfied,

which will be, as it seems to us, when it shall have pleased divine

Providence to increase and multiply the forces of our armies."


     Probus had good reason to wish that "divine Providence might be pleased

to increase the forces of the Roman armies," for even after his victories,

exaggerated as they probably were, they did not suffice for their task, and

it was not long before the vanquished recommenced war.  He had dispersed over

the territory of the empire the majority of the prisoners he had taken.  A

band of Franks, who had been transported and established as a military colony

on the European shore of the Black Sea, could not make up their minds to

remain there.  They obtained possession of some vessels, traversed the

Propontis, the Hellespont, and the Archipelago, ravaged the coasts of Greece,

Asia Minor, and Africa, plundered Syracuse, scoured the whole of the

Mediterranean, entered the ocean by the Straits of Gibraltar, and, making

their way up again along the coasts of Gaul, arrived at last at the mouths of

the Rhine, where they once more found themselves at home among the vines

which Probus, in his victorious progress, had been the first to have planted,

and with probably their old taste for adventure and plunder.


     After the commencement of the fifth century, from A.D. 406 to 409, it

was no longer by incursions limited to certain points, and sometimes repelled

with success, that the Germans harassed the Roman provinces; a veritable

deluge of divers nations forced, one upon another, from Asia, into Europe, by

wars and migration in mass, inundated the empire and gave the decisive signal

for its fall.  St. Jerome did not exaggerate when he wrote to Ageruchia:

"Nations, countless in number and exceeding fierce, have occupied all the

Gauls; Quadians, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alans, Gepidians, Herulians, Saxons,

Burgundians, Allemannians, Pannonians, and even Assyrians have laid waste all

that there is between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the ocean and the Rhine.

Sad destiny of the Commonwealth!  Mayence, once a noble city, hath been taken

and destroyed; thousands of men were slaughtered in the church.  Worms hath

fallen after a long siege.  The inhabitants of Rheims, a powerful city, and

those of Amiens, Arras, Terouanne, at the extremity of Gaul, Tournay, Spires,

and Strasburg have been carried away to Germany.  All hath been ravaged in

Aquitania (Novempopulania), Lyonness, and Narbonensis; the towns, save a few,

are dispeopled; the sword pursueth them abroad and famine at home.  I cannot

speak without tears of Toulouse; if she be not reduced to equal ruin, it is

to the merits of her holy bishop Exuperus that she oweth it."


     Then took place throughout the Roman Empire, in the East as well as in

the West, in Asia and Africa as well as in Europe, the last grand struggle

between the Roman armies and barbaric nations.  Armies is the proper term;

for, to tell the truth, there was no longer a Roman nation, and very seldom a

Roman emperor with some little capacity for government or war.  The long

continuance of despotism and slavery had enervated equally the ruling power

and the people; everything depended on the soldiers and their generals.  It

was in Gaul that the struggle was most obstinate and most promptly brought to

a decisive issue, and the confusion there was as great as the obstinacy.

Barbaric peoplets served in the ranks and barbaric leaders held the command

of the Roman armies; Stilicho was a Goth; Arbogastes and Mellobaudes were

Franks; Ricimer was a Suevian.  The Roman generals, Bonifacius, Aetius,

Aegidius, Syagrius, at one time fought the barbarians, at another negotiated

with such and such of them, either to entice them to take service against

other barbarians, or to promote the objects of personal ambition; for the

Roman generals also, under the titles of patrician, consul, or proconsul,

aspired to and attained a sort of political independence, and contributed to

the dismemberment of the empire in the very act of defending it.


     No later than A.D. 412 two German nations, the Visigoths and the

Burgundians, took their stand definitively in Gaul, and founded there two new

kingdoms: the Visigoths, under their kings Ataulph and Wallia, in Aquitania

and Narbonensis; the Burgundians, under their kings Gundichaire and Gundioch,

in Lyonnais, from the southern point of Alsatia right into Provence, along

the two banks of the Saone and the left bank of the Rhone, and also in

Switzerland.  In 451 the arrival in Gaul of the Huns and their king

Attila - already famous, both king and nation, for their wild habits, their

fierce valor, and their successes against the Eastern Empire - gravely

complicated the situation.  The common interest of resistance against the

most barbarous of barbarians, and the renown and energy of Aetius, united,

for the moment, the old and new masters of Gaul; Romans, Gauls, Visigoths,

Burgundians, Franks, Alans, Saxons, and Britons formed the army led by Aetius

against that of Attila, who also had in his ranks Goths, Burgundians,

Gepidians, Alans, and beyond-Rhine Franks, gathered together and enlisted on

his road.  It was a chaos and a conflict of barbarians, of every name and

race, disputing one with another, pell-mell, the remnants of the Roman Empire

torn asunder and in dissolution.


     Attila had already arrived before Orleans, and was laying siege to it.

The bishop, St. Anianus, sustained awhile the courage of the besieged by

promising them aid from Aetius and his allies.  The aid was slow to come; and

the bishop sent to Aetius a message: "If thou be not here this very day, my

son, it will be too late."  Still Aetius came not.  The people of Orleans

determined to surrender; the gates flew open; the Huns entered; the

plundering began without much disorder; "wagons were stationed to receive the

booty as it was taken from the houses, and the captives, arranged in groups,

were divided by lot between the victorious chieftains."  Suddenly a shout

reechoed through the streets: it was Aetius, Theodoric, and Torismund, his

son, who were coming with the eagles of the Roman legions and with the

banners of the Visigoths.  A fight took place between them and the Huns, at

first on the banks of the Loire, and then in the streets of the city.  The

people of Orleans joined their liberators; the danger was great for the Huns,

and Attila ordered a retreat.


     It was the 14th of June 451, and that day was for a long while

celebrated in the church of Orleans as the date of a signal deliverance.  The

Huns retired toward Champagne, which they had already crossed at their coming

into Gaul; and when they were before Troyes, the bishop, St. Lupus, repaired

to Attila's camp, and besought him to spare a defenceless city, which had

neither walls nor garrison.  "So be it," answered Attila; "but thou shalt

come with me and see the Rhine; I promise then to send thee back again."

With mingled prudence and superstition the barbarian meant to keep the holy

man as a hostage.  The Huns arrived at the plains hard by Chalons-sur-Marne;

Aetius and all his allies had followed them; and Attila, perceiving that a

battle was inevitable, halted in a position for delivering it.  The Gothic

historian Jornandes says that he consulted his priests, who answered that the

Huns would be beaten, but that the general of the enemy would fall in the

fight.  In this prophecy Attila saw predicted the death of Aetius, his most

formidable enemy; and the struggle commenced.  There is no precise

information about the date; but "it was," says Jornandes, "a battle which for

atrocity, multitude, horror, and stubbornness has not the like in the records

of antiquity."


     Historians vary in their exaggerations of the numbers engaged and

killed: according to some, three hundred thousand, according to others one

hundred and sixty-two thousand, were left on the field of battle.  Theodoric,

king of the Visigoths, was killed.  Some chroniclers name Meroveus as king of

the Franks, settled in Belgica, near Tongres, who formed part of the army of

Aetius.  They even attribute to him a brilliant attack made on the eve of the

battle upon the Gepidians, allies of the Huns, when ninety thousand men fell

according to some, and only fifteen thousand according to others.  The

numbers are purely imaginary, and even the fact is doubtful.  However, the

battle of Chalons drove the Huns out of Gaul, and was the last victory in

Gaul, gained still in the name of the Roman Empire, but in reality for the

advantage of the German nations which had already conquered it.  Twenty-four

years afterward the very name of Roman Empire disappeared with Augustulus,

the last of the emperors of the West.


     Thirty years after the battle of Chalons the Franks settled in Gaul were

not yet united as one nation; several tribes with this name, independent one

of another, were planted between the Rhine and the Somme; there were some in

the environs of Cologne, Calais, Cambrai, even beyond the Seine and as far as

Le Mans, on the confines of the Britons.  This is one of the reasons of the

confusion that prevails in the ancient chronicles about the chieftains or

kings of these tribes, their names and dates, and the extent and site of

their possessions.  Pharamond, Clodion, Meroveus, and Childeric cannot be

considered as kings of France and placed at the beginning of her history.  If

they are met with in connection with historical facts, fabulous legends or

fanciful traditions are mingled with them; Priam appears as a predecessor of

Pharamond; Clodion, who passes for having been the first to bear and transmit

to the Frankish kings the title of "long-haired," is represented as the son,

at one time of Pharamond, at another of another chieftain named Theodemer;

romantic adventures, spoilt by geographical mistakes, adorn the life of



     All that can be distinctly affirmed is that, from A.D. 450 to 480, the

two principal Frankish tribes were those of the Salian Franks and the

Ripuarian Franks, settled, the latter in the east of Belgica, on the banks of

the Moselle and the Rhine; the former toward the west, between the Meuse, the

ocean, and the Somme.  Meroveus, whose name was perpetuated in his line, was

one of the principal chieftains of the Salian Franks; and his son Childeric,

who resided at Tournai, where his tomb was discovered in 1655, was the father

of Clovis, who succeeded him in 481, and with whom really commenced the

kingdom and history of France.


     Clovis was fifteen or sixteen years old when he became king of the

Salian Franks of Tournai.  Five years afterward his ruling passion, ambition,

exhibited itself, together with that mixture of boldness and craft which was

to characterize his whole life.  He had two neighbors: one, hostile to the

Franks, the Roman patrician Syagrius, who was left master at Soissons after

the death of his father Aegidius, and whom Gregory of Tours calls "king of

the Romans"; the other, a Salian-Frankish chieftain, just as Clovis was, and

related to him, Ragnacaire, who was settled at Cambrai.  Clovis induced

Ragnacaire to join him in a campaign against Syagrius.  They fought, and

Syagrius was driven to take refuge in Southern Gaul, with Alaric, king of the



     Clovis, not content with taking possession of Soissons, and anxious to

prevent any troublesome return, demanded of Alaric to send Syagrius back to

him, threatening war if the request were refused.  The Goth, less bellicose

than the Frank, delivered up Syagrius to the envoys of Clovis, who

immediately had him secretly put to death, settled himself at Soissons, and

from thence set on foot, in the country between the Aisne and the Loire,

plundering and subjugating expeditions which speedily increased his domains

and his wealth, and extended far and wide his fame as well as his ambition.

The Franks who accompanied him were not long before they also felt the growth

of his power; like him they were pagans, and the treasures of the Christian

churches counted for a great deal in the booty they had to divide.  On one of

their expeditions they had taken in the church of Rheims, among other things,

a vase "of marvelous size and beauty."


     The bishop of Rheims, St. Remi, was not quite a stranger to Clovis.

Some years before, when he had heard that the son of Childeric had become

king of the Franks of Tournai, he had written to congratulate him.  "We are

informed," said he, "that thou hast undertaken the conduct of affairs; it is

no marvel that thou beginnest to be what thy fathers ever were;" and, while

taking care to put himself on good terms with the young pagan chieftain, the

bishop added to his felicitations some pious Christian counsel, without

letting any attempt at conversion be mixed up with his moral exhortations.

The bishop, informed of the removal of the vase, sent to Clovis a messenger

begging the return, if not of all his church's ornaments, at any rate of

that.  "Follow us as far as Soissons," said Clovis to the messenger; "it is

there the partition is to take place of what we have captured; when the lots

shall have given me the vase, I will do what the bishop demands."


     When Soissons was reached, and all the booty had been placed in the

midst of the host, the king said: "Valiant warriors, I pray you not to refuse

me, over and above my share, this vase here."  At these words of the king,

those who were of sound mind among the assembly answered: "Glorious king,

everything we see here is thine, and we ourselves are submissive to thy

commands.  Do thou as seemeth good to thee, for there is none that can resist

thy power."  When they had thus spoken, a certain Frank, light-minded,

jealous, and vain, cried out aloud as he struck the vase with his battle-axe,

"Thou shalt have naught of all this save what the lots shall truly give

thee."  At these words all were astounded; but the king bore the insult with

sweet patience, and, accepting the vase, he gave it to the messenger, hiding

his wound in the recesses of his heart.  At the end of a year he ordered all

his host to assemble fully equipped at the March parade, to have their arms

inspected.  After having passed in review all the other warriors, he came to

him who had struck the vase.  "None," said he, "hath brought hither arms so

ill-kept as thine; nor lance, nor sword, nor battle-axe are in condition for

service."  And wresting from him his axe he flung it on the ground.  The man

stooped down a little to pick it up, and forthwith the King, raising with

both hands his own battle-axe, drove it into his skull, saying, "Thus didst

thou to the vase of Soissons!"  On the death of this fellow he bade the rest

begone, and by this act made himself greatly feared.


     A bold and unexpected deed has always a great effect on men: with his

Frankish warriors, as well as with his Roman and Gothic foes, Clovis had at

command the instincts of patience and brutality in turn; he could bear a

mortification and take vengeance in due season.  While prosecuting his course

of plunder and war in Eastern Belgica, on the banks of the Meuse, Clovis was

inspired with a wish to get married.  He had heard tell of a young girl, like

himself of the Germanic royal line, Clotilde, niece of Gondebaud, at that

time king of the Burgundians.  She was dubbed beautiful, wise, and

well-informed; but her situation was melancholy and perilous.  Ambition and

fraternal hatred had devastated her family.  Her father, Chilperic, and her

two brothers, had been put to death by her uncle Gondebaud, who had caused

her mother, Agrippina, to be thrown into the Rhone, with a stone round her

neck, and drowned.  Two sisters alone had survived this slaughter: the elder,

Chrona, had taken religious vows; the other, Clotilde, was living almost in

exile at Geneva, absorbed in works of piety and charity.


     The principal historian of this epoch, Gregory of Tours, an almost

contemporary authority, for he was elected bishop sixty-two years after the

death of Clovis, says simply: "Clovis at once sent a deputation to Gondebaud

to ask Clotilde in marriage.  Gondebaud, not daring to refuse, put her into

the hands of the envoys, who took her promptly to the King.  Clovis at sight

of her was transported with joy, and married her."  But to this short account

other chroniclers, among them Fredegaire, who wrote a commentary upon and a

continuation of Gregory of Tours' work, added details which deserve

reproduction, first as a picture of manners, next for the better

understanding of history.  "As he was not allowed to see Clotilde," says

Fredegaire, "Clovis charged a certain Roman, named Aurelian, to use all his

wit to come nigh her.  Aurelian repaired alone to the spot, clothed in rags

and with his wallet upon his back, like a mendicant.  To insure confidence in

himself he took with him the ring of Clovis.  On his arrival at Geneva,

Clotilde received him as a pilgrim charitably, and while she was washing his

feet Aurelian, bending toward her, said, under his breath, 'Lady, I have

great matters to announce to thee if thou deign to permit me secret

revelation.'  She, consenting, replied, 'Say on.'  'Clovis, king of the

Franks,' said he, 'hath sent me thee: if it be the will of God, he would fain

raise thee to his high rank by marriage; and that thou mayest be certified

thereof, he sendeth thee this ring.'  She accepted the ring with great joy,

and said to Aurelian, 'Take for recompense of thy pains these hundred sous in

gold and this ring of mine.  Return promptly to thy lord; if he would fain

unite me to him by marriage, let him send without delay messengers to demand

me of my uncle Gondebaud, and let the messengers who shall come take me away

in haste, so soon as they shall have obtained permission; if they haste not I

fear lest a certain sage, one Aridius, may return from Constantinople, and,

if he arrive beforehand, all this matter will by his counsel come to naught.'


     "Aurelian returned in the same disguise under which he had come.  On

approaching the territory of Orleans, and at no great distance from his

house, he had taken as travelling companion a certain poor mendicant, by whom

he, having fallen asleep from sheer fatigue, and thinking himself safe, was

robbed of his wallet and the hundred sous in gold that it contained.  On

awakening, Aurelian was sorely vexed, ran swiftly home, and sent his servants

in all directions in search of the mendicant who had stolen his wallet.  He

was found and brought to Aurelian, who, after drubbing him soundly for three

days, let him go his way.  He afterward told Clovis all that had passed and

what Clotilde suggested.  Clovis, pleased with his success and with

Clotilde's notion, at once sent a deputation to Gondebaud to demand his niece

in marriage.  Gondebaud, not daring to refuse, and flattered at the idea of

making a friend of Clovis, promised to give her to him.  Then the deputation,

having offered the denier and the sou, according to the custom of the Franks,

espoused Clotilde in the name of Clovis, and demanded that she be given up to

them to be married.


     "Without any delay the council was assembled at Chalons, and

preparations made for the nuptials.  The Franks, having arrived with all

speed, received her from the hands of Gondebaud, put her into a covered

carriage, and escorted her to Clovis, together with much treasure.  She,

however, having already learned that Aridius was on his way back, said to the

Frankish lords, 'If ye would take me into the presence of your lord, let me

descend from this carriage, mount me on horseback, and get you hence as fast

as ye may; for never in this carriage shall I reach the presence of your



     "Aridius, in fact, returned very speedily from Marseilles, and

Gondebaud, on seeing him, said to him, 'Thou knowest that we have made

friends with the Franks, and that I have given my niece to Clovis to wife.'

'This,' answered Aridius, 'is no bond of friendship, but the beginning of

perpetual strife.  Thou shouldst have remembered, my lord, that thou didst

slay Clotilde's father, thy brother Chilperic, that thou didst drown her

mother, and that thou didst cut off her brothers' heads and cast their bodies

into a well.  If Clotilde become powerful she will avenge the wrongs of her

relatives.  Send thou forthwith a troop in chase, and have her brought back

to thee.  It will be easier for thee to bear the wrath of one person than to

be perpetually at strife, thyself and thine, with all the Franks.'  And

Gondebaud did send forthwith a troop in chase to fetch back Clotilde with the

carriage and all the treasure; but she, on approaching Villers, where Clovis

was waiting for her, in the territory of the Troyes, and before passing the

Burgundian frontier, urged them who escorted her to disperse right and left

over a space of twelve leagues in the country whence she was departing, to

plunder and burn; and that having been done with the permission of Clovis,

she cried aloud, 'I thank thee, God omnipotent, for that I see the

commencement of vengeance for my parents and my brethren!'"


     The majority of the learned have regarded this account of Fredegaire as

a romantic fable, and have declined to give it a place in history.  M.

Fauriel, one of the most learned associates of the Academy of Inscriptions,

has given much the same opinion, but he nevertheless adds: "Whatever may be

their authorship, the fables in question are historic in the sense that they

relate to real facts of which they are a poetical expression, a romantic

development, conceived with the idea of popularizing the Frankish kings among

the Gallo-Roman subjects."  It cannot, however, be admitted that a desire to

popularize the Frankish kings is a sufficient and truth-like explanation of

these tales of the Gallo-Roman chroniclers, or that they are no more than "a

poetical expression, a romantic development" of the real facts briefly noted

by Gregory of Tours; the tales have a graver origin and contain more truth

than would be presumed from some of the anecdotes and sayings mixed up with

them.  In the condition of minds and parties in Gaul at the end of the fifth

century the marriage of Clovis and Clotilde was, for the public of the

period, for the barbarians and for the Gallo-Romans, a great matter.  Clovis

and the Franks were still pagans; Gondebaud and the Burgundians were

Christians, but Arians; Clotilde was a Catholic Christian.  To which of the

two, Catholics or Arians, would Clovis ally himself?  To whom, Arian, pagan,

or Catholic, would Clotilde be married?


     Assuredly the bishops, priests, and all the Gallo-Roman clergy, for the

most part Catholics, desired to see Clovis, that young and audacious Frankish

chieftain, take to wife a Catholic rather than an Arian or a pagan, and hoped

to convert the pagan Clovis to Christianity much more easily than an Arian to

orthodoxy.  The question between Catholic orthodoxy and Arianism was, at that

time, a vital question for Christianity in its entirety, and St. Athanasius

was not wrong in attributing to it supreme importance.  It may be presumed

that the Catholic clergy, the bishop of Rheims, or the bishop of Langres was

no stranger to the repeated praises which turned the thoughts of the Frankish

King toward the Burgundian princess, and the idea of their marriage once set

afloat, the Catholics, priesthood or laity, labored undoubtedly to push it

forward, while the Burgundian Arians exerted themselves to prevent it.


Part II.


     Thus there took place between opposing influences, religious and

national, a most animated struggle.  No astonishment can be felt, then, at

the obstacles the marriage encountered, at the complications mingled with it,

and at the indirect means employed on both sides to cause its success or

failure.  The account of Fredegaire is but a picture of this struggle and its

incidents, a little amplified or altered by imagination or the credulity of

the period; but the essential features of the picture, the disguise of

Aurelian, the hurry of Clotilde, the prudent recollection of Aridius,

Gondebaud's alternations of fear and violence, and Clotilde's vindictive

passion when she is once out of danger - there is nothing in all this out of

keeping with the manners of the time or the position of the actors.  Let it

be added that Aurelian and Aridius are real personages who are met with

elsewhere in history, and whose parts as played on the occasion of Clotilde's

marriage are in harmony with the other traces that remain of their lives.


     The consequences of the marriage justified before long the importance

which had on all sides been attached to it.  Clotilde had a son; she was

anxious to have him baptized, and urged her husband to consent.  "The gods

you worship," said she, "are naught, and can do naught for themselves or

others; they are of wood or stone or metal."  Clovis resisted, saying: "It is

by the command of our gods that all things are created and brought forth.  It

is plain that your God hath no power; there is no proof even that he is of

the race of the gods."  But Clotilde prevailed; and she had her son baptized

solemnly, hoping that the striking nature of the ceremony might win to the

faith the father whom her words and prayers had been powerless to touch.  The

child soon died, and Clovis bitterly reproached the Queen, saying: "Had the

child been dedicated to my gods he would be alive; he was baptized in the

name of your God, and he could not live."  Clotilde defended her God and

prayed.  She had a second son who was also baptized, and fell sick.  "It

cannot be otherwise with him than with his brother," said Clovis; "baptized

in the name of your Christ, he is going to die."  But the child was cured,

and lived; and Clovis was pacified and less incredulous of Christ.


     An event then came to pass which affected him still more than the

sickness or cure of his children.


     In 496 the Alemannians, a Germanic confederation like the Franks, who

also had been, for some time past, assailing the Roman Empire on the banks of

the Rhine or the frontiers of Switzerland, crossed the river and invaded the

settlements of the Franks on the left bank.  Clovis went to the aid of his

confederation and attacked the Alemannians at Tolbiac, near Cologne.  He had

with him Aurelian, who had been his messenger to Clotilde, whom he had made

duke of Melun, and who commanded the forces of Sens.  The battle was going

ill; the Franks were wavering and Clovis was anxious.  Before setting out he

had, according to Fredegaire, promised his wife that if he were victorious he

would turn Christian.


     Other chroniclers say that Aurelian, seeing the battle in danger of

being lost, said to Clovis, "May lord King, believe only on the Lord of

heaven whom the Queen, my mistress, preacheth."  Clovis cried out with

emotion: "Christ Jesus, thou whom my queen Clotilde calleth the Son of the

living God, I have invoked my own gods, and they have withdrawn from me; I

believe that they have no power, since they aid not those who call upon them.

Thee, very God and Lord, I invoke; if thou give me victory over these foes,

if I find in thee the power that the people proclaim of thee, I will believe

on thee, and will be baptized in thy name."  The tide of battle turned; the

Franks recovered confidence and courage; and the Alemannians, beaten and

seeing their King slain, surrendered themselves to Clovis, saying: "Cease, of

thy grace, to cause any more of our people to perish; for we are thine."


     On the return of Clovis, Clotilde, fearing he should forget his victory

and his promise, "secretly sent," says Gregory of Tours, "to St. Remi, bishop

of Rheims, and prayed him to penetrate the King's heart with the words of

salvation."  St. Remi was a fervent Christian and able bishop; and "I will

listen to thee, most holy father," said Clovis, "willingly; but there is a

difficulty.  The people that follow me will not give up their gods.  But I am

about to assemble them, and will speak to them according to thy word."  The

King found the people more docile or better prepared than he had represented

to the bishop.  Even before he opened his mouth the greater part of those

present cried out: "We abjure the mortal gods; we are ready to follow the

immortal God whom Remi preacheth."


     About three thousand Frankish warriors, however, per sisted in their

intention of remaining pagans, and deserting Clovis betook themselves to

Ragnacaire, the Frankish king of Cambrai, who was destined ere long to pay

dearly for this acquisition.  So soon as St. Remi was informed of this good

disposition on the part of king and people, he fixed Christmas Day of this

year, 496, for the ceremony of the baptism of these grand neophytes.  The

description of it is borrowed from the historian of the church of Rheims,

Frodoard by name, born at the close of the ninth century.  He gathered

together the essential points of it from the Life of Saint Remi, written,

shortly before that period, by the saint's celebrated successor at Rheims,

Archbishop Hincmar.  "The bishop," says he, "went in search of the King at

early morn in his bed-chamber, in order that, taking him at the moment of

freedom from secular cares, he might more freely communicate to him the

mysteries of the holy word.  The King's chamber-people receive him with

great respect, and the King himself runs forward to meet him.  Thereupon

they pass together into an oratory dedicated to St. Peter, chief of the

apostles, and adjoining the King's apartment.


     "When the bishop, the King, and the Queen had taken their places on the

seats prepared for them, and admission had been given to some clerics and

also some friends and household servants of the King, the venerable bishop

began his instructions on the subject of salvation.


     "Meanwhile preparations are being made along the road from the palace to

the baptistery; curtains and valuable stuffs are hung up; the houses on

either side of the street are dressed out; the baptistery is sprinkled with

balm and all manner of perfume.  The procession moves from the palace; the

clergy lead the way with the holy gospels, the cross, and standards, singing

hymns and spiritual songs; then comes the bishop, leading the King by the

hand; after him the Queen, lastly the people.  On the road, it is said that

the King asked the bishop if that were the kingdom promised him.  'No,'

answered the prelate, 'but it is the entrance to the road that leads to it.'


     "At the moment when the King bent his head over the fountain of life,

'Lower thy head with humility, Sicambrian,' cried the eloquent bishop; 'adore

what thou hast burned; burn what thou hast adored,'  The King's two sisters,

Alboflede and Lantechilde, likewise received baptism; and so at the same time

did three thousand of the Frankish army, besides a large number of women and



     When it was known that Clovis had been baptized by St. Remi, and with

what striking circumstance, great was the satisfaction among the Catholics.

The chief Burgundian prelate, Avitus, bishop of Vienne, wrote to the Frankish

King: "Your faith is our victory; in choosing for you and yours, you have

pronounced for all; divine Providence hath given you as arbiter to our age.

Greece can boast of having a sovereign of our persuasion; but she is no

longer alone in possession of this precious gift; the rest of the world doth

share her light."  Pope Anastasius hastened to express his joy to Clovis.

"The Church, our common mother," he wrote, "rejoiceth to have born unto God

so great a king.  Continue, glorious and illustrious son, to cheer the heart

of this tender mother; be a column of iron to support her, and she in her

turn will give thee victory over all thine enemies."


     Clovis was not a man to omit turning his Catholic popularity to the

account of his ambition.  At the very time when he was receiving these

testimonies of good-will from the heads of the Church he learned that

Gondebaud, disquieted, no doubt, at the conversion of his powerful neighbor,

had just made a vain attempt, at a conference held at Lyons, to reconcile in

his kingdom the Catholics and the Arians.  Clovis considered the moment

favorable to his projects of aggrandizement at the expense of the Burgundian

King; he fomented the dissensions which already prevailed between Gondebaud

and his brother Godegisile, assured to himself the latter's complicity, and

suddenly entered Burgundy with his army.  Gondebaud, betrayed and beaten at

the first encounter at Dijon, fled to the south of his kingdom, and went and

shut himself up in Avignon.  Clovis pursued, and besieged him there.

Gondebaud in great alarm asked counsel of his Roman confidant Aridius, who

had but lately foretold to him what the marriage of his niece Clotilde would

bring upon him.  "On every side," said the King, "I am encompassed by perils,

and I know not what to do.  Lo! here be these barbarians come upon us to

slay us and destroy the land."  "To escape death," answered Aridius,"thou

must appease the ferocity of this man.  Now, if it please thee, I will feign

to fly from thee and go over to him.  So soon as I shall be with him, I will

so do that he ruin neither thee nor the land.  Only have thou care to perform

whatsoever I shall ask of thee, until the Lord in his goodness deign to make

thy cause triumph."  "All that thou shalt bid will I do," said Gondebaud.  So

Aridius left Gondebaud and went his way to Clovis, and said: "Most pious

King, I am thy humble servant; I give up this wretched Gondebaud and come

unto thy mightiness.  If thy goodness deign to cast a glance upon me, thou

and thy descendants will find in me a servant of integrity and fidelity."


     Clovis received him very kindly and kept him by him, for Aridius was

agreeable in conversation, wise in counsel, just in judgment, and faithful in

whatever was committed to his care.  As the siege continued Aridius said to

Clovis: "O King, if the glory of thy greatness would suffer thee to listen to

the words of my feebleness, though thou needest not counsel, I would submit

them to thee in all fidelity, and they might be of use to thee, whether for

thyself or for the towns by the which thou dost propose to pass.  Wherefore

keepest thou here thine army whilst thine enemy doth hide himself in a

well-fortified place?  Thou ravagest the fields, thou pillagest the corn,

thou cuttest down the vines, thou fellest the olive-trees, thou destroyest

all the produce of the land, and yet thou succeedest not in destroying thine

adversary.  Rather send thou unto him deputies, and lay on him a tribute to

be paid to thee every year.  Thus the land will be preserved, and thou wilt

be lord forever over him who owes thee tribute.  If he refuse, thou shalt

then do what pleaseth thee."  Clovis found the counsel good, ordered his army

to return home, sent deputies to Gondebaud, and called upon him to undertake

the payment every year of a fixed tribute.  Gondebaud paid for the time, and

promised to pay punctually for the future.  And peace appeared made between

the two barbarians.


     Pleased with his campaign against the Burgundians, Clovis kept on good

terms with Gondebaud, who was to be henceforth a simple tributary, and

transferred to the Visigoths of Aquitania and their King, Alaric II, his

views of conquest.  He had there the same pretexts for attack and the same

means of success.  Alaric and his Visigoths were Arians, and between them and

the bishops of Southern Gaul, nearly all orthodox Catholics, there were

permanent ill-will and distrust.  Alaric attempted to conciliate their

good-will: in 506 a council met at Agde; the thirty-four bishops of Aquitania

attended in person or by delegate; the King protested that he had no design

of persecuting the Catholics; the bishops, at the opening of the council,

offered prayers for the King; but Alaric did not forget that immediately

after the conversion of Clovis, Volusian, bishop of Tours, had conspired in

favor of the Frankish King, and the bishops of Aquitania regarded Volusian as

a martyr, for he had been deposed, without trial, from his see, and taken as

a prisoner first to Toulouse, and afterward into Spain, where in a short time

he had been put to death.  In vain did the glorious chief of the race of

Goths, Theodoric the Great, king of Italy, father-in-law of Alaric, and

brother-in-law of Clovis, exert himself to prevent any outbreak between the

two kings.  In 498 Alaric, no doubt at his father-in-law's solicitation,

wrote to Clovis, "If my brother consent thereto, I would, following my

desires and by the grace of God, have an interview with him."


     The interview took place at a small island in the Loire, called the Ile

d'Or or de St. Jean, near Amboise.  "The two kings," says Gregory of Tours,

"conversed, ate, and drank together, and separated with mutual promises of

friendship."  The positions and passions of each soon made the promises of no

effect.  In 505 Clovis was seriously ill; the bishops of Aquitania testified

warm interest in him; and one of them, Quintian, bishop of Rodez, being on

this account persecuted by the Visigoths, had to seek refuge at Clermont, in

Auvergne.  Clovis no longer concealed his designs.  In 507 he assembled his

principal chieftains; and "It displeaseth me greatly," said he, "that these

Arians should possess a portion of the Gauls; march we forth with the help of

God, drive we them from that land, for it is very goodly, and bring we it

under our own power."


     The Franks applauded their King; and the army set out on the march in

the direction of Poitiers, where Alaric happened at that time to be.  "As a

portion of the troops was crossing the territory of Tours," says Gregory, who

was shortly afterward its bishop, "Clovis forbade, out of respect for St.

Martin, anything to be taken, save grass and water.  One of the army,

however, having found some hay belonging to a poor man, said, 'This is grass;

we do not break the King's commands by taking it'; and, in spite of the poor

man's resistance, he robbed him of his hay.  Clovis, informed of the fact,

slew the soldier on the spot with one sweep of his sword, saying, 'What will

become of our hopes of victory, if we offend St. Martin?'"  Alaric had

prepared for the struggle; and the two armies met in the plain of Vouille, on

the banks of the little river Clain, a few leagues from Poitiers.  The battle

was very severe.  "The Goths," says Gregory of Tours, "fought with missiles;

the Franks sword in hand.  Clovis met and with his own hand slew Alaric in

the fray; at the moment of striking his blow two Goths fell suddenly upon

Clovis, and attacked him with their pikes on either side, but he escaped

death, thanks to his cuirass and the agility of his horse."


     Beaten and kingless, the Goths retreated in great disorder; and Clovis,

pursuing his march, arrived without opposition at Bordeaux, where he settled

down with his Franks for the winter.  When the war season returned he marched

on Toulouse, the capital of the Visigoths, which he likewise occupied without

resistance, and where he seized a portion of the treasure of the Visigothic

kings.  He quitted it to lay siege to Carcassonne, which had been made by the

Romans into the stronghold of Septimania.


     There his course of conquest was destined to end.  After the battle of

Vouille he had sent his eldest son, Theodoric, in command of a division, with

orders to cross Central Gaul from west to east, to go and join the

Burgundians of Gondebaud, who had promised his assistance, and in conjunction

with them to attack the Visigoths on the banks of the Rhone and in

Narbonensis.  The young Frank boldly executed his father's orders, but the

intervention of Theodoric the Great, king of Italy, prevented the success of

the operation.  He sent an army into Gaul to the aid of his son-in-law

Alaric; and the united Franks and Burgundians failed in their attacks upon

the Visigoths of the eastern provinces.  Clovis had no idea of compromising

by his obstinacy the conquests already accomplished; he therefore raised the

siege of Carcassonne, returned first to Toulouse, and then to Bordeaux, took

Angouleme, the only town of importance he did not possess in Aquitania; and

feeling reasonably sure that the Visigoths, who, even with the aid that had

come from Italy, had great difficulty in defending what remained to them of

Southern Gaul, would not come and dispute with him what he had already

conquered, he halted at Tours, and stayed there some time, to enjoy on the

very spot the fruits of his victory and to establish his power in his new



     It appears that even the Britons of Armorica tendered to him at that

time, through the interposition of Melanius, bishop of Rennes, if not their

actual submission, at any rate their subordination and homage.


     Clovis at the same time had his self-respect flattered in a manner to

which barbaric conquerors always attach great importance.  Anastasius,

emperor of the East, with whom he had already had some communication, sent to

him at Tours a solemn embassy, bringing him the titles and insignia of

patrician and consul.  "Clovis," says Gregory of Tours, "put on the tunic of

purple and the chlamys and the diadem; then mounting his horse, he scattered

with his own hand and with much bounty gold and silver among the people, on

the road which lies between the gate of the court belonging to the basilica

of St. Martin and the church of the city.  From that day he was called consul

and augustus.  On leaving the city of Tours he repaired to Paris, where he

fixed the seat of his government."


     Paris was certainly the political centre of his dominions, the

intermediate point between the early settlements of his race and himself in

Gaul and his new Gallic conquests; but he lacked some of the possessions

nearest to him and most naturally, in his own opinion, his.  To the east,

north, and southwest of Paris were settled some independent Frankish tribes,

governed by chieftains with the name of kings.  So soon as he had settled at

Paris, it was the one fixed idea of Clovis to reduce them all to subjection.

He had conquered the Burgundians and the Visigoths; it remained for him to

conquer and unite together all the Franks.  The barbarian showed himself in

his true colors, during this new enterprise, with his violence, his craft,

his cruelty, and his perfidy.  He began with the most powerful of the tribes,

the Ripuarian Franks.  He sent secretly to Cloderic, son of Sigebert, their

King, saying: "Thy father hath become old, and his wound maketh him to limp

o' one foot; if he should die, his kingdom will come to thee of right,

together with our friendship."  Cloderic had his father assassinated while

asleep in his tent, and sent messengers to Clovis, saying: "My father is

dead, and I have in my power his kingdom and his treasures.  Send thou unto

me certain of thy people, and I will gladly give into their hands whatsoever

among these treasures shall seem like to please thee."  The envoys of Clovis

came, and, as they were examining in detail the treasures of Sigebert,

Cloderic said to them, "This is the coffer wherein my father was wont to pile

up his gold pieces."  "Plunge," said they, "thy hand right to the bottom,

that none escape thee."  Cloderic bent forward, and one of the envoys lifted

his battle-axe and cleft his skull.


     Clovis went to Cologne and convoked the Franks of the canton.  "Learn,"

said he, "that which hath happened.  As I was sailing on the river Scheldt,

Cloderic, son of my relative, did vex his father, saying I was minded to slay

him; and as Sigebert was flying across the forest of Buchaw, his son himself

sent bandits, who fell upon him and slew him.  Cloderic also is dead, smitten

I know not by whom as he was opening his father's treasures.  I am altogether

unconcerned in it all, and I could not shed the blood of my relatives, for it

is a crime.  But since it hath so happened, I give unto you counsel, which ye

shall follow if it seem to you good; turn ye toward me, and live under my

protection."  And they who were present hoisted him on a huge buckler and

hailed him king.


     After Sigebert and the Ripuarian Franks came the Franks of Terouanne,

and Chararic, their King.  He had refused, twenty years before, to march with

Clovis against the Roman Syagrius.  Clovis, who had not forgotten it,

attacked him, took him and his son prisoners, and had them both shorn,

ordering that Chararic should be ordained priest and his son deacon.

Chararic was much grieved.  Then said his son to him: "Here be branches which

were cut from a green tree, and are not yet wholly dried up: soon they will

sprout forth again.  May it please God that he who hath wrought all this

shall die as quickly!"  Clovis considered these words as a menace, had both

father and son beheaded, and took possession of their dominions.  Ragnacaire,

king of the Franks of Cambrai, was the third to be attacked.  He had served

Clovis against Syagrius, but Clovis took no account of that.  Ragnacaire,

being beaten, was preparing for flight, when he was seized by his own

soldiers, who tied his hands behind his back, and took him to Clovis along

with his brother Riquier.  "Wherefore hast thou dishonored our race," said

Clovis, "by letting thyself wear bonds?  'Twere better to have died," and

cleft his skull with one stroke of his battle-axe; then turning to Riquier,

"Hadst thou succored thy brother," said he, "he had assuredly not been

bound," and felled him likewise at his feet.  Rignomer, king of the Franks of

Le Mans, met the same fate, but not at the hands, only by the order, of

Clovis.  So Clovis remained sole king of the Franks, for all the independent

chieftains had disappeared.


     It is said that one day, after all these murders, Clovis, surrounded by

his trusted servants, cried: "Woe is me! who am left as a traveller among

strangers, and who have no longer relatives to lend me support in the day of

adversity!"  Thus do the most shameless take pleasure in exhibiting sham

sorrow after crimes they cannot disavow.


     It cannot be known whether Clovis ever felt in his soul any scruple or

regret for his many acts of ferocity and perfidy, or if he looked as

sufficient expiation upon the favor he had bestowed on the churches and their

bishops, upon the gifts he lavished on them, and upon the absolutions he

demanded of them.  In times of mingled barbarism and faith there are strange

cases of credulity in the way of bargains made with divine justice.  We read

in the life of St. Eleutherus, bishop of Tournai, the native land of Clovis,

that at one of those periods when the conscience of the Frankish King must

have been most heavily laden, he presented himself one day at the church.

"My lord King," said the bishop, "I know wherefore thou art come to me."  "I

have nothing special to say unto thee," rejoined Clovis.  "Say not so, O

King," replied the bishop; "thou hast sinned, and darest not avow it."  The

King was moved, and ended by confessing that he had deeply sinned and had

need of large pardon.  St. Eleutherus betook himself to prayer; the King came

back the next day, and the bishop gave him a paper on which was written by a

divine hand, he said, "the pardon granted to royal offences which might not

be revealed."


     Clovis accepted this absolution, and loaded the church of Tournai with

his gifts.  In 511, the very year of his death, his last act in life was the

convocation at Orleans of a council, which was attended by thirty bishops

from the different parts of his kingdom, and at which were adopted thirty-one

canons that, while granting to the Church great privileges and means of

influence, in many cases favorable to humanity and respect for the rights of

individuals, bound the Church closely to the state, and gave to royalty, even

in ecclesiastical matters, great power.  The bishops, on breaking up, sent

these canons to Clovis, praying him to give them the sanction of his

adhesion, which he did.  A few months afterward, on the 27th of November,

511, Clovis died at Paris, and was buried in the church of St. Peter and St.

Paul, nowadays St. Genevieve, built by his wife, Queen Clotilde, who survived



     It was but right to make the reader intimately acquainted with that

great barbarian who, with all his vices and all his crimes, brought about, or

rather began, two great matters which have already endured through fourteen

centuries and still endure; for he founded the French monarchy and Christian

France.  Such men and such facts have a right to be closely studied and set

in a clear light by history.  Nothing similar will be seen for two centuries,

under the descendants of Clovis, the Merovingians; among them will be

encountered none but those personages whom death reduces to insignificance,

whatever may have been their rank in the world, and of whom Vergil thus

speaks to Dante:


     "Waste we no words on them: one glance and pass thou on."


Decay Of The Frankish Empire 

Part I.


843 - 911


     The period with which the following article deals may be said to mark the

end of distinctively Frankish history.  A striking mixture of races entered

into the formation of this people, and the beginnings of the great modern

nations into which the Frankish empire was divided brought to them varied

elements of strength and a diversity of constituents that were to be

commingled in new national characters and careers.


     In 840 Charles the Bald became King of France, and his reign, both as

king and afterward as emperor, continued for thirty-seven years, during which

he proved himself to be lacking in those qualities which his responsibilities

and the wants of his people demanded.  He had great obstacles to contend

against; for besides the ambitions of various districts for separate

nationality, which led to insurrections in many quarters, Greek pirates

ravaged the South, where the Saracens also wrought havoc, while in the North

and West the Northmen burned and pillaged, laying waste a wide region and

leaving many towns in ruins.


     It was an age of turbulence in Europe, and the violence of predatory

invaders brought woes upon many peoples.  On the east of Charles' empire the

Hungarians, successors of the Huns, began to threaten.  In the midst of all

these distractions and dangers, assailed by enemies without and within,

Charles found it a task far beyond his abilities to construct a state upon

foundations of unity.  He bore many titles and held several crowns, but his

actual dominion was narrowly restricted, and his nominal subjects were in a

state of political subdivision almost amounting to dismemberment.  After

various futile efforts during his later years to unify his empire, Charles

died from an illness which seized him in 877, on his return to France from a

fruitless campaign of subjugation and pillage in Italy.  In the subsequent

division of the empire, according to the terms of the treaty of Verdun, the

several portions included Italy, the nucleus of France, and that of the

present Germany.


     Already suffering from the devastating expeditions of the Norse or

Northmen, the Carlovingian empire, now weakened by division, became an easier

prey for the invaders.  Emboldened by success, the Northmen at length

commenced to settle in the regions they invaded, no longer returning, as

formerly, to their northern homes in winter.  Among chieftains of the early

Norman invaders who settled in France was Hastings, who became Count of

Chartres; later came Rou, Rolf, or Rollo the Rover, to whom Charles the Simple

of France gave Normandy, whence sprang the conquerors and rules of England,

who laid the foundation of the English-speaking nations of to-day.


     The first of Charlemagne's grand designs, the territorial security of the

Gallo-Frankish and Christian dominion, was accomplished.  In the East and the

North, the Germanic and Asiatic populations, which had so long upset it, were

partly arrested at its frontiers, partly incorporated regularly in its midst.

In the South, the Mussulman populations which, in the eighth century, had

appeared so near overwhelming it, were powerless to deal it any heavy blow.

Substantially France was founded.  But what had become of Charlemagne's second

grand design, the resuscitation of the Roman Empire at the hands of the

barbarians that had conquered it and become Christians?


     Let us leave Louis the Debonair his traditional name, although it is not

an exact rendering of that which was given him by his contemporaries.  They

called him Louis the Pious.  And so, indeed, he was, sincerely and even

scrupulously pious; but he was still more weak than pious, as weak in heart

and character as in mind; as destitute of ruling ideas as of strength of will,

fluctuating at the mercy of transitory impressions or surrounding influences

or positional embarrassments.  The name of Debonnaire is suited to him; it

expresses his moral worth and his political incapacity both at once.


     As king of Aquitaine in the time of Charlemagne, Louis made himself

esteemed and loved; his justice, his suavity, his probity, and his piety were

pleasing to the people, and his weaknesses disappeared under the strong hand

of his father.  When he became emperor, he began his reign by a reaction

against the excesses, real or supposed, of the preceding reign. Charlemagne's

morals were far from regular, and he troubled himself but little about the

license prevailing in his family or his palace.  At a distance, he ruled with

a tight and heavy hand.  Louis established at his court, for his sisters as

well as his servants, austere regulations.  He restored to the subjugated

Saxons certain of the rights of which Charlemagne had deprived them.  He sent

out everywhere his commissioners with orders to listen to complaints and

redress grievances, and to mitigate his father's rule, which was rigorous in

its application and yet insufficient to repress disturbance, notwithstanding

its preventive purpose and its watchful supervision.


     Almost simultaneously with his accession, Louis committed an act more

serious and compromising.  He had, by his wife Hermengarde, three sons,

Lothair, Pepin, and Louis, aged respectively nineteen, eleven, and eight.  In

817, Louis summoned at Aix-la-Chapelle the general assembly of his dominions;

and there, while declaring that "neither to those who were wisely minded nor

to himself did it appear expedient to break up, for the love he bare his sons

and by the will of man, the unity of the empire, preserved by God himself," he

had resolved to share with his eldest son, Lothair, the imperial throne.

Lothair was in fact crowned emperor; and his two brothers, Pepin and Louis,

were crowned king, "in order that they might reign, after their father's death

and under their brother and lord, Lothair, to wit: Pepin, over Aquitaine and a

great part of Southern Gaul and of Burgundy; Louis, beyond the Rhine, over

Bavaria and the divers peoples in the east of Germany." The rest of Gaul and

of Germany, as well as the kingdom of Italy, was to belong to Lothair, Emperor

and head of the Frankish monarchy, to whom his brothers would have to repair

year by year to come to an understanding with him and receive his

instructions.  The last-named kingdom, the most considerable of the three,

remained under the direct government of Louis the Debonair, and at the same

time of his son Lothair, sharing the title of emperor.  The two other sons,

Pepin and Louis, entered, notwithstanding their childhood, upon immediate

possession, the one of Aquitaine and the other of Bavaria, under the superior

authority of their father and their brother, the joint emperors.


     Charlemagne had vigorously maintained the unity of the empire, for all

that he had delegated to two of his sons, Pepin and Louis, the government of

Italy and Aquitaine with the title of king.  Louis the Debonair, while

regulating beforehand the division of his dominion, likewise desired, as he

said, to maintain the unity of the empire.  But he forgot that he was no



     It was not long before numerous mournful experiences showed to what

extent the unity of the empire required personal superiority in the emperor,

and how rapid would be the decay of the fabric when there remained nothing but

the title of the founder.


     In 816 Pope Stephen IV came to France to consecrate Louis the Debonair

emperor.  Many a time already the popes had rendered the Frankish kings this

service and honor.  The Franks had been proud to see their King, Charlemagne,

protecting Adrian I against the Lombards; then crowned emperor at Rome by Leo

III, and then having his two sons, Pepin and Louis, crowned at Rome, by the

same Pope, kings respectively of Italy and of Aquitaine.  On these different

occasions Charlemagne, while testifying the most profound respect for the

Pope, had, in his relations with him, always taken care to preserve, together

with his political greatness, all his personal dignity.  But when, in 816, the

Franks saw Louis the Pious not only go out of Rheims to meet Stephen IV, but

prostrate himself, from head to foot, and rise only when the Pope held out a

hand to him, the spectators felt saddened and humiliated at the sight of their

Emperor in the posture of a penitent monk.


     Several insurrections burst out in the empire; the first among the

Basques of Aquitaine; the next in Italy, where Bernard, son of Pepin, having,

after his father's death, become king in 812, with the consent of his

grandfather Charlemagne, could not quietly see his kingdom pass into the hands

of his cousin Lothair at the orders of his uncle Louis.  These two attempts

were easily repressed, but the third was more serious.  It took place in

Brittany among those populations of Armorica who were still buried in their

woods, and were excessively jealous of their independence.  In 818 they took

for king one of their principal chieftains, named Morvan; and, not confining

themselves to a refusal of all tribute to the King of the Franks, they renewed

their ravages upon the Frankish territories bordering on their frontier.

Louis was at that time holding a general assembly of his dominions at

Aix-la-Chapelle; and Count Lantbert, commandant of the marches of Brittany,

came and reported to him what was going on.  A Frankish monk, named Ditcar,

happened to be at the assembly: he was a man of piety and sense, a friend of

peace, and, moreover, with some knowledge of the Breton king Morvan, as his

monastery had property in the neighborhood.  Him the Emperor commissioned to

convey to the King his grievances and his demands.  After some days' journey

the monk passed the frontier and arrived at a vast space enclosed on one side

by a noble river, and on all the others by forests and swamps, hedges and

ditches.  In the middle of this space was a large dwelling, which was

Morvan's.  Ditcar found it full of warriors, the King having, no doubt, some

expedition on hand.  The monk announced himself as a messenger from the

Emperor of the Franks.  The style of announcement caused some confusion at

first, to the Briton, who, however, hastened to conceal his emotion under an

air of good-will and joyousness, to impose upon his comrades.  The latter were

got rid of; and the King remained alone with the monk, who explained the

object of his mission.  He descanted upon the power of the emperor Louis,

recounted his complaints, and warned the Briton, kindly and in a private

capacity, of the danger of his situation, a danger so much the greater in that

he and his people would meet with the less consideration, seeing that they

kept up the religion of their pagan forefathers.  Morvan gave attentive ear to

this sermon, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and his foot tapping it from

time to time.  Ditcar thought he had succeeded; but an incident supervened.

It was the hour when Morvan's wife was accustomed to come and look for him ere

they retired to the nuptial couch.  She appeared, eager to know who the

stranger was, what he had come for, what he had said, what answer he had

received.  She preluded her questions with oglings and caresses; she kissed

the knees, the hands, the beard, and the face of the King, testifying her

desire to be alone with him.  "O King and glory of the mighty Britons, dear

spouse of mine! what tidings bringeth this stranger? Is it peace, or is it



     "This stranger," answered Morvan, with a smile, "is an envoy of the

Franks; but bring he peace or bring he war is the affair of men alone; as for

thee, content thee with thy woman's duties." Thereupon Ditcar, perceiving that

he was countered, said to Morvan: "Sir King, 'tis time that I return; tell me

what answer I am to take back to my sovereign."


     "Leave me this night to take thought thereon," replied the Breton chief,

with a wavering air.  When the morning came, Ditcar presented himself once

more to Morvan, whom he found up, but still half drunk and full of very

different sentiments from those of the night before.  It required some effort,

stupefied and tottering as he was with the effects of wine and the pleasures

of the night, to say to Ditcar: "Go back to thy King, and tell him from me

that my land was never his, and that I owe him naught of tribute or

submission.  Let him reign over the Franks; as for me, I reign over the

Britons.  If he will bring war on me, he will find me ready to pay him back."


     The monk returned to Louis the Debonair and rendered account of his

mission.  War was resolved upon, and the Emperor collected his troops -

Alemannians, Saxons, Thuringians, Burgundians, and Aquitanians, without

counting Franks or Gallo-Romans.  They began their march, moving upon Vannes;

Louis was at their head, and the Empress accompanied him, but he left her,

already ill and fatigued, at Angers.  The Franks entered the country of the

Britons, searched the woods and morasses, found no armed men in the open

country, but encountered them in scattered and scanty companies, at the

entrance of all the defiles, on the heights commanding pathways, and wherever

men could hide themselves and await the moment for appearing unexpectedly. The

Franks heard them, from amid the heather and the brushwood, uttering shrill

cries, to give warning one to another or to alarm the enemy.  The Franks

advanced cautiously, and at last arrived at the entrance of the thick wood

which surrounded Morvan's abode.  He had not yet set out with the pick of the

warriors he had about him; but, at the approach of the Franks, he summoned his

wife and his domestics, and said to them: "Defend ye well this house and these

woods; as for me, I am going to march forward to collect my people; after

which to return, but not without booty and spoils." He put on his armor, took

a javelin in each hand, and mounted his horse.  "Thou seest," said he to his

wife, "these javelins I brandish: I will bring them back to thee this very day

dyed with the blood of Franks.  Farewell." Setting out he pierced, followed by

his men, through the thickness of the forest, and advanced to meet the Franks.


     The battle began.  The large numbers of the Franks who covered the ground

for some distance dismayed the Britons, and many of them fled, seeking where

they might hide themselves.  Morvan, beside himself with rage and at the head

of his most devoted followers, rushed down upon the Franks as if to demolish

them at a single stroke; and many fell beneath his blows.  He singled out a

warrior of inferior grade, toward whom he made at a gallop, and, insulting him

by word of mouth, after the ancient fashion of the Celtic warriors, cried:

"Frank, I am going to give thee my first present, a present which I have been

keeping for thee a long while, and which I hope thou wilt bear in mind;" and

launched at him a javelin which the other received on his shield.  "Proud

Briton," replied the Frank, "I have received thy present, and I am going to

give thee mine." He dug both spurs into his horse's sides and galloped down

upon Morvan, who, clad though he was in a coat of mail, fell pierced by the

thrust of a lance.  The Frank had but time to dismount and cut off his head

when he fell himself, mortally wounded by one of Morvan's young warriors, but

not without having, in his turn, dealt the other his deathblow. It spreads on

all sides that Morvan is dead; and the Franks come thronging to the scene of

the encounter.  There is picked up and passed from hand to hand a head all

bloody and fearfully disfigured.  Ditcar the monk is called to see it, and to

say whether it is that of Morvan; but he has to wash the mass of

disfigurement, and to partially adjust the hair, before he can pronounce that

it is really Morvan's.  There is then no more doubt; resistance is now

impossible; the widow, the family and the servants of Morvan arrive, are

brought before Louis the Debonair, accept all the conditions imposed upon

them, and the Franks withdraw with the boast that Brittany is henceforth their



     On arriving at Angers, Louis found the empress Hermengarde dying; and two

days afterward she was dead.  He had a tender heart which was not proof

against sorrow; and he testified a desire to abdicate and turn monk.  But he

was dissuaded from his purpose; for it was easy to influence his resolutions.

A little later, he was advised to marry again, and he yielded.  Several

princesses were introduced; and he chose Judith of Bavaria, daughter of Count

Welf (Guelf), a family already powerful and in later times celebrated. Judith

was young, beautiful, witty, ambitious, and skilled in the art of making the

gift of pleasing subserve the passion for ruling.  Louis, during his

expedition into Brittany, had just witnessed the fatal result of a woman's

empire over her husband; he was destined himself to offer a more striking and

more long-lived example of it.  In 823, he had, by his new empress Judith, a

son, whom he called Charles, and who was hereafter to be known as Charles the

Bald.  This son became his mother's ruling, if not exclusive, passion, and the

source of his father's woes.  His birth could not fail to cause ill-temper and

mistrust in Louis' three sons by Hermengarde, who were already kings.  They

had but a short time previously received the first proof of their father's

weakness.  In 822, Louis, repenting of his severity toward his nephew, Bernard

of Italy, whose eyes he had caused to be put out as a punishment for

rebellion, and who had died in consequence, considered himself bound to

perform at Attigny, in the church and before the people, a solemn act of

penance; which was creditable to his honesty and piety, but the details left

upon the minds of the beholders an impression unfavorable to the Emperor's

dignity and authority.  In 829, during an assembly held at Worms, he, yielding

to his wife's entreaties, and doubtless also to his own yearnings toward his

youngest son, set at naught the solemn act whereby, in 817, he had shared his

dominions among his three elder sons; and took away from two of them, in

Burgundy and Alemannia, some of the territories he had assigned to them, and

gave them to the boy Charles for his share.  Lothair, Pepin, and Louis

thereupon revolted.  Court rivalries were added to family differences.  The

Emperor had summoned to his side a young southron, Bernard by name, duke of

Septimania and son of Count William of Toulouse, who had gallantly fought the

Saracens.  He made him his chief chamberlain and his favorite counsellor.

Bernard was bold, ambitious, vain, imperious, and restless.  He removed his

rivals from court, and put in their places his own creatures.  He was accused

not only of abusing the Emperor's favor, but even of carrying on a guilty

intrigue with the empress Judith. There grew up against him, and, by

consequence, against the Emperor, the Empress, and their youngest son, a

powerful opposition, in which certain ecclesiastics, and, among them, Wala,

abbot of Corbie, counsin-german and but lately one of the privy counsellors of

Charlemagne, joined eagerly.  Some had at heart the unity of the empire, which

Louis was breaking up more and more; others were concerned for the spiritual

interests of the Church, which Louis, in spite of his piety and by reason of

his weakness, often permitted to be attacked.  Thus strengthened, the

conspirators considered themselves certain of success.  They had the empress

Judith carried off and shut up in the convent of St. Radegonde at Poitiers;

and Louis in person came to deliver himself up to them at Compiegne, where

they were assembled.  There they passed a decree to the effect that the power

and title of emperor were transferred from Louis to Lothair, his eldest son;

that the act whereby a share of the empire had but lately been assigned to

Charles was annulled; and that the act of 817, which had regulated the

partition of Louis' dominions after his death, was once more in force.  But

soon there was a burst of reaction in favor of the Emperor; Lothair's two

brothers, jealous of his late elevation, made overtures to their father; the

ecclesiastics were a little ashamed at being mixed up in a revolt; the people

felt pity for the poor, honest Emperor; and a general assembly, meeting at

Nimeguen, abolished the acts of Compiegne, and restored to Louis his title and

his power.  But it was not long before there was revolt again, originating

this time with Pepin, King of Aquitaine.  Louis fought him, and gave Aquitaine

to Charles the Bald. The alliance between the three sons of Hermengarde was at

once renewed; they raised an army; the Emperor marched against them with his;

and the two hosts met between Colmar and Bale, in a place called le Champ

rouge ("the Field of Red").  Negotiations were set on foot; and Louis was

called upon to leave his wife Judith and his son Charles, and put himself

under the guardianship of his elder sons.  He refused; but, just when the

conflict was about to commence, desertion took place in Louis' army; most of

the prelates, laics, and men-at-arms who had accompanied him passed over to

the camp of Lothair; and the "Field of Red" became the "Field of Falsehood"

(le Champ du Mensonge).  Louis, left almost alone, ordered his attendants to

withdraw, "being unwilling," he said, "that any one of them should lose life

or limb on his account," and surrendered to his sons.  They received him with

great demonstrations of respect, but without relinquishing the prosecution of

their enterprise.  Lothair hastily collected an assembly, which proclaimed him

Emperor, with the addition of divers territories to the kingdoms of Aquitaine

and Bavaria: and, three months afterward, another assembly, meeting at

Compiegne, declared the emperor Louis to have forfeited the crown, "for

having, by his faults and incapacity, suffered to sink so sadly low the empire

which had been raised to grandeur and brought into unity by Charlemagne and

his predecessors." Louis submitted to this decision; himself read out aloud,

in the Church of St. Medard at Soissons, but not quite unresistingly, a

confession, in eight articles, of his faults, and, laying his baldric upon the

altar, stripped off his royal robe, and received from the hands of Ebbo,

archbishop of Rheims, the gray vestment of a penitent.


     Lothair considered his father dethroned for good, and himself henceforth

sole Emperor; but he was mistaken.  For years longer the scenes which have

just been described kept repeating themselves again and again; rivalries and

secret plots began once more between the three victorious brothers and their

partisans; popular feeling revived in favor of Louis; a large portion of the

clergy shared it; several counts of Neustria and Burgundy appeared in arms, in

the name of the deposed Emperor; and the seductive and able Judith came afresh

upon the scene, and gained over to the cause of her husband and her son a

multitude of friends.  In 834, two assemblies, one meeting at St. Denis and

the other at Thionville, annulled all the acts of the assembly of Compiegne,

and for the third time put Louis in possession of the imperial title and

power.  He displayed no violence in his use of it; but he was growing more and

more irresolute and weak, when, in 838, the second of his rebellious sons,

Pepin, king of Aquitaine, died suddenly.  Louis, ever under the sway of

Judith, speedily convoked at Worms, in 839, once more and for the last time, a

general assembly, whereat, leaving his son Louis at Bavaria reduced to his

kingdom in Eastern Europe, he divided the rest of his dominions into two

nearly equal parts, separated by the course of the Meuse and the Rhone.

Between these two parts he left the choice to Lothair, who took the eastern

portion, promising at the same time to guarantee the western portion to his

younger brother Charles.  Louis the Germanic protested against this partition,

and took up arms to resist it.  His father, the Emperor, set himself in motion

toward the Rhine, to reduce him to submission; but, on arriving close to

Mayence, he caught a violent fever, and died on the 20th of June, 840, at the

castle Ingelheim, on a little island in the river.  His last acts were a fresh

proof of his goodness toward even his rebellious sons and of his solicitude

for his last-born.  He sent to Louis the Germanic his pardon, and to Lothair

the golden crown and sword, at the same time bidding him fulfil his father's

wishes on behalf of Charles and Judith.


     There is no telling whether, in the credulousness of his good nature,

Louis had, at his dying hour, any great confidence in the appeal he made to

his son Lothair, and in the impression which would be produced on his other

son, Louis of Bavaria, by the pardon bestowed.  The prayers of the dying are

of little avail against violent passions and barbaric manners.  Scarcely was

Louis the Debonair dead, when Lothair was already conspiring against young

Charles, and was in secret alliance, for his despoilment, with Pepin II, the

late King of Aquitaine's son, who had taken up arms for the purpose of seizing

his father's kingdom, in the possession of which his grandfather Louis had not

been pleased to confirm him.  Charles suddenly learned that his mother Judith

was on the point of being besieged in Poitiers by the Aquitanians; and, in

spite of the friendly protestations sent to him by Lothair, it was not long

before he discovered the plot formed against him. He was not wanting in

shrewdness or energy; and, having first provided for his mother's safety, he

set about forming an alliance, in the cause of their common interests, with

his other brother, Louis the Germanic, who was equally in danger from the

ambition of Lothair.  The historians of the period do not say what negotiator

was employed by Charles on this distant and delicate mission; but several

circumstances indicate that the empress Judith herself undertook it; that she

went in quest of the King of Bavaria; and that it was she who, with her

accustomed grace and address, determined him to make common cause with his

youngest against their eldest brother.  Divers incidents retarded for a whole

year the outburst of this family plot, and of the war of which it was the

precursor.  The position of the young king Charles appeared for some time a

very bad one; but "certain chieftains," says the historian Nithard, "faithful

to his mother and to him, and having nothing more to lose than life or limb,

chose rather to die gloriously than to betray their King." The arrival of

Louis the Germanic with his troops helped to swell the forces and increase the

confidence of Charles; and it was on the 21st of June, 841, exactly a year

after the death of Louis the Debonair, that the two armies, that of Lothair

and Pepin on the one side, and that of Charles the Bald and Louis the Germanic

on the other, stood face to face in the neighborhood of the village of

Fontenailles, six leagues from Auxerre, on the rivulet of Audries.  Never,

according to such evidence as is forthcoming, since the battle on the plains

of Chalons against the Huns, and that of Poitiers against the Saracens, had so

great masses of men been engaged.  "There would be nothing untruthlike," says

that scrupulous authority, M. Fauriel, "in putting the whole number of

combatants at three hundred thousand; and there is nothing to show that either

of the two armies was much less numerous than the other." However that may be,

the leaders hesitated for four days to come to blows; and while they were

hesitating, the old favorite, not only of Louis the Debonair, but also,

according to several chroniclers, of the empress Judith, held himself aloof

with his troops in the vicinity, having made equal promise of assistance to

both sides, and waiting, to govern his decision, for the prospect afforded by

the first conflict.  The battle began on the 25th of June, at daybreak, and

was at first in favor of Lothair; but the troops of Charles the Bald recovered

the advantage which had been lost by those of Louis the Germanic, and the

action was soon nothing but a terribly simple scene of carnage between

enormous masses of men, charging hand to hand, again and again, with a front

extending over a couple of leagues.  Before midday the slaughter, the plunder,

the spoliation of the dead - all was over; the victory of Charles and Louis

was complete; the victors had retired to their camp, and there remained

nothing on the field of battle but corpses in thick heaps or a long line,

according as they had fallen in the disorder of flight or steadily fighting in

their ranks. . . .  "Accursed be this day!" cries Angilbert, one of Lothair's

officers, in rough Latin verse; "be it unnumbered in the return of the year,

but wiped out of all remembrance!  Be it unlit by the light of the sun!  Be it

without either dawn or twilight!  Accursed, also, be this night, this awful

night in which fell the brave, the most expert in battle!  Eye ne'er hath seen

more fearful slaughter: in streams of blood fell Christian men; the linen

vestments of the dead did whiten the champaign even as it is whitened by the

birds of autumn!"


     In spite of this battle, which appeared a decisive one, Lothair made

zealous efforts to continue the struggle; he scoured the countries wherein he

hoped to find partisans; to the Saxons he promised the unrestricted

reestablishment of their pagan worship, and several of the Saxon tribes

responded to his appeal.  Louis the Germanic and Charles the Bald, having

information of these preliminaries, resolved to solemnly renew their alliance

and, seven months after their victory at Fontenailles, in February, 842, they

repaired both of them, each with his army, to Argentaria, on the right bank of

the Rhine, between Bale and Strasburg, and there, at an open-air meeting,

Louis first, addressing the chieftains about him in the German tongue, said:

"Ye all know how often, since our father's death, Lothair hath attacked us, in

order to destroy us, this my brother and me.  Having never been able, as

brothers and Christians, or in any just way, to obtain peace from him, we were

constrained to appeal to the judgment of God.  Lothair was beaten and retired,

whither he could, with his following; for we, restrained by paternal affection

and moved with compassion for Christian people, were unwilling to pursue them

to extermination.  Neither then nor aforetime did we demand aught else save

that each of us should be maintained in his rights.  But he, rebelling against

the judgment of God, ceaseth not to attack us as enemies, this my brother and

me; and he destroyeth our peoples with fire and pillage and the sword.  That

is the cause which hath united us afresh; and, as we trow that ye doubt the

soundness of our alliance and our fraternal union, we have resolved to bind

ourselves afresh by this oath in your presence, being led thereto by no

prompting of wicked covetousness, but only that we may secure our common

advantage in case that, by your aid, God should cause us to obtain peace.  If,

then, I violate - which God forbid - this oath that I am about to take to my

brother, I hold you all quit of submission to me and of the faith ye have

sworn to me."


     Charles repeated this speech, word for word, to his own troops, in the

Romance language, in that idiom derived from a mixture of Latin and of the

tongues of ancient Gaul, and spoken, thenceforth, with varieties of dialect

and pronunciation, in nearly all parts of Frankish Gaul.  After this address,

Louis pronounced and Charles repeated after him, each in his own tongue, the

oath couched in these terms: "For the love of God, for the Christian people

and for our common weal, from this day forth and so long as God shall grant me

power and knowledge, I will defend this my brother and will be an aid to him

in everything, as one ought to defend his brother, provided that he do

likewise unto me; and I will never make with Lothair any covenant which may

be, to my knowledge, to the damage of this my brother."


     When the two brothers had thus sworn, the two armies, officers and men,

took, in their turn, a similar oath, going bail, in a mass, for the

engagements of their kings.  Then they took up their quarters, all of them,

for some time, between Worms and Mayence, and followed up their political

proceeding with military fetes, precursors of the knightly tournaments of the

Middle Ages.  "A place of meeting was fixed," says the contemporary historian

Nithard, "at a spot suitable for this kind of exercises.  Here were drawn up,

on one side, a certain number of combatants, Saxons, Vasconians, Austrasians,

or Britons; there were ranged, on the opposite side, an equal number of

warriors, and the two divisions advanced, each against the other, as if to

attack.  One of them, with their bucklers at their backs, took to flight as if

to seek, in the main body, shelter against those who were pursuing them; then

suddenly, facing about, they dashed out in pursuit of those before whom they

had just been flying.  This sport lasted until the two kings, appearing with

all the youth of their suites, rode up at a gallop, brandishing their spears

and chasing first one lot and then the other.  It was a fine sight to see so

much temper among so many valiant folk, for, great as was the number and the

mixture of different nationalities, no one was insulted or maltreated, though

the contrary is often the case among men in small numbers and known one to



Part II.


     After four or five months of tentative measures or of incidents which

taught both parties that they could not, either of them, hope to completely

destroy their opponents, the two allied brothers received at Verdun, whither

they had repaired to concert their next movement, a messenger from Lothair,

with peaceful proposals which they were unwilling to reject.  The principal

was that, with the exception of Italy, Aquitaine, and Bavaria, to be secured

without dispute to their then possessors, the Frankish empire should be

divided into three portions, that the arbiters elected to preside over the

partition should swear to make it as equal as possible, and that Lothair

should have his choice, with the title of emperor.  About mid-June, 842, the

three brothers met on an island of the Saone, near Chalons, where they began

to discuss the questions which divided them; but it was not till more than a

year after, in August, 843, that assembling, all three of them, with their

umpires, at Verdun, they at last came to an agreement about the partition of

the Frankish empire, save the three countries which it had been beforehand

agreed to accept.  Louis kept all the provinces of Germany of which he was

already in possession, and received besides, on the left bank of the Rhine,

the towns of Mayence, Worms, and Spire, with the territory appertaining to

them.  Lothair, for his part, had the eastern belt of Gaul, bounded on one

side by the Rhine and the Alps, on the other by the courses of the Meuse, the

Saone, and the Rhone, starting from the confluence of the two latter rivers,

and, further, the country comprised between the Meuse and the Scheldt,

together with certain countships lying to the west of that river.  To Charles

fell all the rest of Gaul: Vasconia or Biscaye, Septimania, the marshes of

Spain, beyond the Pyrenees; and the other countries of Southern Gaul which had

enjoyed hitherto, under the title of the kingdom of Aquitaine, a special

government subordinated to the general government of the empire, but distinct

from it, lost this last remnant of their Gallo-Roman nationality, and became

integral portions of Frankish Gaul, which fell by partition to Charles the

Bald, and formed one and the same kingdom under one and the same king.


     Thus fell through and disappeared, in 843, by virtue of the treaty of

Verdun, the second of Charlemagne's grand designs, the resuscitation of the

Roman Empire by means of the Frankish and Christian masters of Gaul.  The name

of emperor still retained a certain value in the minds of the people, and

still remained an object of ambition to princes; but the empire was completely

abolished, and, in its stead, sprang up three kingdoms, independent one of

another, without any necessary connection or relation. One of the three was

thenceforth France.


     In this great event are comprehended two facts: the disappearance of the

empire and the formation of the three kingdoms which took its place.  The

first is easily explained.  The resuscitation of the Roman Empire had been a

dream of ambition and ignorance on the part of a great man, but a barbarian.

Political unity and central, absolute power had been the essential

characteristics of that empire.  They became introduced and established,

through a long succession of ages, on the ruins of the splendid Roman Republic

destroyed by its own dissensions, under favor of the still great influence of

the old Roman senate though fallen from its high estate, and beneath the

guardianship of the Roman legions and Imperial praetorians.  Not one of these

conditions, not one of these forces, was to be met with in the Roman world

reigned over by Charlemagne.  The nation of the Franks and Charlemagne himself

were but of yesterday; the new Emperor had neither ancient senate to hedge at

the same time that it obeyed him, nor old bodies of troops to support him.

Political unity and absolute power were repugnant alike to the intellectual

and the social condition, to the national manners and personal sentiments of

the victorious barbarians.  The necessity of placing their conquests beyond

the reach of a new swarm of barbarians and the personal ascendency of

Charlemagne were the only things which gave his government a momentary gleam

of success in the way of unity and of factitious despotism under the name of

empire.  In 814 Charlemagne had made territorial security an accomplished

fact; but the personal power he had exercised disappeared with him.  The new

Gallo-Frankish community recovered, under the mighty but gradual influence of

Christianity, its proper and natural course, producing disruption into

different local communities and bold struggles for individual liberties,

either one with another, or against whosoever tried to become their master.


     As for the second fact, the formation of the three kingdoms which were

the issue of the treaty of Verdun, various explanations have been given of it.

This distribution of certain peoples of Western Europe into three distinct and

independent groups, Italians, Germans, and French, has been attributed at one

time to a diversity of histories and manners; at another to geographical

causes and to what is called the rule of natural frontiers; and oftener still

to a spirit of nationality and to differences of language.  Let none of these

causes be gainsaid; they all exercised some sort of influence, but they are

all incomplete in themselves and far too redolent of theoretical system.  It

is true that Germany, France, and Italy began at that time to emerge from the

chaos into which they had been plunged by barbaric invasion and the conquests

of Charlemagne, and to form themselves into quite distinct nations; but there

were, in each of the kingdoms of Lothair, of Louis the Germanic, and of

Charles the Bald, populations widely differing in race, language, manners, and

geographical affinity, and it required many great events and the lapse of many

centuries to bring about the degree of national unity they now possess.  To

say nothing touching the agency of individual and independent forces, which is

always considerable, although so many men of intellect ignore it in the

present day, what would have happened, had any one of the three new kings,

Lothair, or Louis the Germanic, or Charles the Bald, been a second

Charlemagne, as Charlemagne had been a second Charles Martel? Who can say

that, in such a case, the three kingdoms would have taken the form they took

in 843?


     Happily or unhappily, it was not so; none of Charlemagne's successors was

capable of exercising on the events of his time, by virtue of his brain and

his own will, any notable influence.


     Attempts at foreign invasion of France were renewed very often and in

many parts of Gallo-Frankish territory during the whole duration of the

Carlovingian dynasty, and, even though they failed, they caused the population

of the kingdom to suffer form cruel ravages.  Charlemagne, even after his

successes against the different barbaric invaders, had foreseen the evils

which would be inflicted on France by the most formidable and most determined

of them, the Northmen, coming by sea and landing on the coast. The most

closely contemporaneous and most given to detail of his chroniclers, the monk

of St. Gall, tells in prolix and pompous but evidently heartfelt and sincere

terms the tale of the great Emperor's farsightedness.


     "Charles, who was ever astir," says he, "arrived by mere hap and

unexpectedly in a certain town of Narbonnese Gaul.  While he was at dinner and

was as yet unrecognized of any, some corsairs of the Northmen came to ply

their piracies in the very port.  When their vessels were descried, they were

supposed to be Jewish traders according to some, African according to others,

and British in the opinion of others; but the gifted monarch, perceiving by

the build and lightness of the craft, that they bare not merchandise but foes,

said to his own folk, 'These vessels be not laden with merchandise, but manned

with cruel foes.' At these words all the Franks, in rivalry one with another,

run to their ships, but uselessly; for the Northmen, indeed, hearing that

yonder was he whom it was still their wont to call Charles the 'Hammer,' ^1

feared lest all their fleet should be taken or destroyed in the port, and they

avoided, by a flight of inconceivable rapidity, not only the glaives, but even

the eyes of those who were pursuing them.


[Footnote 1: After his grandfather, Charles Martel.]


     "Pious Charles, however, a prey to well-grounded fear, rose up from

table, stationed himself at a window looking eastward, and there remained a

long while, and his eyes were filled with tears.  As none durst question him,

this warlike prince explained to the grandees who were about his person the

cause of his movement and of his tears: 'Know ye, my lieges, wherefore I weep

so bitterly?  Of a surety I fear not lest these fellows should succeed in

injuring me by their miserable piracies; but it grieveth me deeply that, while

I live, they should have been nigh to touching at this shore, and I am a prey

to violent sorrow when I foresee what evils they will heap upon my descendants

and their people.'"


     The forecast and the dejection of Charles were not unreasonable.  It will

be found that there is special mention made, in the chronicles of the ninth

and tenth centuries, of forty-seven incursions into France of Norwegian,

Danish, Swedish, and Irish pirates, all comprised under the name of Northmen;

and doubtless many other incursions of less gravity have left no trace in

history.  "The Northmen," says Fauriel, "descended from the north to the south

by a sort of natural gradation or ladder.  The Scheldt was the first river by

the mouth of which they penetrated inland; the Seine was the second; the Loire

the third.  The advance was threatening for the countries traversed by the

Garonne; and it was in 844 that vessels freighted with Northmen for the first

time ascended this last river to a considerable distance inland, and there

took immense booty.  The following year they pillaged and burnt Saintes.  In

846 they got as far as Limoges.  The inhabitants, finding themselves unable to

make head against the dauntless pirates, abandoned their hearths, together

with all they had not time to carry away.  Encouraged by these successes the

Northmen reappeared next year upon the coasts and in the rivers of Aquitaine,

and they attempted to take Bordeaux, whence they were valorously repulsed by

the inhabitants; but in 848, having once more laid siege to that city, they

were admitted into it at night by the Jews, who were there in great force; the

city was given up to plunder and conflagration; a portion of the people was

scattered abroad, and the rest put to the sword."


     The monasteries and churches, wherein they hoped to find treasures, were

the favorite object of the Northmen's enterprises; in particular, they

plundered, at the gates of Paris, the abbey of St. Germain des Pres and that

of St. Denis, whence they carried off the abbot, who could not purchase his

freedom save by a heavy ransom.  They penetrated more than once into Paris

itself, and subjected many of its quarters to contributions or pillage.  The

populations grew into the habit of suffering and fleeing; and the local lords,

and even the kings, made arrangement sometimes with the pirates either for

saving the royal domains from the ravages, or for having their own share

therein.  In 850 Pepin, King of Aquitaine, and brother of Charles the Bald,

came to an understanding with the Northmen who had ascended the Garonne and

were threatening Toulouse.  "They arrived under his guidance," says Fauriel,

"they laid siege to it, took it and plundered it, not halfwise, not hastily,

as folks who feared to be surprised, but leisurely, with all security, by

virtue of a treaty of alliance with one of the kings of the country.

Throughout Aquitaine there was but one cry of indignation against Pepin, and

the popularity of Charles was increased in proportion to all the horror

inspired by the ineffable misdeed of his adversary.  Charles the Bald himself,

if he did not ally himself, as Pepin did, with the invaders, took scarce any

interest in the fate of the populations and scarcely more trouble to protect

them, for Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, wrote to him in 859: 'Many folks say

that you are incessantly repeating that it is not for you to mix yourself up

with these depredations and robberies, and that everyone has but to defend

himself as best he may.'"


     In the middle and during the last half of the ninth century, a chief of

the Northmen, named Hastenc or Hastings, appeared several times over on the

coasts and in the rivers of France, with numerous vessels and a following. He

had also with him, say the chronicles, a young Norwegian or Danish prince,

Bioern, called "Ironsides," whom he had educated, and who had preferred

sharing the fortunes of his governor to living quietly with the King, his

father.  After several expeditions into Western France, Hastings became the

theme of terrible and very probably fabulous stories.  He extended his

cruises, they say, to the Mediterranean, and, having arrived at the coasts of

Tuscany, within sight of a city which in his ignorance he took for Rome, he

resolved to pillage it; but, not feeling strong enough to attack it by

assault, he sent to the bishop to say he was very ill, felt a wish to become a

Christian, and begged to be baptized.  Some days afterward his comrades spread

a report that he was dead, and claimed for him the honors of a solemn burial.

The bishop consented; the coffin of Hastings was carried into the church,

attended by a large number of his followers, without visible weapons; but, in

the middle of the ceremony, Hastings suddenly leaped up, sword in hand, from

his coffin; his followers displayed the weapons they had concealed, closed the

doors, slew the priests, pillaged the ecclesiastical treasures, and reembarked

before the very eyes of the stupefied population, to go and resume, on the

coasts of France, their incursions and their ravages.


     Whether they were true or false, these rumors of bold artifices and

distant expeditions on the part of Hastings aggravated the dismay inspired by

his appearance.  He penetrated into the interior of the country, took

possession of Chartres, and appeared before Paris, where Charles the Bald,

intrenched at St. Denis, was deliberating with his prelates and barons as to

how he might resist the Northmen or treat with them.  The chronicle says that

the barons advised resistance, but that the King preferred negotiation, and

sent the abbot of St. Denis, "the which was an exceeding wise man," to

Hastings, who, "after long parley and by reason of large gifts and promises,"

consented to stop his cruisings, to become a Christian, and to settle in the

countship of Chartres, "which the King gave him as an hereditary possession,

with all its appurtenances." According to other accounts, it was only some

years later, under the young king Louis III, grandson of Charles the Bald,

that Hastings was induced, either by reverses or by payment of money, to cease

from his piracies and accept in recompense the countship of Chartres. Whatever

may have been the date, he was, it is believed, the first chieftain of the

Northmen who renounced a life of adventure and plunder, to become, in France,

a great landed proprietor and a count of the King's.


     A greater chieftain of the Northmen than Hastings was soon to follow his

example, and found Normandy in France; but before Rolf, that is, Rollo, came

and gave the name of his race to a French province, the piratical Northmen

were again to attempt a greater blow against France and to suffer a great



     In November, 885, under the reign of Charles the Fat, after having, for

more than forty years, irregularly ravaged France, they resolved to unite

their forces in order at length to obtain possession of Paris, whose outskirts

they had so often pillaged without having been able to enter the heart of the

place.  Two bodies of troops were set in motion: one, under the command of

Rollo, who was already famous among his comrades, marched on Rouen; the other

went right up the course of the Seine, under the orders of Siegfried, whom the

Northmen called their king.  Rollo took Rouen, and pushed on at once for

Paris.  Duke Renaud, general of the Gallo-Frankish troops, went to encounter

him on the banks of the Eure, and sent to him, to sound his intentions,

Hastings, the newly made count of Chartres.  "Valiant warriors," said Hastings

to Rollo, "whence come ye?  What seek ye here?  What is the name of your lord

and master?  Tell us this; for we be sent unto you by the King of the Franks."

"We be Danes," answered Rollo, "and all be equally masters among us.  We be

come to drive out the inhabitants of this land, and to subject it as our own

country.  But who art thou, thou who speakest so glibly?" "Ye have sometime

heard tell of one Hastings, who, issuing forth from among you, came hither

with much shipping and made desert a great part of the kingdom of the Franks?"

"Yes," said Rollo, "we have heard tell of him; Hastings began well and ended

ill." "Will ye yield you to King Charles?" asked Hastings.  "We yield," was

the answer, "to none; all that we shall take by our arms we will keep as our

right.  Go and tell this, if thou wilt, to the King, whose envoy thou boastest

to be."


     Hastings returned to the Gallo-Frankish army, and Rollo prepared to march

on Paris.  Hastings had gone back somewhat troubled in mind.  Now there was

among the Franks one Count Tetbold (Thibault), who greatly coveted the

countship of Chartres, and he said to Hastings: "Why slumberest thou softly?

Knowest thou not that King Charles doth purpose thy death by cause of all the

Christian blood that thou didst aforetime unjustly shed?  Bethink thee of all

the evil thou hast done him, by reason whereof he purposeth to drive thee from

his land.  Take heed to thyself that thou be not smitten unawares." Hastings,

dismayed, at once sold to Tetbold the town of Chartres, and, removing all that

belonged to him, departed to go and resume, for all that appears, his old

course of life.


     On the 25th of November, 885, all the forces of the Northmen formed a

junction before Paris; seven hundred huge barks covered two leagues of the

Seine, bringing, it is said, more than thirty thousand men.  The chieftains

were astonished at sight of the new fortifications of the city, a double wall

of circumvallation, the bridges crowned with towers, and in the environs the

ramparts of the abbeys of St. Denis and St. Germain solidly rebuilt. Siegfried

hesitated to attack a town so well defended.  He demanded to enter alone and

have an interview with the bishop, Gozlin.  "Take pity on thyself and thy

flock," said he to him; "let us pass through the city; we will in no wise

touch the town; we will do our best to preserve, for thee and Count Eudes, all

your possessions." "This city," replied the bishop, "hath been confided unto

us by the emperor Charles, king and ruler, under God, of the powers of the

earth.  He hath confided it unto us, not that it should cause the ruin but the

salvation of the kingdom.  If peradventure these walls had been confided to

thy keeping as they have been to mine, wouldst thou do as thou biddest me?"


     "If ever I do so," answered Siegfried, "may my head be condemned to fall

by the sword and serve as food to the dogs!  But if thou yield not to our

prayers, so soon as the sun shall commence his course our armies will launch

upon thee their poisoned arrows; and when the sun shall end his course, they

will give thee over to all the horrors of famine; and this will they do from

year to year."


     The bishop, however, persisted, without further discussion; being as

certain of Count Eudes as he was of himself.  Eudes, who was young and but

recently made Count of Paris, was the eldest son of Robert the Strong, Count

of Anjou, of the same line as Charlemagne, and but lately slain in battle

against the Northmen.  Paris had for defenders two heroes, one of the Church

and the other of the empire: the faith of the Christian and the fealty of the

vassal; the conscientiousness of the priest and the honor of the warrior.


     The siege lasted thirteen months, whiles pushed vigorously forward with

eight several assaults, whiles maintained by close investment, and with all

the alternations of success and reverse, all the intermixture of brilliant

daring and obscure sufferings that can occur when the assailants are

determined and the defenders devoted.  Not only a contemporary but an

eye-witness, Abbo, a monk of St. Germain des Pres, has recounted the details

in a long poem, wherein the writer, devoid of talent, adds nothing to the

simple representation of events; it is history itself which gives to Abbo's

poem a high degree of interest.  We do not possess, in reference to these

continual struggles of the Northmen with the Gallo-Frankish populations, any

other document which is equally precise and complete, or which could make us

so well acquainted with all the incidents, all the phases of this irregular

warfare between two peoples, one without a government, the other without a

country.  The bishop, Gozlin, died during the siege.  Count Eudes quitted

Paris for a time to go and beg aid of the Emperor; but the Parisians soon saw

him reappear on the heights of Montmartre with three battalions of troops, and

he reentered the town, spurring on his horse and striking right and left with

his battle-axe through the ranks of the dum-founded besiegers.  The struggle

was prolonged throughout the summer; and when, in November, 886, Charles the

Fat at last appeared before Paris, "with a large army of all nations," it was

to purchase the retreat of the Northmen at the cost of a heavy ransom, and by

allowing them to go and winter in Burgundy, "whereof the inhabitants obeyed

not the Emperor."


     Some months afterward, in 887, Charles the Fat was deposed, at a diet

held on the banks of the Rhine, by the grandees of Germanic France; and

Arnulf, a natural son of Carloman, the brother of Louis III, was proclaimed

emperor in his stead.  At the same time Count Eudes, the gallant defender of

Paris, was elected King at Compiegne, and crowned by the archbishop of Sens.

Guy, Duke of Spoleto, descended from Charlemagne in the female line, hastened

to France and was declared king at Langres by the bishop of that town, but

returned with precipitation to Italy, seeing no chance of maintaining himself

in his French kingship.  Elsewhere Boso, Duke of Arles, became King of

Provence, and the Burgundian Count Rudolph had himself crowned at St. Maurice,

in the Valais, King of transjuran Burgundy.  There was still in France a

legitimate Carlovingian, a son of Louis the Stutterer, who was hereafter to

become Charles the Simple; but being only a child, he had been rejected or

completely forgotten, and, in the interval that was to elapse ere his time

should arrive, kings were being made in all directions.


     In the midst of this confusion the Northmen, though they kept at a

distance from Paris, pursued in Western France their cruising and plundering.

In Rollo they had a chieftain far superior to his vagabond predecessors.

Though he still led the same life that they had, he displayed therein other

faculties, other inclinations, other views.  In his youth he had made an

expedition to England, and had there contracted a real friendship with the

wise king Alfred the Great.  During a campaign in Friesland he had taken

prisoner Rainier, Count of Hainault; and Alberade, Countess of Brabant, made a

request to Rollo for her husband's release, offering in return to set free

twelve captains of the Northmen, her prisoners, and to give up all the gold

she possessed.  Rollo took only half the gold, and restored to the countess

her husband.  When, in 885, he became master of Rouen, instead of devastating

the city after the fashion of his kind, he respected the buildings, had the

walls repaired, and humored the inhabitants.  In spite of his violent and

extortionate practices where he met with obstinate resistance, there were to

be discerned in him symptoms of more noble sentiments and of an instinctive

leaning toward order, civilization, and government.  After the deposition of

Charles the Fat and during the reign of Eudes, a lively struggle was

maintained between the Frankish King and the chieftain of the Northmen, who

had neither of them forgotten their early encounters.  They strove, one

against the other, with varied fortunes; Eudes succeeded in beating the

Northmen at Montfaucon, but was beaten in Vermandois by another band,

commanded, it is said, by the veteran Hastings, sometime Count of Chartres.


     Rollo, too, had his share at one time of success, at another of reverse;

but he made himself master of several important towns, showed a disposition to

treat the quiet populations gently, and made a fresh trip to England, during

which he renewed friendly relations with her King, Athelstan, the successor of

Alfred the Great.  He thus became, from day to day, more reputable as well as

more formidable in France, insomuch that Eudes himself was obliged to have

recourse, in dealing with him, to negotiations and presents.  When, in 898,

Eudes was dead, and Charles the Simple, at hardly nineteen years of age, had

been recognized sole King of France, the ascendency of Rollo became such that

the necessity of treating with him was clear.  In 911 Charles, by the advice

of his councillors and, among them, of Robert, brother of the late king Eudes,

who had himself become Count of Paris and Duke of France, sent to the

chieftain of the Northmen Franco, Archbishop of Rouen, with orders to offer

him the cession of a considerable portion of Neustria and the hand of his

young daughter Gisele, on condition that he became a Christian and

acknowledged himself the King's vassal.  Rollo, by the advice of his comrades,

received these overtures with a good grace and agreed to a truce for three

months, during which they might treat about peace.  On the day fixed Charles,

accompanied by Duke Robert, and Rollo, surrounded by his warriors, repaired to

St. Clair-sur-Epte, on the opposite banks of the river, and exchanged numerous

messages.  Charles offered Rollo Flanders, which the Northman refused,

considering it too swampy; as to the maritime portion of Neustria he would not

be contented with it; it was, he said, covered with forests, and had become

quite a stranger to the ploughshare by reason of the Northmen' incessant

incursions.  He demanded the addition of territories take from Brittany, and

that the princes of that province, Berenger and Alan, lords, respectively, of

Redon and Dol, should take the oath of fidelity to him.  When matters had been

arranged on this basis, "the bishops told Rollo that he who received such a

gift as the duchy of Normandy was bound to kiss the King's' foot.  'Never,'

quoth Rollo, 'will I bend the knee before the knees of any, and I will kiss

the foot of none.' At the solicitation of the Franks he then ordered one of

his warriors to kiss the King's foot.  The Northman, remaining bolt upright,

took hold of the King's foot, raised it to his mouth, and so made the King

fall backward, which caused great bursts of laughter and much disturbance

among the throng.  Then the King and all the grandees who were about him,

prelates, abbots, dukes, and counts, swore, in the name of the Catholic faith,

that they would protect the patrician Rollo in his life, his members, and his

folk, and would guarantee to him the possession of the aforesaid land, to him

and his descendants forever; after which the King, well satisfied, returned to

his domains; and Rollo departed with Duke Robert for the town of Rouen."


     The dignity of Charles the Simple had no reason to be well satisfied; but

the great political question which, a century before, caused Charlemagne such

lively anxiety was solved; the most dangerous, the most incessantly renewed of

all foreign invasions, those of the Northmen, ceased to threaten France.  The

vagabond pirates had a country to cultivate and defend; the Northmen were

becoming French.

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