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du monde moderns. 


The two "Lives*' contrasted. — This volume 

contains two lives of Charles the Great, or Charle- 
magne (for both forms of the name will be used 
indifferently in this introduction) ; both written 
within a century after his death ; both full of admira- 
tion for the hero of whom they treat ; both written 
by ecclesiastics ; but resembling one another in hardly 
any other particular. It is not merely the value 
which each in its different way possesses, but also 
the great contrast between them, that makes it seem 
useful to present them together in a single volume. 
Professor Bury remarked in his inaugural lecture 
at Cambridge : " It would be a most fruitful investi- 
gation to trace from the earliest ages the history of 
public opinion in regard to the meaning of falsehood 
and the obligation of veracity " ; and these two lives 
would form an interesting text for the illustration 
of such a treatise. The restrained, positive, well- 


arranged narrative of Eginhard seems to belong 
to a different age from the garrulous, credulous, 
and hopelessly jumbled story of the Monk of Saint 
Gall. And yet the two narratives were divided 
from one another by no long interval of time. It 
is impossible to fix with any certainty the date of the 
composition of Eginhard's life, but there are various 
indications which make 820 a not impossible date. 
An incident mentioned by the Monk of Saint Gall 
makes the task of dating his work within limits 
an easier one. The work was suggested to him, 
he tells us, by Charles III. when he stayed for three 
days at the Monastery of Saint Gall, and it is possible 
to fix this event, with precision, to the year 883. We 
may think, therefore, of the Monk's narrative as being 
separated from that of Eginhard by more than sixty 
years, and by about seventy from the death of its hero. 
But in the ninth century the mist of legend and myth 
steamed up rapidly from the grave of a well-known 
figure ; there were few documents ready to the hand 
of a monk writing in the cloister of Saint Gall to 
assist him in writing an accurate narrative ; there was 
no publicity of publication and no critical public 
to detect the errors of his work ; above all, there 
was not in his own conscience the slightest possibility 
of reproach even if, with full consciousness of what he 


was doing, he changed the facts of history or inter- 
polated the dreams of fancy, provided it were done 
in such a manner as " to point a moral or adorn 
a tale." 

And so it is that, whereas through Eginhard's 
narrative we look at the life of the great Charles in 
a clear white light, through a medium which, despite 
a few inaccuracies, distorts the facts of history 
wonderfully little, when we take up the narrative of 
the Monk, on the other hand, we are at once among 
the clouds of dreamland ; and only occasionally does 
the unsubstantial fabric fade, and allow us to get a 
glimpse of reality and actual occurrence. But now 
each of these narratives demands a somewhat more 
careful scrutiny. 

Eginhard's Life of Charlemagne is a docu- 
ment of the first importance for the study of the 
epoch-making reign of his hero. Short as it is, we 
have often to confess that in the chronicles of the 
same period by other hands we can feel confidence 
only in such parts as are corroborated or supported 
by Eginhard. Its chief fault is that it is all too short 
— a fault which biographers rarely allow their readers 
to complain of. But when we consider how admir- 
ably fitted Eginhard was for the task which he 
undertook — by his close proximity to Charlemagne, 


by his intimate acquaintance with him, by his literary 
studies and sober and well-balanced mind ; when we 
remember that he lived in a brief period of literary 
activity between two long stretches of darkness — it is 
tantalising to find him complaining of the multiplicity 
of books and restraining himself with a quotation from 
Cicero from writing at greater length. 

The Career of Eginhard. — A sketch of Egin- 

hard's career will show how well qualified he was to 
deal with his subject. He was born about 770, in 
the eastern half of the territories belonging to the great 
Charles, in a village situate on the lower course of 
the river Main, His father Eginhard and his mother 
Engilfrita were landowners of some importance, and 
endowed by will the monastery of Fulda with lands 
and gold. It was to this monastery that the young 
Eginhard was sent for education. The monastery of 
Fulda was founded under the influence of Boniface, 
the great Englishman, whose zeal had driven him 
from Crediton, in Devonshire, to co-operate with the 
early Prankish kings in the conversion and conquest 
of Germany, The monastic movement was strong 
and vigorous in the eighth century, and nowhere 
more so than in the eastern half of the Frankish 
dominions, Eginhard was trained under the Abbot 
Baugulfus, and showed himself so apt and promising 


a pupil that the Abbot recommended him for a post 
at the Court of Charles (? 791). 

The imperial crown was still nearly ten years 
distant, but Charles was already the most glorious 
and powerful of European rulers. In spite of all his 
constant fighting and travelling his extraordinary 
energy found place for interest in calmer subjects, 
and he gathered round him in his Court at Aix 
the best of what the age had to show in culture, 
knowledge, and eloquence. In this circle the most 
striking figure was Alcuin of York ; but Eginhard soon 
made for himself a position of importance. Charles 
lived familiarly and genially with the scholars and 
writers of his palace, calling them by pet names and 
nicknames, and receiving the like in return. The 
King himself was David ; Alcuin, Flaccus ; Eginhard 
is called Bezaleel, after the man of whom we are told 
in Exodus, chapter xxxi., that he was " filled with the 
spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in 
knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to 
devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, 
and in brass, and in cutting of stones, and in carving 
of timber." As the allusion implies, Eginhard was 
no mere book-learned scholar, but had brought from 
his monastery school much technical and artistic 
knowledge. He has been called an architect, and 


many great buildings have been ascribed to him, but 
with more than doubtful probability. The minor 
arts were rather Eginhard's forte, though it seems 
impossible to define them. Contemporaries speak of 
his carefully- wrought works, of the many tasks in 
which he was useful to Charles, but without exact 
specification. A contemporary document speaks of 
him -as supervising the palace works at Aix ; or 
rather, one Ansegisus is described as " the executant 
of the royal works in the royal palace at Aix, under 
the direction of the Abbot Eginhard, a man possessed 
of every kind of learning." 

He was of small stature, and this is often made 
good-humoured fun of by his fellow-scholars. He 
is called the dwarf, the midget, the mannikin. 
Theodulf describes him as running about with the ac- 
tivity of an ant, and his body is spoken of as a small 
house with a great tenant. He married Imma, a 
Prankish lady of good family. (It is merely a stupid 
legend that makes of her a daughter of Charlemagne.) 
He lived with her happily, and was inconsolable after 
her death. Before his wife's death and without 
putting her away from him, he had embraced the 
monastic life — a proceeding which in no way scandal- 
ised the ideas of that century. He was the abbot of 
many monasteries, which he held, in spite of the 


canonical prohibition, at the same time. Saint Peter 
of Ghent and Saint Wandrille, near Rouen, are those 
with which he is specially associated. He was on 
several occasions employed by Charles on important 
embassies, but was for the most part rather his secre- 
tary and confidant than his minister. 

His great master died in 814, and Eginhard 
survived him for twenty-nine years, having lived 
long enough to see the mighty fabric of Charles's 
empire show signs of the rapid ruin that was 
soon to overtake it. He received from Lewis the 
Pious further ecclesiastical promotion, but still 
lived at the Court until 830. After that year his 
devotion to the Church mastered all other interests. 
He built a church at Mulinheim, and procured for 
it with great pains the relics of Saint Peter and 
Saint Marcellinus from Rome ; and it was at 
Mulinheim, renamed Seligenstadt (the city of the 
saints), far from the intrigues of courts, that he passed 
most of the rest of his life. His wife Imma (" once 
my faithful wife, and later my dear sister and com- 
panion") died in 836, and Eginhard's deep sorrow 
at her loss finds pathetic expression in letters still 
extant. The political confusion and the utter 
failure of Charlemagne's plans must have increased 
Eginhard's distaste for public affairs. He died at 


Seligenstadt (probably in 844). His epitaph gave 
as his two titles to fame his services to Charlemagne 
and his acquisition of the precious relics. 

The Writings of Eginhard that have come 

down to us are — (i) the Life of Charlemagne ; (2) the 
Annals ; (3) Letters ; (4) the History of the Trans- 
lation of the Relics of Saint Peter and Saint Marcel- 
linus ; (5) a short poem on the martyrdom of these 
two saints. These writings are all, with the possible 
exception of the last mentioned, of high value and 
interest, but the Life of Charlemagne is by far the 
most celebrated and important. 

The Life of Charlemagne is the most striking 

result of the Classical Renaissance so diligently fos- 
tered at the Court of Charlemagne by the Emperor 
himself. Its form is directly copied from the Lives 
of the Caesars by Suetonius, and especially from the 
Life of Augustus in that series. Phrases are con- 
stantly borrowed, and in some cases whole sentences. 
This imitation of Suetonius has its good and its bad 
results. It necessarily removed Eginhard's work from 
the category of mediaeval chronicles, with their gar- 
rulity, their reckless inventions, their humour, their 
desire to please, to amuse, and to glorify their hero, 
their order, or their monastery. Eginhard's Life is 
not without mistakes, some of which are pointed out 


in the notes ; but it is an honest, direct record of 
facts, and for these characteristics we are, doubtless, 
largely indebted to Suetonius' influence. On the 
other hand, it was the example of his classical model 
that induced him to keep his work within such 
narrow limits. Compression was forced upon the 
Roman historian by the scope of his work, which 
embraced the lives of twelve emperors ; and the life 
and reign of Augustus had already been fully handled 
by other historians. But Eginhard knew so much, 
and so little of equal value is written about his hero 
elsewhere, that his brevity is, for once, a quality 
hardly pardonable. Along with Asser's Alfred and 
Boccaccio's Dante it gives us an instance of a bio- 
grapher who did not sufficiently magnify his office 
and his subject. 

No other account of the Life and Reign of Charle- 
magne can find a place here. For some time English 
readers had reason to complain that there was no good 
and popular book dealing with the great Charles, for 
Gibbon's chapter is admittedly not among the best 
parts of his history. But of late this reproach has 
been taken away. The two concluding volumes of 
Dr Hodgkin's great work, entitled " Italy and her 
Invaders," deal with Charles and his relations with 
Italy (vols. vii. and viii. "The Prankish Invasions" 


and " The Prankish Empire "). Dr Hodgkin has 
also written a general sketch of the whole of Charles's 
career (" Charles the Great." Foreign Statesmen 
Series. Macmillan). More recently, Mr Carless 
Davis has written a "Life of Charlemagne" for the 
Heroes of the Nations Series. 

It is in works such as these (to mention no others) 
and not in Eginhard that the real historical significance 
of Charlemagne's life-work appears. Eginhard stood 
too near to his hero, and had too little sense of his- 
torical perspective to realise the abiding greatness of 
what Charles accomplished. It is the lapse of lioo 
years that has brought into increasing clearness the 
importance of those years which lie like a great 
watershed between the ancient and the mediaeval 
world. Of him, as of most great rulers, it is true 
that he " builded better than he knew." His empire 
soon became a tradition, his intellectual revival was 
eclipsed by a further plunge into the " Dark Ages," 
but all that he did was not swept away. With him 
ends the ruin of the ancient world, and with him 
begins the building up of the mediaeval and modern 

He did not find in Eginhard an entirely worthy 
biographer ; but the " mannikin's " work has received 
unstinted praise since the time when it was written. 


It was praised by a contemporary as recalling the 
elegance of the classical authors ; its popularity 
during the Middle Ages is attested to by the existence 
of sixty manuscript copies ; and a French editor 
has declared that we have to go on to the thirteenth 
century, and to Joinville's Life of St Louis, before 
we find a rival in importance to Eginhard's Life of 

The Monk of Saint Gall, it seems, must remain 
anonymous, for the attempt to identify him with 
Notker rests on no better foundation than the fact, 
or supposition, that both stammered. And this seems 
to be supposition rather than fact. We are, indeed, 
told on good authority that Notker stammered ; but 
the view that the Monk of Saint Gall suffered from 
the same defect rests only on a sentence in Chapter 
XVII., where he contrasts the swift, direct glance of 
others with his own slow and rambling narrative — 
" Which I have been trying to unfold, though a 
stammerer, and toothless " (" quae ego balbus et eden- 
talus explicare tentavi"). It seems impossible to 
think that the words here must be taken in their 
literal sense. As the author is writing, not speaking, 
any defect of voice or teeth would in no way hinder 
his narrative : it is clear that the words are a piece 
of conventional and metaphorical depreciation. 



We know, then, nothing of the author beyond what 
he tells us in his narrative ; and he tells us little, except 
that he was a German, and a monk in the Monastery of 
Saint Gall when Grimald and Hartmuth were abbots ; 
that he had never himself been in Western Frankland, 
but had seen the Emperor Charles III. during his 
three days' stay in the monastery, and at his bidding 
had written an account of Charles the Great, and 
his deeds and ways. 

The monastery in which he wrote has a special 
interest for our islands ; for Saint Gall was an Irish- 
man of noble family, and an inmate of a monastery 
in County Down, which was at that time governed 
by Saint Comgel. He was one of the twelve 
monks who in 585 followed Saint Columban into 
Frankland. Switzerland was the great scene of his 
evangelical labours. The Catholic Church celebrates 
his death on the l6th October; and tells in the 
Lectiones of that day how he destroyed the idols of 
the heathen ; how he turned many to Christianity, and, 
even to the monastic life ; how he founded the 
Monastery of Saint Gall in his eighty-fifth year, and 
died at the age of ninety-five, having previously been 
warned in a dream of the death of his master. Saint 
Columban ; and how at once miracles declared that 
a saint had passed away. His monastery for a 


century followed the rule of Saint Columban, and then, 
in common with most monastic institutions of 
Western Europe, adopted the rule of Saint Benedict. 
It was in the famous abbey, that owed its founda- 
tion to this Irish missionary, that this account of 
the deeds of Charlemagne — the Gesta Karoli — was 
written. The author is at more pains than we should 
expect to tell us from what sources he derived his 
information. The preface to the work is lost ; but 
at the end of the first book he repeats some of the 
information that he had inserted in it. It was his 
intention, he informs us, to follow three authorities, 
and three authorities only ; but of these three he 
seems to mention two only — Werinbert, a monk of 
Saint Gall, who died just as he was completing the 
first part ; and Adalbert, the father of Werinbert, who 
followed Kerold, the brother of Queen Hildigard, 
in the wars that were fought, under Charlemagne's 
banner, against the Huns and the Saxons and Slavs. 
It is an amusing picture that he gives us, at the end 
of the first book, of Adalbert's anxiety to tell 
him of Charles's exploits and his own unwilling- 
ness to hear. It is to be presumed that the stories 
were often repeated, for not only facts but words seem 
to have remained in the mind of the unwilling 
listener. The third authority does not seem to be 
E.G. xvii b 


mentioned, unless he means to imply that Kerold 
himself (who was killed in an expedition against the 
Avars in 799) is one of his sources of informa- 

The whole of what the Monk of Saint Gall wrote 
is not left to us. The preface, as we have seen, is 
missing, and also, perhaps, a third book ; for in the 
sixteenth chapter of the second book it seems that our 
author promises us an account of the habits of Charles, 
his cotidiana conversatio, when the story of his military 
exploits has been finished. But this may easily be a 
misunderstanding of his meaning ; or, rather, it may 
be giving too great a precision to it. The good Monk 
is so little able to follow out any line of thought, 
or to maintain any arrangement, that it may well 
be that the " daily conversation " of Charles never 
received any separate treatment. 

No attempt will be made here to estimate the 
historical value of the narrative, though it would 
be a matter of curious speculation to consider whether 
the critical historian can employ any method whereby 
a residuum of objective fact can be separated from 
the mass of legend, saga, invention, and reckless 
blundering of which the greater part of the book 
is made up. But, apart from any value which it 
may possess as a historical document, the Monk's story 


is of great interest for the light which it throws 
on the methods and outlook of a monk of the early 
Middle Ages, Charles has been dead not much more 
than half-a-century ; the author has talked familiarly 
with those who knew him and fought under him ; 
and yet the Charlemagne legend has already begun. 
Charles is already, if not inspired, at least super- 
naturally wise ; if he does not work miracles, miracles 
are wrought in his presence, and on his behalf; if 
he does not yet lead the armies of Christendom 
to Jerusalem, he is already the specially recognised 
protector of the Holy City. There are passages too, 
as, for instance, the account of the visit of the envoys 
of the Greek Emperor, and Charles's " iron-march 
to Pavia," where we seem to detect the existence 
of a popular saga — a poem — underlying the prose 
narrative. With the help of M. Gaston Paris's 
** Histoire Poeiique de Charlemagne" we can trace 
the further development of the legend. By the 
eleventh century Charles was already a martyr for 
the faith, and the Crusaders believed themselves to 
be passing along his route to Jerusalem. "Turpin's" 
chronicle, in the eleventh century, shows the vast 
extension of the legend, which now loses all but 
the vaguest relation to the actual events of history 
and the real characteristics of Charles. In the twelfth 

Xix ft 2 


century (1165) Charles was solemnly canonised ; and 
thenceforward the story spread into all lands, and 
received Its last stroke in the time of the Renaissance, 
at the hands of Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto. These 
poets chiefly concern themselves, however, with the 
paladins of Charles ; and the King himself forms the 
dimly-conceived centre, round whom the whole story 
revolves, deciding disputes, besieging the Turks in 
Paris, priest-like rather than royal In his main features, 
and by Ariosto treated with some irony and banter. 
These mediaeval legends of Charlemagne may well 
be compared to those which deal with Virgil, whose 
transformation Into a magician Is not less remarkable 
than Charles's development into a saint. If the 
Charlemagne legend ends with Ariosto, Dante may 
be said to have given the last shape to the many 
transformations of Virgil, when, more than two 
centuries before Ariosto's " Orlando," Virgil acted as 
guide to Dante through the " lost folk " of the 
Inferno, and the toilsome ascent of Purgatory, until he 
handed him over at last Into the keeping of Beatrice 
at the gate of the earthly Paradise. 

Story and myth naturally attach themselves only 
to the greatest figures ; and the Monk of Saint 
Gall's narrative becomes then, even by virtue of its 
inventions and unrealities, a testimony to the effect 


produced on the mind of his century hj the career 
of Charles. 

Both the life of Eginhard and the Monk's narrative 
have been translated from Jaffe's " Bibliotheca Rerum 
Germanicarum " ; which, both in its reading and 
arrangement, differs at times considerably from the 
text given in Pertz's "Monumenta Gennaniae 





The Prologue of Walafrid . . . . i 
The Preface of Eginharo ..... 4 

EGINHARD'S BOOK BEGINS (Sec. i-^') . . i 
Part I. (Sec. 5-17). His Exploits at Home and 

Abroad . , . . . .13 

Part II. (Sec. 18-33). Private Life and Character 32 




Book I. (Sec. 1-34). His Piety and Care of the 

Church . .... 59 

Book II. (Sec. 1-20). Wars and Exploits . . 105 

NOTES i6i 

INDEX 177 



THE following account of that most glorious 
Emperor Charles was written, as is well known, 
by Eginhard, who amongst all the palace officials of 
that time had the highest praise not only for learning 
but also for his generally high character ; and, as he 
was himself present at nearly all the events that he 
describes, his account has the further advantage of 
the strictest accuracy. 

He was born in eastern Frankland, in the district 
that is called Moingewi, and it was in the monastery 
of Fulda, in the school of Saint Boniface the Martyr, 
that his boyhood received its first training. Thence 
he was sent by Baugolf, the abbot of the monastery, 
to the palace of Charles, rather on account of his 
remarkable talents and intelligence, which even then 
gave bright promise of his wisdom that was to be so 
famous in later days, than because of any advantage 
of birth. Now, Charles was beyond all kings most 
eager in making search for wise men and in giving 

B.C. I A 


them such entertainment that they might pursue 
philosophy in all comfort. Whereby, with the help of 
God, he rendered his kingdom, which, when God 
committed it to him, was dark and almost wholly 
blind (if I may use such an expression), radiant with 
the blaze of fresh learning, hitherto unknown to our 
barbarism. But now once more men's interests are 
turning in an opposite direction, and the light of 
wisdom is less loved, and in most men is dying 

And so this little man — for he was mean of stature 
— gained so much glory at the Court of the wisdom- 
loving Charles by reason of his knowledge and high 
character that among all the ministers of his royal 
Majesty there was scarce anyone at that time with 
whom that most powerful and wise King discussed 
his private affairs more willingly. And, indeed, he 
deserved such favour, for not only in the time of 
Charles, but even more remarkably in the reign of 
the Emperor Lewis, when the commonwealth of the 
Franks was shaken with many and various troubles, 
and in some parts was falling into ruin, he so wonder- 
fully and providentially balanced his conduct, and, 
with the protection of God, kept such a watch over 
himself, that his reputation for cleverness, which many 
had envied and many had mocked at, did tiot uu- 



timely desert him nor plunge him into irremediable 


This I have said that all men may read his words 
without doubting, and may know that, while he has 
given great glory to his great leader, he has also pro- 
vided the curious reader with the most unsullied 

I, Strabo, have inserted the headings and the 
decorations as seemed well to my own judgement 
that he who seeks for any point may the more easily 
find what he desires. 

Here ends the Prologue 




HAVING made up my mind to write an account 
of the life and conversation, and to a large 
extent of the actions of my lord and patron King 
Charles, of great and deservedly glorious memory, 
I have compressed my task vi^ithin the narrowest 
possible limits. My aim has been on the one hand 
to insert everything of which I have been able to 
find an account ; and on the other to avoid offend- 
ing the fastidious by telling each new incident at 
wearisome length. Above all, I have tried to avoid 
offending in this new book those who look down 
upon even the monuments of antiquity written by 
learned and eloquent men. 

There are, I do not doubt, many men of learning 
and leisure who feel that the life of the present day 
must not be utterly neglected, and that the doings of 


our own time should not be devoted to silence and 
forgetfulness as wholly unworthy of record ; who, 
therefore, have such love of fame that they would 
rather chronicle the great deeds of others in writings, 
however poor, than, by abstaining from writing, allow 
their name and reputation to perish from the memory 
of mankind. But, even so, I have felt that I ought 
not to hold my hand from the composition of this 
book, for I knew that no one could write of these 
events more truthfully than I could, since I was my- 
self an actor in them, and, being present, knew them 
from the testimony of my own eyes ; while I could 
not certainly know whether anyone else would write 
them or no. I thought it better, therefore, to join 
with others in committing this story to writing for 
the benefit of posterity rather than to allow the 
shades of oblivion to blot out the life of this King, 
the noblest and greatest of his age, and his famous 
deeds, which the men of later times will scarcely be 
able to imitate. 

Another reason, and not, I think, a foolish one, 
occurred to me, which even by itself would have been 
strong enough to persuade me to write — the care, I 
mean, that was taken with my upbringing, and the 
unbroken friendship which I enjoyed with the King 
himself and his children from the time when first I 


began to live at his Court. For in this v/ay he has 
so bound me to himself, and has made me his debtor 
both in life and death, that I should most justly be 
considered and condemned as ungrateful if I were to 
forget all the benefits that he conferred upon me and 
were to pass over in silence the great and glorious 
deeds of a man who was so kind to me ; if I were 
to allow his life to remain as unchronicled and un- 
praised, as if he had never lived, when that life de- 
serves not merely the efforts of my poor talents, which 
are insignificant, small and almost non-existent, but all 
the eloquence of a Cicero. 

So here you have a book containing the life of 
that great and glorious man. There is nothing for you 
to wonder at or admire except his deeds ; unless, in- 
deed, it be that I, a barbarian, and little versed in the 
Roman tongue, have imagined that I could write 
Latin inoffensively and usefully, and have become 
so swollen with impudence as to despise Cicero's 
words when, speaking about Latin writers in the 
first book of the Tusculans, he says : " If a man 
commits his thoughts to paper when he can neither 
arrange them well nor write them agreeably, nor 
furnish pleasure of any kind to the reader, he is 
recklessly misusing both his leisure and his paper." 
The great orator's opinion would, perhaps, have de- 


terred me from writing if I had not fortified myself 
with the reflection that I ought to risk the con- 
demnation of men, and bring my poor talents into 
peril by writing, rather than spare my reputation 
and neglect this great man's memory. 

The Preface ends : the Book begins 

THE race of the Merovlngs from which the 
Franks were accustomed to choose their kings 
is reckoned as lasting to King Hilderich, who, by the 
order of Stephen, the Roman Pontiff, was deposed, 
tonsured, and sent into a monastery. But this race, 
though it may be regarded as finishing with him, had 
long since lost all power, and no longer possessed any- 
thing of importance except the empty royal title. For 
the wealth and power of the kingdom was in the 
hands of the Praefects of the Court, who were called 
Mayors of the Palace, and exercised entire sovereignty. 
The King, contented with the mere royal title, with 
long hair and flowing beard, used to sit upon the 
throne and act the part of a ruler, listening to am- 
bassadors, whencesoever they came, and giving them 
at their departure, as though of his own power, 
answers which he had been instructed or commanded 
to give. But this was the only function that he per- 
formed, for besides the empty royal title and the 


precarious life income which the Praefect of the Court 
allowed him at his pleasure he had nothing of his own 
except one estate with a very small revenue, on 
which he had his house, and from which he drew the 
few servants who performed such services as were 
necessary and made him a show of deference. Where- 
ever he had to go he travelled in a waggon, drawn 
in rustic style by a pair of oxen, and driven by a 
cowherd. In this fashion he used to go to the palace 
and to the general meetings of the people, which were 
held yearly for the affairs of the kingdom ; in this 
fashion he returned home. But the Prasfect of the 
Court looked after the administration of the kingdom 
and all that had to be done or arranged at home or 

2. When Hilderich was deposed Pippin, the father 
of King Charles, was performing the duties of Mayor 
of the Palace as if by hereditary right. For his father 
Charles, who put down the tyrants who were claiming 
dominion for themselves through all Frankland, and so 
crushed the Saracens, when they were attempting to 
conquer Gaul, in two great battles (the one in Aqui- 
tania, near the city of Poitiers, the other near 
Narbonne, on the river Birra), that he forced them 
to return into Spain — his father Charles had nobly 
administered the same office, and had inherited it from 


his father Pippin. For the people did not usually 
give this honour except to such as were distinguished 
for the renown of their family and the extent of their 

This office, then, was handed down from his father 
and his grandfather to Pippin, the father of King 
Charles, and to his brother Carloman. He exercised 
it for some years conjointly with his brother Carloman 
on terms of the greatest harmony, still in nominal 
subordination to the above-mentioned King Hilderich. 
But then his brother Carloman, for some unknown 
cause, but probably fired with love of the contem- 
plative life, abandoned the toilsome administration of 
a temporal kingdom and retired to Rome in search 
of peace. There he changed his dress, and, becoming 
a monk in the monastery upon Mount Soracte, built 
near the church of the blessed Silvester, enjoyed for 
some years the quiet that he desired, with many 
brethren, who joined themselves to him for the same 
purpose. But as many of the nobles of Frankland 
came on pilgrimage to Rome to perform their vows, 
and, unwilling to pass by one who had once been 
their lord, interrupted the peace that he most desired 
by frequent visits, he was compelled to change his 
abode. For, seeing that the number of his visitors 
interfered with his purpose, he left Mount Soracte 


and retired to the monastery of Saint Benedict, situ- 
ated in the camp of Mount Cassino, in the province 
of Samnium. There he occupied what remained to 
him of this temporal life in religious exercises. 

3. But Pippin, after he was made King instead of 
Mayor of the Palace by the authority of the Roman 
Pontiff, exercised sole rule over the Franks for fifteen 
years, or rather more. Then, after finishing the 
Aquitanian war, which he had undertaken against 
Waifar, Duke of Aquitania, and had carried on for 
nine consecutive years, he died at Paris of the dropsy, 
and left behind him two sons, Charles and Carloman, 
to whom by divine will the succession of the king- 
dom came. For the Franks called a solemn public 
assembly, and elected both of them to be kings, on 
the understanding that they should equally divide 
the whole kingdom, but that Charles should receive 
for his special administration that part which his 
father Pippin had held, while Carloman received the 
territories ruled by their uncle Carloman. The con- 
ditions were accepted, and each received the share 
of the kingdom that was allotted to him. Harmony 
was maintained between the two brothers, though not 
without difficulty ; for many partisans of Carloman 
tried to break their alliance, and some even hoped to 
engage them in war. But the course of events proved 


that the danger to Charles was imaginary rather than 
real. For, upon the death of Carloman, his wife 
with her sons and some of the leading nobles fled to 
Italy, and, for no obvious reason, passed over her hus- 
band's brother, and placed herself and her children 
under the protection of Desiderius, King of the 
Lombards. Carloman, after ruling the kingdom for 
two years conjointly with Charles, died of disease, 
and Charles, upon the death of Carloman, was made 
sole king with the consent of all the Franks. 

4. It would be foolish of me to say anything about 
his birth and infancy, or even about his boyhood, for 
I can find nothing about these matters in writing, nor 
does anyone survive who claims to have personal 
knowledge of them. I have decided, therefore, to 
pass on to describe and illustrate his acts and his 
habits and the other divisions of his life without 
lingering over the unknown. I shall describe first 
his exploits both at home and abroad, then his habits 
and interests, and lastly the administration of the 
kingdom and the end of his reign, omitting nothing 
that demands or deserves to be recorded. 




5. Of all the wars that he waged that in Aquitania, 
begun, but not finished, by his father, was the first that 
he undertook, because it seemed easy of accomplishment. 
His brother was still alive, and was called upon for assist- 
ance, and, though he failed to provide the help that 
he promised, Charles prosecuted the enterprise that he 
had undertaken with the utmost energy, and would 
not desist or slacken in his task before, by perseverance 
and continuous effort, he had completely reached the 
end after which he strove. For he forced Hunold, 
who after the death of Waifar had attempted to 
occupy Aquitania and renew the almost finished war, 
to abandon Aquitania and retire into Gascony, Even 
there he did not allow him to remain, but crossed 
the Garonne, and sent ambassadors to Lupus, Duke of 
the Gascons, ordering him to surrender the fugitive, 


and threatening him with war unless he did so at 
once. Lupus, more wisely, not only surrendered 
Hunold but also submitted himself and the province 
over which he presided to the power of Charles. 

6. When the Aquitanian trouble was settled and 
the war finished, when, too, his partner in the 
kingdom had withdrawn from the world's affairs, 
he undertook a war against the Lombards, being 
moved thereto by the entreaties and the prayers 
of Hadrian, Bishop of the City of Rome. Now, 
this war, too, had been undertaken by his father 
at the supplication of Pope Stephen, under circum- 
stances of great difficulty, inasmuch as certain of 
the chiefs of the Franks, whose advice he was 
accustomed to ask, so strongly resisted his wishes 
that they openly declared that they would leave 
their King to return home. But now Charles 
undertook the war against King Haistulf, and most 
swiftly brought it to an end. For, though his 
reasons for undertaking the war were similar to, 
and, indeed, the same as those of his father, he 
plainly fought it out with a very different energy, 
and brought it to a different end. For Pippin, 
after a siege of a few days at Pavia, forced King 
Haistulf to give hostages, and restore to the Romans 
the towns and fortresses that he had taken from 


them, and to give a solemn promise that he would 
not attempt to regain what he had surrendered. 
But King Charles, when once he had begun the 
war, did not stop until he had received the sur- 
render of King Desiderius, whom he had worn 
down after a long siege ; until he had forced his 
son Adalgis, in whom the hopes of his people 
seemed to be centred, to fly not only from his 
kingdom but from Italy ; until he had restored 
to the Romans all that had been taken from them ; 
until he had crushed Hruodgausus, Praefect of the 
Duchy of Friuli, who was attempting a revol- 
ution ; until, in fine, he had brought all Italy 
under his rule, and placed his son Pippin as king 
over the conquered country. I should describe 
here the difficulties of the passage of the Alps and 
the vast toil with which the Franks found their 
way through the pathless mountain ridges, the 
rocks that soared to heaven, and the sharply-pointed 
cliffs, if it were not that my purpose in the present 
work is rather to describe Charles's manner of life 
than to chronicle the events of the wars that he 
waged. The sum of this war was the conquest 
of Italy, the transportation and perpetual exile of 
King Desiderius, the expulsion of his son Adalgis 
from Italy, power taken from the kings of the 


Lombards and restored to Hadrian, the Ruler of the 
Roman Church. 

7. When this war was ended the Saxon war, which 
seemed dropped for a time, was taken up again. 
Never was there a war more prolonged nor more 
cruel than this, nor one that required greater eiForts 
on the part of the Prankish peoples. For the Saxons, 
like most of the races that inhabit Germany, are by 
nature fierce, devoted to the worship of demons and 
hostile to our religion, and they think it no dishonour 
to confound and transgress the laws of God and 
man. There were reasons, too, which might at any 
time cause a disturbance of the peace. For our 
boundaries and theirs touch almost everywhere on 
the open plain, except where in a few places large 
forests or ranges of mountains are interposed to 
separate the territories of the two nations by a 
definite frontier ; so that on both sides murder, 
robbery, and arson were of constant occurrence. 
The Franks were so irritated by these things that 
they thought it was time no longer to be satisfied 
with retaliation but to declare open war against 

So war was declared, and was fought for thirty 
years continuously with the greatest fierceness on, 
both sides, but with heavier loss to the Saxons than 


the Franks. The end might have been reached 
sooner had it not been for the perfidy of the Saxons. 
It is hard to say how often they admitted themselves 
beaten and surrendered as suppliants to King Charles ; 
how often they promised to obey his orders, gave 
without delay the required hostages, and received 
the ambassadors that were sent to them. Sometimes 
they were so cowed and broken that they promised 
to abandon the worship of devils and willingly to 
submit themselves to the Christian religion. But 
though sometimes ready to bow to his commands 
they were always eager to break their promise, so 
that it is impossible to say which course seemed to 
come more natural to them, for from the begin- 
ning of the war there was scarcely a year in which 
they did not both promise and fail to perform. 

But the high courage of the King and the constancy 
of his mind, which remained unshaken by prosperity 
and adversity, could not be conquered by their 
changes nor forced by weariness to desist from his 
undertakings. He never allowed those who offended 
in this way to go unpunished, but either led an 
army himself, or sent one under the command of 
his counts, to chastise their perfidy and inflict a 
suitable penalty. So that at last, when all who had 
resisted had been defeated and brought under his 
E.c. 17 B 


power, he took ten thousand of the inhabitants of 
both banks of the Elbe, with their wives and children, 
and planted them in many groups in various parts 
of Germany and Gaul. And at last the war, pro- 
tracted through so many years, was finished on condi- 
tions proposed by the King and accepted by them ; 
they were to abandon the worship of devils, to turn 
from their national ceremonies, to receive the sacra- 
ments of the Christian faith and religion, and then, 
joined to the Franks, to make one people with 

8. In this war, despite its prolongation through 
so many years, he did not himself meet the enemy 
in battle more than twice — once near the mountain 
called Osning, in the district of Detmold, and again 
at the river Hasa — and both these battles were 
fought in one month, with an interval of only a few 
days. In these two battles the enemy were so beaten 
and cowed that they never again ventured to challenge 
the King nor to resist his attack unless they were 
protected by some advantage of ground. 

In this war many men of noble birth and high 
office fell on the side both of the Franks and Saxons. 
But at last it came to an end in the thirty-third year, 
though in the meanwhile so many and such serious 
wars broke out against the Franks in all parts of the 


world, and were carried on with such skill by the 
King, that an observer may reasonably doubt whether 
his endurjince of toil or his good fortune deserves 
the greater admiration. For the war in Italy began 
two years before the Saxon war, and though it was 
prosecuted without intermission no enterprise in any 
part of the world was dropped, nor was there any- 
where a truce in any struggle, however difficult. 
For this King, the wisest and most high-minded 
of all who in that age ruled over the nations of 
the world, never refused to undertake or prosecute 
any enterprise because of the labour involved, nor 
withdrew from it through fear of its danger. He 
understood the true character of each task that 
he undertook or carried through, and thus was 
neither broken by adversity nor misled by the false 
flatteries of good fortune. 

9. Whilst the war with the Saxons was being 
prosecuted constantly and almost continuously he 
placed garrisons at suitable places on the frontier, and 
attacked Spain with the largest military expedition 
that he could collect. He crossed the Pyrenees, 
received the surrender of all the towns and fortresses 
that he attacked, and returned with his army safe 
and sound, except for a reverse which he experienced 
through the treason of the Gascons on his return 


through the passes of the Pyrenees. For while his 
army was marching in a long line, suiting their 
formation to the character of the ground and the 
defiles, the Gascons placed an ambuscade on the top 
of the mountain — where the density and extent of 
the woods in the neighbourhood rendered it highly 
suitable for such a purpose — and then rushing down 
into the valley beneath threw into disorder the last 
part of the baggage train and also the rearguard 
which acted as a protection to those in advance. 
In the battle which followed the Gascons slew their 
opponents to the last man. Then they seized upon 
the baggage, and under cover of the night, which 
was already falling, they scattered with the utmost 
rapidity in different directions. The Gascons were 
assisted in this feat by the lightness of their armour 
and the character of the ground where the affair took 
place. In this battle Eggihard, the surveyor of the 
royal table ; Anselm, the Count of the Palace ; and 
Roland, Praefect of the Breton frontier, were killed 
along with very many others. Nor could this assault 
be punished at once, for when the deed had been 
done the enemy so completely disappeared that they 
left behind them not so much as a rumour of their 

lo, He conquered the Bretons, too, who dwelt in 


the extreme west of France by the shores of the ocean. 
They had been disobedient, and he, therefore, sent 
against them an expedition, by which they were 
compelled to give hostages and promise that they 
would henceforth obey his orders. 

Then later he himself entered Italy with an army, 
and, passing through Rome, came to Capua, a city of 
Campania. There he pitched his camp, and threatened 
the men of Beneventum with war unless they sur- 
rendered. But Aragis, Duke of that people, pre- 
vented this war by sending his sons Rumold and 
Grimold to meet the King with a large sum of money. 
He asked the King to receive his children as hostages, 
and promised that he and his people would obey all 
the commands of the King, except only that he would 
not come himself into the King's presence. Charles, 
considering rather the advantage of the people than 
their Duke's obstinacy, received the hostages who were 
offered him, and as a great favour consented to forego 
a personal interview. He kept the younger of the 
two children as a hostage and sent back the elder one 
to his father. Then he sent ambassadors to require 
and receive oaths of fidelity from the Beneventans and 
from Aragis, and so came back to Rome. There he 
spent some days in the veneration of the holy places, 
and then returned to Gaul. 


1 1 . Then the Bavarian war broke out suddenly, and 
was swiftly ended. It was caused by the pride and 
folly of Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria ; for upon the 
instigation of his wife, who thought that she might 
revenge through her husband the banishment of her 
father Desiderius, King of the Lombards, he made an 
alliance with the Huns, the eastern neighbours of the 
Bavarians, and not only refused obedience to King 
Charles but even dared to challenge him in war. 
The high courage of the King could not bear his 
overweening insolence, and he forthwith called a 
general levy for an attack on Bavaria, and came in 
person with a great army to the river Lech, which 
separates Bavaria from Germany, He pitched his 
camp upon the banks of the river, and determined to 
make trial of the mind of the Duke before he entered 
the province. But Duke Tassilo saw no profit either 
for himself or his people in stubbornness, and threw 
himself upon the King's mercy. He gave the hostages 
who were demanded, his own son Theodo among the 
number, and further promised upon oath that no one 
should ever persuade him again to fall away from his 
allegiance to the King. And thus a war which seemed 
likely to grow into a very great one came to a most 
swift ending. But Tassilo was subsequently summoned 
into the King's presence, and was not allowed to 



return, and the province that he ruled was for the 
future committed to the administration not of dukes 
but of counts. 

12. When these troubles had been settled he 
waged war against the Slavs, whom we are accustomed 
to call Wilzi, but who properly — that is, in their own 
tongue — are called Welatabi. Here the Saxons fought 
along with the other allied nations who followed the 
King's standards, though their loyalty was feigned and 
far from sincere. The cause of the war was that the 
Wilzi were constantly invading and attacking the 
Abodriti, the former allies of the Franks, and refused 
to obey the King's commands to desist from their 
attacks. There is a gulf stretching from the western 
sea towards the East, of undiscovered length, but 
nowhere more than a hundred miles in breadth, and 
often much narrower. Many nations occupy the 
shores of this sea. The Danes and the Swedes, whom 
we call the Northmen, hold its northern shore and all 
the islands in it. The Slavs and the Aisti and various 
other nations inhabit the eastern shore, amongst 
whom the chief are these Welatabi against whom 
then the King waged war. He so broke and subdued 
them in a single campaign, conducted by himself, that 
they thought it no longer wise to refuse to obey his 



13. The greatest of all his wars, next to the Saxon 
war, followed this one — that, namely, which he under- 
took against the Huns and the Avars. He prosecuted 
this with more vigour than the rest and with a far 
greater military preparation. However, he conducted 
in person only one expedition into Pannonia, the 
province then occupied by the Avars ; the manage- 
ment of the rest he left to his son Pippin, and the 
governors of the provinces, and in some cases to his 
counts and lieutenants. These carried on the war 
with the greatest energy, and finished it after eight 
years of fighting. How many battles were fought 
there and how much blood was shed is still shown 
by the deserted and uninhabited condition of Pan- 
nonia, and the district in which stood the palace of 
the Kagan is so desolate that there is not so much 
as a trace of human habitation. All the nobles of 
the Huns were killed in this war, all their glory 
passed away ; their money and all the treasures that 
they had collected for so long were carried away. 
Nor can the memory of man recall any war waged 
against the Franks by which they were so much 
enriched and their wealth so increased. Up to 
this time they were regarded almost as a poor people, 
but now so much gold and silver were found in the 
palace, such precious spoils were seized by them in 


their battles, that it might fairly be held that the 
Franks had righteously taken from the Huns what 
they unrighteously had taken from other nations. Only 
two of the nobles of the Franks were killed in this 
war. Eric, the Duke of Friuli, was caught in an 
ambuscade laid by the townsmen of Tharsatica, a 
maritime town of Liburnia. And Ceroid, the 
Governor of Bavaria, when he was marshalling his 
army to fight with the Huns in Pannonia, was 
killed by an unknown hand, along with two others, 
who accompanied him as he rode along the line 
encouraging the soldiers by name. For the rest, 
the war was almost bloodless so far as the Franks 
were concerned, and most fortunate in its result 
although so difficult and protracted. 

14. After this the Saxon war ended in a settle- 
ment as lasting as the struggle had been protracted. 
The wars with Bohemia and Luneburg which fol- 
lowed were soon over ; both of them were swiftly 
settled under the command of the younger Charles. 

The last war of all that Charles undertook was 
against those Northmen, who are called Danes, who 
first came as pirates, and then ravaged the coasts of 
Gaul and Germany with a greater naval force. Their 
King, Godofrid, was puffed up with the vain con- 
fidence that he would make himself master of all 


Germany. He looked upon Frisia and Saxony as 
his own provinces. He had already reduced his 
neighbours the Abodriti to obedience, and had forced 
them to pay him tribute. Now he boasted that he 
would soon come to Aix, the seat of the King's 
Court, with a mighty force. His boast, however idle, 
found some to believe it ; it was thought that he 
would certainly have made some such attempt if 
he had not been prevented by a sudden death. 
For he was killed by one of his own followers, and 
so ended both his life and the war that he had 

15. These, then, are the wars which this mighty 
King waged during the course of forty-seven years — 
for his reign extended over that period — in different 
parts of the world with the utmost skill and success. 
By these wars he so nobly increased the kingdom of 
the Franks, which was great and strong when he in- 
herited it from his father Pippin, that the additions 
he made almost doubled it. For before his time 
the power of the Frankish kingdom extended only 
over that part of Gaul which is bounded by the 
Rhine, the Loire, and the Balearic Sea ; and that 
part of Germany which is inhabited by the so-called 
eastern Franks, and which is bounded by Saxony, the 
Danube, the Rhine, and the river Saal, which stream 


separates the Thuringians and the Sorabs ; and, further, 
over the Alamanni and the Bavarians. But Charles, 
by the wars that have been mentioned, conquered 
and made tributary the following countries : — First, 
Aquitania and Gascony, and the whole Pyrenean range, 
and the country of Spain as far as the Ebro, which, 
rising in Navarre and passing through the most 
fertile territory of Spain, falls into the Balearic Sea, 
beneath the walls of the city of Tortosa ; next, all 
Italy from Augusta Prsetoria as far as lower Calabria, 
where are the frontiers of the Greeks and Beneventans, 
a thousand miles and more in length ; next. Saxony, 
which is a considerable portion of Germany, and is 
reckoned to be twice as broad and about as long as 
that part of Germany which is inhabited by the 
Franks ; then both provinces of Pannonia and Dacia, 
on one side of the river Danube, and Histria and 
Liburnia and Dalmatia, with the exception of the 
maritime cities which he left to the Emperor of 
Constantinople on account of their friendship and 
the treaty made between them ; lastly, all the bar- 
barous and fierce nations lying between the Rhine, 
the Vistula, the Ocean, and the Danube, who speak 
much the same language, but in character and dress 
are very unlike. The chief of these last are the 
Welatabi, the Sorabi, the Abodriti, and the Bohemians ; 


against these he waged war, but the others, and by 
far the larger number, surrendered without a struggle. 

1 6. The friendship, too, which he established with 
certain kings and peoples increased the glory of 
his reign. 

Aldefonsus, King of Gallascia and Asturica, was 
joined in so close an alliance with him that whenever 
he sent letters or ambassadors to Charles he gave 
instructions that he should be called " the man " 
of the Prankish King. 

Further, his rich gifts had so attached the kings 
of the Scots to his favour that they always called him 
their lord and themselves his submissive servants. 
Letters are still in existence sent by them to Charles 
in which those feelings towards him are clearly 

With Aaron, the King of the Persians, who ruled 
over all the East, with the exception of India, he 
entertained so harmonious a friendship that the 
Persian King valued his favour before the friendship of 
all the kings and princes in the world, and held that 
it alone deserved to be cultivated with presents and 
titles. When, therefore, the ambassadors of Charles, 
whom he had sent with offerings to the most holy 
sepulchre of our Lord and Saviour and to the place of 
His resurrection, came to the Persian King and pro- 


claimed the kindly feelings of their master, he not only 
granted them all they asked but also allowed that 
sacred place of our salvation to be reckoned as part of 
the possessions of the Prankish King. He further sent 
ambassadors of his own along with those of Charles 
upon the return journey, and forwarded immense 
presents to Charles — robes and spices, and the other 
rich products of the East — and a few years earlier 
he had sent him at his request an elephant, which 
was then the only one he had. 

The Emperors of Constantinople, Nicephorus, 
Michael, and Leo, too, made overtures of friendship and 
alliance with him, and sent many ambassadors. At first 
Charles was regarded with much suspicion by them, be- 
cause he had taken the imperial title, and thus seemed 
to aim at taking from them their empire ; but in the end 
a very definite treaty was made between them, and 
every occasion of quarrel on either side thereby 
avoided. For the Romans and the Greeks always 
suspected the Prankish power ; hence there is a well- 
known Greek proverb : " the Frank is a good friend 
but a bad neighbour." 

17. Though he was so successful in widening the 

boundaries of his kingdom and subduing the foreign 

nations he, nevertheless, put on foot many works for 

the decoration and convenience of his kingdom, and 



carried some to completion. The great church dedi- 
cated to Mary, the holy Mother of God, at Aix, and 
the bridge, five hundred feet in length, over the great 
river Rhine near Mainz, may fairly be regarded as 
the chief of his works. But the bridge was burnt 
down a year before his death, and though he had 
determined to rebuild it of stone instead of wood 
it was not restored, because his death so speedily 
followed. He began also to build palaces of splendid 
workmanship — one not far from the city of Mainz, 
near a town called Ingelheim ; another at Nime- 
guen, on the river Waal, which flows along the south 
of the Batavian island. And he gave special orders to 
the bishops and priests who had charge of sacred 
buildings that any throughout his realm which had 
fallen into ruin through age should be restored, and 
he instructed his agents to see that his orders were 
carried out. 

He built a fleet, too, for the war against the 
Northmen, constructing ships for this purpose near 
those rivers which flow out of Gaul and Germany 
into the northern ocean. And because the Northmen 
laid waste the coasts of Gaul and Germany by their 
constant attacks he planted forts and garrisons in all 
harbours and at the mouths of all navigable rivers, and 
prevented in this way the passage of the enemy. 


He tcx)k the same measures in the South, on the shore 
of Narbonne and Septimania, and also along all the 
coasts of Italy as far as Rome, to hold in check the 
Moors, who had lately begun to make piratical 
excursions. And by reason of these precautions Italy 
suffered no serious harm from the Moors, nor Gaul 
and Germany from the Northmen, in the days of 
Charles ; except that Centumcellse, a city of Etruria, 
was betrayed into the hands of the Moors and 
plundered, and in Frisia certain islands lying close 
to Germany were ravaged by the Northmen. 




18. I have shown, then, how Charles protected and 
expanded his kingdom and also what splendour he 
gave to it. I shall now go on to speak of his mental 
endowments, of his steadiness of purpose under what- 
ever circumstances of prosperity or adversity, and of 
all that concerns his private and domestic life. 

As long as, after the death of his father, he shared 
the kingdom with his brother he bore so patiently 
the quarrelling and restlessness of the latter as never 
even to be provoked to wrath by him. Then, having 
married at his mother's bidding the daughter of 
Desiderius, King of the Lombards, he divorced her, 
for some unknown reason, a year later. He took in 
marriage Hildigard, of the Suabian race, a woman 
of the highest nobility, and by her he had three sons 
— viz. Charles and Pippin and Ludovicus, and three 


daughters — Hrotrud and Bertha and Gisla. He had 
also three other daughters — Theoderada and Hiltrud 
and Hruodhaid. Two of these were the children 
of his wife Fastrada, a woman of the eastern Franks 
or Germans ; the third was the daughter of a concubine, 
whose name has escaped my memory. On the death 
of Fastrada he married Liutgard, of the Alemannic 
race, by whom he had no children. After her death 
he had four concubines — namely, Madelgarda, who 
bore him a daughter of the name of Ruothild ; 
Gersuinda, of Saxon origin, by whom he had a 
daughter of the name of Adolthrud ; Regina, who 
bore him Drogot and Hugo ; and Adallinda, who 
was the mother of Theoderic. 

His mother Bertrada lived with him to old age 
in great honour. He treated her with the utmost 
reverence, so that no quarrel of any kind ever arose 
between them — except in the matter of the divorce 
of the daughter of King Desiderius, whom he had 
married at her bidding. Bertrada died after the 
death of Hildigard, having lived to see three grand- 
sons and as many granddaughters in her son's house. 
Charles had his mother buried with great honour 
in the same great church of St Denys in which his 
father lay. 

He had only one sister, Gisla, who from childhood 
E.c. 33 c 


was dedicated to the religious life. He treated her 
with the same affectionate respect as his mother. 
She died a few years before Charles's own death in 
the monastery in which she had passed her life. 

19. In educating his children he determined to 
train them, both sons and daughters, in those liberal 
studies to which he himself paid great attention. 
Further, he made his sons, as soon as their age per- 
mitted it, learn to ride like true Franks, and prac- 
tise the use of arms and hunting. He ordered his 
daughters to learn wool work and devote attention 
to the spindle and distaff, for the avoidance of idle- 
ness and lethargy, and to be trained to the adoption 
of high principles. 

He lost two sons and one daughter before his death 
— namely, Charles, his eldest ; Pippin, whom he made 
King of Italy ; and Hruotrud, his eldest daughter, who 
had been betrothed to Constantine, the Emperor of 
the Greeks. Pippin left one son, Bernard, and five 
daughters — Adalheid, Atula, Gundrada, Berthaid, 
and Theoderada. In his treatment of them Charles 
gave the strongest proof of his family affection, for 
upon the death of his son he appointed his grandson 
Bernard to succeed him, and had his granddaughters 
brought up with his own daughters. 

He bore the deaths of his two sons aii4 of bij 


daughters with less patience than might have been 
expected from his usual stoutness of heart, for his 
domestic affection, a quality for which he was as re- 
markable as for courage, forced him to shed tears. 
Moreover, when the death of Hadrian, the Roman 
Pontiff, whom he reckoned as the chief of his friends, 
was announced to him, he wept for him as though he 
had lost a brother or a very dear son. For he showed a 
very fine disposition in his friendships : he embraced 
them readily and maintained them faithfully, and he 
treated with the utmost respect all whom he had 
admitted into the circle of his friends. 

He had such care of the upbringing of his sons 
and daughters that he never dined without them 
when he was at home, and never travelled without 
them. His sons rode along with him, and his 
daughters followed in the rear. Some of his guards, 
chosen for this very purpose, watched the end of the 
line of march where his daughters travelled. They were 
very beautiful, and much beloved by their father, and, 
therefore, it is strange that he would give them in 
marriage to no one, either among his own people or 
of a foreign state. But up to his death he kept them 
all at home, saying that he could not forego their 
society. And hence the good fortune that followed 
him in all other respects was here broken by the 


touch of scandal and failure. He shut his eyes, how- 
ever, to everything, and acted as though no suspicion 
of anything amiss had reached him, or as if the 
rumour of it had been discredited. 

20. He had by a concubine a son called Pippin — 
whom I purposely did not mention along with the 
others — handsome, indeed, but deformed. When 
Charles, after the beginning of the war against the 
Huns, was wintering in Bavaria, this Pippin pretended 
illness, and formed a conspiracy against his father with 
some of the leaders of the Franks, who had seduced him 
by a vain promise of the kingdom. When the design 
had been detected and the conspirators punished 
Pippin was tonsured and sent to the monastery of 
Prumia, there to practise the religious life, to which 
in the end he was of his own will inclined. 

Another dangerous conspiracy had been formed 
against him in Germany at an earlier date. The 
plotters were some of them blinded and some of 
them maimed, and all subsequently transported into 
exile. Not more than three lost their lives, and 
these resisted capture with drawn swords, and in 
defending themselves killed some of their opponents. 
Hence, as they could not be restrained in any other 
way, they were cut down. 

The cruelty of Queen Fastrada is believed to be 


the cause and origin of these conspiracies. Both 
were caused by the belief that, upon the persuasion 
of his cruel wife, he had swerved widely from his 
natural kindness and customary leniency. Otherwise 
his whole life long he so won the love and favour 
of all men both at home and abroad that never was 
the slightest charge of unjust severity brought against 
him by anyone. 

21. He had a great love for foreigners, and took 
such pains to entertain them that their numbers were 
justly reckoned to be a burden not only to the palace 
but to the kingdom at large. But, with his usual 
loftiness of spirit, he took little note of such charges, 
for he found in the reputation of generosity and in 
the good fame that followed such actions a com- 
pensation even for grave inconveniences. 

22. His body was large and strong ; his stature 
tall but not ungainly, for the measure of his height 
was seven times the length of his own feet. The top 
of his head was round ; his eyes were very large and 
piercing. His nose was rather larger than is usual ; 
he had beautiful white hair ; and his expression was 
brisk and cheerful ; so that, whether sitting or stand- 
ing, his appearance was dignified and impressive. 
Although his neck was rather thick and short and he 
was somewhat corpulent this was not noticed owing 



to the good proportions of the rest of his body. His 
step was firm and the whole carriage of his body 
manly ; his voice was clear, but hardly so strong as 
you would have expected. He had good health, but 
for four years before his death was frequently attacked 
by fevers, and at last was lame of one foot. Even then 
he followed his own opinion rather than the advice 
of his doctors, whom he almost hated, because they 
advised him to give up the roast meat to which he was 
accustomed, and eat boiled instead. He constantly 
took exercise both by riding and hunting. This was 
a national habit ; for there is hardly any race on the 
earth that can be placed on equality with the Franks 
in this respect. He took delight in the vapour of 
naturally hot waters, and constantly practised swimming, 
in which he was so proficient that no one could be 
fairly regarded as his superior. Partly for this reason 
he built his palace at Aix, and lived there continu- 
ously during the last years of his life up to the time 
of his death. He used to invite not only his sons to 
the bath but also his nobles and friends, and at times 
even a great number of his followers and bodyguards. 
23. He wore the national — that is to say, the 
Prankish dress. His shirts and drawers were of linen, 
then came a tunic with a silken fringe, and hose. His 
legs were cross-gartered and his feet enclosed in shoes. 


In winter-time he defended his shoulders and chest 
with a jerkin made of the skins of otters and ermine. 
He was clad in a blue cloak, and always wore a sword, 
with the hilt and belt of either gold or silver. Occasion- 
ally, too, he used a jewelled sword, but this was only 
on the great festivals or when he received ambassadors 
from foreign nations. He disliked foreign garments, 
however beautiful, and would never consent to wear 
them, except once at Rome on the request of Pope 
Hadrian, and once again upon the entreaty of his 
successor, Pope Leo, when he wore a long tunic and 
cloak, and put on shoes made after the Roman fashion. 
On festal days he walked in procession in a garment 
of gold cloth, with jewelled boots and a golden girdle 
to his cloak, and distinguished further by a diadem of 
gold and precious stones. But on other days his 
dress differed little from that of the common people. 
24. He was temperate in eating and drinking, but 
especially so in drinking ; for he had a fierce hatred 
of drunkenness in any man, and especially in himself 
or in his friends. He could not abstain so easily 
from food, and used often to complain that fasting 
was injurious to his health. He rarely gave large 
banquets, and only on the high festivals, but then 
he invited a large number of guests. His daily meal 
was served in four courses only, exclusive of the roast, 


which the hunters used to bring in on spits, and 
which he ate with more pleasure than any other 
food. During the meal there was either singing or 
a reader for him to listen to. Histories and the 
great deeds of men of old were read to him. He 
took delight also in the books of Saint Augustine, and 
especially in those which are entitled the City of 
God. He was so temperate in the use of wine and 
drink of any kind that he rarely drank oftener than 
thrice during dinner. 

In summer, after his midday meal, he took some 
fruit and a single draught, and then, taking off his 
clothes and boots, just as he was accustomed to do at 
night, he would rest for two or three hours. At 
night he slept so lightly that he would wake, and 
even rise, four or five times during the night. 

When he was putting on his boots and clothes he 
not only admitted his friends, but if the Count of the 
Palace told him there was any dispute which could 
not be settled without his decision he would have 
the litigants at once brought in, and hear the case, 
and pronounce on it just as if he were sitting on 
the tribunal. He would, moreover, at the same time 
transact any business that had to be done that day or 
give any orders to his servants. 

25. In speech he was fluent and ready, and could 


express with the greatest clearness whatever he wished. 
He was not merely content with his native tongue 
but took the trouble to learn foreign languages. He 
learnt Latin so well that he could speak it as well 
as his native tongue ; but he could understand Greek 
better than he could speak it. His fluency of speech 
was so great that he even seemed sometimes a little 

He paid the greatest attention to the liberal arts, 
and showed the greatest respect and bestowed high 
honours upon those who taught them. For his 
lessons in grammar he listened to the instruction of 
Deacon Peter of Pisa, an old man ; but for all other 
subjects Albinus, called Alcuin, also a deacon, was 
his teacher — a man from Britain, of the Saxon race, 
and the most learned man of his time. Charles spent 
much time and labour in learning rhetoric and 
dialectic, and especially astronomy, from Alcuin. He 
learnt, too, the art of reckoning, and with close 
application scrutinised most carefully the course of 
the stars. He tried also to learn to write, and for 
this purpose used to carry with him and keep under 
the pillow of his couch tablets and writing-sheets that 
he might in his spare moments accustom himself to 
the formation of letters. But he made little advance 
in this strange task, which was begun too late in life. 


26. He paid the most devout and pious regard to 
the Christian religion, in which he had been brought 
up from infancy. And, therefore, he built the great 
and most beautiful church at Aix, and decorated 
it with gold and silver and candelabras and with 
wicket-gates and doors of solid brass. And, since he 
could not procure marble columns elsewhere for the 
building of it, he had them brought from Rome and 
Ravenna. As long as his health permitted it he used 
diligently to attend the church both in the morning 
and evening, and during the night, and at the time of 
the Sacrifice. He took the greatest care to have all 
the services of the church performed with the utmost 
dignity, and constantly warned the keepers of the 
building not to allow anything improper or dirty 
either to be brought into or to remain in the building. 
He provided so great a quantity of gold and silver 
vessels, and so large a supply of priestly vestments, 
that at the religious services not even the door- 
keepers, who form the lowest ecclesiastical order, had 
to officiate in their ordinary dress. He carefully 
reformed the manner of reading and singing ; for he 
was thoroughly instructed in both, though he never 
read publicly himself, nor sang except in a low voice, 
and with the rest of the congregation. 

27. He was most devout in relieving the poor and 



in those free gifts which the Greeks call alms. For 
he gave it his attention not only in his own countr/ 
and in his own kingdom, but he also used to send 
money across the sea to Syria, to Egypt, to Africa — to 
Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Carthage — in compassion 
for the poverty of any Christians whose miserable 
condition in those countries came to his ears. It was 
for this reason chiefly that he cultivated the friendship 
of kings beyond the sea, hoping thereby to win for 
the Christians living beneath their sway some succour 
and relief 

Beyond all other sacred and venerable places he 
loved the church of the holy Apostle Peter at Rome, 
and he poured into its treasury great wealth in silver 
and gold and precious stones. He sent innumerable 
gifts to the Pope ; and during the whole course of 
his reign he strove with all his might (and, indeed, no 
object was nearer to his heart than this) to restore to 
the city of Rome her ancient authority, and not 
merely to defend the church of Saint Peter but to 
decorate and enrich it out of his resources above all 
other churches. But although he valued Rome so 
much, still, during all the forty-seven years that he 
reigned, he only went there four times to pay his 
vows and offer up his prayers. 

28. But such were not the only objects of his last 


visit ; for the Romans had grievously outraged Pope 
Leo, had torn out his eyes and cut off his tongue, and 
thus forced him to throw himself upon the protection 
of the King. He, therefore came to Rome to restore 
the condition of the church, which was terribly dis- 
turbed, and spent the whole of the winter there. It 
was then that he received the title of Emperor and 
Augustus, which he so disliked at first that he 
affirmed that he would not have entered the church 
on that day — though it was the chief festival of the 
church — if he could have foreseen the design of the 
Pope. But when he had taken the title he bore very 
quietly the hostility that it caused and the indignation 
of the Roman emperors. He conquered their ill- 
feeling by his magnanimity, in which, doubtless, he 
far excelled them, and sent frequent embassies to them, 
and called them his brothers. 

29. When he had taken the Imperial title he 
noticed many defects in the legal systems of his 
people ; for the Franks have two legal systems, differing 
in many points very widely from one another, and he, 
therefore, determined to add what was lacking, to 
reconcile the differences, and to amend anything that 
was wrong or wrongly expressed. He completed 
nothing of all his designs beyond adding a few 
capitularies, and those unfinished. But he gave orders 


that the laws and rules of all nations comprised within 
his dominions which were not already written out 
should be collected and committed to writing. 

He also wrote out the barbarous and ancient songs, 
in which the acts of the kings and their wars were 
sung, and committed them to memory. He also began 
a grammar of his native language. 

He gave the months names in his own tongue, for 
before his time they were called by the Franks partly 
by Latin and partly by barbarous names. He also 
gave names to the twelve winds, whereas before not 
more than four, and perhaps not so many, had names 
of their own. Of the months, he called January 
Winter-month, February Mud-month, March Spring- 
month, April Easter-month, May Joy-month, June 
Plough-month, July Hay-month, August Harvest- 
month, September Wind-month, October Vintage- 
month, November Autumn-month, December Holy- 
month. The following are the names which he gave 
to the winds : — The Subsolanus (east) he called East 
Wind ; the Eurus (east by south) East-South Wind ; 
the Euroauster (south by east) South-East Wind ; 
the Auster (south) South Wind ; the Austro-Afric 
(south by west) South- West Wind ; the Afric (west 
by south) West-South Wind ; the Zephyr (west) 
West Wind ; the Corus (west by north) West-North 


Wind ; the Circius (north by west) North- West 
Wind ; the Septentrion (north) North Wind ; the 
Aquilon (north by east) North-East Wind ; the 
Vulturnus (east by north) East-North Wind. 

30. At the very end of his life, when already he 
was feeling the pressure of old age and sickness, he 
summoned his own son Lewis, King of Aquitania, 
the only surviving son of Hildigard, and then solemnly 
called together the Prankish nobles of his whole king- 
dom ; and then, with the consent of all, made 
Lewis partner in the whole kingdom and heir to 
the imperial title. After that, putting the diadem on 
his head, he ordered them to salute him " Imperator " 
and Augustus. This decision of his was received by 
all present with the greatest favour, for it seemed to 
them a divine inspiration for the welfare of the realm. 
It added to his dignity at home and increased the 
terror of his name abroad. 

He then sent his son back to Aquitania, and him- 
self, though broken with old age, proceeded to hunt, 
as his custom was, not far from the palace of Aix, 
and after spending the rest of the autumn in this 
pursuit he came back to Aix about the beginning 
of November. Whilst he was spending the winter 
there he was attacked by a sharp fever, and took 
to his bed. Then, following his usual habit, he 


determined to abstain from food, thinking that hy 
such self-discipline he would be able either to cure 
or alleviate the disease. But the fever was compli- 
cated by a pain in the side which the Greeks call 
pleurisy ; and, as Charles still persisted in fasting, 
and only very rarely drank something to sustain his 
strength, seven days after he had taken to his bed 
he received holy communion, and died, in the seventy- 
second year of his life and in the forty-seventh year 
of his reign, on the fifth day before the Kalends of 
February, at the third hour of the day. 

31. His body was washed and treated with the 
usual ceremonies, and then, amidst the greatest grief 
of the whole people, taken to the church and buried. 
At first there was some doubt as to where he should 
rest, since he had given no instructions during his 
lifetime. But at length all were agreed that he 
could be buried nowhere more honourably than in 
the great church which he had built at his own 
expense in the same towni, for the love of our Lord 
God Jesus Christ and the honour of His holy and 
ever-virgin Mother. There he was buried on the 
same day on which he died. A gilded arch was 
raised above the tomb, with his statue, and an inscrip- 
tion. The inscription ran as follows : — 



** Beneath this tomb lies the body of Charles, the 
great and orthodox Emperor, who nobly expanded 
the kingdom of the Franks and reigned prosperously 
for forty-seven years. He departed this life, more 
than seventy years of age, in the eight hundred and 
fourteenth year of our Lord, in the seventh indiction, 
on the fifth day before the Kalends of February." 

32. There were many prodigies to show that his 
end drew near, and he as well as others understood 
the meaning of their warnings. During all the three 
last years of his life there were constant eclipses of 
sun and moon, and a black coloured spot appeared 
in the sun for the space of seven days. The gallery 
which he had built, of great size and strength, 
between the palace and the church, suddenly, on 
Ascension Day, fell in ruins down even to the 
foundations. Also, the wooden bridge over the 
Rhine near Mainz, which he had built with won- 
derful skill, and the labour of ten years, so that 
it seemed as though it would last for ever, was 
accidentally set on fire, and in three hours burnt 
so far that not a plank remained except those that 
were covered by the water. Further, when he 
was making his last expedition in Saxony against 
Godofrid, King of the Danes, as he was moving 


out of camp and beginning his march before sun- 
rise, he suddenly saw a meteor rush across the 
heavens with a great blaze and pass from right to 
left through the clear sky. Whilst all were won- 
dering what this sign meant, suddenly the horse 
that he was riding fell head foremost, and threw 
him so violently to the ground that the girdle of 
his cloak was broken, and his sword belt slipped 
from it. When his attendants ran up to help him 
they found him disarmed and disrobed. His 
javelin, too, which he was holding in his hand at 
the time of his fall, fell twenty paces and more 
away from him. Moreover, the palace at Aix 
was frequently shaken, and in houses where he 
lived there was a constant creaking in the fretted 
ceilings. The church in which he was afterwards 
buried was struck by lightning, and the golden 
apple that adorned the summit of the roof was 
thrown down by a thunder-stroke, and fell upon the 
Bishop's house, which adjoined the church. In the 
same church an inscription was written on the edge 
of the circular space which ran round the inside 
of the church between the upper and lower arches, 
saying by whom the sacred edifice had been built. 
And in the last line occurred the words : " Carolus 
Trinceps." Some noticed that in the very year in 
E.c. 49 D 


which Charles died, and a few months before his 
death, the letters of the word " princeps " were 
so destroyed as to be quite invisible. But he either 
refused to notice or despised all these omens as 
though they had no connection at all with any- 
thing that concerned him. 

33. He had determined to draw out wills in 
order to make his daughters and the sons whom his 
concubines had borne to him heirs to some part 
of his property ; but he took up this design too 
late, and could not carry it out. But some three 
years before he died he divided his treasures, his money 
and his robes, and all his other moveable property, 
in presence of his friends and ministers, and appealed 
to them to ratify and maintain by their support 
this division after his death. He also stated in a 
document how he wished to have the property which 
he had divided disposed of. The text and purport 
of the document ran as follows : — 

In the name of the Lord God Almighty, Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost. This is the description and 
division which was made by the most glorious and 
pious lord Charles, the august Emperor, in the eight 
hundred and eleventh year from the incarnation of 
our Lord Jesus Christ ; in the forty-third year of his 


reign in Frankland ; in the thirty-sixth year of his 
reign in Italy ; in the eleventh year of his Empire 
and in the fourth indiction : which division he made 
for wise and religious reasons of his treasures and of 
the money which on that day was found in the 
treasury. Wherein his great aim was : in the first 
place to ensure that the distribution of alms, which 
Christians religiously make from their possessions, 
should be duly and properly made on his account 
from his wealth ; and also that his heirs may clearly 
know without any possibility of doubt what ought 
to belong to them, and may therefore (without con- 
test or dissension) divide his goods among themselves 
in their proper proportion. Therefore with this 
intention and object he first divided into three parts 
all his property and moveable goods ; which, whether 
consisting of gold, silver, jewels, or royal apparel, 
could be found on the afore-mentioned day in 
his treasur)'. Then, by a further distribution, he 
divided two of those three parts into twenty-one 
parts, and kept the third part undivided. 

The distribution of the two parts into twent)'-one 
is to be carried out in the following way. As there 
are known to be twenty-one metropolitan cities in his 
realm, one of those twenty-one parts is to be handed 
over to each metropolitan city by his heirs and 


friends for the purpose of almsgiving. The Arch- 
bishop who at the time of his death is ruling the 
metropolitan sees shall receive that part for his 
church and divide it among his suffragans ; one- 
third going to his own church and two - thirds 
being divided among his suffragans. 

Each of these divisions — which, as already mentioned, 
are made out of the first two-thirds, and are twenty- 
one in number, according to the number of the 
metropolitan sees — is separated from the rest and 
put away by itself in a repository of its own with 
the title of the city attached to which it is to be 
given. The names of the metropolitan sees, to 
which this alms or largess is to be given, are Rome, 
Ravenna, Milan, Fr^jus, Grado, Cologne, Mainz, 
Juvavum which is also called Salsburg, Treves, Sens, 
Besanfon, Lyons, Rouen, Rheims, Aries, Vienne, 
Darantasia, Embrun, Bordeaux, Tours, Bourges. 

The following disposition shall be made of the 
one part hitherto left undivided. When the first 
two parts have been distributed into the before- 
mentioned divisions, and have been put away under 
seal, this third part shall be employed for daily uses, 
as not being alienated by any bond or promise of 
the owner ; and it shall be so used as long as he him- 
self remains in the flesh or judges its employment to 



be necessary to him. But after his death or his vol- 
untary retirement from the affairs of the world that 
part shall be divided into four subdivisions. Of these 
subdivisions one shall be added to the before-mentioned 
twenty-one parts ; the second shall be taken by his 
sons and daughters, and by the sons and daughters 
of his sons, and shall be divided among them in 
just and reasonable proportion ; the third shall be 
devoted to the use of the poor in the manner usual 
among Christians ; the fourth part shall similarly be 
divided for alms and go to the support of the ser- 
vants, both men and women, who attend to the 
needs of the palaces. 

He desired further that there should be added to 
this third part of the total sum, which like the other 
parts consists of gold and silver, all vessels and utensils 
of brass, iron or other metals, with arms, clothes and 
all other moveable articles, whether of value or not, 
which are . employed for various purposes ; as for 
instance curtains, coverlets, tapestries, woollen-cloths, 
dressed-skins, harnesses, and whatever else is found at 
that date in his store chamber or wardrobe : so 
that in this way the subdivisions of that part may 
be larger, and the distribution of alms find its way 
to a larger number. 

He desired that the chapel — that is, the materials 


for the service of the church, both those which 
he himself gave and collected and those which came 
to him by inheritance from his father — should remain 
entire and suffer no division of any kind. But if any 
vessel or books or other ornaments are found, which 
have certainly not been given by him to the afore- 
mentioned chapel, these may be bought and possessed 
by anyone who wants them, at a price fixed by a 
reasonable valuation. He similarly determined that 
the books, of which he had collected a great quantity 
in his library, should be sold at a reasonable price 
to anyone who wanted them and the money handed 
over to the poor. Amongst his treasures there are 
three tables of silver and one of gold of remarkable 
size and weight. Concerning these he determined 
and decided as follows. One of them, square in 
shape, containing a map of the city of Constantinople, 
shall be sent to Rome for the cathedral of the holy 
Apostle Peter, along with the other gifts which are set 
aside for that purpose. The second, round in shape, 
inscribed with a picture of the city of Rome, shall 
be given to the Bishopric of the Church of Ravenna. 
The third, which is far superior to the others both in 
beauty of workmanship and in weight, which is made 
of three circles, and contains a map of the whole 
world, skilfully and minutely drawn, shall go to 


increase that third part which is to be divided among 
his heirs and given in alms. 

This disposition and arrangement he made and 
drew up in presence of the bishops, abbots and counts, 
who could then be present and whose names are here 
written out. 




































His son Lewis, who by the designs of Providence 
succeeded him, inspected the aforesaid document, and 
carried out these arrangements with the greatest 
devotion immediately after his death. 





AFTER the omnipotent ruler of the world, who 
orders alike the fate of kingdoms and the course 
of time, had broken the feet of iron and clay in one 
noble statue, to wit the Romans, he raised by the 
hands of the illustrious Charles the golden head of 
another, not less admirable, among the Franks. Now 
it happened, when he had begun to reign alone in 
the western parts of the world, and the pursuit of 
learning had been almost forgotten throughout all his 
realm, and the worship of the true Godhead was 
faint and weak, that two Scots came from Ireland to 
the coast of Gaul along with certain traders of Britain. 
These Scotchmen were unrivalled for their skill in 
sacred and secular learning : and day by day, when 
the crowd gathered round them for traffic, they ex- 
hibited no wares for sale, but cried out and said, 


" Ho, everyone that desires wisdom, let him draw 
near and take it at our hands ; for it is wisdom that 
we have for sale." 

Now they declared that they had wisdom for sale 
because they said that the people cared not for what 
was given freely but only for what was sold, hoping 
that thus they might be incited to purchase wisdom 
along with other wares ; and also perhaps hoping that 
by this announcement they themselves might become 
a wonder and a marvel to men : which indeed turned 
out to be the case. For so long did they make their 
proclamation that in the end those who wondered at 
these men, or perhaps thought them insane, brought 
the matter to the ears of King Charles, who always 
loved and sought after wisdom. Wherefore he ordered 
them to come with all speed into his presence and 
asked them whether it were true, as fame reported 
of them, that they had brought wisdom with them. 
They answered, " We both possess it and are ready to 
give it, in the name of God, to those who seek it 
worthily." Again he asked them what price they 
asked for it ; and they answered, " We ask no price, 
O king ; but we ask only for a fit place for teaching 
and quick minds to teach ; and besides food to eat 
and raiment to put on, for without these we cannot 
accomplish our pilgrimage." 


This answer filled the king with a great joy, and 
first he kept both of them with him for a short time. 
But soon, when he must needs go to war, he made 
one of them named Clement reside in Gaul, and to 
him he sent many boys both of noble, middle and 
humble birth, and he ordered as much food to be 
given them as they required, and he set aside for 
them buildings suitable for study. But he sent the 
second scholar into Italy and gave him the monastery 
of Saint Augustine near Pavia, that all who wished 
might gather there to learn from him. 

2. But when Albinus (Alcuin), an Englishman, 
heard that that most religious Emperor Charles gladly 
entertained wise men, he entered into a ship and 
came to him. Now Albinus was skilled in all learn- 
ing beyond all others of our times, for he was the 
disciple of that most learned priest Bede, who next to 
Saint Gregory was the most skilful interpreter of the 
scriptures. And Charles received Albinus kindly and 
kept him at his side to the end of his life, except 
when he marched with his armies to his vast wars : 
nay, Charles would even call himself Albinus's 
disciple ; and Albinus he would call his master. He 
appointed him to rule over the abbey of Saint 
Martin, near to the city of Tours : so that, when 
he himself was absent, Albinus might rest there and 


teach those who had recourse to him. And his 
teaching bore such fruit among his pupils that the 
modern Gauls or Franks came to equal the ancient 
Romans or Athenians. 

3. Then when Charles came back, after a long 
absence, crowned with victory, into Gaul, he ordered 
the boys whom he had entrusted to Clement to come 
before him and present to him letters and verses of 
their own composition. Now the boys of middle 
or low birth presented him with writings garnished 
with the sweet savours of wisdom beyond all that he 
could have hoped, while those of the children of 
noble parents were silly and tasteless. Then the 
most wise Charles, imitating the judgment of the 
eternal Judge, gathered together those who had done 
well upon his right hand and addressed them in these 
words : ** My children, you have found much favour 
with me because you have tried with all your strength 
to carry out my orders and win advantage for your- 
selves. Wherefore now study to attain to perfection ; 
and I will give you bishoprics and splendid monas- 
teries, and you shall be always honourable in my 
eyes." Then he turned severely to those who were 
gathered on his left, and, smiting their consciences 
with the fire of his eyes, he flung at them in scorn 
these terrible words, which seemed thunder rather 


than human speech, " You nobles, you sons of my 
chiefs, you superfine dandies, you have trusted to 
your birth and your possessions and have set at naught 
my orders to your own advancement : you have neg- 
lected the pursuit of learning and you have given 
yourselves over to luxury and sport, to idleness and 
profitless pastimes." Then solemnly he raised his 
august head and his unconquered right hand to the 
heavens and thus thundered against them, " By the 
King of Heaven, I take no account of your noble 
birth and your fine looks, though others may admire 
you for them. Know this for certain, that unless you 
make up for your former sloth by vigorous study, you 
will never get any favour from Charles." 

4. Charles used to pick out all the best writers and 
readers from among the poor boys that I have spoken 
of and transferred them to his chapel ; for that was 
the name that the kings of the Franks gave to their 
private oratory, taking the word from the cope of St 
Martin, which they always took with them in war 
for a defence against their enemies. Now one day 
it was announced to this most wary King Charles that 
a certain bishop was dead ; and, when the king asked 
whether the dead bishop had made any bequests for 
the good of his soul, the messenger replied, " Sire, he 
has bequeathed no more than two pounds of silver." 


Thereupon one of his chaplains, sighing, and no 
longer able to keep the thoughts of his mind within 
his breast, spake in the hearing of the king these 
words : " That is a small provision for a long, a 
never-ending journey." 

Then Charles, the mildest of men, deliberated a 
space, and said to the young man, " Do you think 
then, if you were to get the bishopric, you would 
care to make more provision for that same long 
journey ? " These cautious words fell upon the 
chaplain as ripe grapes into the mouth of one who 
stands agape for them, and he threw himself at the 
feet of Charles and said, " Sire, the matter rests upon 
the will of God and your own power." Said the 
king, " Stand behind the curtain, that hangs behind 
me, and mark what kind of help you would receive 
if you were raised to that honour." 

Now, when the officers of the palace, who were 
always on the watch for deaths or accidents, heard 
that the bishop was dead, one and all of them, im- 
patient of delay and jealous of each other, began to 
make suit for the bishopric through the friends of the 
emperor. But Charles still persisted unmoved in his 
design ; he refused everyone, and said that he would 
not disappoint his young friend. At last Queen 
Hildigard sent some of the nobles of the realm, and 


at last came in person, to beg the bishopric for a 
certain clerk of her own. The emperor received 
her petition very graciously and said that he would 
not and could not deny her anything ; but that 
he thought it shame to deceive his little chaplain. 
But still the queen, woman-like, thought that a 
woman's opinion and wish ought to outweigh the 
decrees of men ; and so she concealed the passion that 
was rising in her heart ; she sank her strong voice 
almost to a whisper ; and with caressing gestures 
tried to soften the emperor's unspoken mind. " My 
sire and king," she said, " what does it matter if that 
boy does lose the bishopric ? Nay, I beseech you, 
sweet sire, my glory and my refuge, give it to your 
faithful servant, my clerk." Then that young man, 
who had heard the petitions from behind the curtain 
close to the king's chair where he had been placed, 
embraced the king through the curtain and cried, 
** Sir king, stand fast and do not let anyone take from 
you the power that has been given you by God." 

Then that strict lover of truth bade him come out, 
and said, " I intend you to have the bishopric ; but 
you must be very careful to spend more and make 
fuller provision for that same long and unreturning 
journey both for yourself and for me." 

5. Now there was at the king's court a certain 
E.G. 65 E 


mean and humble clerk, very deficient also in a 
knowledge of letters. The most pious Charles pitied 
his poverty, and, though everyone hated him and 
tried to drive him from the court, he could never 
be persuaded to turn him away or dismiss him there- 
from. Now it happened that, on the eve of Saint 
Martin, the death of a certain bishop was an- 
nounced to the emperor. He summoned one of his 
clerks, a man of high birth and great learning, and 
gave him the bishopric. The new bishop, thereupon, 
bursting with joy, invited to his house many of the 
palace attendants, and also received with great pomp 
many who came from the diocese to greet him : and 
to all he gave a superb banquet. 

It happened then that, loaded with food, drenched 
with liquor and buried in wine, he failed to go to 
the evening service on that most solemn eve. Now it 
was the custom for the chief of the choir to assign the 
day before to everyone the responsory or responsories 
which they were to chant at night. The response : 
Lord, if still I am useful to Thy people, had fallen to 
the lot of this man, who had the bishopric, as it 
were, in his grasp. Well, he was absent ; and after 
the lesson a long pause followed, and each man urged 
his neighbour to take up the responsory, and each man 
answered that he was bound to chant only what had 


been assigned to him. At last the emperor said : 
" Come, one of you must chant it." Then this mean 
clerk, strengthened by some divine inspiration, and 
encouraged by the command, took upon himself the 
responsory. The kindly king thinking that he would 
not be able to chant the whole of it ordered the 
others to help him and all began at once to chant. 
But from none of them could the poor creature learn 
the words, and, when the response was finished, he 
began to chant the Lord's Prayer with the proper 
intonation. Then everyone wished to stop him ; 
but the most wise Charles wanted to see where he 
would get to, and forbade anyone to interfere with 
him. He finished with Thy Kingdom come and the 
rest, willy-willy, had to take it up and say Thy will he 

When the early lauds were finished, the king went 
back to his palace, or rather to his bedroom, to warm 
himself and dress for the coming festal ceremony. 
He ordered that miserable servant and unpractised 
chanter to come into his presence. " Who told you to 
chant that responsory ? " he asked. ** Sire, you ordered 
someone to sing," said the other. "Well," said the 
king (the emperor was called king at first), " who 
told you to begin in that particular responsory ? " 
Then the poor creature, inspired as it is thought by 


God, spoke as follows, in the fashion which inferiors 
then used to superiors, whether for honour, appeal, or 
flattery : — " Blessed lord, and blessing-bestowing king, 
as I could not find out the right verse from anyone, 
I said to myself that I should incur the anger of your 
majesty if I introduced anything strange. So I deter- 
mined to intone something the latter part of which 
usually came at the end of the responsories." 

The kindly emperor smiled gently upon him and 
thus spoke before all his nobles. " That proud man, 
who neither feared nor honoured God or his king 
who had befriended him, enough to refrain one night 
from dissipation and be in his place to chant the 
response which I am told fell to his share, is by 
God's decree and mine deprived of his bishopric. 
You shall take it, for God gives it you, and I allow 
it ; and be sure to administer it according to canoni- 
cal and apostolic rules," 

6, When another prince of the Church died, the 
emperor appointed a young man in his place. When 
the bishop designate came out of the palace to take his 
departure, his servants, with all the decorum that was 
due to a bishop, brought forward a horse and steps to 
mount it : but he took it amiss that they should treat 
him as though he were decrepit ; and leaped from the 
ground on to the horse's back with such violence that 


he nearly fell ofF on the other side. The king looked 
on from the steps of the palace and had him sum- 
moned and thus addressed him : " My good sir, you 
are nimble and quick, agile and headstrong. You 
know yourself that the calm of our empire is dis- 
turbed on all sides by the tempests of many wars. 
Wherefore I want a priest like you at my court. 
Remain therefore as an associate in my labours as 
long as you can mount your horse with such agility." 
7. While I was speaking about the arrangement of 
the responses I forgot to speak about the rules for 
reading and I must devote a few words to that subject 
here. In the palace of the most learned Charles 
there was no one to apportion to each reader the 
passages that were to be read ; no one put a seal at 
the end of the passage or made ever such a little mark 
with his finger-nail. But all had to make themselves 
so well acquainted with the passage, which was set 
down for reading, that if they were suddenly called 
on to read they could perform their duty without 
incurring his censure. He indicated whom he wished 
to read by pointing his finger or his staff, or by sending 
some one of those who were sitting close by him to 
those at a distance. He marked the end of the reading 
by a guttural sound. And all watched so intently for 
this mark that whether it came at the end of a sentence 


or in the middle of a clause or a sub-clause, none dared 
go on for an instant, however strange the beginning or 
the end might seem. And thus it came to pass that 
all in the palace were excellent readers, even if they 
did not understand what they read. No foreigner 
and no celebrity dared enter his choir unless he could 
read and chant. 

8. When Charles one day came in his journeyings 
to a certain palace, a certain clerk from among the 
wandering monks entered the choir and being com- 
pletely ignorant of these rules was soon forced to 
remain stupid and silent among the singers. There- 
upon the choirmaster raised his wand and threatened 
to strike him unless he went on singing. Then the 
poor clerk, not knowing what to do or where to turn, 
and not daring to go out, twisted his neck into the 
shape of a bow and with open mouth and distended 
cheeks did his utmost to imitate the appearance of a 
singer. All the rest could not restrain their laughter, 
but the most valiant emperor, whose mind was never 
shaken from its firm base even by great events, seemed 
not to notice his mockery of singing and waited in due 
order until the end of the mass. But then he called 
the poor wretch before him and pitying his struggles 
and his anxiety soothed his fears with these words : — 
" Many thanks, good clerk, for your singing and your 


efForts." Then he ordered a pound of silver to be 
given him to relieve his poverty. 

9. But I must not seem to forget or to neglect 
Alcuin ; and will therefore make this true statement 
about his energy and his deserts : all his pupils with- 
out exception distinguished themselves by becoming 
either holy abbots or bishops. My master Grimald 
studied the literal arts under him, first in Gaul and 
then in Italy. But those who are learned in these 
matters may charge me with falsehood for saying 
" all his pupils without exception " ; when the fact 
is that there were in his schools two young men, sons 
of a miller in the service of the monastery of Saint 
Columban, who did not seem fit and proper persons 
for promotion to the command of bishoprics or 
monasteries ; but even these men were, by the in- 
fluence probably of their teacher, advanced one after 
the other to the office of minister in the monastery of 
Bobbio, in which they displayed the greatest energy. 

So the most glorious Charles saw the study of 
letters flourishing throughout his whole realm, but 
still he was grieved to find that it did not reach the 
ripeness of the earlier fathers ; and so, after super- 
human labours, he broke out one day with this ex- 
pression of his sorrow : " Would that I had twelve 
clerks so learned in all wisdom and so perfectly trained 


as were Jerome and Augustine." Then the learned 
Alcuin, feeling himself ignorant indeed in comparison 
with these great names, rose to a height of daring, 
that no man else attained to in the presence of the 
terrible Charles, and said, with deep indignation in 
his mind but none in his countenance, " The Maker 
of heaven and earth has not many like to those men 
and do you expect to have twelve ? " 

lo. Here I must report something which the men 
of our time will find it difficult to believe ; for I 
myself who write it could hardly believe it, so great 
is the difference between our method of chanting and 
the Roman, were it not that we must trust rather the 
accuracy of our fathers than the false suggestions of 
modern sloth. Well then, Charles, that never-wearied 
lover of the service of God, when he could con- 
gratulate himself that all possible progress had been 
made in the knowledge of letters, was grieved to 
observe how widely the different provinces — nay, not 
the provinces only but districts and cities — differed in 
the praise of God, that is to say in their method of 
chanting. He therefore asked of Pope Stephen of 
blessed memory — the same who, after Hilderich 
King of the Franks had been deposed and tonsured, 
had anointed Charles to be ruler of the kingdom 
after the ancestral custom of the people — he asked 


of Pope Stephen, I say, that he should provide him 
with twelve clerks deeply learned in divine song. 
The Pope yielded assent to his virtuous wish and his 
divinely inspired design and sent to him in Frankland 
from the apostolic see clerks skilled in divine song, and 
twelve in number, according to the number of the 
twelve apostles. 

Now, when I said Frankland just above, I meant 
all the provinces north of the Alps ; for as it is 
written : " In those days ten men shall take hold out 
of all the languages of the nations, shall even take 
hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew," so at that 
time, by reason of the glory of Charles, Gauls, 
Aquitanians, ^Eduans, Spaniards, Germans, and 
Bavarians thought that no small honour was paid to 
them, if they were thought worthy to be called the 
servants of the Franks. 

Now when the aforementioned clerks were depart- 
ing from Rome, being, like all Greeks and Romans, 
torn with envy of the glory of the Franks, they 
took counsel among themselves, and determined so 
to vary their method of singing that his kingdom 
and dominion should never have cause to rejoice in 
unity and agreement. So when they came to Charles 
they were received most honourably and despatched 
to the chief places. And thereupon each in his 


allotted place began to chant as differently as possible, 
and to teach others to sing in like fashion, and in as 
false a manner as they could invent. But as the most 
cunning Charles celebrated one year the feast of the 
Birth and Coming of Christ at Treves or Metz, and 
most carefully and cleverly grasped and understood 
the style of the singing ; and then the next year 
passed the same solemn season at Paris or Tours, but 
found that the singing was wholly different from 
what he had heard in the preceding year ; as more- 
over he found that those whom he had sent into 
different places were also at variance with one 
another ; he reported the whole matter to Pope Leo, 
of holy memory, who had succeeded Stephen. The 
Pope summoned the clerks back to Rome and con- 
demned them to exile or perpetual imprisonment, 
and then said to Charles : " If I send you others 
they will be blinded with the same malice as their 
predecessors and will not fail to cheat you. But I 
think I can satisfy your wishes in this way. Send me 
two of the cleverest clerks that you have by you, in 
such a way that those who are with me may not 
know that they belong to you, and, with God's help, 
they shall attain to as perfect a knowledge of those 
things as you desire." So said, so done. Soon the 
Pope sent them back excellently trained to Charles. 


One of them he kept at his own court : the other 
upon the petition of his son Drogo, Bishop of Metz, 
he sent to that cathedral. And not only did his 
energy show itself powerful in that city, but it soon 
spread so widely throughout all Frankland, that now 
all in these regions who use the Latin tongue call the 
ecclesiastical chant Metensian ; or, if they use the 
Teutonic or Teuthiscan tongue, they call it Mette ; 
or if the Greek form is used it is called Mettisc. 
The most pious emperor also ordered Peter, the 
singer who had come to reside with him, to reside for 
a while in the monastery of St Gall. There too Charles 
established the chanting as it is to-day, with an 
authentic song-book, and gave most careful instruc- 
tions, being always a warm champion of Saint Gall, 
that the Roman method of singing should be both 
taught and learnt. He gave to the monastery also 
much money and many lands : he gave too relics, 
contained in a reliquary made of solid gold and gems, 
which is called the Shrine of Charles. 

II. It was the habit of the most religious and 
temperate Charles to take food during Lent at the 
seventh hour of the day after having been present at 
the celebration of mass and evening lauds : and in so 
doing he was not violating the fast for he was 
following the Lord's command in taking food at an 


earlier hour than usual. Now a certain bishop, who 
ofFended against the precept of Solomon in being 
just but foolish, took him unwisely to task for this. 
Whereupon the most wise Charles concealed his 
wrath, and received the bishop's admonition in all 
humility, saying, " Good sir bishop, your admonition 
is good ; and now my advice to you is that you 
should take no food until the very humblest of my 
servants, who stand in my court, have been fed." 
Now while Charles was eating he was waited upon 
by dukes and rulers and kings of various peoples ; and 
when his banquet was ended then those who served 
him fed and they were served by counts and praefects 
and nobles of different ranks. And when these last 
had made an end of eating then came the military 
officers and the scholars of the palace : then the chiefs 
of the various departments of the palace ; then their 
subordinates, then the servants of those servants. So 
that the last comers did not get a mouthful of food 
before the middle of the night. When therefore 
Lent was nearly ended, and the bishop in question 
had endured this punishment all the time, the most 
merciful Charles said to him : " Now, sir bishop, I 
think you have found out that it is not lack of self- 
restraint but care for others which makes me dine in 
Lent before the hour of evening." 


1 2. Once he asked a bishop for his blessing and 
he thereupon, after blessing the bread, partook of it 
first himself and then wanted to give it to the most 
honourable Charles : who, however, said to him : 
" You may keep all the bread for yourself" ; and 
much to the bishop's confusion he refused to receive 
his blessing. 

13. The most careful Charles would never give 
more than one county to any of his counts unless 
they happened to live on the borders or marches 
of the barbarians ; nor would he ever give a bishop 
any abbacy or church that was in the royal gift unless 
there were very special reasons for doing it. When 
his councillors or friends asked him the reason for 
this he would answer : " With that revenue or that 
estate, with that little abbey or that church I can 
secure the fidelity of some vassal, as good a man 
as any bishop or count, and perhaps better." But 
when there were special reasons he would give several 
benefices to one man ; as he did for instance to 
Udalric, brother of the great Hildigard, the mother 
of kings and emperors. Now Udalric, after Hildi- 
gard's death, was deprived of his honours for a certain 
offence ; and a buffoon thereupon said in the hearing 
of the most merciful Charles : " Now has Udalric, 
by the death of his sister, lost all his honours both 



in east and west." Charles was touched by these 
words and restored to him at once all his former 
honours. He opened his hands, most widely and 
liberally, when justice bade him, to certain holy 
places, as will appear in the sequel. 

14. There was a certain bishopric which lay full 
in Charles's path when he journeyed, and which 
indeed he could hardly avoid : and the bishop of 
this place, always anxious to give satisfaction, put 
everything that he had at Charles's disposal. But 
once the emperor came quite unexpectedly and 
the bishop in great anxiety had to fly hither and 
thither like a swallow, and had not only the palaces 
and houses but also the courts and squares swept 
and cleaned : and then, tired and irritated, came 
to meet him. The most pious Charles noticed this, 
and after examining all the various details, he said 
to the bishop : " My kind host, you always have 
everything splendidly cleaned for my arrival." Then 
the Bishop, as if divinely inspired, bowed his head 
and grasped the king's never-conquered right hand, 
and hiding his irritation, kissed it and said : " It 
is but right, my lord, that, wherever you come, all 
things should be thoroughly cleansed." Then Charles, 
of all kings the wisest, understanding the state of 
affairs said to him : " If I empty I can also fill." And 


he added : " You may have that estate which lies 
close to your bishopric, and all your successors may 
have it until the end of time." 

15. In the same journey too he came to a bishop 
who lived in a place through which he must needs 
pass. Now on that day, being the sixth day of the 
week, he was not willing to eat the flesh of beast 
or bird ; and the bishop, being by reason of the 
nature of the place unable to procure fish upon 
the sudden, ordered some excellent cheese, rich and 
creamy, to be placed before him. And the most 
self-restrained Charles, with the readiness which he 
showed everywhere and on all occasions, spared the 
blushes of the bishop and required no better fare : 
but taking up his knife cut off the skin, which he 
thought unsavoury, and fell to on the white of the 
cheese. Thereupon the bishop, who was standing 
near like a servant, drew closer and said, " Why do 
you do that, lord emperor ? You are throwing away 
the very best part." Then Charles, who deceived 
no one, and did not believe that anyone would 
deceive him, on the persuasion of the bishop put 
a piece of the skin in his mouth, and slowly ate it 
and swallowed it like butter. Then approving of 
the advice of the bishop, he said : " Very true, my 
good host," and he added : " Be sure to send me 


every year to Aix two cart-loads of just such cheeses." 
The bishop was alarmed at the impossibility of the 
task and, fearful of losing both his rank and his 
office, he rejoined : — " My lord, I can procure the 
cheeses, but I cannot tell which are of this quality 
and which of another. Much I fear lest I fall under 
your censure." Then Charles from whose penetra- 
tion and skill nothing could escape, however new 
or strange it might be, spoke thus to the bishop, 
who from childhood had known such cheeses and 
yet could not test them. " Cut them in two," he 
said, " then fasten together with a skewer those 
that you find to be of the right quality and keep 
them in your cellar for a time and then send them 
to me. The rest you may keep for yourself and 
your clergy and your family." This was done for 
two years and the king ordered the present of 
cheeses to be taken in without remark : then in 
the third year the bishop brought in person his 
laboriously collected cheeses. But the most just 
Charles pitied his labour and anxiety and added to the 
bishopric an excellent estate whence he and his suc- 
cessors might provide themselves with corn and wine. 
1 6. As we have shown how the most wise Charles 
exalted the humble, let us now show how he brought 
low the proud. There was a bishop who sought 


above measure vanities and the fame of men. The 
most cunning Charles heard of this and told a certain 
Jewish merchant, whose custom it was to go to the 
land of promise and bring from thence rare and 
wonderful things to the countries beyond the sea, to 
deceive or cheat this bishop in whatever way he could. 
So the Jew caught an ordinary household mouse 
and stuffed it with various spices, and then offered it 
for sale to the bishop, saying that he had brought this 
most precious never-before-seen animal from Judea. 
The bishop was delighted with what he thought a 
stroke of luck, and offered the Jew three pounds of 
silver for the precious ware. Then said the Jew, 
**A fine price indeed for so precious an article ! I 
had rather throw it into the sea than let any man 
have it at so cheap and shameful a price." So the 
bishop, who had much wealth and never gave any- 
thing to the poor, offered him ten pounds of silver for 
the incomparable treasure. But the cunning rascal, 
with pretended indignation, replied : " The God of 
Abraham forbid that I should thus lose the fruit of 
my labour and journeyings." Then our avaricious 
bishop, all eager for the prize, offered twenty pounds. 
But the Jew in high dudgeon wrapped up the mouse 
in the most costly silk and made as if he would depart. 
Then the bishop, as thoroughly taken in as he deserved 

E.C. 81 F 


to be, offered a full measure of silver for the pricelcds 
object. And so at last our trader yielded to his 
entreaties with much show of reluctance : and, taking 
the money, went to the emperor and told him every- 
thing. A few days later the king called together all 
the bishops and chief men of the province to hold 
discourse with him ; and, after many other matters 
had been considered, he ordered all that measure of 
silver to be brought and placed in the middle of 
the palace. Then thus he spoke and said : — " Fathers 
and guardians, bishops of our Church, you ought to 
minister to the poor, or rather to Christ in them, and 
not to seek after vanities. But now you act quite 
contrary to this ; and are vainglorious and avaricious 
beyond all other men." Then he added : " One of 
you has given a Jew all this silver for a painted mouse." 
Then the bishop, who had been so wickedly deceived, 
threw himself at Charles's feet and begged pardon for 
his sin. Charles upbraided him in suitable words and 
then allowed him to depart in confusion. 

17. This same bishop was left to take care of Hildi- 
gard, when the most warlike Charles was engaged in 
campaigns against the Huns. He was so puffed up 
by his intimacy with her that he had the audacity to 
ask her to allow him to use the golden sceptre of the 
incomparable Charles on festal days instead of his 


episcopal stafF. She deceived him cleverly, and said 
that she dare not give it to anyone, but that she would 
carry his request faithfully to the king. So, w^hen 
Charles came back, she jestingly told him of the mad 
request of the bishop. He kindly promised to do 
what she wished and even more. So, when all 
Europe, so to speak, had come together to greet 
Charles after his victory over so mighty a people, he 
pronounced these words in the hearing of small and 
great : " Bishops should despise this world and in- 
spire others by their example to seek after heavenly 
things. But now they are misled by ambition beyond 
all the rest of mankind ; and one of them not content 
with holding the first episcopal see in Germany has 
dared without my approval to claim my golden sceptre, 
which I carry to signify my royal will, in order that 
he might use it as his pastoral staff." The guilty man 
acknowledged his sin, received pardon and retired. 

1 8. Now, my Lord Emperor Charles, I much fear 
that through my desire to obey your orders I may 
incur the enmity of all who have taken vows and 
especially of the highest clergy of all. But for all 
this I do not greatly care, if only I be not deprived of 
your protection. 

Once that most religious Emperor Charles gave 
orders that all bishops throughout his wide domains 


should preach in the nave of their cathedral before a 
certain day, which he appointed, under penalty of 
being deprived of the episcopal dignity, if they 
failed to comply with the order. — But why do I say 
" dignity " when the apostle protests : " He that desires 
a bishopric desires a good work " ? But in truth, most 
serene of kings, I must confess to you that there is 
great "dignity" in the office, but not the slightest 
" good work " is required. Well, the aforementioned 
bishop was at first alarmed at this command, because 
gluttony and pride were all his learning, and he feared 
that if he lost his bishopric he would lose at the same 
time his soft living. So he invited two of the chiefs 
of the palace on the festal day, and after the reading 
of the lesson mounted the pulpit as though he were 
going to address the people. All the people ran 
together in wonder at so unexpected an occurrence, 
except one poor red-headed fellow, who had his head 
covered with clouts, because he had no hat, and was 
foolishly ashamed of his red hair. Then the bishop 
— bishop in name but not in deed — called to his 
doorkeeper or rather his scario (whose dignity and 
duties went by the name of the aedileship among the 
ancient Romans) and said : " Bring me that man in 
the hat who is standing there near the door of the 
church." The doorkeeper made haste to obey, 


seized the poor man and began to drag him towards 
the bishop. But he feared some heavy penalty for 
daring to stand in the house of God with covered 
head, and struggled with all his might to avoid being 
brought before the tribunal of the terrible judge. But 
the bishop, looking from his perch, now addressing 
his vassals and now chiding the poor knave, bawled 
out and preached as follows: — "Here with him! 
don't let him slip ! Willy-nilly you've got to come." 
When at last force or fear brought him near, the 
bishop cried : " Come forward ; nay, you must come 
quite close." Then he snatched the head-covering 
from his captive and cried to the people : — " Lo and 
behold all ye people ; the boor is red-headed." Then 
he returned to the altar and performed the ceremony, 
or pretended to perform it. 

When the mass was thus scrambled through his 
guests passed into his hall, which was decorated with 
many-coloured carpets, and cloths of all kinds ; and 
there a magnificent banquet, served in gold and silver 
and jewelled cups, was provided, calculated to tickle 
the appetite of the fastidious or the well-fed. The 
bishop himself sat on the softest of cushions, clad in 
precious silks and wearing the imperial purple, so that 
he seemed a king except for the sceptre and the title. 
He was surrounded by troops of rich knights, in com- 


parison with whom the officers of the palace (nobles 
though they were) of the unconquered Charles seemed 
to themselves most mean. When they asked leave 
to depart after this wonderful and more than royal 
banquet he, desiring to show still more plainly his 
magnificence and his glory, ordered skilled musicians 
to come forward, the sound of whose voices could 
soften the hardest hearts or turn to ice the swiftly 
flowing waters of the Rhine. And at the same time 
every kind of choice drink, subtly and variously com- 
pounded, was offered them in bowls of gold and gems, 
whose sheen was mixed with that of the flowers and 
leaves with which they were crowned : but their 
stomachs could contain no more so that the glasses 
lay idle in their hands. Meanwhile pastry cooks and 
sausage makers, servers and dressers offered preparations 
of exquisite art to stimulate their appetite, though 
their stomachs could contain no more : it was a 
banquet such as was never offered even to the great 
Charles himself. 

When morning came and the bishop returned some 
way towards soberness, he thought with fear of the 
luxury that he had paraded before the servants of the 
emperor. So he called them into his presence, loaded 
them with presents worthy of a king, and implored 
them to speak to the terrible Charles of the goodness 


and simplicity of his life ; and above all to tell him 
how he had preached publicly before them in his 

Upon their return Charles asked them why the 
bishop had invited them. Thereupon they fell at 
his feet and said : " Master, it was that he might 
honour us as your representatives, far beyond our 
humble deserts." " He is," they went on, " in every 
way the best and the most faithful of bishops and 
most worthy of the highest rank in the Church. 
For, if you will trust our poor judgment, we profess 
to your sublime majesty that we heard him preach in 
his church in the most stirring fashion." Then the 
emperor who knew the bishop's lack of skill pressed 
them further as to the manner of his preaching ; and 
they, perforce, revealed all. Then the emperor saw 
that he had made an effort to say something rather 
than disobey the imperial order ; and he allowed 
him, in spite of his unworthiness, to retain the 

19. Shortly after a young man, a relation of the 
emperor's, sang, on the occasion of some festival, the 
Allelulia admirably : and the Emperor turned to this 
same bishop and said : " My clerk is singing very 
well." But the stupid man, thought that he was 
jesting and did not know that the clerk was the 


emperor's relation ; and so he answered : " Any 
clowTi in our countryside drones as well as that to 
his oxen at their ploughing." At this vulgar answer 
the emperor turned on him the lightning of his 
flashing eyes and dashed him terror-stricken to the 
very ground. 

26. But though the rest of mankind may be 
deceived by the wiles of the devil and his angels, 
it is pleasant to consider the word of our Lord, who 
in recognition of the bold confession of Saint Peter 
said : — " Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I 
build my church ; and the gates of hell shall not 
prevail against it." Wherefore even in these times of 
great peril and wickedness he has allowed the Church 
to remain unshaken and unmoved. 

Now since envy always rages among the envious so 
it is customary and regular with the Romans to oppose 
or rather to fight against all strong Popes, who are from 
time to time raised to the apostolic see. Whence it 
came to pass that certain of the Romans, themselves 
blinded with envy, charged the above-mentioned 
Pope Leo of holy memory with a deadly crime and 
tried to blind him. But they were frightened and 
held back by some divine impulse, and after trying in 
vain to gouge out his eyes, they slashed them across 


the middle with knives. The Pope had news of this 
carried secretly by his servants to Michael, Emperor 
of Constantinople ; but he refused all assistance say- 
ing : " The Pope has an independent kingdom and 
one higher than mine ; so he must act his own 
revenge upon his enemies." Thereupon the holy 
Leo invited the unconquered Charles to come to 
Rome ; following in this the ordinance of God, that, 
as Charles was already in very deed ruler and emperor 
over many nations, so also by the authority of the 
apostolic see he might have now the name of Em- 
peror, Cassar and Augustus. Now Charles, being 
always ready to march and in warlike array, though 
he knew nothing at all of the cause of the summons, 
came at once with his attendants and his vassals ; 
himself the head of the world he came to the city 
that had once been the head of the world. And 
when the abandoned people heard of his sudden 
coming, at once, as sparrows hide themselves when 
they hear the voice of their master, so they fled and 
hid in various hiding-places, cellars, and dens. No- 
where however under heaven could they escape from 
his energy and penetration ; and soon they were 
captured and brought in chains to the Cathedral of 
St Peter. Then the undaunted Father Leo took the 
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and held it over his 


head, and then in the presence of Charles and his 
knights, in presence also of his persecutors, he swore 
in the following words : — " So on the day of the great 
judgment may I partake in the promises, as I am 
innocent of the charge that is falsely laid against me." 
Then many of the prisoners asked to be allowed to 
swear upon the tomb of St Peter that they also were 
innocent of the charge laid against them. But the 
Pope knew their falseness and said to Charles : " Do 
not, I pray you, unconquered servant of God, give 
assent to their cflnning ; for well they know that 
Saint Peter is always ready to forgive. But seek 
among the tombs of the martyrs the stone upon which 
is written the name of St Pancras, that boy of thirteen 
years ; and if they will swear to you in his name you 
may know that you have them fast." It was done 
as the Pope ordered. And when many people drew 
near to take the oath upon this tomb, straightway 
some fell back dead and some were seized by the 
devil and went mad. Then the terrible Charles 
said to his servants : " Take care that none of them 
escapes." Then he condemned all who had been 
taken prisoner either to some kind of death or to 
perpetual imprisonment. 

As Charles stayed in Rome for a few days, the 
bishop of the apostolic see called together all who 


would come from the neighbouring districts and then, 
in their presence and in the presence of all the knights 
of the unconquered Charles, he declared him to be 
Emperor and Defender of the Roman Church. Now 
Charles had no guess of what was coming ; and, 
though he could not refuse what seemed to have 
been divinely preordained for him, nevertheless he 
received his new title with no show of thankfulness. 
For first he thought that the Greeks would be fired 
by greater envy than ever and would plan some 
harm against the kingdom of the Franks ; or at least 
would take greater precautions against a possible 
sudden attack of Charles to subdue their kingdom, 
and add it to his own empire. And further the 
magnanimous Charles recalled how ambassadors 
from the King of Constantinople had come to 
him and had told him that their master wished 
to be his loyal friend ; and that, if they became 
nearer neighbours, he had determined to treat him 
as his son and relieve the poverty of Charles from 
bis resources : and how, upon hearing this, Charles 
was unable to contain any longer the fiery ardour 
of his heart and had exclaimed : " Oh, would that 
pool were not between us ; for then we would either 
divide between us the wealth of the east, or we 
would hold it in common." 


But the Lord, who is both the giver and the 
restorer of health, so showed his favour to the inno- 
cency of the blessed Leo that he restored his eyes 
to be brighter than they were before that wicked 
and cruel cutting ; except only that, in token of 
his virtue, a bright scar (like a very fine thread) 
marked his eyelids. 

27, The foolish may accuse me of folly because 
just now I made Charles say that the sea, which 
that mighty emperor called playfully a little pool, 
lay between us and the Greeks ; but I must tell my 
critics that at that date the Bulgarians and the Huns 
and many other powerful races barred the way to 
Greece with forces yet unattacked and unbroken. 
Soon afterwards, it is true, the most warlike Charles 
either hurled them to the ground, as he did the 
Slavs and the Bulgars ; or else utterly destroyed them, 
as was the case with the Huns, that race of iron 
and adamant. And I will go on to speak of these 
exploits as soon as I have given a very slight account 
of the wonderful buildings which Charles (Emperor, 
Augustus and Caesar), following the example of the 
all-wise Solomon, built at Aix, either for God, or 
for himself, or for the bishops, abbots, counts and 
all guests that came to him from all quarters of 
the world. 



28. When the most energetic Emperor Charles 
could rest awhile he sought not sluggish case, but 
laboured in the service of God. He desired there- 
fore to build upon his native soil a cathedral finer 
even than the works of the Romans, and soon his 
purpose was realised. For the building thereof he 
summoned architects and skilled workmen from all 
lands beyond the seas ; and above all he placed a 
certain knavish abbot whose competence for the 
execution of such tasks he knew, though he knew 
not his character. When the august emperor had 
gone on a certain journey, this abbot allowed anyone 
to depart home who would pay sufficient money : 
and those who could noe purchase their discharge, 
or were not allowed to return by their masters, 
he burdened with unending labours, as the Egyptians 
once afflicted the people of God. By such knavish 
tricks he gathered together a great mass of gold 
and silver and silken robes ; and, exhibiting in his 
chamber only the least precious articles, he concealed 
in boxes and chests all the richest treasures. Well, 
one day there was brought to him on a sudden the 
news that his house was on fire. He ran, in great 
excitement, and pushed his way through the bursting 
flames into the strong room where his boxes, stuffed 
with gold, were kept : he was not satisfied to take 


one away, but would only leave after he had loaded 
his servants with a box a piece. And as he was 
going out a huge beam, dislodged by the fire, fell 
on the top of him ; and then his body was burnt by 
temporal and his soul by eternal flames. Thus did 
the judgment of God keep watch for the most re- 
ligious Emperor Charles, when his attention was 
withdrawn by the business of his kingdom. 

29. There was another workman, the most skilled 
of all in the working of brass and glass. Now this 
man (his name was Tancho and he was at one time 
a monk of St Gall) made a fine bell and the emperor 
was delighted with its tone. Then said that most 
distinguished, but most unfortunate worker in brass : 
**Lord emperor, give orders that a great weight of 
copper be brought to me that I may refine it ; and 
instead of tin give me as much silver as I shall need — 
a hundred pounds at least ; and I will cast such a bell 
for you that this will seem dumb in comparison to 
it." Then Charles, the most liberal of monarchs, 
who " if riches abounded set not his heart upon 
them " readily gave the necessary orders, to the great 
delight of the knavish monk. He smelted and re- 
fined the brass ; but he used, not silver, but the purest 
sort of tin, and soon he made a bell, much better 
than the one that the emperor had formerly admired, 


and, when he had tested it, he took it to the emperor, 
who admired its exquisite shape and ordered the 
clapper to be inserted and the bell to be hung in 
the bell-tower. That was soon done ; and then the 
warden of the church, the attendants and even the 
boys of the place tried, one after the other, to make 
the bell sound. But all was in vain ; and so at last 
the knavish maker of the bell came up, seized the 
rope, and pulled at the bell. When, lo and behold ! 
down from on high came the brazen mass ; fell on 
the very head of the cheating brass-founder ; killed 
him on the spot ; and passed straight through his 
carcass and crashed to the ground carrying his bowels 
with it. When the aforementioned weight of silver 
was found, the most righteous Charles ordered it to 
be distributed among the poorest servants of the 

30. Now it was a rule at that time that if the 
imperial mandate had gone out that any task was to 
be accomplished, whether it was the making of 
bridges, or ships or causeways, or the cleansing or 
paving or filling up of muddy roads, the counts might 
execute the less important work by the agency of 
their deputies or servants ; but for the greater enter- 
prises, and especially such as were of an original kind, 
no duke or count, no bishop or abbot could possibly 


get himself excused. The arches of the great bridge 
at Mainz bear witness to this ; for all Europe, so to 
speak, laboured at this work in orderly co-operation, 
and then the knavery of a few rascals, who wanted to 
steal merchandise from the ships that passed under- 
neath, destroyed it. 

If any churches, within the royal domain, wanted 
decorating with carved ceilings or wall paintings, the 
neighbouring bishops and abbots had to take charge 
of the task ; but if new churches had to be built then 
all bishops, dukes and counts, all abbots and heads of 
royal churches and all who were in occupation of any 
public office had to work at it with never-ceasing 
labour from its foundations to its roof. You may see 
the proof of the emperor's skill in the cathedral at 
Aix, which seems a work half human and half divine ; 
you may see it in the mansions of the various 
dignitaries which, by Charles's device, were built 
round his own palace in such a way that from the 
windows of his chamber he could see all who went 
out or came in, and what they were doing, while 
they believed themselves free from observation ; you 
may see it in all the houses of his nobles, which were 
lifted on high from the ground in such a fashion that 
beneath them the retainers of his nobles and the 
servants of those retainers and every class of man 


could be protected from rain or snow, from cold or 
heat, while at the same time they were not concealed 
from the eyes of the most vigilant Charles. But I 
am a prisoner within my monastery walls and your 
ministers are free ; and I will therefore leave to them 
the task of describing the cathedral, while I return to 
speak of how the judgment of God was made mani- 
fest in the building of it. 

31. The most careful Charles ordered certain 
nobles of the neighbourhood to support with all their 
power the workmen whom he had set to their task, 
and to supply everything that they required for it. 
Those workmen who came from a distance he gave 
in charge to a certain Liutfrid, the steward of his 
palace, telling him to feed and clothe them and also 
most carefully to provide anything that was wanting 
for the building. The steward obeyed these com- 
mands for the short time that Charles remained in 
that place ; but after his departure neglected them 
altogether, and by cruel tortures collected such a mass 
of money from the poor workmen that Dis and Pluto 
would require a camel to carry his ill-gotten gains to 
hell. Now this was found out in the following way. 

The most glorious Charles used to go to lauds at 
night in a long and flowing cloak, which is now 
neither used nor known : then when the morning 
E.C. 97 G 


chant was over he would go back to his chamber and 
dress himself in his imperial robes. All the clerks used 
to come ready dressed to the nightly office, and then 
they would wait for the emperor's arrival, and for the 
celebration of mass either in the church or in the 
porch which then was called the outer court. Some- 
times they would remain awake, or if anyone had 
need of sleep he would lean his head on his com- 
panion's breast. Now one poor clerk, who used 
often to go to Liutfrid's house to get his clothes (rags 
I ought to call them) washed and mended, was 
sleeping with his head on a friend's knees, when he 
saw in a vision a giant, taller than the adversary of 
Saint Anthony, come from the king's court and hurry 
over the bridge, that spanned a little stream, to the 
house of the steward ; and he led with him an 
enormous camel, burdened with baggage of inestim- 
able value. He was, in his dream, struck with 
amazement and he asked the giant who he was and 
whither he wished to go. And the giant made 
answer : " I come from the house of the king and 
I go to the house of Liutfrid ; and I shall place 
Liutfrid on these packages and I shall take him and 
them down with me to hell." 

Thereupon the clerk woke up, in a fright lest 
Charles should find him sleeping. He lifted up 


his head and urged the others to wakefulness and 
cried : " Hear, I pray you, my dream. I seemed to 
see another Polyphemus, who walked on the earth 
and yet touched the stars, and passed through the 
Ionian Sea without wetting his sides. I saw him 
hasten from the royal court to the house of Liutfrid 
with a laden camel. And when I asked the cause 
of his journey, he said : * I am going to put Liutfrid 
on the top of the load, and then take him to hell.' " 

The story was hardly finished when there came 
from that house, which they all knew so well, a girl 
who fell at their feet and asked them to remember 
her friend Liutfrid in their prayers. And, when 
they asked the reason for her words, she said : " My 
lord, he went out but now in good health, and, as 
he stayed a long time, we went in search of him, 
and found him dead." 

When the emperor heard of his sudden death, and 
was informed by the workmen and his servants of his 
grasping avarice, he ordered his treasures to be ex- 
amined. They were found to be of priceless worth, 
and when the emperor, after God the greatest of 
judges, found by what wickedness they had been 
collected he gave this public judgment : ** Nothing 
of that which was gained by fraud must go to 
the liberation of his soul from purgatory. Let his 


wealth be divided among th« workmen of this our 
building, and the poorer servants of our palace." 

32. Now I must speak of two things which 
happened in that same place. There was a deacon 
who followed the Italian custom and resisted the 
course of nature. For he went to the baths and 
had himself closely shaved, polished his skin, cleaned 
his nails, and had his hair cut as short as if it had been 
done by a lathe. Then he put on linen and a white 
robe, and then, because he must not miss his turn, 
or rather desiring to make a fine show, he proceeded 
to read the gospel before God and His holy angels, 
and in presence of the most watchful king ; his heart 
in the meantime being unclean, as events were to show. 
For while he was reading, a spider came down from 
the ceiling by a thread, hooked itself on to the 
deacon's head, and then ran up again. The most 
observant Charles saw this happen a second and a 
third time, but pretended not to notice it, and the 
clerk, because of the emperor's presence, dare not 
keep off the spider with his hand, and moreover did 
not know that it was a spider attacking him, but 
thought that it was merely the tickling of a fly. 
So he finished the reading of the gospel, and also 
went through the rest of the office. But when he 
left the cathedral he soon began to swell up, and 


died within an hour. But the most scrupulous 
Charles, inasmuch as he had seen his danger and had 
not prevented it, thought himself guilty of man- 
slaughter arid did public penance. 

33. Now the most glorious Charles had in his 
suite a certain clerk who was unsurpassed in every 
respect. And of him that was said which was never 
said of any other mortal man : for it was said that 
he excelled all mankind in knowledge of both sacred 
and profane literature ; in song whether ecclesiastical 
or festive ; in the composition and rendering of 
poems and in the sweet fulness of his voice and 
in the incredible pleasure which he gave. [Other 
men have had drawbacks to compensate for their 
excellences] : for Moses, the lawgiver filled with 
wisdom by the teaching of God, complains neverthe- 
less that " he is not eloquent " but slow of speech, 
and " of a slow tongue," and sent therefore Joshua to 
take counsel with Eleasar, the high priest, who by 
the authority of the God, who dwelt within him, 
commanded even the heavenly bodies : and our 
Master Christ did not allow John the Baptist to 
work any miracle while in the body, though he bare 
witness that " among them that are born of women 
there hath not arisen a greater " than he : and He 
bade Peter revere the wisdom of Paul, though Peter 



by the revelation of the Father recognised Him and 
received from Him the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven : and He allovv'ed John His best-loved disciple 
to fall into so great a terror that he did not dare to 
come to the place of His sepulchre, though weak 
women paid many visits to it. 

But as the scriptures say : " To him that hath shall be 
given" ; and those, who know from whom they have 
the little which they possess, succeed ; while he who 
knows not the giver of his possessions, or, if he knows 
it, gives not due thanks to the Giver, loses all. 
For, while this wonderful clerk was standing in 
friendly fashion near the most glorious emperor, 
suddenly he disappeared. The unconquered Em- 
peror Charles was dumfoundercd at so unheard of 
and incredible an occurrence : but, after he had 
made the sign of the cross, he found in the place 
where the clerk had stood something that seemed to 
be a foul-smelling coal, which had just ceased to 

34. The mention of the trailing garment that the 
emperor wore at night has diverted us from his 
military array. Now the dress and equipment of 
the old Franks was as follows : — Their boots were 
gilt on the outside and decorated with laces three 
cubits long. The thongs round the legs were red, 
and under them they wore upon their legs and thighs 


linen of the same colour, artistically embroidered. 
The laces stretched above these linen garments and 
above the crossed thongs, sometimes under them and 
sometimes over them, now in front of the leg 
and now behind. Then came a rich linen shirt 
and then a buckled sword-belt. The great sword 
was surrounded first with a sheath, then with a 
covering of leather, and lastly with a linen wrap 
hardened with shining wax. 

The last part of their dress was a white or blue 
cloak in the shape of a double square ; so that when 
it was placed upon the shoulders it touched the feet 
in front and behind, but at the side hardly came 
down to the knees. In the right hand was carried 
a stick of apple-wood, with regular knots, strong and 
terrible ; a handle of gold or silver decorated with 
figures was fastened to it. I myself am lazy and 
slower than a tortoise, and so never got into Frankland ; 
but I saw the King of the Franks in the monastery of 
Saint Gall, glittering in the dress that I have described. 

But the habits of man change ; and when the 
Franks, in their wars with the Gauls, saw the latter 
proudly wearing little striped cloaks, they dropped 
their national customs and began to imitate the Gauls. 
At first the strictest of emperors did not forbid the 
new habit, because it seemed more suitable for war : 
but, when he found that the Frisians were abusing 


his permission, and were selling these little cloaks at 
the same price as the old large ones, he gave orders 
that no one should buy from them, at the usual price, 
anything but the old cloaks, broad, wide and long : 
and he added : " What is the good of those little 
napkins ? I cannot cover myself with them in bed 
and when I am on horseback I cannot shield myself 
with them against wind and rain." 

In the preface to this little work I said I would 
follow three authorities only. But as the chief of 
these, Werinbert, died seven days ago and to-day 
(the thirteenth of May) we, his bereaved sons and 
disciples, are going to pay solemn honour to his 
memory, here I will bring this book to an end, 
concerning the piety of Lord Charles and his care 
of the Church, which has been taken from the lips 
of this same clerk, Werinbert. 

The next book which deals with the wars of the 
most fierce Charles is founded on the narrative of 
Werinbert's father, Adalbert. He followed his master 
Kerold in the Hunnish, Saxon and Slavic wars, 
and when I was quite a child, and he a very old 
man, I lived in his house and he used often to tell 
me the story of these events. I was most unwilling 
to listen and would often run away ; but in the 
end by sheer force he made me hear. 



As I am going to found this narrative on the story 
told by a man of the world, who had little skill in 
letters, I think it will be well that I should first 
recount something of earlier history on the credit 
of written books. When Julian, whom God hated, 
vw? slain in the Persian war by a blow from heaven, 
not only did the transmarine provinces fall away 
from the Roman Empire, but also the neighbouring 
provinces of Pannonia, Noricum, Rhaetia, or in other 
words the Germans and the Franks or Gauls. Then 
too the kings of the Franks (or Gauls) began to 
decay in power because they had slain Saint Didier, 
Bishop of Vienna, and had expelled those most holy 
visitors, Columban and Gall. Whereupon the race 
of the Huns, who had already often ravaged Francia 


and Aquitania (that is to say the Gauls and the 
Spains), now poured out with all their forces, de- 
vastated the whole land like a wide-sweeping con- 
flagration, and then carried off all their spoils to 
a very safe hiding-place. Now Adalbert, whom I 
have already mentioned, used to explain the nature 
of this hiding-place as follows : — " The land of the 
Huns," he would say, " was surrounded by nine 
rings." I could not think of any rings except 
our ordinary wicker rings for sheepfolds ; and so 
I asked : " What, in the name of wonder, do you 
mean, sire ? " " Well," he said, " it was fortified 
by nine hedges." I could not think of any hedges 
except those that protect our cornfields, so again 
I asked and he answered : " One ring was as wide, 
that is, it contained as much within it, as all the 
country between Tours and Constance. It was 
fashioned with logs of oak and ash and yew and 
was twenty feet wide and the same in height. All 
the space within was filled with hard stones and bind- 
ing clay ; and the surface of these great ramparts was 
covered with sods and grass. Within the limits of 
the ring shrubs were planted of such a kind that, 
when lopped and bent down, they still threw out 
twigs and leaves. Then between these ramparts 
hamlets and houses were so arranged that a man's 
1 06 


voice could be made to reach from one to the other. 
And opposite to the houses, at intervals in those 
unconquerable walls, were constructed doors of no 
great size ; and through these doors the inhabitants 
from far and near would pour out on marauding 
expeditions. The second ring was like the first 
and was distant twenty Teutonic miles (or forty 
Italian) from the third ring : and so on to the 
ninth : though of course the successive rings were 
each much narrower than the preceding one. But 
in all the circles the estates and houses were every- 
where so arranged that the peal of the trumpet 
would carry the news of any event from one to the 

For two hundred years and more the Huns had 
swept the wealth of the western states within these 
fortifications, and as the Goths and Vandals were 
disturbing the repose of the world at the same time 
the western world was almost turned into a desert. 
But the most unconquerable Charles so subdued them 
in eight years that he allowed scarcely any traces 
of them to remain. He withdrew his hand from 
the Bulgarians, because after the destruction of 
the Huns they did not seem likely to do any 
harm to the kingdom of the Franks. All the 
booty of the Huns, which he found in Pannonia, 


he divided most liberally among the bishoprics 
and the monasteries. 

2. In the Saxon war in which he was engaged 
in person for some considerable time, two private 
men (whose names I know, but modesty forbids 
me to give them) organised a storming party, and 
destroyed with great courage the walls of a very 
strong city and fortification. When the most just 
Charles saw this he made one of them, with the 
consent of his master Kerold, commander of the 
country between the Rhine and the Italian Alps 
and the other he enriched with gifts of land. 

3. At the same time there were the sons of two 
nobles whose duty it was to watch at the door of the 
king's tent. But one night they lay as dead, soaked 
in liquor ; while Charles, wakeful as usual, went the 
round of the camp, and came back to his tent without 
anyone having noticed him. When morning came 
he called to him the chiefs of his kingdom, and asked 
them what punishment seemed due to those who 
betrayed the King of the Franks into the hands ot 
the enemy. Then these nobles, quite ignorant of 
what had occurred, declared that such a man was 
worthy of death. But Charles merely upbraided 
them bitterly and let them go unharmed. 

4. There were also with him two bastards, the 



children of a concubine. As they had fought in 
battle most bravely, the emperor asked them whose 
children they were, and where they were born. 
When he was informed of the facts, he called them 
to his tent at midday and said : "My good fellows, 
I want you to serve me, and me only." They ex- 
claimed that they were there for no other purpose 
than to take even the lowest place in his service. 
"Well then," said Charles, "you must serve in my 
chamber." They concealed their indignation and 
said they would be glad to do so ; but soon they 
seized the moment when the emperor had begun to 
sleep soundly, and then rushed out to the camp of 
the enemy and, in the fray that followed, wiped out 
the taint of servitude in their own blood and that of 
the enemy. 

5. But occupations such as these did not prevent 
the high-souled emperor from sending frequent mes- 
sengers, carrying letters and presents, to the kings of 
the most distant regions ; and they .sent him in turn 
whatever honours their lands could bestow. From 
the theatre of the Saxon war he sent messengers 
to the King of Constantinople ; who asked them 
whether the kingdom of " his son Charles " was at peace 
or was being invaded by the neighbouring peoples. 
Then the leader of the embassy made answer that 


peace reigned everywhere, except only that a certain 
race called the Saxons were disturbing the territories 
of the Franks by frequent raids. Whereupon the 
sluggish and unwarlike Greek king answered : 
" Pooh ! why should my son take so much trouble 
about a petty enemy that possesses neither fame nor 
valour ? I will give you the Saxon race and all that 
belong to it." When the envoy on his return gave 
this message to the most warlike Charles, he smiled 
and said : " The king would have shown greater 
kindness to you if he had given you a leg-wrap for 
your long journey." 

6. I must not conceal the wise answer which the 
same envoy gave during his embassy to Greece. 
He came with his companions to one of the royal 
towns in the autumn ; the party was divided for 
entertainment, and the envoy of whom I speak was 
quartered on a certain bishop. This bishop was 
given up to fasting and prayer, and left the envoy to 
perish of almost continuous hunger : but, with the 
first smile of spring, he presented the envoy to the 
king. The king asked him his opinion of the 
bishop. Then the envoy sighed from the very 
bottom of his heart and said : " That bishop of yours 
reaches the highest point of holiness that can be 
attained to without God." The king was amazed, 


and said : " What ! can a man be holy without 
God ? " Then said the envoy : " It is written, * God 
is love,' and in that grace he is entirely lacking." 

Thereupon the King of Constantinople invited him 
to his banquet and placed him among his nobles. 
Now these had a law that no guest at the king's 
table, whether a native or a foreigner, should turn 
over any animal or part of an animal : he must eat 
only the upper part of whatever was placed before 
him. Now, a river fish, covered with spice, was 
brought and placed on the dish before him. He 
knew nothing of the custom and turned the fish over 
whereupon all the nobles rose up and cried : " Master, 
you are dishonoured, as no king ever was before you." 
Then the king groaned and said to our envoy : " I 
cannot resist them : you must be put to death at 
once : but ask me any other favour you like and I 
will grant it." He thought awhile and then in the 
hearing of all pronounced these words : " I pray you, 
lord emperor, that in accordance with your promise 
you will grant me one small petition." And the 
king said : "Ask what you will, and you shall have 
it : except only that I may not give you your life, 
for that is against the law of the Greeks." Then 
said the envoy : " With my dying breath I ask one 
&vour ; let everj'one who saw me turn that fish over 


be deprived of his eyes." The king was amazed at 
the stipulation, and swore, by Christ, that he had seen 
nothing, but had only trusted the word of others. 
Then the queen began to excuse herself: "By the 
beneficent Mother of God, the Holy Mary, I noticed 
nothing." Then the other nobles, in their desire to 
escape from the danger, swore, one by the keeper of 
the keys of heaven, and another by the apostle of the 
Gentiles, and all the rest by the virtue of the angels 
and the companies of the saints, that they were be- 
yond the reach of the stipulation. And so the clever 
Frank beat the empty-headed Greeks in their own 
land and came home safe and sound. 

A few years later the unwearied Charles sent to 
Greece a certain bishop remarkable both for his 
physical and mental gifts, and with him the most 
noble Duke Hugo. After a long delay they were at 
last brought into the presence of the king and then 
sent about to all manner of places. But at last they 
got their dismissal and returned, after paying heavily 
for their journey by sea and land. 

Soon afterwards the Greek king sent his envoy to 
the most glorious Charles. It so happened that the 
bishop and the duke whom I have mentioned were 
just then with the emperor. When it was announced 
that the envoys were coming they advised the most 



wise Charles to have them led round through moun- 
tains and deserts, so that they should only come into 
the emperor's presence when their clothes had been 
worn and wasted, and their money was entirely 

This was done ; and, when at last they arrived, the 
bishop and his comrade bade the count of the stables 
take his seat on a high throne in the midst of his 
underlings, so that it was impossible to believe him 
anyone lower than the emperor. When the envoys 
saw him they fell upon the ground and wanted to 
worship him. But they were prevented by the 
ministers and forced to go farther. Then they saw 
the count of the palace presiding over a gathering of 
the nobles and again they thought it was the emperor 
and flung themselves to earth. But those who were 
present drove them forward with blows and said : 
" That is not the emperor." Next they saw the 
master of the royal table surrounded by his noble 
band of servants ; and again they fell to the ground 
thinking that it was the emperor. Driven thence 
they found the chamberlains of the emperor and 
their chief in council together ; and then they did 
not doubt but that they were in the presence of the 
first of living men. But this man too denied that he 
was what they took him for ; and yet he promised 

E.C. 113 H 


that he would use his influence with the nobles of 
the palace, so that if possible the envoys might come 
into the presence of the most august emperor. Then 
there came servants from the imperial presence to 
introduce them with full honours. Now Charles, 
the most gracious of kings, was standing by an open 
window leaning upon Bishop Heitto, for that was the 
name of the bishop who had been sent to Constan- 
tinople. The emperor was clad in gems and gold 
and glittered like the sun at its rising : and round 
about him stood, as it were the chivalry of heaven, 
three young men, his sons, who have since been 
made partners in the kingdom ; his daughters and 
their mother decorated with wisdom and beauty as 
well as with pearls ; leaders of the Church, unsur- 
passed in dignity and virtue ; abbots distinguished 
for their high birth and their sanctity ; nobles, like 
Joshua when he appeared in the camp of Gilgal ; 
and an army like that which drove back the Syrians 
and Assyrians out of Samaria. So that if David had 
been there he might well have sung : " Kings of the 
earth and all people ; princes and all judges of the 
earth ; both young men and maidens ; old men 
and children let them praise the name of the Lord." 
Then the envoys of the Greeks were astonished ; 
their spirit left them and their courage failed ; 


speechless and lifeless they fell upon the ground. 
But the most kindly emperor raised them, and tried 
to cheer them with encouraging words. At last life 
returned to them ; but when they saw Heitto, whom 
they had once despised and rejected, now in so great 
honour, again they grovelled on the ground in terror ; 
until the king swore to them by the King of Heaven 
that he would do them no harm. They took heart 
at this promise and began to act with a little more 
confidence ; and so home they went and never came 
back again. 

7. And here I must repeat that the most illustrious 
Charles had men of the greatest cleverness in all 
offices. When the morning lauds had been cele- 
brated before the emperor on the octave of the 
Epiphany, the Greeks proceeded privately to sing to 
God in their own language psalms with the same 
melody and the same subject matter as " Feterem 
hominem " and the following words in our missal. 
Thereupon the emperor ordered one of his chaplains, 
who understood the Greek tongue, to adopt that 
psalm in Latin to the same melody, and to take 
special care that a separate syllable corresponded to 
every separate note, so that the Latin and Greek 
should resemble one another as far as the nature 
of the two languages allowed. So it came to pass 


that all of them have been written in the same 
rhythm, and in one of them conteruit has been sub- 
stituted for "conirivit" 

These same Greek envoys brought with them every 
kind of organ, as well as other instruments of various 
kinds. All of these were covertly inspected by the 
workmen of the most wise Charles, and then exactly 
reproduced. The chief of these was that musicians' 
organ, wherein the great chests were made of brass : 
and bellows of ox-hide blew through pipes of brass, 
and the bass was like the roaring of the thunder, 
and in sweetness it equalled the tinkling of lyre or 
cymbal. But I must not, here and now, speak of 
where it was set up, and how long it lasted, and 
how it perished at the same time as other losses fell 
upon the state. 

8. About the same time also envoys of the Persians 
were sent to him. They knew not where Frank- 
land lay ; but because of the fame of Rome, over 
which they knew that Charles had rule, they thought 
it a great thing when they were able to reach the 
coast of Italy. They explained the reason of their 
journey to the Bishops of Campania and Tuscany, 
of Emilia and Liguria, of Burgundy and Gaul and 
to the abbots and counts of those regions ; but by 
all they were either deceitfully handled or else 


actually driven off; so that a whole year had gone 
round before, weary and footsore with their long 
journey, they reached Aix at last and saw Charles, 
the most renowned of kings by reason of his virtues. 
They arrived in the last week of Lent, and, on their 
arrival being made known to the emperor, he post- 
poned their presentation until Easter Eve. Then 
when that incomparable monarch was dressed with 
incomparable magnificence for the chief of festivals, 
he ordered the introduction of the envoys of that 
race that had once held the whole world in awe. 
But they were so terrified at the sight of the 
most magnificent Charles that one might think they 
had never seen king or emperor before. He received 
them however most kindly, and granted them this 
privilege — that they might go wherever they had a 
mind to, even as one of his own children, and 
examine everything and ask what questions and 
make what inquiries they chose. They jumped 
with joy at this favour, and valued the privilege of 
clinging close to Charles, of gazing upon him, of 
admiring him, more than all the wealth of the 

They went up into the ambulatory that runs 
round the nave of the cathedral and looked down 
upon the clergy and the nobles ; then they re- 


turned to the emperor, and, by reason of the great- 
ness of their joy, they could not refrain from laughing 
aloud ; and they clapped their hands and said : — 
" We have seen only men of clay before : here are 
men of gold." Then they went to the nobles, 
one by one, and gazed with wonder upon arms 
and clothes that were strange to them ; and then 
came back to the emperor, whom they regarded 
with wonder still greater. They passed that night 
and the next Sunday continuously in church ; and, 
upon the most holy day itself, they were invited 
by the most munificent Charles to a splendid 
banquet, along with the nobles of Frankland and 
Europe. There they were so struck with amaze- 
ment at the strangeness of everything that they 
had hardly eaten anything at the end of the 

" But when the Morn, leaving Tithonus' bed, 
Illumined all the land with Phcebus' torch " 

then Charles, who would never endure idleness and 
sloth, went out to the woods to hunt the bison 
and the urochs ; and made preparations to take the 
Persian envoys with him. But when they saw the 
immense animals they were stricken with a mighty 
fear and turned and fled. But the undaunted hero 


Charles, riding on a high-mettled charger, drew 
near to one of these animals and drawing his 
sword tried to cut through its neck. But he 
missed his aim, and the monstrous beast ripped 
the boot and leg-thongs of the emperor ; and, 
slightly wounding his calf with the tip of its horn, 
made him limp slightly : after that, furious at the 
failure of its stroke, it fled to the shelter of a valley, 
which was thickly covered with stones and trees. 
Nearly all his servants wanted to take off their own 
hose to give to Charles, but he forbade it saying : 
"I mean to go in this fashion to Hildigard."' Then 
Isambard, the son of Warin (the same Warin that 
persecuted your patron Saint Othmar), ran after the 
beast and not daring to approach him more closely, 
threw his lance and pierced him to the heart between 
the shoulder and the wind-pipe, and brought the 
beast yet warm to the emperor. He seemed to 
pay no attention to. the incident ; but gave the 
carcass to his companions and went home. But 
then he called the queen and showed her how 
his leg-coverings were torn, and said : " What does 
the man deserve who freed me from the enemy 
that did this to me ? " She made answer : " He 
deserves the highest boon." Then the emperor 
told the whole story and produced the enormoui 


horns of the beast in witness of his truth : so that 
the empress sighed and wept and beat her breast. 
But when she heard that it was Isambard, who had 
saved him from this terrible enemy, Isambard, who 
was in ill favour with the emperor and who had 
been deprived of all his offices — she threw herself 
at his feet and induced him to restore all that had 
been taken from him ; and a largess was given 
to him besides. 

These same Persian envoys brought the emperor 
an elephant, monkeys, balsam, nard, unguents of 
various kinds, spices, scents and many kinds of drugs : 
in such profusion that it seemed as if the east had 
been left bare that the west might be filled. They 
came by-and-by to stand on very familiar terms 
with the emperor ; and one day, when they were 
in a specially merry mood and a little heated with 
strong beer, they spoke in jest as follows : — " Sir 
emperor, your power is indeed great ; but much 
less than the report of it which is spread through 
all the kingdoms of the east." When he heard this 
he concealed his deep displeasure and asked jestingly 
of them : " Why do you say that, my children ? 
How did that idea get into your heads ? " Then 
they went back to the beginning and told him every- 
thing that had happened to them in the lands beyond 



the sea ; and they said : — " We Persians and the 
Medes, Armenians, Indians, Parthians, Elamites, 
and all the inhabitants of the east fear you much 
more than our own ruler Haroun. And the Mace- 
donians and all the Greeks (how shall we express it ?) 
they are beginning to fear your overwhelming great- 
ness more than the waves of the Ionian Sea. And 
the inhabitants of all the islands through which we 
passed were as ready to obey you, and as much 
devoted to your service, as if they had been reared 
in your palace and loaded with your favours. But 
the nobles of your own kingdom, it seems to us, 
care very little about you except in your presence : 
for when we came as strangers to them, and begged 
them to show us some kindness for the love of you, 
to whom we desired to make our way, they gave 
no heed to us and sent us away empty-handed." 
Then the emperor deposed all counts and abbots, 
through whose territories those envoys had come, 
from all the offices that they held ; and fined the 
bishops in a huge sum of money. Then he ordered 
the envoys to be taken back to their own country 
with all care and honour. 

9. There came to him also envoys from the King 
of the Africans, bringing a Marmorian lion and a 
Numidian bear, with, Spanish iron and Tyrian 


purple, and other noteworthy products of those 
regions. The most munificent Charles knew that 
the king and all the inhabitants of Africa were 
oppressed by constant poverty ; and so, not only 
on this occasion but all through his life, he made 
them presents of the wealth of Europe, corn and 
wine and oil, and gave them liberal support ; and 
thus he kept them constantly loyal and obedient 
to himself, and received from them a considerable 

Soon after the unwearied emperor sent to the 
emperor of the Persians horses and mules from 
Spain ; Frisian robes, white, grey, red and blue ; 
which in Persia, he was told, were rarely seen and 
highly prized. Dogs too he sent him of remarkable 
swiftness and fierceness, such as the King of Persia 
had desired, for the hunting and catching of lions 
and tigers. The King of Persia cast a careless eye 
over the other presents, but asked the envoys what 
wild beasts or animals these dogs were accustomed 
to fight with. He was told that they would pull 
down quickly anything they were set on to. 
"Well," he said, "experience will test that." Next 
day the shepherds were heard crying loudly as they 
fled from a lion. When the noise came to the 
palace of the king, he said to the envoys ; " Now, 



my friends of Frankland, mount your horses and 
follow me." Then they eagerly followed after 
the king as though they had never known toil or 
weariness. When they came in sight of the lion, 
though he was yet at a distance, the satrap of the 
satraps said to them : " Now set your dogs on to 
the lion." They obeyed and eagerly galloped 
forward ; the German dogs caught the Persian lion, 
and the envoys slew him with swords of northern 
metal, which had already been tempered in the blood 
of the Saxons. 

At this sight Haroun, the bravest inheritor of that 
name, understood the superior might of Charles from 
very small indications, and thus broke out in his 
praise : — " Now I know that what I heard of my 
brother Charles is true : how that by the frequent 
practice of hunting, and by the unwearied training 
of his body and mind, he has acquired the habit 
of subduing all that is beneath the heavens. How 
can I make worthy recompense for the honours which 
he has bestowed upon me ? If I give him the land 
which was promised to Abraham and shown to 
Joshua, it is so far away that he could not defend it 
from the barbarians : or if, like the high-souled king 
that he is, he tried to defend it I fear that the pro- 
vinces which lie upon the frontiers of the Prankish 


kingdom would revolt from his empire. But in this 
way I will try to show my gratitude for his gener- 
osity. I will give that land into his power ; and I 
will rule over it as his representative. Whenever he 
likes or whenever there is a good opportunity he 
shall send me envoys ; and he will find me a faith- 
ful manager of the revenue of that province." 

Thus was brought to pass what the poet spoke of 
as an impossibility : — 

" The Parthian's eyes the Arar's stream shall greet 
And Tigris' waves shall lave the German's feet " : 

for through the energy of the most vigorous Charles 
it was found not merely possible but quite easy for 
his envoys to go and return ; and the messengers of 
Haroun, whether young or old, passed easily from 
Parthia into Germany and returned from Germany 
to Parthia. (And the poet's words are true, what- 
ever interpretation the grammarians put on " the 
river Arar," whether they think it an affluent of 
the Rhone or the Rhine ; for they have fallen into 
confusion on this point through their ignorance of 
the locality). I could call on Germany to bear 
witness to my words ; for in the time of your 
glorious father Lewis the land was compelled to 
pay a penny for every acre of land held under the 


law towards the redemption of Christian captives in 
the Holy Land ; and they made their wretched appeal 
in the name of the dominion anciently held over that 
land by your great-grandfather Charles and your 
grandfather Lewis. 

lo. Now as the occasion has arisen to make honour- 
able mention of your never-sufficiently-praised father, 
I should like to recall some prophetic words which 
the most wise Charles is known to have uttered about 
him. When he was six years old and had been most 
carefully reared in the house of his father, he was 
thought (and justly) to be wiser than men sixty years 
of age. His father then, hardly thinking it possible 
that he could bring him to see his grandfather, 
nevertheless took him from his mother, who had 
reared him with the most tender care, and began 
to instruct him how to conduct himself with pro- 
priety and modesty in the presence of the emperor ; 
and how if he were asked a question he was to make 
answer and show in all things deference to his father. 
Thereafter he took him to the palace ; and, on the 
first or second day, the emperor noted him with in- 
terest standing among the rest of the courtiers. " Who 
is that little fellow ? " he said to his son ; and he had 
for answer : " He is mine, sire ; and yours if you 
deign to have him." So he said : " Give him to 


me"; and, when that was done, he took the little 
fellow and kissed him and sent him back to the 
place where he had formerly stood. But now he 
knew his own rank ; and thought it shame to stand 
lower than any one who was lower in rank than the 
emperor ; so with perfect composure of mind and 
body he took his place on terms of equality with 
his father. The most prophetic Charles noticed this ; 
and, calling his son Lewis, told him to find out 
the name of the boy ; and why he acted in this way ; 
and what it was that made him bold enough to claim 
equality with his father. The answer that Lewis got was 
founded on good reason : " When I was your vassal," 
he said, " I stood behind you and among soldiers 
of my own rank, as I was bound to do : but now 
I am your ally and comrade in arms, and so I rightly 
claim equality with you." When Lewis reported 
this to the emperor, the latter gave utterance to 
words something like these : — " If that little fellow 
lives he will be something great." (I have borrowed 
these words from the Life of Saint Ambrose, because 
the actual words that Charles used cannot be trans- 
lated directly into Latin. And it seems fair to apply 
the prophecy which was made of Saint Ambrose to 
Lewis ; for Lewis closely resembled the saint, ex- 
cept in such points as are necessary to an earthly 


commonwealth, as for instance marriage and the use 
of arms ; and in the power of his kingdom and his 
zeal for religion, Lewis was, if I may say so, superior 
to Saint Ambrose. He was a Catholic in faith, 
devoted to the worship of God, and the unwearied 
ally, protector, and defender of the servants of Christ. 
Here is an instance of this. When our faithful 
Abbot Hartmuth — who is now your hermit — reported 
to him that the little endowment of Saint Gall, 
which was due not to royal munificence but to the 
petty oiFerings of private people, was not defended 
by any special charter such as other monasteries 
have, nor even by the laws that are common to all 
people, and so was unable to procure any defender 
or advocate, King Lewis himself resisted all our 
opponents, and was not ashamed to proclaim himself 
the champion of our weakness in the presence of all 
his nobles. At the same time too he wrote a letter 
to your genius directing that we should have licence 
to make petition, after taking a special vote, for 
whatever we would through your authority. But 
alas, what a stupid creature I am ! I have been 
probably drawn aside by my personal gratitude for 
the special kindness he showed us, away from his 
general and indescribable goodness and greatness and 



1 1 . Now Lewis, King and Emperor of all Ger- 
many, of the provinces of Rhaetia and of ancient 
Francia, of Saxony too and of Thuringia, of the 
provinces of Pannonia and of all northern nations, 
was of large build and handsome ; his eyes sparkled 
like the stars, his voice was clear and manly. His 
wisdom was quite out of the common, and he added 
to it by constantly applying his singularly acute 
Intellect to the study of the scriptures. He showed 
wonderful quickness too in anticipating or over- 
coming the plots of his enemies, in bringing to an 
end the quarrels of his subjects, and in procuring 
every kind of advantage for those who were loyal to 
him. More even than his ancestors he came to be 
a terror to all the heathen that stood round about 
his kingdom. And he deserved his good fortune ; 
for he never defiled his tongue by condemning, nor 
his hands by shedding Christian blood : except once 
only, and then upon the most absolute necessity. 
But I dare not tell that story until I see a little 
Lewis or a Charles standing by your side. After 
that one slaughter, nothing could induce him to 
condemn anyone to death. But the measure of 
compulsion which he used against those who were 
accused of disloyalty or plots was merely this : he 
deprived them of office, and no new circumstance 


and no length of time could then soften his heart 
so as to restore them to the former rank. He sur- 
passed all men in his zealous devotion to prayer, 
religious fasting and the care of the service of God ; 
and like Saint Martin, whatever he w^as doing, he 
prayed to God as though he were face to face with 
Him. On certain days he abstained from flesh and 
all pleasant food. At the time of litanies he used 
to follow the cross with unshod feet from his palace 
as far as the cathedral ; or if he were at Regensburg 
as far as the church of Saint Hemmeramm. In 
other places he followed the customs of those whom 
he was with. He built new oratories of wonderful 
workmanship at Frankfurt and Regensburg. In the 
latter place, as stones were wanting to complete the 
immense fabric, he ordered the walls of the city 
to be pulled down ; and in certain holes in the 
wall they found bones of men long dead, wrapped 
in «o much gold, that not only did it serve to 
decorate the cathedral, but also he was able to furnish 
certain books that were written on the subject with 
cases of the same material nearly a finger thick. No 
clerk could stay with him, or even come into his 
presence, unless he were able to read and chant. 
He despised monks who broke their vows, and loved 
those who kept them. He was so full of sweet- 
S.C. 129 I 


tempered mirth, that, if anyone came to him in a 
morose mood, merely to see him and exchange a few 
words with him sent the visitor away with raised spirits. 
If anything evil or foolish was done in his presence, 
or if it happened that he were told of it, then a 
single glance of his eyes was enough to check every- 
thing, so that what is written of the eternal Judge 
who sees the hearts of men (viz. " A King that sitteth 
on the throne of judgment, scattereth away all evil 
with His eyes ") might be fairly said to have begun 
in him, beyond what is usually granted to mortals. 

All this I have written by way of digression, 
hoping that, if life lasts and Heaven is propitious, I 
may in time to come write much more concerning 

12. But I must return to my subject. While 
Charles was detained for a little at Aix by the arrival 
of many visitors and the hostility of the unconquered 
Saxons and the robbery and piracy of the North- 
men and Moors, and while the war against the Huns 
was being conducted by his son Pippin, the barbarous 
nations of the north attacked Noricum and eastern 
Frankland and ravaged a great part of it. When he 
heard of this he humiliated them in his own person ; 
and he gave orders that all the boys and children of 
the invaders should be "measured with {h,^ sword" ; 


and if anyone exceeded that measurement he should 
be shortened by a head. 

This incident led to another much greater and 
more important. For, when your imperial majesty's 
most holy grandfather departed from life, certain 
giants (like to those who. Scripture tells us, were 
begotten by the sons of Seth from the daughters of 
Cain), blown up with the spirit of pride and doubtless 
like to those who said, " What part have we in David 
and what inheritance in the son of Esau ?" — these 
mighty men, I say, despised the most worthy children 
of Charles, and each tried to seize for himself the 
command in the kingdom and themselves to wear the 
crown. Then some of the middle class were moved 
by the inspiration of God to declare that, as the re- 
nowned Emperor Charles had once measured the 
enemies of Christianity with the sword, so, as long as 
any of his progeny could be found of the length of 
a sword, he must rule over the Franks and over all 
Germany too : thereupon that devilish group of con- 
spirators was as it were struck with a thunderbolt, and 
scattered in all directions. 

But, after conquering the external foe, Charles was 
attacked at the hands of his own people in a remark- 
able but unavailing plot. For on his return from the 
Slavs into his own kingdom he was nearly captured 


and put to death by his son, whom a concubine had 
borne to him and who had been called by his mother 
by the ill-omened name of the most glorious Pippin. 
The plot was found out in the following manner. 
This son of Charles had been plotting the death of 
the emperor with a gathering of nobles, in the church 
of Saint Peter ; and when their debate was over, fearful 
of every shadow, he ordered search to be made, to see 
whether anyone was hidden in the corners or under 
the altar. And behold they found, as they feared, 
a clerk hidden under the altar. They seized him 
and made him swear that he would not reveal their 
conspiracy. To save his life, he dared not refuse 
to take the oath which they dictated : but, when 
they were gone, he held his wicked oath of small 
account and at once hurried to the palace. With the 
greatest difficulty he passed through the seven bolted 
gates, and coming at length to the emperor's chamber 
knocked upon the door. The most vigilant Charles 
fell into a great astonishment, as to who it was that dared 
to disturb him at that time of night. He however 
ordered the women (who followed in his train to 
wait upon the queen and the princesses) to go out 
and see who was at the door and what he wanted. 
When they went out and found the wretched creature, 
they bolted the door in his face and then, bursting 


with laughter and stuffing their dresses into their 
mouths, they tried to hide themselves in the corners 
of the apartments. But that most wise emperor, 
whose notice nothing under heaven could escape, 
asked straitly of the women who it was and what he 
wanted. When he was told that it was a smooth- 
faced, silly, half-mad knave, dressed only in shirt and 
drawers, who demanded an audience without delay, 
Charles ordered him to be admitted. Then he fell 
at the emperor's feet and showed all that had hap- 
pened. So all the conspirators, entirely unsuspicious 
of danger, were seized before the third hour of the 
day and most deservedly condemned to exile or some 
other form of punishment. Pippin himself, a dwarf 
and a hunchback, was cruelly scourged, tonsured, and 
sent for some time as a punishment to the monastery 
of Saint Gall ; the poorest, it was judged, and the 
straitest in all the emperor's broad dominions. 

A short time afterwards some of the Frankish 
nobles sought to do violence to their king. Charles 
was well aware of their intentions, and yet did not wish 
to destroy them ; because, if only they were loyal, 
they might be a great protection to all Christian men. 
So he sent messengers to this Pippin and asked him 
his advice in the matter. 

They found him in the monastery garden, in the 


companjr of the elder brothers, for the younger ones 
were detained by their work. He was digging up 
nettles and other weeds with a hoe, that the useful 
herbs might grow more vigorously. When they had 
explained to him the reason of their coming he 
sighed deeply, from the very bottom of his heart, and 
said in reply : — " If Charles thought my advice worth 
having he would not have treated me so harshly. I 
give him no advice. Go, tell him what you found 
me doing." They were afraid to go back to the 
dreaded emperor without a definite answer, and again 
and again asked him what message they should convey 
to their lord. Then at last he said in anger : — " I 
will send him no message except — what I am doing ! 
I am digging up the useless growths in order that the 
raluable herbs may be able to develop more freely." 

So they went away sorrowfully thinking that they 
were bringing back a foolish answer. When the 
emperor asked them upon their arrival what answer 
they were bringing, they answered sorrowfully that 
after all their labour and long journeying they could 
get no definite information at all. Then that 
most wise king asked them carefully where they 
had found Pippin, what he was doing, and what 
answer he had given them ; and they said : " We 
found him sitting on a rustic seat turning over the 


vegetable garden with a hoe. When we told him 
the cause of our journey we could extract no other 
reply than this, even by the greatest entreaties : * I 
give no message, except — what I am doing ! I am 
digging up the useless growths in order that the 
valuable herbs may be able to develop more freely.' " 
When he heard this the emperor, not lacking in 
cunning and mighty in wisdom, rubbed his ears and 
blew out his nostrils and said : " My good vassals, 
you have brought back a very reasonable answer." 
So while the messengers were fearing that they might 
be in peril of their lives, Charles was able to divine 
the real meaning of the words. He took all those 
plotters away from the land of the living ; and so 
gave to his loyal subjects room to grow and spread, 
which had previously been occupied by those unpro- 
fitable servants. One of his enemies, who had chosen 
as his part of the spoil of the empire the highest hill 
in France and all that could be seen from it, was, 
by Charles's orders, hanged upon a high gallows on 
that very hill. But he bade his bastard son Pippin 
choose the manner of life that most pleased him. 
Upon this permission being given him, he chose a 
post in a monastery then most noble but now de- 
stroyed. (Who is there that does not know the 
manner of its destruction ! But I will not tell the 



story of its fall until I see your little Bernard with a 
sword girt upon his thigh.) 

The magnanimous Charles was often angry because 
he was urged to go out and fight against foreign 
nations, when one of his nobles might have accom- 
plished the task, I can prove this from the action of 
one of my own neighbours. There was a man of 
Thurgau, of the name of Eishere, who as his name 
implies was " a great part of a terrible army " and so 
tall that you might have thought him sprung from 
the race of Anak, if they had not lived so long ago 
and so far away. Whenever he came to the river 
Dura and found it swollen and foaming with the 
torrents from the mountains, and could not force his 
huge charger to enter the stream (though stream I 
must not call it, but hardly melted ice), then he 
would seize the reins and force his horse to swim 
through behind him, saying : " Nay, by Saint Gall, 
you must come, whether you like it or not ! " 

Well, this man followed the emperor and mowed 
down the Bohemians and Wiltzes and Avars as a 
man might mow down hay ; and spitted them on his 
spear like birds. When he came home the sluggards 
asked him how he had got on in the country of the 
Winides ; and he, contemptuous of some and angry 
with others, replied : "Why should I have been 


bothered with those tadpoles ? I used sometimes 
to spit seven or eight or nine of them on my spear 
and carry them about with me squealing in their 
gibberish. My lord king and I ought never to 
have been asked to weary ourselves in fighting against 
worms like those." 

13. Now about the same time that the emperor 
was putting the finishing touch to the war with the 
Huns, and had received the surrender of the races 
that I have just mentioned, the Northmen left their 
homes and disquieted greatly the Gauls and the Franks. 
Then the unconquered Charles returned and tried to 
attack them by land in their own homes, by a march 
through difficult and unknown country. But, whether 
it was that the providence of God prevented it in order 
that, as the Scripture says. He might make trial of 
Israel, or whether it was that our sins stood in the 
way, all his efforts came to nothing. One night, to 
the serious discomfort of the whole army, it was 
calculated that fifty yoke of oxen belonging to one 
abbey had died of a sudden disease. Afterwards 
when Charles was making a prolonged journey 
through his vast empire, Gotefrid, king of the 
Northmen, encouraged by his absence, invaded the 
territory of the Frankish kingdom and chose the 
district of the Moselle for his home. But Gotefrid's 


own son (whose mother he had just put awaj^ 
and taken to himself a new wife) caught him, while 
he was pulling off his hawk from a heron, and cut 
him through the middle with his sword. Then, as 
happened of old when Holofernes was slain, none of 
the Northmen dare trust any longer in his courage 
or his arms ; but all sought safety in flight. And 
thus the Franks were freed without their own effort, 
that they might not after the fashion of Israel boast 
themselves against God. Then Charles, the uncon- 
quered and the invincible, glorified God for His 
judgment ; but complained bitterly that any of the 
Northmen had escaped because of his absence. " Ah, 
woe is me ! " he said, " that I was not thought worthy 
to see my Christian hands dabbling in the blood of 
those dog-headed fiends." 

14. It happened too that on his wanderings 
Charles once came unexpectedly to a certain mari- 
time city of Narbonensian Gaul. When he was 
dining quietly in the harbour of this town, it 
happened that some Norman scouts made a piratical 
raid. When the ships came in sight some thought 
them Jews, some African or British merchants, but 
the most wise Charles, by the build of the ships and 
their speed, knew them to be not merchants but 
enemies, and said to his companions : " These ships 


are not filled with merchandise, but crowded with our 
fiercest enemies." When they heard this, in eager 
rivalry, they hurried in haste to the ships. But all 
was in vain, for when the Northmen heard that 
Charles, the Hammer, as they used to call him, was 
there, fearing lest their fleet should be beaten back or 
even smashed in pieces, they withdrew themselves, by 
a marvellously rapid flight, not only from the swords 
but even from the eyes of those who followed them. 
The most religious, just and devout Charles had risen 
from the table and was standing at an eastern window. 
For a long time he poured down tears beyond price, 
and none dared speak a word to him ; but at last he 
explained his actions and his tears to his nobles in 
these words : — " Do you know why I weep so bitterly, 
my true servants ? I have no fear of those worthless 
rascals doing any harm to me ; but I am sad at heart 
to think that even during my lifetime they have 
dared to touch this shore ; and I am torn by a great 
sorrow because I foresee what evil things they will do 
to my descendants and their subjects." 

May the protection of our Master Christ prevent 
the accomplishment of this prophecy ; may your 
sword, tempered already in the blood of the Nordos- 
trani, resist it ! The sword of your brother Carloman 
will help, which now lies idle and rusted, not for 


want of spirit, but for want of funds, and because 
of the narrowness of the lands of your most faithful 
servant Arnulf. If your might wills it, if your might 
orders it, it will easily be made bright and sharp 
again. These and the little shoot of Bernard form 
the only branch that is left of the once prolific 
root of Lewis, to flourish under the wonderful 
growth of your protection. Let me insert here 
therefore in the history of your namesake Charles 
an incident in the life of your great-great-grand- 
father Pippin : which perhaps some future little 
Charles or Lewis may read and imitate. 

15. When the Lombards and other enemies of 
the Romans were attacking them, they sent am- 
bassadors to this same Pippin, and asked him for 
the love of Saint Peter to condescend to come with 
all speed to their help. As soon as he had conquered 
his enemies he came victoriously to Rome, and this 
was the song of praise with which the citizens re- 
ceived him. " The fellow-citizens of the apostles 
and the servants of God have come to-day bringing 
peace, and making their native land glorious, to 
give peace to the heathen and to set free the people of 
the Lord." (Many people, ignorant of the meaning 
and origin of this song, have been accustomed to sing 
it on the birthdays of the apostles.) Pippin feared 


the envy of the people of Rome (or, more truly, ox 
Constantinople) and soon returned to Frankland. 

When he found that the nobles of his army were 
accustomed in secret to speak contemptuously of 
him, he ordered one day a huge and ferocious bull 
to be brought out ; and then a savage lion to be 
let loose upon him. The lion rushed with tre- 
mendous fury on the bull, seized him by the neck 
and cast him on the ground. Then the king said 
to those who stood round him : " Now, drag off the 
lion from the bull, or kill the one on the top of the 
other." They looked on one another, with a chill at 
their hearts, and could hardly utter these words amidst 
their sobs : — " Lord, what man is there under heaven, 
who dare attempt it ? " Then Pippin rose confidently 
from his throne, drew his sword, and at one blow 
cut through the neck of the lion and severed the head 
of the bull from his shoulders. Then he put back his 
sword into its sheath and sat again upon his throne 
and said : " Well, do you think I am fit to be 
your lord ? Have you not heard what the little 
David did to the giant Goliath, or what the 
child Alexander did to his nobles ? " They fell 
to the ground, as though a thunderbolt had struck 
them, and cried : " Who but a madman would deny 
your right to rule over all mankind ? " 


Not only was his courage shown against beasts 
and men ; but he also fought an incredible contest 
against evil spirits. The hot baths at Aix had not 
yet been built ; but hot and healing waters bubbled 
from the ground. He ordered his chamberlain to 
see that the water was clean and that no unknown 
person was allowed to enter into them. This was 
done ; and the king took his sword and, dressed 
only in linen gown and slippers, hurried off to 
the bath ; when lo ! the Old Enemy met him, and 
attacked him as though he would slay him. But 
the king, strengthened with the sign of the cross, 
made bare his sword ; and, noticing a shape in 
human form, struck his unconquerable sword through 
it into the ground so far, that he could only drag 
it out again after a long struggle. But the shape 
was so far material that it defiled all those waters 
with blood and gore and horrid slime. But even 
this did not upset the unconquerable Pippin. He 
said to his chamberlain : " Do not mind this little 
affair. Let the defiled water run for a while ; and 
then, when it flows clear again, I will take my bath 
without delay." 

1 6. I had intended, most noble emperor, to 
weave my little narrative only round your great- 
grandfather Charles, all of whose deeds you know 


well. But since the occasion arose which made it 
necessary to mention your most glorious father Lewis, 
called the illustrious, and your most religious grand- 
father Lewis, called the pious, and your most warlike 
great-great-grandfather Pippin the younger, I thought 
it would be wrong to pass over their deeds in silence, 
for the sloth of modern writers has left them almost 
untold. There is no need to speak of the elder 
Pippin, for the most learned Bede in his ecclesiastical 
history has devoted nearly a whole volume to him. 
But now that I have recounted all these things by 
way of digression I must swim swan-like back to 
your illustrious namesake Charles. But, if I do not 
curtail somewhat his feats in war, I shall never come 
to consider his daily habits of life. Now I will give 
with all possible brevity the incidents that occur to 

17. When after the death of the ever-victorious 
Pippin the Lombards were again attacking Rome, 
the unconquered Charles, though he was fully 
occupied with business to the north of the Alps, 
marched swiftly into Italy. He received the Lom- 
bards into his service after they had been humbled 
in a war that was almost bloodless, or (one might 
say), after they had surrendered of their own free 
will ; and to prevent them from ever again revolting 


from the Prankish kingdom or doing any injury 
to the territories of Saint Peter, he married the 
daughter of Desiderius, chief of the Lombards. But 
no long time afterwards, because she was an invalid 
and little likely to give issue to Charles, she was, by 
the counsel of the holiest of the clergy, put aside, 
even as though she were dead : whereupon her 
father in wrath bound his subjects to him by oath, 
and shutting himself up within the walls of Pavia, 
he prepared to give battle to the invincible Charles, 
who, when he had received certain news of the 
revolt, hurried to Italy with all speed. 

Now it happened that some years before one of the 
first nobles, called Otker, had incurred the wrath of 
the most terrible emperor, and had fled for refuge to 
Desiderius. When the near approach of the dreaded 
Charles was known, these two went up into a very 
high tower, from which they could see anyone ap- 
proaching at a very great distance. When there- 
fore the baggage-waggons appeared, which moved 
more swiftly than those used by Darius or Julius, 
Desiderius said to Otker : " Is Charles in that vast 
army ? " And Otker answered : " Not yet." Then 
when he saw the vast force of the nations gathered 
together from all parts of his empire, he said with 
confidence to Otker : " Surely Charles moves in pride 


among those forces." But Otker answered : " Not 
yet, not yet." Then Desiderius fell into great alarm 
and said, "What shall we do if a yet greater force 
comes with him ?" And Otker said, "You will see 
what he is like when he comes. What will happen 
to us I cannot say." And, behold, while they were 
thus talking, there came in sight Charles's personal 
attendants, who never rested from their labours ; and 
Desiderius saw them and cried in amazement, " There 
is Charles." And Otker answered : " Not yet, not 
yet." Then they saw the bishops and the abbots 
and the clerks of his chapel with their attendants. 
When he saw them he hated the light and longed 
for death, and sobbed and stammered, " Let us go 
down to hide ourselves in the earth from the face of 
an enemy so terrible." And Otker answered trem- 
bling, for once, in happier days, he had had thorough 
and constant knowledge of the policy and preparation* 
of the unconquerable Charles : " When you see an 
iron harvest bristling in the fields ; and the Po and the 
Ticino pouring against the walls of the city like the 
waves of the sea, gleaming black with glint of iron, 
then know that Charles is at hand." Hardly were 
these words finished when there came from the west 
a black cloud, which turned the bright day to horrid 
gloom. But as the emperor drew nearer the gleam 

B*C. 145 K 


of the arms turned the darkness into day, a day darker 
than any night to that beleaguered garrison. Then 
could be seen the iron Charles, helmeted with an iron 
helmet, his hands clad in iron gauntlets, his iron breast 
and broad shoulders protected with an iron breast- 
plate : an iron spear was raised on high in his left 
hand ; his right always rested on his unconquered iron 
falchion. The thighs, which with most men are 
uncovered that they may the more easily ride on 
horseback, were in his case clad with plates of iron : I 
need make no special mention of his greaves, for the 
greaves of all the army were of iron. His shield was 
all of iron : his charger was iron-coloured and iron- 
hearted. All who went before him, all who marched 
by his side, all who followed after him and the whole 
equipment of the army imitated him as closely as 
possible. The fields and open places were filled with 
iron ; the rays of the sun were thrown back by the 
gleam of iron ; a people harder than iron paid 
universal honour to the hardness of iron. The horror 
of the dungeon seemed less than the bright gleam of 
iron. " Oh the iron ! Woe for the iron ! " was the 
confused cry that rose from the citizens. The strong 
walls shook at the sight of the iron ; the resolution of 
young and old fell before the iron. Now when the 
truthful Otker saw in one swift glance all this which 


I, with stammering tongue and the voice of a child, 
have been clumsily explaining with rambling words, 
he said to Desiderius : " There is the Charles that 
you so much desired to see " : and when he had said 
this he fell to the ground half dead. 

But as the inhabitants of the city, either through 
madness or because they entertained some hope of 
resistance, refused to let Charles enter on that day, 
the most inventive emperor said to his men : "Let 
us build to-day some memorial, so that we may not 
be charged with passing the day in idleness. Let us 
make haste to build for ourselves a little house of 
prayer, where we may give due attention to the 
service of God, if they do not soon throw open the 
city to us." No sooner had he said it than his men 
flew off in every direction, collected lime and stones, 
wood and paint, and brought them to the skilled work- 
men who always accompanied him. And between 
the fourth hour of the day and the twelfth they 
built, with the help of the young nobles and the 
soldiers, such a cathedral, so provided with walls and 
roofs, with fretted ceilings and frescoes, that none who 
saw it could believe that it had taken less than a year 
to build. But, how on the next day some of the 
citizens wanted to throw open the gate ; and some 
wanted to fight against him, even without hope of 


victory, or rather to fortify themselves against him ; 
and how easily he conquered, took and occupied the 
city, without the shedding of blood, and merely by 
the exercise of skill ; — all this I must leave others to 
tell, who follow your highness not for love, but in 
the hope of gain. 

Then the most religious Charles marched on and 
came to the city of Friuli, which the pedants call 
Forum Julii. Now it happened just at this time that 
the bishop of that city (or, to use a modern word, 
the patriarch) was drawing near to the end of his 
life. Charles made haste to visit him, in order that 
he might designate his successor by name. But the 
bishop, with remarkable piety, sighed from the 
bottom of his heart and said : " Sire, I have held 
this bishopric for a long time without any use or 
profit ; and now I leave it to the judgment of God 
and your disposal. For I do not wish, at the point 
of death, to add anything to the mountain of sin that 
I have heaped together during my life, for which I 
shall have to make answer to the inevitable and in- 
corruptible Judge." The most wise Charles was so 
pleased with these words, that he rightly thought 
him the equal in virtue of the ancient fathers. 

After Charles, of all the energetic Franks the most 
energetic, had stayed in that country for a short time, 


while he was appointing a worthy successor to the 
deceased bishop, one festal day after the celebration 
of mass he said to his retinue : ** We must not let 
leisure lead us into slothful habits : let us go hunting 
and kill something ; and let us all go in the very 
clothes that we are wearing at this moment." Now 
the day was cold and rainy and Charles was wearing 
a sheepskin, not much more costly than the cloak 
which Saint Martin wore when with bare arms he 
offered to God a sacrifice that received divine approval. 
But the others — for it was a holiday and they had just 
come from Pavia, whither the Venetians had carried 
all the wealth of the east from their territories beyond 
the sea — the others, I say, strutted in robes made of 
pheasant-skins and silk ; or of the necks, backs and tails 
of peacocks in their first plumage. Some were decor- 
ated with purple and lemon-coloured ribbons ; some 
were wrapped round with blankets and some in ermine 
robes. They scoured the thickets ; they were torn 
by branches of trees, thorns, and briars ; they were 
drenched with rain ; they were defiled with the blood 
of wild beasts and the filth of the skins ; and in this 
plight they returned home. Then the most crafty 
Charles said : " No one of us must take off his dress 
of skins before he goes to bed ; they will dry better 
upon our bodies." Then evcrj'one, more anxious 


about his body than his dress, made search for fire 
and tried to warm himself. Then they returned and 
remained in attendance upon Charles far into the 
night before they were dismissed to their apartments. 
Then when they began to draw off their dresses of 
skins and their slender belts, the creased and shrunken 
garments could be heard even from a distance crack- 
ing like sticks broken when they are dry : and the 
courtiers sighed and groaned and lamented that they 
had lost so much money on a single day. They had 
received however a command from the emperor to 
appear before him next day in the same skin-garments. 
When they came it was no longer the splendid show 
of yesterday ; for they looked dirty and squalid in 
their discoloured and rent clothes. Then Charles^, 
full of guile, said to his chamberlain : " Give my 
sheepskin a rub and bring it to me." It came quite 
white and perfectly sound and Charles took it and 
showed it to all those who were there and spoke as 
follows : — " Most foolish of mortal men ! which of 
these dresses is the most valuable and the most 
useful, this one of mine which was bought for a 
piece of silver, or those of yours which you bought 
for pounds, nay for many talents ? " Their eyes sank 
to the ground for they could not bear his most terrible 



Your most religious father imitated this example of 
the Great Charles all through his life, for he never 
allowed anyone, who seemed to him worthy of his 
notice or his teaching, to wear anything when on 
campaign against the enemy except the military 
accoutrements, and garments of wool and linen. If 
any of his servants, ignorant of this rule, happened to 
meet him with silk or silver or gold upon his person, 
he would receive a reprimand of the following kind 
and would depart a better and a wiser man. " Here's 
a blaze of gold and silver and scarlet ! Why, you 
wretched fellow, can't you be satisfied with perishing 
yourself in battle if Fate so decides ? Must you also 
give your wealth into the hands of the enemy ; which 
might have gone to ransom your soul, but now will 
decorate the temples of the heathen ? " 

But now, though you know it better than I do, 
I will tell again how, from early youth up to his 
seventieth year, the unconquered Lewis delighted 
in iron ; and what an exhibition of his fondness for 
iron he made in the presence of the legates of the 
Northmen ! 

18. When the kings of the Northmen sent gold 

and silver as witness of their loyalty and their swords 

as a mark of their perpetual subjection and surrender, 

the king gave orders that the precious metals should be 



thrown upon the floor, and should be looked upon by all 
with contempt, and be trampled upon by all as though 
they were dirt. But, as he sat upon his lofty throne, 
he ordered the swords to be brought to him that he 
might make trial of them. Then the ambassadors, 
anxious to avoid the possibility of any suspicion of 
an evil design, took the swords by the very point (as 
servants hand knives to their masters) and thus gave 
them to the emperor at their own risk. He took 
one by the hilt and tried to bend the tip of the 
blade right back to the base ; but the blade snapped 
between his hands which were stronger than the iron 
itself. Then one of the envoys drew his own sword 
from its sheath and offered it, like a servant, to the 
emperor's service, saying : " I think you will find this 
sword as flexible and as strong as your all-conquer- 
ing right hand could desire." Then the emperor 
(a true emperor he I As the Prophet Isaiah says 
in his prophecy, ** Consider the rock whence ye 
were hewn " : for he out of all the vast population of 
Germany, by the singular favour of God, rose to the 
level of the strength and courage of an earlier genera- 
tion) — the emperor, I say, bent it like a vine-twig 
from the extreme point back to the hilt, and then let 
it gradually straighten itself again. Then the envoys 
gazed upon one another and said in amazement : 


" Would that our kings held gold and silver so cheap 
and iron so precious." 

19. As I have mentioned the Northmen I will 
show by an incident dravirn from the reign of your 
grandfather in what slight estimation they hold faith 
and baptism. Just as after the death of the warrior 
King David, the neighbouring peoples, whom his 
strong hand had subdued, for a long time paid their 
tribute to his peaceful son Solomon : even so the 
terrible race of the Northmen still loyally paid to 
Lewis the tribute which through terror they had 
paid to his father, the most august Emperor Charles. 
Once the most religious Emperor Lewis took pity 
on their envoys, and asked them if they would be 
willing to receive the Christian religion ; and, when 
they answered that always and everywhere and in 
everything they were ready to obey him, he ordered 
them to be baptised in the name of Him, of whom 
the most learned Augustine says : " If there were no 
Trinity, the Truth would never have said : * Go and 
teach all peoples, baptising them in the name of the 
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.' " The nobles of the 
palace adopted them almost as children, and each 
received from the emperor's chamber a white robe 
and from their sponsors a full Prankish attire, of costly 
robes and arms and other decorations. 


This was often done and from year to year they 
came in increasing numbers, not for the sake of Christ 
but for earthly advantage. They made haste to come, 
not as envoys any longer but as loyal vassals, on Easter 
Eve to put themselves at the disposal of the emperor ; 
and it happened that on a certain occasion they came 
to the number of fifty. The emperor asked them 
whether they wished to be baptised, and when they 
had confessed he bade them forthwith be sprinkled 
with holy water. As linen garments were not ready 
in sufficient numbers he ordered shirts to be cut up 
and sewn together into the fashion of wraps. One 
of these was forthwith clapped upon the shoulders 
of one of the elder men ; and when he had looked all 
over it for a minute, he conceived fierce anger in his 
mind, and said to the emperor : " I have gone through 
this washing business here twenty times already, and I 
have been dressed in excellent clothes of perfect white- 
ness ; but a sack like this is more fit for clodhoppers 
than for soldiers. If I were not afraid of my naked- 
ness, for you have taken away my own clothes and 
have given me no new ones, I would soon leave your 
wrap and your Christ as well." 

Ah ! how little do the enemies of Christ value the 
words of the Apostle of Christ where he says : — " All 
ye that are baptised in Christ, put on Christ " ; and 


again : " Ye that are baptised in Christ are baptised 
in His death " ; or that passage which is aimed es- 
pecially at those who despise the faith and violate the 
sacraments : ** Crucifying the Son of God afresh and 
putting Him to an open shame ! " Oh ! would that 
this were the case only with the heathen ; and not 
also among those who are called by the name of 
Christ ! 

20. Now I must tell a story about the goodness of 
the first Lewis, and then I shall come back to 
Charles. That most peaceable emperor Lewis, 
being free from the incursions of the enemy, gave 
all his care to works of religion, as, for instance, to 
prayer, to works of charity, to the hearing and just 
determinations of trials at law. His talents and his 
experience had made him very skilful in this latter 
business ; and when one day there came to him one, 
who was considered a very Achitophel by all, and 
tried to deceive him he gave him this answer follow- 
ing, with courteous mien and kindly voice, though 
with some little agitation of mind. " Most wise 
Anselm," he said, " if I may be allowed to say so, I 
would venture to observe that you are deviating from 
the path of rectitude." From that day the reputation 
of that legal luminary sank to nothing in the eyes of 
all the world. 



21. Moreover the most merciful Lewis was so 
intent on works of charity that he liked not merely 
to have them done in his sight, but even to do them 
with his own hand. Even when he was away he 
made special arrangements for the trial of cases in 
which the poor were concerned. He chose one of 
their own number, a man of small bodily strength, 
but apparently more courageous than the rest, and 
gave orders that he should decide offences committed 
by them ; and should see to the restoration of stolen 
property, the requital of injuries and wounds, and in 
cases of greater crimes to the infliction of mutilation, 
decapitation, and the exposure of the bodies on the 
gallows. This man established dukes, tribunes, cen- 
turions and their representatives, and performed his 
task with energy. 

Moreover the most merciful emperor, worshipping 
Christ in the persons of all the poor, was never weary 
of giving them food and clothing : and he did so 
especially on the day when Christ, having put off 
His mortal body, was preparing to take to Himself an 
incorruptible one. On that day it was his practice 
to make presents to each and every one of those who 
served in the palace or did duty in the royal court. 
He would order belts, leg coverings and precious 
garments brought from all parts of his vast empire 


to be given to some of his nobles ; the lower orders 
would get Frisian cloaks of various colours ; his 
grooms, cooks and kitchen-attendants got clothes of 
linen and wool and knives according to their needs. 
Then, when according to the Acts of the Apostles 
there was no one that was in need of anything, there 
was a universal feeling of gratitude. The ragged 
poor, now decently clad, raised their voices to heaven 
with the cry of " * Kyrie Eleison * to the blessed 
Lewis" through all the wide courts and the smaller 
openings of Aix (which the Latins usually call porches); 
and all the knights who could embraced the feet of the 
emperor ; and those who could not get to him wor- 
shipped him afar off as he made his way to church. 
On one of these occasions one of the fools said in jest : 
" O happy Lewis, who on one day hast been able to 
clothe so many people. By Christ, I think that no 
one in Europe has clothed more than you this day 
except Atto." When the emperor asked him how it 
was possible that Atto should have clothed more, the 
jester, pleased to have secured the attention of the 
emperor, said with a grin : "He has distributed 
to-day a vast number of new clothes." The em- 
peror, with the sweetest possible expression on his 
face, took this for the silly joke it was, and entered 
the church in humble devotion, and there behaved 


himself so reverently that he seemed to have our Lord 
Jesus Christ Himself before his bodily eyes. 

It was his habit to go to the baths every Saturday, 
not for any need there was of it, but because it gave 
him an opportunity of making presents ; for he used 
to give everything that he took off, except his sword 
and belt, to his attendants. His liberality reached 
even to the lowest grades : insomuch that he once 
ordered all his attire to be given to one Stracholf, a 
glazier, and a servant of Saint Gall. When the 
servants of the barons heard of this, they laid an 
ambuscade for him on the road and tried to rob him. 
Then he cried out : " What are you doing ? You are 
using violence to the glazier of the emperor ! " They 
answered : " You can keep your office but . . ." 

[Here the MS. endsy and the further adventures of 
Stracholf are left to conjecture^ 



1, I. Walafridus Strabo was abbot of a Frankish monas- 
tery from 842 to 849. 

2, 20. The Emperor Lewis I. (Lewis the Pious, 814- 
840) was the son and successor of Charles the Great. His 
weakness and pietism did much to wreck the imperial 
structure of Charles. 

3, 9. Neither the headings nor the decorations (incisiones) 
are given in the present translation. The decorations 
necessarily disappear, and the various headings to the para- 
graphs, not being the work of Eginhard, are not usually- 
printed with the text. But Walafridus Strabo was person- 
ally known to Eginhard, and his Preface seems, therefore, 
to deserve reproduction. 

5, 7. That is, though there are many who would be 
ready to write Charles's life, Eginhard thinks that he has 
peculiar qualifications for the task which make it obligatory 
on him to do so. 

6, 17. The Latin of Eginhard's Life is much superior to 
the general monkish Latin of his period. See Introduction. 

8, 3. This is King Childeric III., who was deposed in 751 
by a National Council, with the approval of the Pope. 
Pippin the Short was then elected king, and crowned by 
Boniface. With Childeric the Merovingian dynasty ends, 
and gives place to the curiously-named Carolingian, olF 
which Charlemagne was the greatest representative. 

8,4. Eginhard here makes a mistake. The Pope was not 

E.C. 161 L 

Stephen, who held the Papal See from 752 to 757, but 
Zacharias, who was Pope from 741 to 752. Eginhard's 
mistake is, perhaps, due to the fact that the decision of 
Zacharias was confirmed by his successor. 

9, 15. Mr Carless Davis remarks on this passage: " Egin- 
hard errs in representing this as an indignity. Religious 
usage demanded that the king of the race should make his 
progresses in this primitive vehicle. The Merovingians were 
a national priesthood. Here also we have the explanation 
of their flowing locks and beard. The touch of steel — a 
metal unknown to the Prankish nation in its infancy — would 
have profaned their persons. Similarly the priesthood of 
ancient Rome were forbidden to remove the hair from their 
faces except with bronze tweezers. " ( " Life of Charlemagne," 
p. 28.) 

9, 19. This is Charles Martel — Charles the Hammer — 
who " reigned" as Mayor of the Palace from 715 to 741. His 
great victory (variously known as the Battle of Poitiers, or 
the Battle of Tours, though the former is the more accurate 
title) was fought in 732, and is regarded as the " Salamis of 
Western Europe." It was the first serious blow that the 
Mohammedan advance had received, and its effects were de- 
cisive. The second battle, fought near Narbonne, completed 
the work of the first. 

10, I. Pippin, father of Charles Martel, and grandfather 
of Pippin the Short, was Mayor ot the Palace from 687 to 714. 

11, 7. Pippin's reign really lasted for rather more than 
sixteen years — from 751 to 768. 

1 1 , 20. This statement, as is clear from other sources, does 
not correspond with the facts. Charles took Austrasia, and 
the greater part of Neustria, with the lands lying between 
the Loire and the Garonne. Burgundy, Provence, Alsace, 
Alemannia, and the south-eastern part of Aquitaine fell to 

12,9. Carloman died in December 771. His death removed 
from the path of Charles one of the most serious obstacles. 
The custom of the Prankish monarchy was equal inherit- 
ance of all the sons. It was this which contributed 90 


much to the disruption of the Prankish power on the 
death of Charles ; but for the death of Carloman the 
"Empire" would never have been founded, or founded 
only after bitter civil war. Eginhard again malces a mis- 
take in dates. The two brothers had administered the 
realm in common for more than three years. 

12, II. This reticence of Eginhard's about his hero's 
early life, about which it would have been quite easy to 
procure information, has seemed to many to lend colour to 
a report that Charles was born before the Church had 
sanctioned the marriage of his parents. 

13, 10. Hunold was the father of Waifar, and had for 
twenty years lived as a monk in the Island of Rhe, but 
upon the death of his son he left his monastic retreat in 
the hope of re-establishing the fortunes of his family in 

16, 3. TheSaxonwar — the greatest task of Charles's whole 
reign — lasted with some intermissions for more than thirty 
years (from 772 to 804). By his conquest and conversion 
of the fierce and heathen Saxons — who occupied the lands 
in the valleys of the Ems and the Weser and reached as 
far as the Elbe — he laid the foundations of medizval and 
modern Germany. 

16, 12. For an account of the religious beliefs and prac- 
tices of the Saxons, tet Davis's "Charlemagne," p. 95. 

17, 10. The " conversion " of Saxony by Charles was of the 
most forcible kind. No Mohammedan ever offered the choice 
between the Koran and the edge of the sword more clearly 
than Charles put death or baptism before the Saxons. The 
"Saxon Poet," who in the next century wrote in honour 
of the King who had destroyed the independence of his 
land, tells how Charles used the whole force of his army 
to drag the Saxons from the devil's power; and remarks, 
as a matter of course, that persuasion and argument are not 
sufficient to turn the heathen from their faith. 

18, 16. The river Hasa is near Osnabriick. 

20, 20. This is the famous defeat of Roncesvalles, where 
later legends affirmed that "Charlemagne with all his peerage 


fell at Fontarabia," and where Roland wound his horn, 
whose sound is still heard in the verse of Milton. By a 
strange chance this incident becomes one of the most famous 
in the cycle of mediseval Charlemagne legends ; and Roland, 
evermore transfigured from the historical warden of the 
Breton march, becomes, after long wanderings, the Orlando 
of the " Orlando Furioso " of Ariosto. But the historical 
Roland seems mentioned here, and here only. 

21, 9. The Duchy of Beneventum embraced a large part 
of the Italian peninsula south of Rome. It had been 
for a long time connected, in loose feudal dependence, with 
the Lombard monarchy of North Italy, and, since that had 
been overwhelmed and annexed by Charles, was now re- 
garded as a dependency of the Carolingian monarchy. 

22, 3. Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria, had offended Charles by 
claiming independent sovereignty and refusing to recognise 
Charles in any way as his overlord. From the beginning 
of Charles's reign there had been friction between tliem, but 
for some time a hollow truce had existed. War came in 
787, in spite of the efforts of the Papacy at mediation, and 
ended swiftly, as described in the text, owing to the over- 
whelming strength of the armies brought against Tassilo 
by Charles. But the past of Bavaria was too great to allow 
its Duke to accept the position of inferiority, and in the next 
year Tassilo was deposed, tonsured, and imprisoned in a 

23, 3. It was part of Charles's general policy to displace 
the dukes of his realm, with their undefined and dangerous 
powers, and to administer his dominions by a large number 
of counts, who were to begin with quite dependent officials 
executing the orders of the King over a limited area. 
"Count" was not yet the great title of nobility which it 
became later. 

23, II. The Wiltzes lived on the shores of the Baltic be- 
tween the Elbe and the Oder. 

23, 14. This " gulf" of Eginhard's presents geographical 
difficulties. The direction indicated and the approximate 
measurements suggested make it impossible to apply his 


words to the whole of the Baltic Gulf. The south-eastern part 
of the Baltic will correspond fairly well to the description. 

24, 3. The war against the Avars was due to the alliance 
which had existed between them and Tassilo, Duke of 
Bavaria. The Avars, though allied in race to the ancient 
Huns and the modern Magyars, were, nevertheless, a dis- 
tinct people. Charles's war entirely broke their power, 
and removed a great danger from western Europe. 

24. "The Monk of St Gall" (II. i.) gives an inter- 
esting description of the vast concentric earthworks by 
which the power of the Kagan was defended, and his ac- 
count rests on better authority than much of his strange 
chronicle. See also Dr Hodgkin's " Life of Charles the 
Great," p. 155. 

24, 12. The vast treasure of the Avars had an important 
influence on the course of Charles's career. This great 
influx of the precious metals into Germany depreciated 
the value of the coinage and raised the price of com- 

25, 6. This is Tersatz, a town of Istria. 

25, 22. These Northmen (or Danes, as they are usually 
called when they appear in English history) proved them- 
selves the most terrible enemies of civilisation during the 
next century. "The Monk of St Gall" makes Charles 
prophesy the ruin that would come eventually on his 
Empire from these northern sea-rovers. The attacks of 
the Northmen were among the most direct causes of the 
subsequent disruption of the Empire of Charles. 

26, 20. This is an exaggeration of Eginhard's. Charles 
did, indeed, greatly extend the Prankish dominions ; but 
he strengthened them still more decisively by the im- 
provements which he introduced into the internal order 
and administration. 

26, 23. The Balearic Sea is the western Mediterranean. 

28, 10. " Non aliter quam proprium suum." Feudalism 
in any strict sense of the word was not yet established ; but 
Alfonso was, in effect, " commending" himself to a feudal 


ii, i6. The spelling of the original is retained; but the 
"Aaron" of Eginhard is the great Caliph Harun-al-Raschid, 
the Abassid Caliph of Bagdad, whose actions play so large 
a part in fiction as well as in history. 

29, 4. It is strange, in view of the friendly relations of 
Charles with the Mohammedan ruler of the East, that later 
legend so persistently represented Charles as a Crusader, 
driving the Paynim from the Holy City. The height of 
unreality is reached when, as in Ariosto, we find Charle- 
magne relieving the city of Paris, which is being besieged 
by the Mohammedans. 

29, 9. This elephant caused a great sensation in Europe. 
His arrival, life, and death are carefully noted by the 

29, 26. The exact meaning of the original is far from 
clear (ne qua hostis exire potuisset). The ingress rather 
than the egress is what Charles must have wished to pre- 
vent, but there teems no doubt about the reading. 

32, 12. "The Monk of St Gall" says that the cause of 
this repudiation was the constant illness of his wife, and 
her incapacity to bear him children. 

32, 14. This Hildigard was only thirteen years of age at 
the time of her marriage with Charles. Besides the children 
mentioned by Eginhard she bore to Charles three others — 
Lothaire, Adelais, and Hildigard. 

33, 4. Fastrada is regarded by Eginhard elsewhere as the 
evil influence on Charles's life, urging him against the 
natural bent of his character to acts of cruelty and violence. 
Dr Hodgkin, however, points out that the most cruel act of 
his reign — the massacre of 4500 Saxons — took place before 
his marriage with Fastrada. 

34, 17. The betrothal of Hruotrud to the Eastern Em- 
peror, and the rupture of the marriage contract, is a some- 
what obscure thread in the diplomacy of the reign of Charles. 
Note that the betrothal took place in 781, during the resi- 
dence of Charles at Rome, but nineteen years before he had 
assumed the imperial title. Religious difference and political 
jealousies probably both played their part in the rupture. 


Both Prankish and Greek chroniclers are anxious to main- 
tain that the repudiation came from their side. 

36, I. If scandal is to be believed, the Court of Charles, 
in spite of his devotion to the Church and his anxiety to 
maintain a high standard of morals, was the scene of much 
licence and disorder. 

36, 5. This conspiracy of Pippin took place in the years 
785 and 786. 

40, 17. We have here the natural and simple beginnings 
of the ceremony that afterwards reached such great propor- 
tions in the Imer and coucher of the French kings. 

41, 5. This reference to Greek at the Court of Charle- 
magne is interesting in view of the exaggerated views 
sometimes held on the disappearance of Greek in the Middle 

41, 14. This is Alcuin of York, one of the greatest of 
Englishmen, undoubtedly, as Eginhard says, the most learned 
man of his time. His letters form a valuable source of in- 
formation for the inner life of Charlemagne and his Court. 

41, 21. This passage has been closely scrutinised and com- 
mented on. Do Eginhard's words imply that Charlemagne 
could not write at all ? This seems a very improbable in- 
terpretation of them. Parum suecessit would rather mean 
that " he made but little headway." It may well be that 
the King was able to write roughly and in an ordinary way 
but failed to acquire the elegant and delicate caligraphy that 
was aimed at by the scribes of the time 

44, 8. Eginhard passes very lightly over these epoch, 
making events of Christmas Day in the year 800, when 
the imperial title was again assumed by a ruler of the 
West, and the Mediaeval Empire was launched with all its 
vast consequences, both for the theory and practice of the 
Middle Ages. 

Charlemagne's expressed regret for what occurred (of 
which we hear from other sources) has been variously in- 
terpreted. It can hardly refer to the imperial title al- 
together; for this certainly was not unexpected, nor was 
it due merely to the decision of the Pope. Charles had 


himself decided to adopt it : it was the coping-stone to all 
his policy and his whole career, for in power Charles was 
Emperor before the consecration of that famous Christmas 
Day. The regret expressed by Charles more probably re- 
fers to the method in which the title was bestowed : it 
came to him too much as a grant from the Papacy, too 
little as the result of his own power and will. His heart 
may well have foreboded something of the long struggle 
between Empire and Papacy, which agitated the eleventh, 
twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, which caused so much 
bloodshed on both sides of the Alps, and which in the 
end ruined the power of both Emperor and Pope: for 
this struggle had its roots in the indefinite basis of the im- 
perial title. The regrets of Charlemagne are probably in 
close relation to the wars of Henry IV., of Frederick Bar- 
barossa, and of Frederick II. Had the Papacy the right 
to give or to withhold the imperial title ? That was the 
great underlying problem of the imperial position. 

44, 14. The Roman Emperors are the Emperors at Con- 

44, 20. That is to say, the legal systems of the Salian and 
Ripuarian Franks. 

45, 4. Nothing in all the policy of Charles gives such an 
impression of enlightenment as the actions alluded to here. 
A collection of German sagas, and a grammar of the German 
language as it was in the year 800 — what would not pos- 
terity give for these? The disappearance of the former is 
due to the policy of his son and successor Lewis the Pious, 
whose piety had little in common with the robust and 
broad views of his father. The biographer of Lewis tells 
us that Lewis " rejected the national poems, which he had 
learnt in his youth, and would not have them read or re- 
cited or taught." 

45. 8, Their names (in the original) are as follows : — 
Wintarmanoth, Hornung, Lentzinmanoth, Ostarmanoth, 
Winnemanoth, Brachmanoth, Hewimanoth, Aranmanoth, 
Witumanoth, Windumemanoth, Herbistmanoth, Heilig- 


47> 21. This curt and definite statement of Eginhard dis- 
poses at once of the well-known story of Otto III.'s visit to 
Charlemagne's grave in the year looo, and his remarkable 
discovery there. But the story is so famous that it may 
be given in the words of the chronicler of Novalese, who 
is our chief authority for it. 

'< After the passage of many years the Emperor Otto III. 
came into the district where the body of Charles was lying 
duly buried. He descended into the place of burial with 
two bishops and Otto, Count of Lomello ; the Emperor 
himself completed the party of four. Now, the Count gave 
his version of what happened much as follows : — ' We 
came then to Charles. He was not lying down, as is usual 
with the bodies of the dead, but sat on a sort of seat, as 
though he were alive. He was crowned with a golden 
crown ; he held his sceptre in his hands, and his hands 
were covered with gloves, through which his nails had 
forced a passage. Round him there was a sort of vault 
built, strongly made of mortar and marble. When we came 
to the grave we broke a hole into it and entered, and 
entering, were aware of a very strong odour. At once we 
fell upon our knees and worshipped him, and the Emperor 
Otto clothed him with white garments, cut his nails, and 
restored whatever was lacking in him. But corruption had 
not yet taken anything away from his limbs ; only a little 
was lacking to the very tip of his nose. Otto had this re- 
stored in gold ; he then took a single tooth from his mouth, 
and so built up the vault, and departed."' 

59, 3. The reference is to the Book of Daniel ii. 33. 

60, 26. The pilgrimage is, of course, life. 

61, 12. The visit of Albinus (or Alcuin) of York to the 
court of King Charles is alluded to in Eginhard's Life of 
Charles, Ch. xxv. His arrival in Frankland occurred in 781, 
and was of the utmost importance in stimulating and 
guiding the intellectual renascence of Charles's reign. 


66, 20. «'Lord, if I am still useful to thy people I will 
willingly take on n-.yself this labour on their behalf. Thy 
will be done" is the full versicle, which comes on the 
nth November (St Martin's Day). The story in the text 
is made intelligible when we find that more than one of 
the responses that follow end with the words "Thy will 
be done." The poor clerk knew that, and started off, 
therefore, on the Lord's Prayer, which he knew would 
bring him to the right ending. 

71, 7. Grimald was Abbot of St Gall from 841 to 872. 
It will be noticed all through the piece that the narrative 
becomes more full and definite, though not necessarily more 
truthful, when it touches on the writer's own monastery. 

72, 22. The whole of this statement is a tissue of absurdi- 
ties, which are, however, worth a moment's attention, as 
giving some indication of the value that is to be attached to 
the Monk of St Gall's testimony. The Pope Stephen here 
alluded to must be Stephen II., who occupied the Papal 
throne from 752 to 757. He it was who crowned Pippin 
King of the Franks in 754. He can have had nothing to do 
with Charlemagne, who did not reign until 768 ; but the 
words of the text (/<r ad gubemacula regni perunxif) can only 
refer to Charles. It must have been Pope Stephen III. (768- 
772) to whom Charlemagne appealed if there is any truth 
in the story at all ; and Pope Stephen III. can, of course, 
have had nothing to do with Hilderich. 

74, 13. Pope Leo III. did not succeed Pope Stephen until 
after an interval of twenty-three years. Pope Leo III.'s 
date is 795-816. 

75, 2. For Drogo see Eginhard's Life, Ch. xv. But again 
the unhistorical character of the narrative is shown by the 
fact that Drogo was made Bishop of Metz, after the death of 
Charles, and against his own will. 

75,9. A curious display of trivial learning! But it is in- 
teresting to note the mention of Greek as of a language not 
wholly unknown to a monk of the ninth century. 

75, 22. See Eginhard's Life, Ch. xxiv., for the difficulties 
found by Charles in observing the fasts of Lent. 


82, 21. Here is another notorious error. Hildigard died 
in 783. Fastrada was queen when, in 791, Charles advanced 
to the war against the Avars. 

88, 6. The next six chapters are omitted, because in 
them the Monk of St Gall is led away, by his desire to 
tell a good and edifying story, into matter that has no con- 
nection of any kind with Charlemagne, and is sometimes 
offensive to modern taste. The stories are for the most part 
to the discredit of the Episcopal order. A single phrase in 
Chapter xxv. may be noted, as indicating the theocratic view 
of Charles which the writer takes throughout: "the most 
religious Charles " is called ep'ucoput ef'ucoporum^ '< the bishop 
of bishops." 

88, 22. Our author here again handles events of the most 
general notoriety in a spirit completely independent of 
historical accuracy. Leo III. was, it is true, the Pope to 
whose assistance Charlemagne came; but no Michael was 
ruling at that time in Constantinople. Michael II. reigned 
from 820-829, ^^^ Michael III. from 842-867. Thus the 
name was associated, in the mind of the Monk of St Gall, 
with the imperial throne of the east — and that was more 
than enough. The sentiment attributed to the Emperor is 
as impossible as his name is inaccurate. 

90, 14. St Pancras is one of the saints given by the 
persecution of the Emperor Diocletian to the calendar of 
the Church He is said to have been executed in his four- 
teenth year in the year 295. The following extract from 
the Golden Legend will explain the reference in the text: — 
" Of him said Gregory of Tours, Doctor : That if there be a 
man that will make a false oath in the place of his sepulchre, 
tofore or he came to the chancel of the quire he shall be 
travailed with an evil spirit and out of mind, or he shall 
fall on the pavement all dead. It happed on a time that 
there was a great altercation between two men, and the 
judge wist not who had wrong. And, for the jealousy of 
justice that he had, he brought them both unto the altar of 
Saint Peter for to swear, praying the apostle that he would 
declare who had right. And when he that had wrong had 


sworn and had none harm the judge who knew the malice 
of him said all on high : This old Peter here is either over- 
merciful, or he is propitious to this young man, but let us 
go to Pancrace and demand we of him the truth ; and when 
they came to the sepulchre, he that was culpable swore and 
stretched forth his hand, but he might not withdraw his hand 
again to him, and anon after he died there, and therefore unto 
this day, of much people it is used that for great and notable 
causes men make their oaths upon the relics of S. Pancrace." 

91, 4. This celebrated coronation took place on Christmas 
Day of the year 800, and marks the foundation of the 
MedisEval Empire. Charles is known to have expressed 
regret either at the fact or the manner of the presentation 
of the imperial crown ; and the Monk of St Gall it not 
so wide of the point as usual in the account he gives of the 
causes of his hesitation. 

98, 14. Giants figure largely in the stories which are told 
of St Antony's temptation. The Golden Legend says: 
*' S. Anthony recordeth of himself that he had seen a man so 
great and so high that he vaunted himself to be the virtue 
and the providence of God and said to me: 'Demand of me 
what thou wilt, and I shall give it to thee.' And I spit in 
the midst of his visage, and anon I armed me with the 
sign of the cross, and ran upon him, and anon he vanished 
away. And after this the devil appeared to him in so 
great stature that he touched the heaven, etc." Gigantic 
appearances figure, too, elsewhere in the story of St 
Antony's trials. 

100, 3. Two motives are to be detected in most of these 
stories beyond the general purpose of moral and religious 
edification. There is the jealousy of the bishops, so usually 
felt by the monks, and there is the scorn felt by the northern 
peoples for the refinements of the Italian population. 

loi, 13. I have inserted the passage in brackets, which 
seems necessary to give meaning to the following instances. 

103, 19. This King of the Franks is, of course, not 
Charlemagne, but Charles the Third, called the Fat, who 
in 883 spent three days in the Monastery of St Gall. 


105, 5" Julian's death took place in 367. It need scarcely 
be pointed out that the Monk's historical narrative is here 
of the very wildest description. 

105, 15. It is unnecessary to disentangle the Monk's 
strange perversion of history ; but it may be noted that he 
identifies the Avars, whom Charlemagne subdued, with the 
Huns who followed Attila. But the Huns and the Avars, 
though allied in race, were two quite distinct nationalities. 

106, 9. It would be an interesting inquiry whether arch- 
*ological or historical research corroborates in any way this 
interesting account which Adalbert gives of the Hunnish 

1 14, 12. These three sons are — Charles, who died in 811; 
Pippin, who died in 810; and Lewis, who succeeded to the 
undivided dominions of Charlemagne, and is usually known 
as Lewis the Pious. 

117, II. The Persians of the ninth century are by the 
Monk identified with the Persians of the period of Marathon 
and Salamis. 

119, 13. It must be remembered that the whole of the 
Monk's narrative is nominally addressed to Charles the Fat, 
great-grandson of Charlemagne. 

121, 4. This is the famous Haroun al Raschid already 
mentioned in Eginhard's Life of Charlemagne. 

124, 18. There is really no doubt about the identification 
of the Arar. It is the Saone, the most important of the 
tributaries of the Rhone. 

125, 7. This is Lewis of Bavaria, who was King of Ger- 
many from 843-876, the son of Lewis the Pious, and the 
father of Charles the Fat, 

126, 20. The Monk's method here is not difficult to 
understand. The words of St Ambrose and the parallel be- 
tw^een the Saint and Charles are clearly introduced to give 
evidence of the writer's wide learning. 

128, 21. Charles the Fat had no children ; but he had a 
brother, Carloman, King of Bavaria, and another, Lewis, 
King of Saxony. 

129, II. St Hemmenunm (or Enuneran, as the name is 


now usually written) was first a bishop in some Prankish see 
(possibly Poitiers) who about 649 went as a missionary to 
the idolaters of Bavaria. He was assassinated in 652 near 
Munich, on his road to Rome. A church in Regensburg ii 
still called by his name. 

131, 25. This conspiracy is given in Eginhard'j Life, 
Chap. XX., but without the Monic's picturesque details, and 
with the substitution of Prumia (in the Moselle country) for 
the Monastery of St Gall. Eginhard's authority must, of 
course, be preferred, and we have, therefore, a striking in- 
stance of the monkish chronicler's desire to turn everything 
to the honour of his own cloister. 

134, 2. This story has a long history. It is first told of 
Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus ; it was then adapted by 
Livy (1-54) to Tarquin, King of Rome, with slight altera- 
tions. The same story, which is here told somewhat clumsily, 
and applied to Charlemagne, is given by Ekkehard as be- 
longing to the reign of Charles III. 

135, 25. The reference is to the Monastery of Prumia, 
which was destroyed by the Northmen in 882. 

136, 8. Thurgau is in Switzerland. 

136, 9. ''Eis," meaning terrible; and "here" an army. 

137, 25. No Northman made any permanent settlement on 
the Moselle either in the reign of Charles or at any other 
time. At most this can refer only to the boast, or design, of 
some such chief as Gotefrid. 

140, 3. The allusion to the Nordostrani fixes this refer- 
ence to the year 882, when the Northmen were a terrible 
and increasing danger to all Frankland The Arnulf here 
mentioned was the son of Charles the Fat, and, later, 

140, 18. This story of King Pippin's visit to Rome is en- 
tirely legendary. It is repeated by later chroniclers, but is 
certainly without basis of any kind. 

157, 19. I confess myself unable to make anything out 
pf the jester's references to Atto. 



Aaron, King of Persia, 28. See 

also Haroun. 
Abodriti, 23 ; reduced by North- 
men, 26. 
Adalbert, xxi. ; 104, 106. 
Adalgis, 15. 

Africans, envoys to Charles, 121. 
Aix, Charles's palace at, 38; 

cathedral at, 4a ; buildings 

of, 92. 
Albinus. See Alcuin. 
Alcuin of York, xiii. ; 41, 61 ; 

success of his pupils, 71, 72. 
Aldefonsus of Gallaecia, 28. 
Aquitania, war in, 13. 
Aragis, Duke of Beneventum, 21. 
Ariosto, xxiv. 
Atio, 157. 
Avars, war against, 24; seizure 

of their store, 25, 107 ; their 

rings, 106. 

Baugulfus, Abbot, xii. 

Bavarian war, 22. 

Beneventum, 21. 

Bertrada, mother of Charles, 33. 

Bishops, how appointed by 
Charles, 64, 66 ; luxury of, 66 ; 
folly of, 76 ; arrogance of, 
77 ; cleanliness rewarded, 78 ; 
the bishop's cheeses, 79 ; 
pride rebuked, 80; the ad- 
venture of the painted mouse, 
82 ; vanity reprimanded, 83 ; 
preaching enjoined on, 84 ; 

luxury of, 86 ; churlishness io 

Greece, no. 
Bobbio, monastery of, 71. 
Boniface, xii. 
Bretons, conquest of, 20. 

Carloman, brother of Pippin, 10 ; 
retires to Monte Ca^sino, ii. 

Carloman, brother of Charles, ii ; 
dies, 12. 

Centuracellse, 31. 

Chanting, Charles's care for, j2. 

Charlemagne. See Charles the 
Great ; the legend of his 
life, xxiii. 

Charles the Great, xvii. ; sole 
king, 12 ; extent of his con- 
quests, 26 ; buildings, 30 ; 
fleet, 30 ; private life of, 32, 
etc. ; family of, 33 ; treatment 
of his daughters, 35 ; love of 
foreigners, 37 ; personal ap- 
pearance, 37 ; dress, 38 ; 
knowledgeof La tin and Greek, 
41 ; fails to learn to write, 41 ; 
reforms reading and singing, 
<2 ; fondness for Rome, 43 ; 
becomes Emperor, 44, 91 ; re- 
forms the legal system of the 
Franks, 44 ; changes the 
names of winds and months, 
45 ; death, 47 ; burial, 47 
{see also 169) ; will, 50. 

Charles, Martel, 9. 

Cicero, 6. 



Clement the Scot, 6i, 62. 

Constantinople, Emperors of, tg ', 
embassy to, log ; strange ban- 
queting laws, III. 

Dante, xxiv. 

Deacon " who followed the Italian 
custom," strange death of, 


Desiderius, King of the Lombards , 
12, 15, 22, 144; alarm at the 
iron host of Charles, 145. 

Eginhard, xii. ; _ career, _ xiii. ; 
writings, xvi. ; his life of 
Charlemagne, xvi. ; birth 
and education, i ; motives for 
writing, 4. 

Drogo, Bishop of Metz, 75. 

Eishere of Thurgau, 136. 
Eric, Duke of Friuli, 25. 

Fasting, Charles's difficulty with, 

39. 76- „ 
Fastrada, wife of Charles, 33 ; 

cruelty of, 36. 
Franks, national dress of, 38, 102. 
Frisian garments, 103. 
Friuli, the Bishop of, 148 ; hunting 

party at, 149. 

Gascons defeat Charles, ig. 
Ceroid, Governor of Bavaria, 25. 
Godofrid the Dane, 25 ; killed, 

26j 48, 137- 
Gotefrid. See Godofrid. 
Greek, knowledge of, 41, 75. 
Greeks jealous of Charles, 91 ; 

outwitted by Franks, in; 

envoys at Charles's court, 113; 

terror of, 113; music of, 115; 

envy of, 141. 
Grimald, Abbot of St Gall, 71. 

Hadrian, Pope, 14, 16 ; Charles's 

sorrow at death of, 35, 39. 
Haistulf, King of Lomhards, 14. 

liaroun al Raschid, 28 ; cedes the 
holy places to Charles, 29, 121 ; 
Charles's presents to, 122; 
praises Charles, 123 ; gives 
the Holy Land to Charles, 

Hartmuth, Abbot of St Gall, 

Hasa, battle of, 18. 

Heitto, Bishop, 114. 

Hilderich the Merovingian, 8, 

. z^- 

Hildigard, 32, 64, 77, 82, 119. 
Holy places, the, given to Charles, 

29, 12^. 
Hugo, Duke, 112. 
Hunold, 13. 
Huns, war against, 34. See 


Imperial title assumed by Charles, 

29, 44, 91. 
Isambard, 119, 120. 

Julian, 105. 

Kerold, xxi. ; 108. 

Leo, Pope, 39 ; outrage upon, 44, 
88, 74. " 

Lewis of Bavaria, 125, 126 ; re- 
primands luxury, 151. 

Lewis the Pious, 2 ; dec'ared 
Emperor by Charles, 46, 56, 
126, 128 ; his conversion of the 
Northmen, 153, 15^ ; his care 
for the poor, 156 ; his universal 

Liutfrid, the knavish steward, 97. 

Liutgard, wife of Charles, 33. 

Lombards, war with, 14. 

Lupus, Duke of the Gascons, 13. 

Mainz, the great bridge of, 48, 96 
Mayors of the Palace, 8. 
Merovingian kings, 8. 
Michael, Emperor of Constantin- 
ople, 89. 
Miracles, 9S, 100, 102, 1^3, 


Monies, Ignorance of, 701. 
Moors, jjrecautions against, 31. 
Mulinbeim, xv. 

Northmen, 23, 25 ; Charles's 
measures against, 30 ; rigor- 
ous punishment of, 151; 
Charles prophesies concerning 
them, 139 ; they send envoys to 
Lewis of Bavaria, 152 ; accept 
conversion from Lewis the 
Pious, 153 ; their deceit, 154. 

Organ, the Greek, 116. 
Osning, battle of, 18. 
Otker at Pavia, 144, 146. 

Paris, Gaston, xxiiL 

Pavia, siege cf, 144, 147, 148. 

Persians, envoys of, 116; hunting 
party provided for them, 118. 

Peter of Pisa, 41. 

Pippin the younger, g ; death, 11 ; 
war against Lombards, 14 ; 
legend of his march on Rome, 
140; slays a bull and a lion, 
141 ; his encounter with the 
devil, 142. 

Pippin, son of Charles, 15; fights 
against Avars, 24, 32. 

Pippin, Charles's illegitimate son, 
conspires against him, 36, 132; 
sent to the monastery of St 
Gall, 133 ; gives advice to 
Charles, 134 ; moves to an- 
other monastery, 135. 

Pluralists, Charles's dislike of, 77. 

Portents foretelling Charles's 
death, 48. 

Prumia, monastery of, 36, 

Reading,how practised at Charles's 

court, 69. 
Regensburg, Lewis's buildings at 

Roland, Praefect of the Breton 

frontier, 20. 
Rome, Charles's fondness for, 43 ; 

Roman jealousy of the Franks, 


St Augustine, 40. 

St Columban, xx. 

St Gall, XX. 

St Gall,_Monk of, xix. ; character 

of his narrative, xxiL 
St Gall, monastery of, 75, 127. 
St Pancras, 90 (and note). 
St Peter of Ghent, xv. 
St Wandrille, xv. 
Saxons, war with, 16, 108 ; perfidy 

of, 17 ; transplantation of, 18 ; 

end of war, 18 ; opinion of the 

Emperor of Constantinople, 

Scotch and Charles, 28 ; visit 

Frankland, 59. 
Slavs, war with, 23. 
Spain, expedition to, 19. 
Stephen, Pope, 8, 72. 
Stracholf of St Gall, 158. 

Tancho, the bell-founder, 94. 
Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria, 22. 
Tours, 61. 

Waifar, Duke of Aquitania, 11 
Walafrid, i. 
Welatabi, 23. 
Werinbert, xzL ; 104. 
Wiki, 23. 



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