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Two Courts: Constantinople and Aachen
For Byzantine history —
Theophanes and Nicephorus (both contemporaries; see vol. VI pp415‑417).
Schlosser, 'Geschichte der Bilderstürmenden Kaiser,' and Bury, 'History of the Later Roman Empire,' vol. II.
For the Court of Charles the Great —
Einhard, 'de Vitâ Karoli,' and the Monk of St. Gall (both previously described; see vol. VII pp292‑4).
Also the poets Angilbert and Theodulf, described in the text. Their poems are published in Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini in Mon. Hist. Ger.
Dr. Friedrich Lorenz, 'Karls des Grossen Privat- und Hof‑Leben,' in v.Raumer's Historisches Taschenbuch, Leipzig, 1832 (a well-written sketch, though the author seems to me to place rather too much reliance on the gossip — not contemporary gossip — of the Monk of St. Gall).
Guizot in his Lectures on the History of Civilization in France has an admirable sketch of the literary characteristics of Charles's court.
The palace at Constantinople. The Imperial palace at Constantinople at the period of which we are treating was a building already more than two centuries old, the Chrysotriklinion or Golden p109 Hall reared by Justin II in 570. Its garden front looked south-eastward to the near waters of the Bosphorus. North-westward it looked towards the building which was still called the Roman Senate-house, to the great Imperial forum known as the Augusteum, peopled with statues, and over that to the Hippodrome, where the charioteers of the Blue and the Green factions engaged in their maddening rivalry.
It was a building already haunted by some gloomy memories. From hence, if the popular legend were true, the Empress Sophia had sent the fatal distaff to Narses.1 Hither came Heraclius to die, heart-broken by the Mohammedan conquest of Jerusalem, and here probably his widow Martina suffered the barbarous mutilation which was the punishment of her audacity in aspiring 'to reign over the Romans.'2 From this palace Constans was driven forth to his Cain-like wanderings over the world by the spectre of his murdered brother;3 and here Justinian II, last scion of the race of Heraclius, spent the strange seventeen years of his mad misgovernment.4 In this palace reigned, as we have seen in the year 790, a woman and a young man — Irene, widow of Leo the Khazar, and her son Constantine VI. Irene. Irene was a woman in middle life, and Constantine was a youth of twenty. She was keen-witted, fond of power, with something perhaps of the old Athenian brilliance, and certainly, as has been already said, with the old Athenian tendency to be 'wholly given to idolatry.' But as her image-loving propensities fell in with that which was finally the prevailing fashion in the Orthodox p110 Church, the atrocious crimes which she committed were glossed over by the scribes of the convent, and they have even dared to speak of her to posterity as 'the most pious,' 'the God‑guided,' 'the strong-souled and God‑beloved Irene.'5
It is a sore temptation to an ambitious woman to find herself in command of the great machinery of a despotic government, with only a boy, and that boy her own son, for her future rival. The formation of that son's character lies almost entirely in her own hands, and without forming at first any deliberate schemes of wickedness, it is easy for the mother to foster the boy's natural disposition to indolence or pleasure, or extravagance, and thus to destroy his chances of ever successfully competing with her for power. The instances of Catherine de' Medici and Catherine of Russia will at once occur to the reader's mind; but Irene was prepared for the sake of power to wade far deeper into crime than either of the Catherines.
Constantine VI tries to emancipate himself from her yoke, 790. In the year 790 the long-repressed discontent of the young Emperor with his present position began to display itself. Over and above his disappointment at being commanded to marry the Armenian Maria instead of the Frankish Hrotrud,6 there was the daily annoyance of perceiving that while his presence-chamber was almost deserted, crowds of suppliants thronged the halls of Stauracius the logothete, the confidential adviser of his mother. Constantine was now twenty years old, and there were not wanting men of eminence p111 in the state (among them his tutor7 John, who was chief captain of the guards, Peter the commander-in‑chief,8 and two patricians, Theodore and Damian) to urge him to assert his rightful position, banish Irene to Sicily, and reign as sole Emperor. But on the 9th of February (790) it happened that the city was shaken by a great earthquake, which so alarmed the inhabitants that they all went and lodged in tents in the fields outside the city. Irene and her son took up their quarters in the precincts of the church of St. Mamas, north of the city wall and looking across the Golden Horn towards the Valley of Sweet Waters. Apparently this change in the arrangements of the imperial party led to the discovery of the plot. The coarse energy of Stauracius successfully asserted itself against the high-born conspirators. The nobles were flogged, tonsured, and shut up in their own palaces, and the tutor was banished to Sicily. Constantine himself, the young man of twenty, was beaten and scolded by his mother like a naughty child, and forbidden for many days to show himself in public.
The new oath of abjuration. In order to guard against any similar attempts in future, Irene caused an oath to be administered to all the regiments in the capital and its neighbourhood: 'So long as thou livest we will not suffer thy son to reign, and we will always put thy name before his.' But by this monstrous demand she prepared her own downfall. Sept. 790 When the imperial messengers presented themselves to administer the new oath to the soldiers in the Armeniac 'theme,' those men, mindful of many a victorious battle fought under the leadership of the father and grandfather of Constantine, flatly refused p112 thus to disinherit the lawful heir for the benefit of the Athenian woman. Irene sent a certain Alexius, colonel of the palace-guards,9 to quell the mutiny, but the Armeniacs, shutting up their own general, gave the command to Alexius, and with jubilant shouts proclaimed Constantine sole Emperor. When the news of this pronunciamento reached Constantinople, all the other regiments, little hampered by their oaths, followed the example of the Armeniacs. On the 14th of October the legions were collected together in a place called Atroa,10 and insisted on Constantine coming forth to meet them. Irene did not dare to refuse their request. He came, and was unanimously acclaimed sole Emperor. Irene was allowed to retire to a palace of her own building, in which she had stored the greater part of her wealth. Stauracius suffered the usual fate of unsuccessful politicians at Constantinople, being flogged, tonsured, and sent into exile in Armenia. At the same time Michael Lachanodrakon, a war‑famed veteran of the old Isaurian time, was made commander of the household troops.11
Restoration of Irene. In the following year Constantine engaged in two somewhat unsuccessful expeditions against Cardam, king of the Bulgarians, and against the generals of the Caliph Haroun-al‑Raschid in Cilicia. His absence from the capital, perhaps also his obvious inefficiency in war, encouraged the party of Irene once more to raise their heads, and in January of 792 the feeble young Emperor found, or imagined, himself compelled p113 once more to associate his mother with himself in the government of the empire, and to receive again with her the acclamations of the multitude, 'Long life to Constantine and Irene.' With Irene came back Stauracius to help her in playing a slow, patient game for her son's ruin.
Constantine defeated by the Bulgarians. In July, 792, the young Emperor, yearning to emulate the great deeds of his ancestors and misled by the vain prediction of a certain 'false prophet and astronomer' named Pancratius, attacked Cardam in a strong position which he held with some of the bravest of his troops. The attack failed disastrously, and Constantine had to fly headlong, leaving his tents, his horses, and his royal furniture in the hands of the Bulgarians, and many of his best officers (including the brave old Lachanodrakon) dead on the field of battle. That the futile astronomer Pancratius shared the fate of the brave men whom he had lured to their ruin was the least part of the disaster.
Conspiracy on behalf of 'the Caesars.' The ignominious end of the Bulgarian campaign made a great rent in the popularity of Constantine. Still worse for his fame was the severity with which he repressed an attempt to place his uncle Nicephorus, son of Constantine Copronymus, on the throne. Nicephorus was blinded, and his four brothers, two of whom had borne the title of Caesar, suffered the cruel Byzantine punishment of amputation of the tongue.
Ingratitude to Alexius and the Armeniac soldiers. If there was one man more than another to whom Constantine owed his attainment of imperial power it was Alexius,12 who at a critical moment had headed the troops in the Armeniac theme when they acclaimed Constantine sole Imperator. Now, listening to the p114 evil surmisings of Irene and Stauracius, who suggested that Alexius was aiming at the diadem, he refused to accede to the demand of the Armeniac soldiers that their beloved commander, then detained in honourable captivity at Constantinople, should be restored to them; and on the repetition of the demand with shrill urgency, he ordered Alexius to be blinded. At the news of this infamous act of ingratitude, which showed too plainly that all the supporters of the son would be sacrificed to the vengeance of the mother, Civil war. the Armeniac soldiers rose in rebellion. From November, 792, till the 27th of May, 793, there was civil war in the Armeniac theme, and it was only by mustering all his forces, and at last by employing the base service of traitors, that The revolt suppressed. eventually, on the date just mentioned, Constantine prevailed over his old allies. The chief officers and an iconoclastic bishop who had headed the revolt were put to death. The other leaders were severely punished with fines and proscriptions; and as for the rank and file, June 24, 793 one thousand of them were brought chained into the city of Constantinople through the gate of Blachernae, and led ignominiously through the streets, bearing on each of their foreheads the words, tattooed in ink, 'Armeniac Conspirator.' Such were the rewards which the weak youth at his cruel mother's instigation conferred on his old supporters.
Constantine's divorce and remarriage. Grievously injured, in the three years since he grasped the reins of power, had Constantine declined in the favour of his subjects, and he now proceeded to an act which brought him into hostility, not merely with the Church, but with all that was best and healthiest in the lay world of Constantinople. He had always disliked his wife Maria, and now 'by the advice of his p115 mother, who in her longing for power wished that he should be condemned by all,'13 he constrained that wife to enter a convent, and in August, 795, crowned as Augusta his paramour Theodote, one of the ladies-in‑waiting on Irene. The next step, after the coronation and the avowed cohabitation, was to obtain the sanction of the Church to the marriage, and this, even with the submissive church of Constantinople, was not an easy matter. The patriarch Tarasius refused to perform the ceremony, but consented at last to stand aside and allow another ecclesiastic, the abbot Joseph, to officiate in his stead. In September, 795, Constantine and Theodote were solemnly married in the palace of St. Mamas.
Ecclesiastical censures; Plato and Theodore. The Church of the Middle Ages, whether in Eastern or Western Europe, never seems more worthy of our respect than when she is upholding the rights of an injured wife and refusing to allow powerful princes to treat the sacred laws of marriage as of no account for persons in their high position. The part which Innocent III played as champion of Ingeberga, the repudiated wife of Philip Augustus, was taken in the case of the divorced Maria by Plato and Theodore, an uncle and nephew, heads of the renowned monastery of Saccudia on the flanks of the Bithynian Olympus. On Theodore,14 as the younger man, fell the brunt of the battle, but Plato also felt the heavy hand of the imperial bigamist, for announcing to Tarasius that he could no longer hold communion with him on p116 account of his connivance at an adulterous union. It is true that Constantine and his new Empress — herself a cousin of Theodore's — resorted to almost abject entreaties in order to disarm Plato's just indignation,15 but when these proved fruitless the imperial thunderbolt fell on the inmates and the neighbours of the Bithynian convent. Plato was brought to Constantinople and shut up in a narrow cell in the precincts of the palace, while Theodore, his brothers, and the other monks were sent under an imperial escort into exile at Thessalonica. In a long and interesting letter to his uncle,16 Theodore describes the incidents of this journey. The letter does not give one the impression of any great hardships endured or severity displayed, but what it does show us is that in every town there was a large number of persons who sympathized with the monkish martyr and were indignant at his punishment. Assuredly some rivets in the ship of the state were loosened by the imprisonment of Plato and the exile of Theodore Studita.
In the embittered and unnatural relations which now existed between Irene and her son, even the events which should have consolidated the dynasty hastened its downfall. Birth of a son, Oct. 796. In October (796) the young Emperor, while taking the warm baths at Broussa, heard the joyful news that his wife, who remained at Constantinople, had borne him a son. He hastened off to the palace eager to welcome the longed‑for heir, to whom he gave the name of his father, Leo. Meanwhile Irene, who had gone with him to Broussa, began p117 to tamper with the allegiance of the soldiers, and by all sorts of gifts and promises to form a party among the officers, pledged to destroy her son and make her sole Empress. Another inglorious campaign, 797. In March (797), Constantine, who had returned to Bithynia, set forth with a body of picked light-armed soldiers, amounting to 20,000 men, to fight the Saracens. The expedition ought to have achieved a great success, but the old intriguer Stauracius, knowing that victory would make Constantine's position impregnable, bribed the imperial scouts to bring in a lying report that the Saracens had fled and were nowhere to be seen. The easily-fooled Emperor returned home again inglorious, and deep discontent doubtless pervaded the whole army at such a display of military inefficiency on the part of the grandson of the great Copronymus.
On the 1st of May the child Leo died, and was bewailed by his tender-hearted father with floods of tears. On the 17th of June, after a great chariot-race in the Hippodrome, the Emperor sought the shade and sea‑breezes of the shore below St. Mamas. Explosion of the conspiracy. On the road an attempt, an unsuccessful attempt, was made by the conspirators to seize him, but being warned in time he embarked hastily in the imperial gondola17 and escaped to the opposite shore of the sea of Marmora,18 intending to flee to the Anatolic theme,19 where the descendant of the great Isaurians was sure to find a welcome and a shelter.20 But the very companions of p118 his flight, though he knew it not, were traitors. The people began to rally round their fugitive sovereign. Irene, who felt that it was now a fight to the death between her and her son, became alarmed. She feigned a desire for reconciliation, sent mediators, sent bishops to beg for a guarantee of her own personal safety, and offered, if that were given, to retire to a corner of the palace and spend the rest of her days in obscurity.21 Meanwhile, however, she was writing to her fellow-conspirators, 'If you do not find some means to hand him over to me at once, I shall reveal to the Emperor all that has passed between you and me.' Constantine seized, deposed and blinded, Aug. 15, 797. Alarmed, the conspirators arrested Constantine early on the 15th of August, the festival of the Assumption of the Virgin,22 hurried him on board the imperial boat and carried him across to Constantinople. There he was imprisoned in the same Purple Chamber of the palace in which, twenty-seven years before, his birth‑cry had been heard by the woman who was now consenting to his death. With brutal violence the conspirators plucked out his eyes, desiring that he should perish under the ghastly operation.23 He did not however die, but lingered on for at least twenty- p119 three years,24 but so broken and miserable in his blindness that in all the many palace-revolutions of the time no one thought of restoring to the throne the last male descendant of Leo the Isaurian.25
So terrible a deed as this, the worse than murder of a son by the order of his own mother, shocked even the courtiers and ecclesiastics of Constantinople, inured as they were to tidings of barbarities from the imperial palace. On the one hand, men noted, that as it was at the ninth hour (3 P.M. on Saturday the 15th of August) that Constantine VI was blinded and all but slain, so it had been on the ninth hour on the same day of the week in September, five years before, that his uncle Nicephorus had been blinded and his four other uncles mutilated by the order of the young Emperor. But again, after this deed of wickedness was done, 'the sun,' says Theophanes, 'was darkened for seventeen days, and did not give forth its rays, so that ships wandered about and drifted hither and thither, and all men said and confessed that on account of the blinding of the Emperor the sun withheld his beams. And thus did Irene his mother acquire the sovereignty.'
Reign of Irene, 797‑803. She was indeed 'cursed with the burden of a granted prayer,' this devout Medea, who had had no pity for the fruit of her body, when maternal love was weighed in the balance against the lust of empire and found wanting. The history of her short reign is only a record of disastrous defeats and provinces ravaged by the Saracens, of attempts cruelly suppressed to p120 set one or other of the mutilated sons of Copronymus on the throne, of bickerings between Irene's eunuch-ministers, Stauracius and Aetius, each of whom, watching with hungry eyes the failing health of his imperial mistress, was scheming to secure the splendid prize of the diadem for some relation of his own.
Irene in triumph. On Easter Monday, 799, the Empress made a solemn procession through the streets of Constantinople, starting from the great Church of the Holy Apostles, where all the Emperors and Patriarchs who had ruled the State and Church for near five centuries lay entombed. Irene sat aloft on a golden car, drawn by four milk-white steeds; and four patricians, groom-like, walked by the side of the horses. Imitating the custom of the old Roman consuls, she scattered money among the crowd as she moved along, and doubtless their venal throats became hoarse with cries of 'Many years to the new Helena! Long life to the August Irene!' But under all this show of devotion there was evidently a feeling that a new and monstrous thing had happened in 'the Empire of the World.'26 Condemnation of a female rule. It was not merely that the pious idolater had stained herself, Athaliah-like, with the blood of her own offspring. It was that no woman, however virtuous or however beloved, had a right to sit alone on the throne of the Caesars. It was true that Pulcheria that manly-minded woman, had been hailed as Augusta on the death of the brother whose counsels she had guided, but that was with the implied condition that she should make Marcian the partner of her throne.27 True that Theodora and p121 Sophia had at the request of their doting husbands received from the Senate the same splendid title, but that was only as consorts of the reigning Emperor, nor had the influence of either Theodora or Sophia been obviously beneficial to the Empire.28 But the latest and the most striking instance of the foiled attempt of a woman to occupy the imperial throne was the case of Martina, widow of Heraclius, to whom, when she stood forth in the Hippodrome claiming to rule along with her son and step‑son, the populace shouted, 'O Lady, how can you receive the ambassadors of the barbarians or exchange words with them when they come to the imperial palace? God preserve the polity of the Romans from ever coming into such a condition as that.'29
The fact was, that there was ever a lingering consciousness that the Roman Imperator had come to his power in a different way and was altogether a different kind of ruler from the despotic kings and queens of the East. True, those Oriental monarchs might have had their Semiramis or their Dido, their Tomyris or their Queen of Sheba; but these were no precedents for the Roman State, which was still in theory a republic, and whose head was in theory — however absurdly different might be the customary fact — a brave general who, having won a victory over the enemies of Rome, was saluted by his enthusiastic soldiers with the title Imperator.
Thus the outcome of the whole matter was that at the close of the eighth century there was a generally p122 diffused feeling that 'a wonderful and a horrible thing had been done in the polity of the Romans,' and that the woman who called herself Augusta and rode in her golden chariot through the streets of Constantinople had no right to the name or the magnificence of the Emperors of Rome.
We now turn from the Bosphorus to the Rhine; from the dull splendour of the Byzantine palace to the fresh if somewhat rude magnificence of the Frankish villa; from that Fury-haunted abode where a widowed mother plotted the ruin of her only son, to the joyous cavalcade of Charles and his daughters, as they rode with mirth and song from palace to palace of the beautiful Rhine-land.
Charles's love for the neighbourhood of the Rhine. The list of Charles's resting-places after his campaigns were ended, shows us in the clearest manner where his heart was fixed. He had inherited sovereignty over the country which we now call France, but apparently he only once visited Paris.30 He completed the conquest of Aquitaine, but he spent only one Easter in that region.31 He made himself master of Italy, yet only thrice after his conquest did he visit Rome, and then half-reluctantly, on the urgent invitation of the Pope to settle the troubled affairs of the peninsula or to take part in some great religious ceremony. He had been born a Ripuarian Frank, and Ripuarian he remained to the end of his days, never happy p124 when far away from the banks of the great German river by whose shores rose three of his great palaces, at Worms, at Ingelheim,32 and at Nimwegen, and which was lined with the stately Romanesque churches that told of his pious munificence. His palace at Aquae Grani (Aachen, Aix-la‑Chapelle) It was not actually by the banks of the Rhine, but in its neighbourhood, between it and the sister stream, the Meuse, that Charles built the last, perhaps the stateliest of his palaces, certainly the one which was longest connected with the memory of his greatness. Unmentioned in the literature and even in the road-books of the Romans, but certainly known to some of the Roman officers, the warm sulphur-springs of Aquae Grani bubbled out of the hills overlooking the Meuse, •forty miles south-west of that city on the Rhine which was emphatically called Colonia.33 The earliest name of the town which grew up around these springs was derived from a surname of Apollo which was widely known in the north of Europe, though here again the classical authors are silent concerning it.34 This is the place which the Germans call Aachen, and the French, from the memory of Charles's great Christian temple, call Aix-la‑Chapelle.
It was in 788, just after the Byzantine invasion of p125 Italy, that Charles kept his first Christmas at Aachen, and from this time onwards it begins to dispute with Heristal in Brabant and Worms on the Rhine the honour of being his favourite place of abode. From 795 to the end of his life it held the undisputed preëminence, thirteen out of his twenty remaining Easters and fourteen Christmases being spent beside the healing waters of Grannus. Thermal waters of Aachen. For the great attraction of the place, though it has a fresh and salubrious air, lay in those thermal waters heated by Nature to a temperature varying •from 82° to 99° (Fahrenheit), and richly laden with salt, sulphur and carbonic acid. At the time when Charles began to pay more frequent visits to Aquae Grani he was entering the sixth decade of his life, and was probably beginning to feel those rheumatic or gouty pains which so often hang about the vestibule of old age, and which saline or sulphureous waters generally alleviate. One of the poets of his court describes the occupation of the labourers employed in searching for new hot springs, surrounding them with walls, and fixing magnificent seats on the marble steps.35 Charles himself, who was a strong and swift swimmer, would often invite, not only his sons but his friends and ministers of state, sometimes even his men‑servants and body-guards, to accompany him to the bath, so that there would often be a hundred men or more swimming about together in the wide, warm pools of Grannus.36
p126 Thus then it came to pass that a Westphalian watering-place became the favourite residence of the Frankish king, and afterwards the second city of his empire. The minster of Aachen was the regular crowning-place of the Western Emperors for seven centuries, and in it thirty-seven kings and ten queens received the sacred diadem. In the sixteenth century this privilege was transferred to Frankfurt; a terrible fire which broke forth at Aachen in 1656 destroyed two‑thirds of the city; it underwent a rapid decline, and though its cloth factories and the high repute of its thermal waters have restored some of its old prosperity, it has of course never regained the importance as a political centre which it possessed in the long ages from Charles the Great to Charles the Fifth.
Charles's palace. The palace which Charles built at Aachen, and to which he transported the great brazen statue of Theodoric from Ravenna,37 has long since perished. In 881 the fire kindled by the invading Danes injured it; in 978 a degenerate descendant of Charles, the Frenchman Lothair, allowed his soldiers to plunder it. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was twice ruined by fire. Finally, in 1353, a Town-hall, which again in our own days (1883) has suffered from fire, was built over its ruins.
The Church of the Virgin. But the great basilica which Charles founded at Aachen in honour of the Virgin, and which according to Einhard38 'he adorned with gold and silver, and candelabra and cancelli and gates of solid brass, and with columns and marbles brought from Rome and Ravenna,' still stands, at least the most important part of it. This is the octagonal chapel, built after the model p127 of S. Vitale at Ravenna, to which an atrium at the east end and a splendid choir at the east were added in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Thus Charles's church with its remembrance of S. Vitale stands supported on either side by its younger and taller brethren, as if marking the beginning and the end of the Middle Ages.
The hunting-ground. The palace stood on the edge of a vast pleasaunce,39 green with woods and bright with waters, through which herds of deer wandered, and in which Charles and his courtiers often enjoyed the pleasures of the chase, or watched the evolutions of the young horsemen of the court in games which almost anticipated the medieval tournament. It was doubtless in this wide-stretching park that one Oriental visitor passed most of his European life. This was the great elephant Abulahaz (a present from the Caliph Haroun-al‑Raschid), whose arrival in Frank-land in 802 and death in 810 on a campaign of its master against the king of Denmark are solemnly recorded by the chroniclers.
Personal appearance of Charles the Great. Of Charles himself, the centre of the busy scene at Aquae Grani, and his manner of life there, a vivid picture is given us by his biographer Einhard.40 Of his commanding stature, bright eyes, long hair, and p128 manly carriage this biographer has already told us.41 He further informs us that his neck was somewhat too short for symmetry, and his belly prominent; but the shapeliness of his other members concealed these defects. His voice was clear, but hardly so loud as one would have expected from his giant frame. His health till he had passed his sixty-eighth year was excellent; but for the last four years of his life he suffered from frequent fevers and limped with one foot. All these troubles, however, lie yet ahead of us. We are still only at the date 795, and the Frankish hero has reached but the fifty-third year of his life. We hear with some amusement that, sick or in health, he insisted on regulating himself according to his own notions, rather than by the counsel of his physicians, whom he wellnigh hated because they always recommended him to eat boiled meat instead of roast.
His costume. Except on the memorable occasions of his visits to Rome he wore the national Frankish dress — shirt and drawers of linen, a tunic fastened by a silken girdle, and leggings.42 His thighs were bound round with thongs,43 his feet with [laced‑up] shoes. In the winter he protected his chest and shoulders with a vest of otter-skins and ermine. Over all he wore a blue cloak, and he was ever girt with a sword, whose hilt and belt were either of gold or silver. Sometimes, but only at high festivals or when he was receiving the ambassadors of foreign nations, he wore p129 a jewelled sword. At these festivals also he wore a robe inwoven with gold, shoes bedecked with jewels, a golden clasp holding his cloak together, and a diadem of gold adorned with precious gems. On all other days, his dress varied little from the ordinary costume of his people.
His levée. On rising, Charles appears to have held something in the nature of a levée; for while his clothes were being put on and his shoes fastened, not only were his friends admitted to his presence, but if the Count of the Palace had any hard case which required his decision, Charles would call the litigants before him and pronounce sentence as if he were sitting on the judgment seat. So too, at this time, he would give the necessary orders to any of his ministers or the heads of his household.
His diet. He was very temperate in the matter of drink, holding drunkenness in uttermost abomination, especially in himself and those nearest to him. In the matter of feeding he was also temperate, but hardly came up to the Church's standard of abstinence, complaining that her rigid fasts were injurious to his health. After the mid‑day meal in summer time he would eat an apple and take some cooling drink, and then doff his upper garments and shoes, and sleep as if it were night for two or three hours together. The evening banquet44 was evidently the chief meal of the day. On high festivals he invited a large number of guests, but generally he supped alone with his family. The ordinary meal consisted of only three or four courses besides the roasted game, to which he was most partial, and which the hunters were wont to bring in on spits. p130 While he was dining, he listened either to music His favourites in literature. or to the reading of a book, especially a book of history telling of the deeds of the past, or the works of St. Augustine, among which the treatise on the City of God was his chief favourite.
His sleep at night — perhaps partly owing to his long siesta in the day — was not sound. He would often wake four or five times, and he sometimes beguiled the wakeful hours by trying to form letters on the tablets which for this purpose were always placed under his pillow. But he began the study of calligraphy so late in life that he never therein achieved any great success.
His eloquence. He had a fine flow of natural eloquence, and could, when he chose, express his thoughts with perfect clearness. In fact, so great was his readiness in speaking that it sometimes almost amounted to loquacity. He studied foreign languages, and was accustomed often to pray in Latin. Greek he could understand fairly well, though he never mastered its pronunciation. But after all, his own native Teutonic tongue was dearest to his heart. He began to compose a grammar of the Frankish language, and he wrote down and committed to memory the ancient and (as Einhard deemed them) 'barbarous' songs in which the deeds and wars of the old kings were celebrated. Would that his successors had taken the same interest in the true national literature of the German races! But Charles's successor Louis, himself more than half a monk and bred up in latinised Aquitaine, cared not for these spirit-stirring songs of his Ripuarian forefathers,45 and so p131 they soon for the most part died out of the memory of men. Truly we at this day, find it harder to forgive the 'debonnair' Louis for the loss of his father's ballad-book than even for the ruin of his father's Empire.
Somewhat anticipating the modern tendency of our German kinsfolk to use only home-grown words even in scientific terminology, Charles invented Frankish names for the twelve months,46 and enlarged the number of names of the winds from four to twelve.
His piety. We do not need the biographer's assurance that Charles 'most reverently and with the utmost piety cultivated the Christian religion with which he had been imbued from infancy,' nor that 'beyond all other holy places he venerated the church of the blessed Apostle Peter at Rome.' Morning and evening, and at all hours of the day or night when the sacrifice of the Mass was being offered, he was zealous in his attendance at church so long as his health permitted. He was extremely careful that all things pertaining p132 to divine worship should be done decently and in order, and would often admonish the vergers not to allow anything common or unclean to be brought into the church or remain within its precincts. He made lavish provision of gold and silver vessels for the service of the sanctuary, and his supply of vestments was so liberal that even the doorkeepers were clothed in them. He took a keen interest in the subject of the Church's psalmody, following herein the example of his father, who had introduced the Gregorian music into the churches of Gaul; but he gave even more attention to the lectionary and homilies of the church, eradicating to the utmost of his power the barbarisms which a succession of ignorant priests had introduced into their reading and preaching to the people.47
His rebuke of the worldliness of the clergy. But vivid as was Charles's interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and zealous as was his championship of the faith against pagans and heretics, the contrast between the professions and the practice of churchmen did not escape his keen intelligence.
'We wish,' he says in one of his capitularies,48 'to ask the chief ecclesiastics and all those who are engaged in teaching from the Holy Scriptures, who are those to whom the Apostle saith, "Be ye imitators of me"? or what he meant when he said, "No one who is a soldier of God entangleth himself with the things of this world"? How is the Apostle to be imitated? How is any one to be a soldier of God? Pray let them show us truly what is meant by that "renouncing the world" of which they so often speak, and explain how we are to distinguish between those who renounce and p133 those who follow the world. Is the difference only in this that the former do not bear arms and are not publicly married? I would enquire also if that man can be said to have renounced the world who is unceasingly striving to augment his possessions by drawing persuasive pictures of the blessedness of heaven, and by threatening men with the everlasting punishments of hell? or that man who, in the name of God or of some saint, is for ever stripping simpler people, rich or poor, of their possessions, disinheriting the lawful heirs, and driving men thus unjustly deprived of their paternal estates to robbery and all sorts of crimes, the result of the dire necessities of their position?'
One asks oneself in reading such sentences as these whether Charles was thinking of certain letters of Hadrian, in which all the machinery of the joys of paradise and the terrors of hell was brought into action in order to add Comacchio or Capua to the Papal territory.
Charles's family relations. We must not, however, enter here on the wide question of the great king's relation to the church. It is with Charles as head of a family and centre of a court that we have here to deal. At the date which we have now reached most of Hildegard's children were grown up. Hrotrud, the once-destined bride of Constantine, was twenty-three years of age. Nearly as old was her brother Charles, Pippin king of Italy was eighteen, Louis king of Aquitaine was seventeen years old. Probably that antagonism between the younger Charles and Pippin which was to embitter some of the later years of their father's life had already declared itself, but the two young kings of Italy and p134 Aquitaine grew up each in his own kingdom, and only occasionally formed part of their father's court. Fastrada was now dead, but had left two daughters, probably little more than children. The Alamannian lady Liutgard, once mistress, afterwards wedded wife of Charles, was perhaps already sitting as queen in the palace at Aachen. Of the young tribe of princes and princesses whose mirth was dear to their father's heart Einhard gives us an attractive picture, yet one that is not without its shadows: —
'He determined that his children should be so educated that sons as well as daughters should be trained in liberal studies, to which he himself also gave earnest heed. The sons, as soon as their age permitted, were taught to ride after the manner of the Franks, and were practised in the use of arms and in the exercises of the chase. The daughters were ordered to learn to use the distaff and spindle, and to busy themselves with wool-work that they might not grow slothful through too much leisure.
'He took so keen an interest in the education of his sons and daughters that he never supped without them when at home, and never deprived himself of their company when travelling. On such journeys his sons rode beside him, and his daughters followed behind with a strong rear-guard of soldiers.
'As these daughters were most beautiful and he loved them dearly, it was strange that he never gave one of them in marriage, either to one of his own people or to a foreigner, but kept them always with him in the house till the day of his death, declaring that he could not dispense with their daily companionship. On this account, prosperous as he was in other p135 respects, he had to endure the malignity of adverse fortune, but he so concealed his feelings that no one could ever tell that he was aware of any shadow of disgrace having fallen upon the good name of his daughters.'
The scandals thus gently hinted at by Einhard have not grown smaller in the gossip of posterity, which has even (apparently without justification) coupled Einhard's own name with that of a supposed daughter of Charles, named Emma, in a well-known story of illicit love. But some of these domestic 'misfortunes' of Charles left unmistakable traces in Carolingian pedigrees. Princess Hrotrud herself, who died in her thirty-ninth year (810), though never married, left a son Louis, who was afterwards abbot of S. Denis, and prothonotary to her nephew Charles the Bald.
His love of the companionship of learned men. Much as he loved the merry talk of his daughters, Charles in the midst of his warlike and peaceful cares delighted none the less in the companionship of the most learned men of his age whom he succeeded in gathering round him. Indeed, this is beyond all his other achievements the distinguishing glory of his character and his reign, that he, though himself, imperfectly educated, knew how to appreciate the learning of others, and, turning back the tide of barbarism and ignorance which had submerged Gaul since the days of Clovis, made himself the centre and the rallying-point of a literary and scientific movement, hardly less important than the great Renascence of the fifteenth century. Adoption of Latin names. It is one of the many points of resemblance between these two periods of Renascence, that the little literary and ecclesiastical coterie which gathered round Charles at the end of the eighth p136 century took names — for the most part classical names — by which they were known to one another in their correspondence, instead of the rough Teutonic ones which they had received from their fathers, and of which they were perhaps partly tired and partly ashamed.49
Charles's own sobriquet was not classical, but biblical. He was King David, a name well chose to symbolise the great conqueror, the wide-ruling king, and also the man who had such large and irregular experience of the 'love of women.' But David with his blood-stained hands was not allowed p137 to build the temple of the Louis, and therefore, as Charles did build the stately basilica of Aquae Grani, he was sometimes addressed by his friends under the name of Solomon.
Paulus Diaconus. An honoured guest at the Frankish palaces before Charles took up his abode at Aachen was the Lombard historian who has been so often quoted in previous volumes, Paulus Diaconus. He came, probably in 782, when he was himself about fifty-seven years of age, to plead the cause of his brother Arichis, who had incurred the displeasure of the Frankish king. In an elegiac poem Paulus thus laid bare to Charles the misery that had fallen upon him and his family: —
'Hear, great king, my complaint and in mercy receive my petition;
Scarce in the whole round world will be found such a sorrow as mine.
Six long years have passed since my brother's doom overtook him,
Now 'tis the seventh that he, a captive, in exile must pine.
Lingers at home his wife, to roam through the streets of her city
Begging for morsels of food, knocking at door after door:
Only in shameful guise like this can she nourish her children,
Four little half-clothed babes, whom she in her wretchedness bore.
There is a sister of mine, a Christ-vowed virgin of sorrows:
Wellnigh with constant tears quenched is the light of her eyes.
Reft of its scanty equipment is now the home of our fathers;
Us in our utmost need no neighbour will help or advise.
Gone is the pride of our birth. Thrust forth from the acres paternal,
Now we are equalled in rank with those, the slaves of the soil.
Harsher doom we deserved: I own it. Yet, merciful monarch,
Pity the prayer of the sad. End our distress and our toil.
Give but the captive back to his fatherland and his homestead,
Give him the modest estate, his family's portion and stay:
So shall our mouths sing ever the praises of Christ the Redeemer,
Christ, who alone for your grace fitting rewards can repay.'
p138 Taken literally this metrical petition would suggest the thought that Paulus had himself been concerned in hostile designs against the Frankish power. It is possible however, and is generally considered probable, that he here but speaks of 'us' and 'our deservings' in order more effectually to move the pity of the conqueror by associating himself with the guilt of the condemned man. Amid the many uncertainties which surround the life of the Lombard historian, one thing seems tolerably clear, that he had been for some years an inmate of Monte Cassino before he sought the court of King Charles to plead for his exiled brother.50 p139 From the favour which was shown to Paulus during the four years of his stay at the Frankish court there can be no doubt that his petition on behalf of his brother was promptly granted. He seems to have generally followed the court in all its peaceful promenades, and it was probably in one of these progresses that he found himself at the Villa Theodonis,51 where, as the reader may remember, he was interested in measuring the length of his shadow on Christmas day.52 Being himself a Greek scholar, he gave lessons in that language to the ecclesiastics who were chosen to accompany the little princess Hrotrud to Constantinople. He wrote the history of the bishops of Metz, duly glorifying Charles's sainted ancestor Arnulf. He also wrote epitaphs in respectable elegiacs on Charles's queen Hildegard, on two of his daughters and two of his sisters, and he was in fact during the four years of his stay in Frank-land a kind of literary prime minister of Charles the Great, entrusted by him with that work of revising the lectionaries and homilies of the church to which allusion has already been made.53
Petrus Pisanus. It was probably about the time of Paulus' arrival at the Frankish court that another literary man of some eminence made his appearance there. This was the aged Peter of Pisa, who many years before p140 had become famous by a disputation which he held at Pavia with a certain Jew named Lull, and who now was invited across the Alps to teach grammar to the young nobles of the court, the great king himself often forming one of his audience.54 Contests of wits between Peter and Paul. Between these two men, Paul the deacon and Peter the grammarian, there was an interchange of banter and half-ironical compliments, which seems to have amused their royal master as much as it perplexes the modern student, who after an interval of more than a thousand years strives to recover the meaning of these fossil facetiae.
Peter (who writes on behalf of Charles) in high-flown strains salutes Paul,
'most learned of poets, who rivals Homer among the Greeks, Virgil among the Latins, Philo in his knowledge of Hebrew, Horace in his use of metre, Tibullus in eloquence. . . . A glory which we hoped not for has now risen upon us. You have heard that at the bidding of Christ our daughter [Hrotrud] is about to cross the seas under the escort of Michael in order to wield the sceptre of the Eastern realm. For this cause you are teaching our clerics Greek grammar, that they may go thither, while still remaining in our obedience, and may seem to be learned in the rules of the Greeks.'
Paulus answers that he perceives that all this is said ironically, and that he is 'derided with praises and oppressed by laughter,' all which makes him very miserable. He has never thought of imitating any of those mighty ones who have trodden the trackless road to fame; rather is he like one of the little dogs p141 that have followed at their heels.55 'I do not know Greek,' he says with untruthful modesty, 'and I am ignorant of Hebrew. I have heard, and I exult in the news, that your fair daughter, O king, is to cross the seas and grasp the sceptre, so that through your child the power of your kingdom will spread over Asia. But if in that country your clerics who go from hence shall speak no more Greek than they have learned from me, they will be as dumb as statues and will be derided by all.'
Enigmas. It was apparently the king's habit to send by an officer of his guard a riddle or a sort of acrostic charade to one or other of these two grammarians, and humorously press for an immediate answer. Each of these riddles, as far as we can understand them, seems to be vapidity itself,56 but they have been the means of procuring for us vivid pictures of the handsome soldier from the palace who brought at sunset to Paulus what he calls 'the fire-tipped arrows' of Charles, and of the youth with beautiful body, in whose beard the dew‑drops were hanging, when he stood at daybreak charged with a like perplexing message at the door of Peter.
The reader finds it difficult to repress his impatience when he reads the records of these elaborate trivialities. Yet even the nonsense of the court seems to bring us nearer to the Frankish hero than the bare record of his campaigns or the disputed text of his donations to the Pope. And at least this is p142 the real Austrasian Charles with whom we are thus brought in contact, not the shadowy and unreal Charlemagne of romance.
Return of Paulus Diaconus to Italy. About 786 Paulus seems to have returned to Italy, possibly in the train of Charles, who, as we have seen, spent Christmas of that year in Florence and the following winter at Rome. We hear very little about his old age, but there can be little doubt that he returned to Monte Cassino, for which retreat his heart yearned even in the midst of the splendours of Charles's court, and that he there in the end of his days composed his invaluable History of the Lombards, dying in one of the closing years of the eighth century.57
p143 The Northumbrian, Alcuin. About the same time when Paulus first visited the Frankish court, another learned ecclesiastic, a countryman of our own, made his appearance there, a man destined to make a much longer stay and to exercise a more powerful influence than the Lombard historian. This was Alcuin, or (as he preferred to write his name) Albinus, a man already of much renown for his learning when in the year 781 he met King Charles at Parma and was persuaded by him to enter his service.
Alcuin was born probably about the year 735. He was sprung from a noble family in the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria, was of the same stock whence half a century earlier had sprung the sainted Willibrord, and if not actually born at York, was sent thither in very early childhood to be trained for the priesthood. The kingdom of Northumbria had not yet lost all its ancient glory, the glory of Edwin and Oswald; and York, the successor of the Roman Eburacum, was not only a great political centre, but was in fact the predecessor of the university towns of later ages. The venerable Baeda, the most learned man in Europe, was no more, having died perhaps in the very year of Alcuin's birth, but the tradition of his great attainments was kept alive by Egbert, who was archbishop of York from 732 to 766, and who took a keen interest in the education of the young Alcuin. His love for Virgil. Already when a boy of eleven years old, Alcuin had felt the exceptional charm which Virgil possessed for the p144 students of Latin in the Middle Ages, and already, as with Jerome and Augustine, the influence of the great Mantuan was in some degree antagonistic to that of prophets and apostles. Though regular in his attendance at the morning service, he seldom visited the church after sunset. The rough and ignorant monk in whose cell he slept was equally lax in his midnight devotions. One night, says the biographer, when the porter at cockcrow called the brotherhood to rise for vigils, the monk, unaroused, continued in his snoring sleep, and the bright boy who shared his cell was also slumbering. Suddenly the cell was filled with black spirits, who surrounded the old monk's bed, saying, 'Thou sleepest soundly, O brother!' He awoke and heard their taunting cry, 'When all the brethren are keeping their vigil in the church, why art thou alone snoring here?' Thereat the spirits began to chastise him with cruel blows. The boy meantime was praying hard for deliverance: 'O Lord Jesus, if ever after this I neglect the vigils of the church and care more for Virgil than for the chanting of psalms, then may such stripes be my lot. Only I pray Thee deliver me now.' The spirits, when they had finished chastising the clown, cast their eyes round the cell. 'Who,' said the leader of the fiends, 'is this other, sleeping here in the cell?' They answered, 'It is the boy Albinus, hiding under the bed‑clothes.' 'We will not chastise him with stripes because he is still raw, but we will punish him somewhat on the hard soles of his feet, and make him remember the vow which he has just made.' They pulled the clothes from his feet, but Alcuin made the sign of the cross and repeated fervently the 12th Psalm. Thereupon the spirits p145 disappeared, and the terrified monk and boy rushed into the church for shelter.
The story seems worth telling, however little belief we may have in the spiritual nature of the monk's tormentors, because it indicates the character of Alcuin's education, and his position midway between literature and theology. There can be no doubt — every letter from his pen proves it — that he was deeply imbued with the knowledge and the love of the great literature of heathen Rome. Yet he was also a loyal and devoted son of the Catholic Church, well acquainted with the Scriptures and with the works of the chief Latin fathers, and he devoted the best powers of his trained and cultivated intellect to the defence of Catholic doctrine against heretics. In this capacity he fought as chief champion of the Church against Felix of Urgel and Elipandus of Toledo, who taught that Jesus Christ might be properly described as the adopted Son of God. In this capacity also he was probably engaged in the composition of the Libri Carolini, the celebrated treatise in which Charles endeavoured to define the true Via Media as to the worship of images.
Alcuin's literary style. The part which Alcuin played in these controversies is fully explained when we turn to his letters and poems and compare them with the letters and the biographies which proceeded from the Papal chancery. While Paul and Hadrian and their biographers express themselves in a Latin so barbarous, grotesque and ungrammatical that it would have seemed like a foreign language to Virgil or Seneca, the prose and poetry of Alcuin, and we may add of most of his companions in the literary coterie which gathered round the Frankish p146 king, are grammatically correct and sometimes elegant. Doubtless there is in most of this Caroline literature a lack of freshness and spontaneity; the writers tend toward bombast and set too high a value on mere prettiness of expression; in their poems especially, some of them borrow so extensively from the great Latin authors that they remind one of an idle school‑boy trying to fill up his required number of lines by pilfered and unacknowledged quotations. Still, what these men wrote is Latin, if not always of the purest and noblest kind, and that is more than can be said of the letters in the Codex Carolinus and the lives in the Liber Pontificalis.
Alcuin's travels. To return to the history of Alcuin. He was brought into close relations, as a pupil or friend, with three successive archbishops of York — Egbert, Aelberht, and Eanbald. While still a young man he seems to have accompanied the second of these on a journey to Italy, in the course of which he stayed at Pavia (then probably still the residence of a Lombard king), and there was present at the memorable disputation between Peter of Pisa and the Jew Lull, to which allusion has already been made. On Aelberht's elevation to the archbishopric (767), he succeeded him as head of the school attached to the church of York. 780 On the death of Aelberht, he was sent by his friend Eanbald, who was elected to the vacant archiepiscopal throne, to receive his pallium from Rome.58 It was probably in the course of this journey that he met p147 Charles at Parma and was earnestly entreated by him to take up his residence at the Frankish court. He refused, however, to do this without first obtaining the leave of his king and archbishop. That leave obtained, he repaired, about the beginning of 782, to Charles, then residing at Quierzy-sur‑Oise, and at once received from him the gift of two rich abbacies.59
Alcuin's residence at the Frankish court, 782‑796. With the exception of an interval of about two years spent in his native land,60 Alcuin remained till 796 at the court of his patron, organising the school for the court-pages, renaming the courtiers with names taken from the classical poets, probably advising as to the services of the royal chapel, always acting as the literary and sometimes as the ecclesiastical prime minister of the great king.
He retires to the monastery at Tours, 796‑804. In 796 he obtained permission to retire to the great monastery of St. Martin at Tours, of which he was made abbot, and there he spent the remaining eight years of his life, dying 'full of days' on the 19th of May, 804. For us this absence of Alcuin from the Frankish court is the most fruitful period of his life, because to it belong the bulk of the letters which he addressed to his royal patron, and from these we may infer what manner of counsels he gave while still dwelling under his roof.
I have been thus precise in stating the years of Alcuin's companionship and correspondence with Charles, since it is clear that he exercised a quite extraordinary influence on the mind of the Frankish hero, and to Alcuin's love of the Latin classics and close familiarity with their pages must in large measure p148 be ascribed the specially Roman turn taken by Charles's policy in the great year 800.
Correspondence between Alcuin and Charles. The correspondence between Alcuin and Charles gives us a pleasant impression of the characters of both men. The scholar does not fawn and the king does not too obviously condescend; and, most agreeable trait of all, there is an occasional exchange of banter between 'David' and 'Flaccus,' that being the Horatian name which was assumed by the British ecclesiastic. Thus, when Charles has asked Alcuin a question, not easy to answer, about the reason for the names given by the Church to the Sundays before Lent — Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima; and when Alcuin has given an answer which is obviously an attempt to hide his ignorance under a cloud of words, Charles, after consulting some of the young clerics in the Schola Palatii, sends an explanation which is at any rate more intelligible, and probably nearer to the truth, than that given by Alcuin. But as Charles had apparently adopted the Alexandrian method of beginning the year from the autumnal equinox, Alcuin says, 'I left Roman lads in the palace-school: how have Egyptians crept in there?' And with jokes about Egyptian darkness and frequent hits at the too great cleverness of 'your Egyptian lads' he tries to cover his retreat, though he admits that 'I, the loiterer, I, forgetful of my former self, have perhaps rightly borne the scourge of your striplings.'
Statesmanlike policy recommended by Alcuin. In serious matters the influence of Alcuin on the mind of the Frankish king seems to have been generally exerted in favour of a broad and tolerant policy. A favourable specimen of his style is furnished by a letter which he wrote soon after his retirement to Tours, in p149 the autumn of 796.61 After congratulating the king on his victories over the Huns [Avars], 'a nation formidable by their ancient savagery and courage,' he goes on to recommend that to this new people there be sent pious preachers, men of honourable character, intent on following the example of the holy Apostles, who may feed them with milk, and not disgust their 'fragile minds' with 'more austere precepts.'
'After weighing these things, let your Piety, under wise advice, consider whether it is good to impose on a rude people like this at the beginning of their faith the yoke of tithes, exacted in full amount and from every house. It is to be considered whether the Apostles, who were taught by Christ Himself and sent forth by Him for the evangelisation of the world, ever ordered the exaction of tithes, or demanded that they should be given to them. We know that the tithing of our property is a very good thing; but it is better to forego it than to lose the faith. Even we, who were born, bred, and trained up in the Catholic faith, scarce consent to the full tithing of our substance; how much less will their tender faith, their childish intellects, and their covetous dispositions consent to such large claims on their generosity? But when their faith is strengthened and their Christian habits are confirmed, then, as to perfect men, may be given those stronger commands which, their minds braced by the Christian religion, will no longer reject with loathing.'
p150 Alcuin's friends. Around Alcuin as a centre gathered a school of learned and nimble-minded men, his disciples, who helped forward the civilizing and educating work of the king of the Franks. Two of these may be noticed here, Angilbert, abbot of S. Riquier, and Theodulf, bishop of Orleans.
Angilbert. Angilbert was sprung from a noble Frankish family, and was brought up, almost from infancy, in the palace of Charles. His teachers were Alcuin, Peter of Pisa, and another grammarian named Paulinus.62 He accompanied the young Pippin into Italy, and was apparently one of his chief counsellors,63 having probably then already taken orders.64 He returned to the Frankish court, and in 790 was made by Charles abbot of the monastery of S. Riquier in Picardy.65 It was probably about the same time that he was appointed arch-chaplain66 to the king.
Angilbert was three times sent on important missions to Rome.67 The object of his second mission was to obtain from the Pope that condemnation of the Second Nicene Council which Hadrian, being himself an ardent image-worshipper, could not grant. But though thus engaged in serious ecclesiastical affairs, Angilbert was essentially a littérateur and a man of the world. The abundance of his poems (only a few of which are preserved to us) obtained for him in the literary club at the palace the sobriquet of Homer. He became enamoured of Charles's daughter Bertha, and though p151 marriage was doubly impossible on account of his profession and her royal birth, she bore him two sons, to whom he seems to have been a loving father. Nor does Charles appear in any wise to have withdrawn his favour from his irregular son-in‑law.
Alcuin's admonitions to Angilbert. To Alcuin, who followed the fortunes of his pupil with anxious interest, Angilbert's intense fondness for the pleasures of the theatre caused some uneasiness.
'I fear,' he said, in writing to his friend Adalhard,68 'that Homer will be made angry by the edict69 forbidding spectacular entertainments and devilish figments. All which things the Holy Scriptures prohibit: insomuch that I find St. Augustine saying, "Little does the man know who introduces actors and mimics and dancers into his house, how great a crowd of unclean spirits follows them." But God forbid that the Devil should have power in a Christian home. I wrote to you about this before, desiring with all my heart the salvation of my dearest son, and wishing that you might accomplish that which was beyond my power.'
Writing again two years later to the same friend, Alcuin rejoices over Angilbert's reformation.70
'I was much pleased to read what you have written about the improved morals of my Homer. For although his character was always an honourable one, yet there is no one in the world who has not to "forget the things which are behind and to reach out to the things which are before" till he attains the crown of perfectness. Now one of "the things that are behind" for him related to the actors, from whose vanities I knew that no small peril impended over his soul, and this grieved me. Wherefore I wrote him something on this subject, p152 to prove the sincerity of my love. And I was surprised that so intelligent a man did not himself perceive that he was doing blameworthy deeds and things which consisted not with his dignity.'
Angilbert's poems. One or two of the extant poems of Angilbert give us some interesting glimpses of life at Charles's court. He seems to have been always specially devoted to his former pupil Pippin, The return of Pippin. and on that prince's return from Italy in 796, he greeted him with a poem of effusive welcome.71 He pictures the young Charles and Louis looking anxiously for their brother's arrival. The impatient Charles wonders if he is hindered by the badness of the roads. Louis, though he loves Pippin quite as dearly, is of more placid temperament (how like the future 'debonnair' Emperor!) and comforts his brother by the recital of a dream in which Pippin stood by him and assured him that ere the moon was at her full he would be with them.
Then Pippin arrives, and is greeted by father, stepmother, brothers, sisters and aunt (Gisila 'the bride of heaven') with various manifestations of joy. The poem ends with pious aspirations, unhappily not fulfilled, for the fraternal union and concord of the three brothers, Charles, Pippin and Louis.
Charles the Great and Pope Leo. Another poem of more historical importance, which now bears the name of 'Carolus Magnus et Leo Papa,' is attributed, though with some hesitation, to Angilbert. It opens with high-flown praises of Charles's qualities (among which we note especially his easy, genial manners, his love of the study of grammar, and his oratorical fluency), and then, after a description of the rise of the new capital of Aquae Grani, the poet proceeds to depict p153 with some fluency, though at portentous length, the events of a day's boar-hunting in a vast wooded chase between the city and the hills. Charles himself is called 'the Pharos of Europe.' His horse, with heavy gold trappings, delights to be bestridden by the greatest of kings. Charles's sons are described with a monotony of laudation which savours too much of 'fortemque Gyan, fortemque Cloanthum.' The dress of Queen Liutgarda and of Charles's six daughters72 is minutely described, and if we could trust the poet's accuracy we should have here a valuable piece of evidence for the attire of Frankish dames of high station: but when we find that each of the ladies goes hunting with a gold coronet on her head, in which emeralds, or chrysolites, or jacinths are blazing, we are forced to suspect that the picture is conventional, and that each princess insisted on being described in the most gorgeous of her court costumes.73
We may, however, accept from the poet his description of the flaxen, or yet paler than flaxen74 hair of several of the young Frankish princesses. And we note with interest his elaborate portrait of the brilliant Bertha, surrounded by her girl-friends; Bertha, whose p154 voice, whose manly courage, whose quick-glancing and expressive face recalled the image of her father. For this was that one of Charles's daughters who was one day to be the unwedded wife of the poet.
The banquet in the forest. After the boar-hunt the tents were pitched in the middle of the forest, and a splendid banquet followed, which was attended not only by the young sportsmen who had followed Charles, but by the grave and reverend seniors invited thither from the city.
The poet then proceeds to relate the interview between the King and the Pope which will be the subject of the next chapter.
One word deserves our special attention in this poem. It was composed probably in the year 799, certainly not later than June, 800, for it speaks of Queen Liutgard as still living: yet twice75 Charles is spoken of as 'Augustus,' the name appropriated beyond all others to the Emperor of Rome. Certainly Angilbert had heard some whispers of the event which was to make the Christmas of 800 memorable.
Theodulf, bishop of Orleans. Theodulf, the other great poet of Charles's court, the most copious of all save Alcuin, was born about 760 in the old Gothic province of Septimania,76 which since the middle of the century had formed part of the Frankish kingdom. After taking deacon's orders he seems to have made his way to Charles's court, where his learning and his zeal for reform of manners in Church and State obtained for him a high position. It is thought, however, that he never sat as a pupil in p155 the Schola Palati, nor formed one of the innermost circle of the friends of Alcuin, and consequently he has no Latin nickname like the members of that coterie. About the year 798 he was consecrated bishop of Orleans, with the right of holding three or four rich abbacies along with his see. In this year he was also sent together with Leidrad (afterwards bishop of Lyons) as missus dominicus to hold synods, reform manners, and execute justice in the region of Gallia Narbonensis. Of this journey he has given us a valuable account in his longest and most important poem addressed 'Ad Judices.' In 801 and 802 he had a sharp dispute about right of sanctuary with Alcuin, who had then recently retired from the headship of the monastery of St. Martin at Tours. A certain accused person had fled from Theodulf's jurisdiction and taken refuge at St. Martin's shrine. Theodulf demanded, Alcuin passionately refused, the surrender of the criminal. Our countryman was probably in the wrong, since Charles, intervening in the dispute, gave judgment in Theodulf's favour, and strongly condemned the angry tone of Alcuin's letters.
After Charles's death Theodulf was for some time in high favour with his successor, Louis the Pious, to whom he addressed a poem of welcome on his passage through Orleans to Aachen. He was accused, however, of taking part in Bernard's rebellion against his uncle Louis, and was banished to Angers. It is not quite clear whether he was ever pardoned. According to one, somewhat late, authority,77 he received permission to return, but was poisoned on the road home (821).
p156 Theodulf's poetry. The style of Theodulf's Latin poems is considered by some critics78 to be superior to that of any of his contemporaries. To me he seems often intolerably diffuse, and I find it difficult to admire the poetical taste of a man who could spend weeks (as he must have done, if not months) inn composing thirty-five vapid (necessarily vapid) verses of 'prayer for King Charles,' which when read perpendicularly, horizontally, and along the lines of an inscribed rhomboid, give eight other acrostic verses to the same purport.79 Still his Latin is generally correct, and when he is clear of literary artifices like this and free from the enervating influences of the court, it is sometimes even forcible. His poems, with fewer plagiarisms than those of Angilbert, show an extensive acquaintance with the works of the Latin classical poets, especially with those of Ovid, whose fate as an exile vainly pleading for the return of court favour, that of Theodulf was, at the end of his life, so closely to resemble. It would be an interesting question to enquire where, at a distance from Charles's court, the 'Goth' (as he always styles himself) of Narbonne can have accumulated so large a store of classical learning. May we believe that, first under Visigothic and then under Saracen rule, the old Provincia which included Narbonne and Marseilles had retained sufficient trace of its old Latin culture to prevent it from being barbarised down to the level of Gregory of Tours?
Versus Ad Judices. The longest and best of Theodulf's poems is an address to all Judges, warning them against bribery, partiality, indolence and pride. As has been said, it p157 contains, parenthetically, a long account of the author's journey to the Narbonese Gaul, with Leidrad for his colleague. He says, 'I have often perceived that when I inveigh against the bribery of judges the secret thought of my hearers is that I, if I had the opportunity should do even as they.' It is in order to repel this insinuation that he tells the story of his journey down the valley of the Rhone to those 'Hesperian' lands round Narbonne which gave him birth. At every place he was beset by corrupt aspirants to his favour. One man offered a silver vase on which were carved with marvellous skill some of the labours of Hercules. This vase should be Theodulf's if he would only consent to annul the deed of enfranchisement by which the petitioner's parents had given freedom to a multitude of slaves. Another, who had a dispute about the ownership of some cattle, offered as a suitable bribe a robe woven in Saracenic looms, in which a cow with her calf was depicted with marvellous skill. And so on with many other gifts, costly if offered by the rich, of trifling value if offered by the poor, but all distinctly put forward as bribes, and as such rejected by Theodulf. He truly remarks that these things would not have been offered to him unless similar gifts had been accepted by many of his predecessors. It was probably the unfavourable impression which he thus received of the venality of Frankish judges which caused him to write these words of solemn warning against a wide-spread vice.80
p158 Interwoven with the practical advice which Theodulf gives to the judges we find some interesting pictures of the forensic life of a Frankish city:
'When the dull murmur of the law‑suits calls you to the Forum and you have to execute the duties of your office, first resort to some holy place and pray God to direct your actions that you may do nothing displeasing to Him. Then, according to custom, repair to the gates of the resounding Forum, where the band of litigants expects you. When you are on your way, perhaps some poor man will address to you words of entreaty, some man who may afterwards say that he could not have speech of you while you walked surrounded by your people. You go forward, you are received within those proud doors, while the common people are shut out. But let some faithful and compassionate servant walk near to you, to whom you can say, "Bring into our presence that man who uttered his complaint in such a loud voice": and so having introduced him into the judgment-hall, discuss his cause first, and afterwards attend to every one in his own order.
'If you ask my advice when you should go to the Forum, I should say "Go early," and do not grudge spending the whole day on the judgment-seat. The more a man ploughs, the better harvest he will reap. I have seen judges who were slow to attend to the duties of their office, though prompt enough in taking its rewards. Some arrive at eleven and depart at three. Others, if nine o'clock sees them on the bench, will rise therefrom at noon. Yes, if they have p159 anything to give, you will not find them till three in the afternoon; if anything to receive, they are there before seven. The man who was formerly always late, is now brisk enough in his movements.
'Gluttony is always to be avoided, but especially at the time when the duty awaits you of handling the reins of justice. He who devotes himself to feasting and slumber, comes with dulled senses to the trial of causes, and sits in his court flabby, inactive, mindless. Some difficult case comes on, the rapid play of question and answer demands his keenest attention, but there he sits and sways to and fro, lazy, panting, overcome with nausea and pain, in crass hebetitude.º Beware therefore of too abundant banquets, and especially of the goblets of Bacchus. If you are a drunkard you will be laughed at in stealth by all your people. One passes on the hint to another, and soon the brand of infamy will be fixed upon you.
'The janitor of the court must control the gaping crowd, and not suffer the lawless mob to rush into the hall and fill the building with their noisy complaints, of which, the louder they shout, the less one can understand. But he too must be a man of clean hands, and must be expressly admonished not to take any douceurs from the people. Alas! this is a vice which every janitor loves. The janitor loves a bribe, and among his masters the judges you will scarce find one in a thousand who hates it.'81
Before we part from the works of this keen-witted, if not grandly inspired poet, we must listen for a short time to his description of the court of King Charles p160 at Aachen, as contained in his poem, 'Ad Carolum regem,' written about the year 796.82
Ad Carolum Regem. After listening to prayers in 'that hall whose fair fabric rises with marvellous domes' (doubtless the great church of St. Mary), the king proceeded to the palace. The common people go and come through the long vestibules; the doors are opened, and of the many who wish to enter a few are admitted. One sees the fair progeny of Charles surrounding their father, Charles the younger in his adolescent beauty and the boyish Louis,83 both strong, vigorous, with minds keen in study, and able to keep their own counsel. Then the virgin band, Bertha, Hrotrud and Gisila, and their three younger sisters; no one more beautiful than the others. With these is joined the fair Amazon,84 Liutgarda, 'who shines both by her intellect and her wealth of piety, fair indeed by her outward adornment, but fairer yet by her worthy deeds, beloved both by nobles and people; free-handed, gentle, courteous; she seeks to benefit all, to injure none.' (One may be allowed here to suspect a veiled allusion to the opposite character of her predecessor, Fastrada.)
The children crowd around their father in friendly rivalry of good offices. Charles takes from him his heavy double pallium and his gloves, Louis takes his sword. The daughters receive the loving kisses of their sire. Bertha brings roses, Hrotrud violets, Gisila lilies, Rothaid apples, Hiltrud bread, Theoderada wine. p161 All these maidens wear beautiful jewels, some red, some green; golden clasps, bracelets and necklaces. One delights her father by her graceful dance, another by her merry jokes.85
Then draws near the king's sister, the holy Gisila. She kisses her brother, and her placid face shows as much joy as can co‑exist with her joy in the heavenly Bridegroom. She begs Charles to explain to her some dark passage of Scripture, and he teaches her that which he has himself learned of God.
A description of the courtiers follows. Thyrsis (whose Teutonic name we know not) is the active and able but bald chamberlain whose business it is to regulate the entrance into the presence-chamber, admitting some and courteously excusing himself for preventing the entrance of others.
Flaccus (Alcuin) is 'the glory of our bards, mighty to shout forth his songs, keeping time with his lyric foot, moreover a powerful sophist, able to prove pious doctrines out of Holy Scripture, and in genial jest to propose or solve problems of arithmetic.' Sometimes these questions of Flaccus are easy, sometimes desperately hard. Charles himself is often one of those who rather desire to find than succeed in finding the answers to these 'Flaccidica.'
Richulf (bishop of Mainz) comes next, strong of voice, yet with polished speech, noble by his art and his fidelity. If he has tarried long in distant regions he has returned thence not empty-handed.
Homer (Angilbert) is absent; else my Muse should sing to him a song of delight.
Ercambald (chancellor from 797 to 812) has two p162 tablets in his hand, on which he writes down the king's orders and hums them over to himself with inaudible voice.86
Lentulus (whose real name we know not) brings in some apples in a basket. He is a faithful fellow with quick perceptions, but very slow in speech and gait.
Nardulus (the name is perhaps meant for Einhard) rushes about hither and thither like an ant. His little body is inhabited by a mighty spirit. He is now bringing in big books and now literary arrows to slay the Scot.
At the mention of this Scot — to whose identity we have unfortunately no clue — Theodulf bursts into a storm of fury: fury surely fictitious and merely humorous. 'Such kisses will I give thee as the wolf gives to the donkey. Sooner shall the dog cherish hares or the fierce wolf lambs than I, the Goth, will have any friendship with the Scotsman. Take away one little letter, the third in the alphabet, a letter which he himself cannot pronounce, and you have the true description of his character, a sot instead of a Scot.'87
After the banquet the Theodulfica Musa is called upon to sing. All kings and chieftains love to hear her voice, but a certain Wibod (possibly a count of Perigueux, another enemy or pretended enemy of Theodulf) cannot abide it. He shakes his thick head of hair thrice or four times at the minstrel, and in his absence hurls out dreadful threats. But only let the p163 king summon him to his presence, and in he goes with shambling gait and trembling knee; a very Jove with his awful voice but a Vulcan with his lame foot.
So, with a torrent of pretended indignation against this Wibod and the mysterious Scot the poem concludes, the pious author praying his readers in the name of that Christian charity which beareth all things not to be offended by anything that he has written.
Literary atmosphere of Charles's Court. I trust that I have not dwelt too long on the histories of these littérateurs in Charles's court. In reading their lives and their poems — small as the literary merit of these latter may be — one feels how broad a chasm divides them from the illiteracy and barbarism of the Merovingian days. True, the intellectual impulse came from abroad, and pre‑eminently from our own great Northumbrian scholars. But it was Charles's supreme merit to have attracted it to himself, to have made his court the focus of all the literary light and heat of Western Europe, to have offered the richest prizes in Church and State as the rewards of intellectual eminence. As has been before said, the age of Charles the Great was a veritable literary and architectural Renascence, and even the mimic combats of the wits of the court, their verbal subtleties and classical affectations, remind us not seldom of the literary coteries of Florence in the age of the Medici. Like that brilliant age, moreover, was the age of Charlemagne in its care for the manuscripts of classical antiquity, only that where the Florence bought, the Frank superintended the copying of the priceless manuscripts. The very characters bore the impress of the new movement of literary reform. Small but clear uncials took the place of the barbarous scrawl p164 of the two preceding centuries. Monastery vied with monastery in the splendour and the number of its parchment codices. For the fragments of Greek literature which have been preserved we are of course chiefly indebted to Constantinople, but it is difficult to calculate how great would be the void in extant Latin literature had it not been for the revival of letters at the court of Charlemagne.
1 See vol. V p62.
5 Ἡ εὐσεβεστάτη (Theophanes; A.M. 6273), ἡ σοφὴ καὶ θεοφιλὴς Εἰρήνη (Ibid. 6295). Cf. also Nicephorus, Antirrheticus, p135 (p502 ed. Migne).
9 Δρουγγάριον (= χιλίαρχον) τῆς βίγλης (vigilum).
10 Situation unknown: conjectured to be in Thrace.
11 Doubtless Bury is right in suggesting (II.486) that μάγιστρος here means Magister (see vol. I p217; 612 2nd ed.).
12 Surnamed Muselem. Had he Saracen blood in his veins?
13 These are the remarkable words of Theophanes, the zealous admirer of 'the most pious Irene': Ὑποβολῇ τῆς ἑαυτοῦ μητρὸς ἐφιεμένης τῆς ἀρχῆς πρὸς τὸ καταγνωσθῆναι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ πάντων.
14 Afterwards surnamed Studita, from the monastery of which he was abbot.
15 `This fact is well brought out by Schlosser, pp314‑317. In this case Constantine was not a willing persecutor.
16 Translated by Schlosser, pp319‑324.
17 So we may perhaps translate χελάνδιον: a swift row‑boat.
18 First to Pylae, •about twenty miles north-east of Nicaea, then to Triton, a site apparently not yet identified.
19 = Phrygia.
20 As pointed out by Bury (II.488).
21 Καὶ ἐσκέπτετο ἀπολῦσαι ἐπισκόπους πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λαβεῖν καὶ καθίσαι εἰς γωνίαν. Had the words been uttered in a more northern climate, we might have translated them 'to retire into the chimney-corner for the rest of her life.'
22 It is said by an annotator that this is the meaning of the words of Theophanes, ἐκράτησαν αὐτὸν εἰς παράκλησιν, and as the Assumption is celebrated on the 15th of August the explanation seems to me a probable one.
23 Ἐκτυφλοῦσιν αὐτὸν δεινῶς καὶ ἀνιάτως πρὸς τὸ ἀποθανεῖν αὐτόν. The Historia Miscella erroneously translates 'ita ut mors subsequens confestim extingueret, and has been followed herein by many other historians.
24 Till the reign of Michael the Stammerer (820‑829): Chron. jussu Const. Porphyr. conscriptum; quoted by Schlosser, p329.
25 His daughter Euphrosyne married Michael II, but left no issue.
26 Ἡ τῶν ὅλων ἀρχή.
28 Vol. III p605º (545);º V p59.
29 Nicephorus (De Reb. post Maur. gestis, 32). See vol. VI pp19‑20.
30 In the summer of 800.
31 At Chasseneuil in 778, the year of Roncesvalles.
32 Near Mainz. The 'Saxon Poet' tells us that to this palace he brought columns both from Rome and Ravenna (v. 439‑440).
34 Grannus as a surname of Apollo is found on inscriptions in Scotland (Corp. Inscr. Lat. VII.1082), Würtemberg and Rhenish Prussia (Steiner's Cod. Ins. Rom. 43 and 1553), and Bevagna (Lauingen on the Danube; Ibid. 2558, 2559). At the last place there seems to have been a regular temple to Apollo Grannus, and the coupling of his name with Sancta Hygeia shows that it is Apollo the Healer that is here commemorated.
35 Angilbert, Carm. VI.106‑8: —
'Hic alii thermas calidas reperire laborant,
Balnea sponte suâ ferventia mole recludunt,
Marmoreis gradibus spaciosa sedilia pangunt.'
39 Described by Angilbert, Carm. VI.137‑157.
40 The following description of Charles's appearance and manner of life is entirely taken from Einhardi Vita Karoli. How closely this description is modelled on Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars is shown by Jaffé, who in his Monumenta Carolina, pp501‑503, has collected a number of Suetonian passages which must have been in Einhard's mind when he wrote. But I do not think this need shake our confidence in the general accuracy of Einhard's portraiture. He seems to me to have gone through the Lives of the Caesars carefully, partly in order to model his own style upon them, but partly in order to see where the mode of life of his hero agreed, and where (often in very small points) it differed from that of the first Roman Emperors.
41 See vol. VII p376.
42 'Tibialia': of leather? The material is not mentioned.
45 'Poetica carmina gentilia quae in juventute didicerat respuit, nec legere, nec audire, nec docere voluit' (Thegan, Vita Ludov. Imperat. cap. xix). Phillips (Karl der Grosse im Kreise der Gelehrten, p175) has some good remarks on this.
46 These are Charles's names for the twelve months, some of which remind us of the Brumaire and Ventose of the French revolutionary calendar: —
|March||Lentzin-manoth||Spring-month (German: Lenz)|
|August||Aran-manoth||Earing (harvest) month|
|December||Heilag-manoth||Holy (Christmas) month.|
47 Capitulare Ecclesiasticum (ap. Migne, Patrologia, 150‑183).
48 Cap. Duplex Aquisgranense (811), ap. Migne, 330.
49 The following is a list (taken chiefly from Jaffé) of the fictitious names of Charles and his courtiers and of other friends of Alcuin as far as they have been ascertained: —
|Charles||David or Solomon|
|Adalhard (abbot of Corbey, cousin of Charles the Great)||Antonius|
|Angilbert (abbot of S. Richer)||Homerus|
|Arno (archbishop of Salzburg)||Aquila|
|Audulf (?), (seneschal in the palace)||Menalcas|
|Beornrad (archbishop of Sens)||Samuel|
|Eanbald II (archbishop of York)||Simeon|
|Ethelbert or Adalbert (abbot of Ferrieres?)||Magus Niger|
|Ethelburga (abbess of Fladbury)||Eugenia|
|Fredegisus (a deacon)||Nathanael|
|Gisila (abbess of Chelles, sister of Charles the Great)||Lucia|
|Gundrada (sister of Adalhard, cousin of Charles the Great)||Eulalia|
|Hrotrud (daughter of Charles the Great)||Columba|
|Hygbald (bishop of Lindisfarne)||Speratus|
|Maganfried (?), (chamberlain)||Thyrsis|
|Richbod (archbishop of Trier)||Macharius|
|Riculf (archbishop of Maintz)||Flavius Damoetus|
|Witto (a disciple of Alcuin)||Candidus.|
50 He may have first met with Charles during the Frankish king's journey to Rome (Easter, 781), and afterwards followed him across the Alps. The following is the chronology of the life of Paulus offered by Prof. Dahn (Paulus Diaconus, p74), who has enquired very carefully into the subject, but perhaps leans a little too much towards the negative side in some of his conclusions. He rejects the authority of 'Hilderick's' epitaph in Paulus which has hitherto been considered almost decisive: —
|Birth of Paulus||About 725|
|Education at Pavia by Flavianus||About 745|
|Visit to the court of Ratchis||About 748|
|Literary intercourse with Arichis and Adelperga of Benevento||755‑774|
|Captivity of Paulus' brother Arichis||After Easter, 776|
|Paulus' entry into Monte Cassino||775 or 776|
|Journey to the court of Charles||782|
|Stay in Frank-land||782‑786|
|Return in Charles's train to Italy||December, 786|
|At Rome||January-February, 787|
|Visits Monte Cassino with Charles||March, 787|
|Begins the History of the Lombards at M. Cassino||790|
(Should the education by Flavian and the visit to the palace of King Ratchis be deemed to have taken place while Paulus was still in his boyhood, his birth must be placed not earlier than 730.)
51 Diedenhofen or Thionville.
52 See vol. V p77. I have purposely repeated some facts in the life of Paulus which have been already given in the memoir prefixed to Book VI chap. 3. The original of the poem translated above will be found at pp74 and 75 of the sixth volume.
53 'Idque opus Paulo diacono, familiari clientulo nostro, elimandum injunximus' (Epist. Generalis, quoted by Simson, II.569, n. 4).
54 Alcuini Ep. 112; Einhard, Vita Karoli, c. 25.
55 This or something like this must surely be the meaning of Paulus, though it is hard to get it out of the unaltered text.
56 One is the word 'cave,' indicated by three words 'caput, auris, venter,' and the letter e.
57 The Chronicon Salernitanum, which as we have seen is a poor authority dating from the end of the tenth century and stuffed full of legends and fables, gives a long account of the dismissal of Paulus Diaconus from the Frankish court (cap. ix). He is represented as having thrice plotted the death of Charles, 'for the faith which he bore to his old master Desiderius.' The first two offences are forgiven for the great love which Charles has towards him, but the third time he is brought into the king's presence and asked why he is thus conspiring against him. 'Do what you will,' says Paulus; 'I can only speak the truth. I was once faithful to King Desiderius, and that faith of mine remains for ever.' Charles gives orders that his hands shall be struck off, but is stopped by the thought 'When those hands are gone where shall we find as elegant a writer?' The courtiers, who hate Paulus for his loyalty to Desiderius, suggest that his eyes should be put out, but Charles says, 'When we have blinded him, where shall we find another poet or historian as eminent as he is?' It is then decided that he shall be sent into exile in a certain island, where he remains a long time, being frequently tortured. A certain old servant of his, however, plans his escape, and brings him to Arichis of Benevento, who receives him with great joy, falls on his neck, and kisses him. He is introduced to Adelperga, and in words borrowed from Jacob's salutation to Joseph (Gen. xlviii.11), expresses his delight at seeing not only his old master's daughter but also her illustrious progeny.
All this history, as far it relates to Paulus' condemnation and banishment by Charles, is probably mere romance, without the slightest foundation in historical fact.
58 Eanbald succeeded to the see in 778 on the resignation of Aelberht, but Alcuin's journey to Rome for the pallium cannot have been undertaken till the winter of 780‑1, after the death of Aelberht.
59 Ferrieres and St. Lupus at Troyes.
60 Apparently between 790 and 792.
61 Ep. 67. This letter is addressed 'Domino . . . Carolo, regi Germaniae Galliae atque Italiae.' We have thus here a king addressed as king of territories, not of people. The priority of Germany over Gaul is significant.
62 It is doubtful whether Paulinus was a Frank or a Lombard. Charles promoted him to the see of Aquileia.
63 'primicerius' (Ep. Alcuini, 5).
64 As Alcuin addresses him as 'venerabilis' (Ibid.).
65 At Centulum.
66 'Minister Capellae.'
67 In 792, 794, and 796.
68 Ep. 116, written in 799.
70 Ep. 177.
71 Poetarum Latinorum Medii Aevi (in M. G. H.) I.358.
72 Hrotrud, Bertha, Gisila, (the younger) daughters of Hildegard; Rothaid, daughter of a concubine; Theoderada and Hiltrud, daughters of Fastrada.
73 In contrast with the misplaced splendours of Angilbert's hunting-party, take the merry jest related by the Monk of St. Gall (II.17), how, to cure his courtiers of an inordinate love of finery, King Charles one day proclaimed a hunt when they were all dressed in their silks and ermines, how they left the tatters of their gorgeous robes hanging on every bush, and had their costly furs ruined by the rain, while Charles himself in his coarse close-fitting hunting-costume sustained no injury.
74 He calls their tresses 'nivei.'
75 Lines 94 and 332.
76 This is proved by lines 137‑140 of the Versus ad Judices, which make it probable that Narbonne was his birth-place. Note the curious use of Hesperia in that passage.
77 Letaldi, Miracula S. Maximini, cap. 3 (quoted by Editor of Theodulf's Carmina, M. G. H. p439).
78 Histoire Littéraire de la France, IV.461 (quoted in M. G. H. p440).
79 Poem xxiii in M. G. H.
80 The whole of this interesting description of Theodulf's journey to Gallia Narbonensis is translated by Guizot in his twenty-third Lecture on the History of Civilisation in France. He truly remarks that it proves that the invasions of the barbarians had not destroyed all the wealth nor all the works of art in Southern France.
81 Ad Judices, 357‑434 (much condensed).
82 The date is approximately fixed by the congratulations on the subjugation of the Avars, and by the fact that Pippin and Angilbert were both absent from the court.
83 Called by Theodulf, Hludowic and Ludoich.
84 'Pulchra virago.'
85 'Ista patrem gressu mulceat, illa joco.'
86 A conjectural translation of
'Verbaque suscipiat, quae sine voce canat.'
87 Charles the Bald's celebrated question, therefore, to Erigena, 'Quid distat inter Scottum et Sottum?' besides being rude, was not even original.
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