Here to return to
THE HISTORY OF CHARLES THE GREAT AND ORLANDO.
TURPIN, by the grace of God, Archbishop of Rheims, the faithful companion of the Emperor Charles the Great in Spain, to Leopander, Dean of Aix-la-Chapelle, greeting.
Forasmuch as you requested me to write to you from Vienne (my wounds being now cicatrized) in what manner the Emperor Charles delivered Spain and Gallicia from the yoke of the Saracens, you shall attain the knowledge of many memorable events, and likewise of his praiseworthy trophies over the Spanish Saracens, whereof I myself was eyewitness, traversing France and Spain in his company for the space of forty years; and I hesitate the less to trust these matters to your friendship, as I write a true history of his warfare. For indeed all your researches could never have enabled you fully to discover those great events in the Chronicles of St. Denis, as you sent me word: neither could you for certain know whether the author had given a true relation of those matters, either by reason of his prolixity, or that he was not himself present when they happened. Nevertheless this book will agree with his history. Health and happiness.
THE most glorious Christian Apostle St. James, when the other Apostles and Disciples of our Lord were dispersed abroad throughout the whole world, is believed to have first preached the gospel in Gallicia. After his martyrdom, his servants, rescuing his body from King Herod, brought it by sea to Gallicia, where they likewise preached the gospel. But soon after, the Gallicians, relapsing into great sins, returned to their former idolatry, and persisted in it till the time of Charles the Great, Emperor of the Romans. French, Germans, and other nations. Charles therefore, after prodigious toils in Saxony, France, Germany, Lorraine, Burgundy, Italy, Brittany, and other countries; after taking innumerable cities from sea to sea, which he won by his invincible arm from the Saracens, through divine favour; and after subjugating them with great fatigue of mind and body to the Christian yoke, resolved to rest from his wars in peace.
But observing the starry way in the heavens, beginning at the Friezeland sea, and passing over the German territory and Italy, between Gaul and Aquitaine, and from thence in a straight line over Gascony, Bearne, and Navarre, and through Spain to Gallicia, wherein till his time lay undiscovered the body of St. James; when night after night he was wont to contemplate it, meditating upon what it might signify, a certain beautiful resplendent vision appeared to him in his sleep, and, calling him son, inquired what he was attempting to discover. At which Charles replied, “Who art thou, Lord?” “I am,” answered the vision, “St. James the Apostle, Christ’s disciple, the son of Zebedee, and brother of John the Evangelist, whom the Lord was pleased to think worthy, in his ineffable goodness, to elect on the sea of Galilee to preach the gospel to his people, but whom Herod the King slew. My body now lies concealed in Gallicia, long so grievously oppressed by the Saracens, from whose yoke I am astonished that you, who have conquered so many lands and cities, have not yet delivered it. Wherefore I come to warn you, as God has given you power above every other earthly prince, to prepare my way, and rescue my dominions from the Moabites, that so you may receive a brighter crown of glory for your reward. The starry way in the heavens signifies that you, with a great army, will enter Gallicia to fight the Pagans, and, recovering it from them, will visit my church and shrine; and that all the people from the borders of the sea, treading in your steps, will ask pardon of God for their sins, and return in safety, celebrating his praise; that you likewise will acknowledge the wonders he hath done for you in prolonging your life to its present span. Proceed then as soon as you are ready; I am your friend and helper; your name shall become famous to all eternity, and a crown of glory shall be your reward in heaven.”
Thus did the blessed Apostle appear thrice to the Emperor, who, confiding in his word, assembled a great army, and entered Spain to fight the infidels.
THE first city Charles besieged was Pampeluna; he invested it three months, but was not able to take it, through the invincible strength of the walls. He then made this prayer to God: “O Lord Jesus Christ, for whose faith I am come hither to fight the Pagans; for thy glory’s sake deliver this city into my hands; and O blessed St. James, if thou didst indeed appear to me, help me to take it.” And now God and St. James, hearkening to his petition, the walls utterly fell to the ground of themselves; but Charles spared the lives of the Saracens that consented to be baptized; the rest he put to the edge of the sword. The report of this miracle induced all their countrymen to surrender their cities, and consent to pay tribute to the Emperor. Thus was the whole land soon subdued.
The Saracens were amazed to see the French well clothed, accomplished in their manners and persons, and strictly faithful to their treaties; they gave them therefore a peaceful and honourable reception, dismissing all thoughts of war. The Emperor, after frequently visiting the shrine of St. James, came to Ferrol, and, fixing his lance in the sea, returned thanks to God and the Apostle for having brought him to this place, though he could then proceed no further.
The Pagan nations, after the first preaching of St. James and his disciples, were converted by Archbishop Turpin, and by the grace of God baptized; but those who refused to embrace the faith were either slain or made slaves by the Christians. Turpin then traversed all Spain from sea to sea.
THE Emperor utterly destroyed the idols and images in Spain, except the idol in Andalusia, called Salamcadis. Cadis properly signifies the place of an island, but in Arabic it means God. The Saracens had a tradition that the idol Mahomet, which they worshipped, was made by himself in his lifetime; and that by the help of a legion of devils it was by magic art endued with such irresistible strength, that it could not be broken. 1f any Christian approached it he was exposed to great danger; but when the Saracens came to appease Mahomet, and make their supplications to him, they returned in safety. The birds that chanced to light upon it were immediately struck dead.
There is, moreover, on the margin of the sea an ancient stone excellently sculptured after the Saracenic fashion; broad and square at the bottom, but tapering upward to the height that a crow generally flies, having on the top an image of gold, admirably cast in the shape of a man, standing erect, with a certain great key in his hand, which the Saracens say was to fall to the ground immediately after the birth of a King of Gaul, who would overrun all Spain with a Christian army, and totally subdue it. Wherefore it was enjoined them, whenever that happened, to fly the country, and bury their jewels in the earth,
CHARLES remained three years in these parts, and with the gold given him by the kings and princes greatly enlarged the church of the blessed St. James, appointing an Abbot and Canons of the order of St. Isidore, martyr and confessor, to attend it: he enriched it likewise with bells, books, robes, and other gifts. With the residue of the immense quantity of gold and silver, he built many churches on his return from Spain; namely, of the blessed Virgin in Aix-la-Chapelle, of St. James in Thoulouse, and another in Gascony, between the city commonly called Aix, after the model of St. John’s at Cordova, in the Jacobine road; the church likewise of St. James at Paris, between the river Seine and Montmartre, besides founding innumerable abbeys in all parts of the world.
AFTER the King’s return from Spain, a certain Pagan King, called Argolander, recovered the whole country with his army, driving the Emperor’s soldiers from the towns and garrisons, which led him to march back his troops, under their General, Milo de Angleris.
BUT the judgment inflicted on a false executor deserves to be recorded, as a warning to those who unjustly pervert the alms of the deceased. When the King’s army lay at Bayonne, a certain soldier, called Romaricus, was taken grievously ill, and, being at the point of death, received the eucharist and absolution from a priest, bequeathing his horse to a certain kinsman, in trust, to dispose of for the benefit of the priest and the poor. But when he was dead his kinsman sold it for a hundred pence, and spent the money in debauchery. But how soon does punishment follow guilt Thirty days had scarcely elapsed when the apparition of the deceased appeared to him in his sleep, uttering these words: “How is it you have so unjustly misapplied the alms entrusted to you for the redemption of my soul? Do you not know they would have procured the pardon of my sins from God? I have been punished for your neglect thirty days in fire; to-morrow you shall be plunged in the same place of torment, but I shall be received into Paradise,” The apparition then vanished, and his kinsman awoke in extreme terror.
On the morrow, as he was relating the story to his companions, and the whole army was conversing about it, on a sudden a strange uncommon clamour, like the roaring of lions, wolves, and calves, was heard in the air, and immediately a troop of demons seized him in their talons, and bore him away alive. What further? Horse and foot sought him four days together in the adjacent mountains and valleys to no purpose; but the twelfth day after, as the army was marching through a desert part of Navarre, his body was found lifeless, and dashed to pieces, on the summit of some rocks, a league above the sea, about four days’ journey from the city. There the demons left the body, bearing the soul away to hell. Let this be a warning, then, to all that follow his example to their eternal perdition.
CHARLES and Milo, his General, now marched after Argolander into Spain, and found him in the fields of the river, where a castle stands in the meadows, in the best part of the whole plain, where afterwards a church was built in honour of the blessed martyrs Facundus and Primitivus; where likewise their bodies rest, an abbey was founded, and a city built. When the King’s army advanced, Argolander wished to decide the contest by set combat between twenties, forties, hundreds, thousands, or even by two champions only. Charles willingly consented, and marched a hundred of his soldiers against a hundred Saracens, when all of them were slain. Argolander then sent two hundred, who shared the same fate. Two thousand were then led against two thousand, part of whom were slain, and the rest fled. But on the third day Argolander cast lots, and, knowing that evil fortune threatened the Emperor, sent him word he would draw out his whole army on the open plain, on the morrow, which challenge was accepted.
Then did this miracle happen. Certain of the Christians, who carefully had been furbishing their arms against the day of battle, fixed their spears in the evening erect in the ground before the castle in the meadow, near the river, and found them early in the morning covered with bark and branches. Those, therefore, that were about to receive the palm of martyrdom were greatly astonished at this event, ascribing it to divine power. Then cutting off their spears close to the ground, the roots that remained shot out afresh, and became lofty trees, which may be still seen flourishing there, chiefly ash. All this denoted joy to the soul, but loss to the body; for now the battle commenced, and forty thousand Christians were slain, together with Milo, their General, the father of Orlando. ‘The King’s horse was likewise slain under him; but Charles resolutely continued the fight on foot, and with two thousand Christians gallantly hewed his way through the Saracens, cleaving many of them asunder from the shoulders to the waist.
The following day both Christians and Saracens remained quietly in their camps, but the day after four Marquisses brought four thousand fresh troops from Italy to the King’s assistance; whereupon Argolander retreated with his army to Leon, and Charles led back his forces to France.
And here it is proper to observe we should strive for Christ’s blessing; for as the soldiers prepared their arms against the day of battle, so we in like manner should prepare ours, namely, our virtues to resist our passions. For he that would oppose faith to infidelity, brotherly love to hatred, charity to avarice, humility to pride, chastity to lust, prayer to temptation, perseverance to instability, peace to strife, obedience to a carnal disposition, must fortify his soul with grace, and prepare his spear to flourish against the day of judgment. Triumphant indeed will he be in heaven who conquers on earth! As the King’s soldiers died for their faith, so should we die to sin, and live in holiness in this world, that we may receive the palm of glory in the next, which shall be the reward of those who fight manfully against their three grand adversaries, the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.
ARGOLANDER now assembled together innumerable nations of Saracens, Moors, Moabites, Parthians, Africans, and Persians: Texephin, King of Arabia; Urabell, King of Alexandria; Avitus, King of Bugia; Ospin, King of Algarve; Facin, King of Barbary; Ailis, King of Malclos; Manuo, King of Mecca; Ibrahim, King of Seville; and Almanzor, King of Cordova. Then, marching to the city of Agen, he took it, and sent word to Charles he would give him sixty horse-load of gold, silver, and jewels, if he would acknowledge his right to the sceptre. But Charles returned this answer, “that he would acknowledge him no otherwise than by slaying him whenever it should be his chance to meet him in battle.”
The Emperor had by this time approached within four miles of Agen, when, secretly dismissing his army, he proceeded with only sixty soldiers to the mountain near the city. There he left them, and changing his dress, came with his shield reversed, after the custom of messengers in time of war, accompanied by one soldier only to the city; and when the people inquired his business, he informed them he had brought a message from King Charles to Argolander, whereupon he was admitted into his presence, and addressed him in these words: “My King bids me say, you may expect to see him, provided you will come out with only sixty of your people to meet him.’ Now Argolander little thought it was Charles himself to whom he was speaking, who all the while took especial note of his person, and of the weakest parts of the walls of the city, as well as of the auxiliary kings that were then within it. Argolander then armed himself, and Charles rejoined his sixty soldiers, and soon after the two thousand that at first accompanied him. But Argolander came out with seven thousand men, thinking to slay the Emperor, but was himself compelled to fly.
The King then recruited his army, and besieged the city for six months. On the seventh his battering rams, wooden castles, and other engines, were ready to storm it; but Argolander and the rest of the Kings made their escape in the night through the common sewers, and, passing up the Garonne, got clear off. Charles entered the city in triumph the next day, and slew ten thousand of the remaining Saracens.
ARGOLANDER now came to Xaintonge, at that time under the dominion of the Saracens; but Charles pursuing him, summoned him to restore the city, which Argolander refused, resolving first to fight, and that it should be the conqueror’s reward. But on the eve of battle, when the battering rams were ready to attack the castle in the meadows, called Taleburg, and that part of the city near the river Carenton, certain of the Christians fixed their spears in the ground before the castle, and on the morrow found them covered with bark and branches. Those therefore that were to receive the crown of martyrdom perished in the fight, after slaying a multitude of the Saracens, namely, about four thousand men. The King’s horse was likewise slain under him, but valiantly placing himself at the head of his infantry, he slew so many of his enemies that they were forced back into the city, which Charles invested on every side but the river, through which Argolander made his escape, with the loss of the Kings of Algarve and Bugia, and about four thousand of his army.
ARGOLANDER fled beyond the passes of the Pyrenees, and came to Pampeluna, where he sent Charles word he would stay for him. Charles then returned to France, and with the utmost diligence summoned his troops from all parts to his assistance, proclaiming free pardon to all banished persons, on condition they would join him against the Pagans. What further? He liberated all the prisoners; made the poor rich; clothed the naked; reconciled the disaffected; bestowed honours on the disinherited; preferred the most experienced to the best commands; making friends of enemies, and associating both the civilized and the barbarian in the war of Spain, uniting them through the favour of God in the bond of love. Then did I, Turpin, absolve them from their sins, and give them my benediction.
These are the names of the warriors that attended the King: — Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims, who by the precepts of Christ, and for his faith’s sake, brought the people to fight valiantly, fighting likewise himself hand to hand with the Saracens. Orlando, General of the whole army, Count of Mans and Lord of Guienne, the King’s nephew, son of Milo de Angleris and Bertha the King’s sister. His soldiers were four thousand. Another Orlando likewise, of whom we are silent. Oliver, a General also, and a valiant soldier, renowned for strength and skill in war, led three thousand troops. Aristagnus, King of Brittany, seven thousand. Another King of Brittany, of whom little mention is made. Angelerus, Duke of Aquitaine, brought four thousand valiant bowmen. At this time likewise there was in the city of Poictiers another Duke of Aquitaine, but Angelerus was the son of Gascon, Duke of the city of Aquitaine, lying between Limorge, Bourges, and Poictiers, which city Augustus Cæsar founded; and the rest of the cities, as well as Xaintonge and Angoulême, with their provinces, were subject to it; the whole country was also called Aquitaine. But after the death of its lord, who perished with all his people in the fatal battle of Ronceval, it was never fresh colonized, and fell utterly to ruin.
Gayfere, King of Bordeaux, led three thousand warriors. Galerus, Galinus Solomon, Estolfo’s friend and companion; Baldwin, Orlando’s brother, Galdebode, King of Friezeland, led seven thousand heroes; Ocellus, Count of Nantes, two thousand, who achieved many memorable actions, celebrated in songs to this day. Lambert, Count of Berry, led two thousand men. Rinaldo of the White Thorn, Vulterinus Garinus, Duke of Lorraine, four thousand. Hago, Albert of Burgundy, Berard de Miblis, Gumard Esturinite, Theodoric, Juonius, Beringaire, Hato, and Ganalon, who afterwards proved the traitor, attended the King into Spain. The army of the King’s own territory was forty thousand horse and foot innumerable.
These were all famous heroes and warriors, mighty in battle, illustrious in worldly honour, zealous soldiers of Christ, that spread his name far and near, wherever they came. For even as our Lord and his twelve Apostles subdued the world by their doctrine, so did Charles, King of the French and Emperor of the Romans, recover Spain to the glory of God. And now the troops, assembling in Bordeaux, overspread the country for the space of two days’ journey, and the noise they made was heard at twelve miles distance. Arnold of Berlanda first traversed the pass of the Pyrenees, and came to Pampeluna. Then came Astolfo, followed by Aristagnus; Angelerus, Galdebode, Ogier the King, and Constantine, with their several divisions. Charles and his troops brought up the rear, covering the whole land from the river of Rume to the mountains, that lie three leagues beyond them on the Compostella road. They now halted for eight days. In the interval Charles sent Argolander word, if he would restore the city he had built, he would return home, or otherwise wage cruel war against him: but Argolander, finding he could not keep possession of the city, resolved to march out, rather than tamely perish in it. Charles then granted him a truce to draw out his army and prepare for battle; expressing moreover his willingness to see him face to face, as Argolander wished.
A TRUCE thus being granted, Argolander drew out his people from the city, and attended by sixty guards came into the King’s presence, who was at this time encamped about a mile from Pampeluna. The two armies occupied a spacious plain six miles square, separated by the main road to Compostella. When Charles perceived Argolander, he addressed him in these words:
“You are, then, he that have fraudulently taken possession of my territories in Spain and Gascony, which I conquered by the favour of God, and reduced to the faith of Christ. You have perverted the princes from my allegiance, and slain the Christians with the edge of the sword. Availing yourself of my return to Gaul, you have destroyed my towns and castles, and laid waste the territory with fire and sword. At present, therefore, you have the advantage of me.”
Now when Argolander heard the King speak in the Arabic tongue, he was greatly pleased and astonished, for Charles had learnt it in his youth in the city of Thoulouse, where he had spent some time. Argolander then answered in these terms: “I wonder you should reason thus, for the territory did not belong to you; neither was it your father’s, grandfather’s, or great-grandfather’s. Why then did you take possession of it?” “Because,” replied Charles, “our Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of heaven and earth, elected us in preference to others, and gave us dominion over all the earth: therefore I endeavoured to convert the Saracens to the Christian faith.” — “It would be unworthy of us to submit to you,” rejoined Argolander, “when our own faith is best. We have Mahomet, a prophet of God, whose precepts we obey. Therefore we have a powerful God, who through his prophet has declared his will, and by him we live and reign.” “O Argolander,” said the King, “how widely do you err! You follow the vain precepts of a man; we believe and worship Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: you worship mortal man. After death our souls are received into Paradise, and enjoy everlasting life, but yours descend to the abyss of hell. Wherefore our faith is evidently best. Accept then baptism, or fight and perish.”
“Far be it from me,” said Argolander, “to accept baptism, and deny Mahomet and my God! But I will fight you on these terms: if your faith is best, you shall gain the victory, otherwise heaven shall give it to me; and let shame be the portion of the conquered, but eternal glory reward the conqueror. Furthermore, if my people are subdued, and I survive the contest, I will receive baptism.”
These terms being mutually agreed, twenty Christians were sent against twenty Saracens, and the battle commenced. What further? Nearly all the Saracens fell. Forty were then sent against forty, and they were defeated also. A hundred then fought together; but the Saracens turned their backs from the face of the Christians, and were all slain. Are not these Christians then types for us? Does it not argue that we likewise should fight manfully against our sins; should face our spiritual enemies, and never ignobly yield to them, since they will infallibly lead us into perdition? He only, says the Apostle, shall receive the crown that fights the good fight, and overcomes.
Two hundred Saracens were then sent out, and were all slain; lastly a thousand, who shared the same fate. A truce being then granted, Argolander promised to be baptized on the morrow with all his people, and, calling his Kings and Captains together, told them his intention, to which they likewise assented, few only refusing to follow his example.
ON the third day Argolander attended the King, as he promised, and found him at dinner. Many tables were spread at which the guests were sitting; some in military uniform; some in black; some in Priests’ habits; which Argolander perceiving, inquired what they were?” Those you see in robes of one colour,” replied the King, “are priests and bishops of our holy religion, who expound the gospel to us, absolve us from our offences, and bestow heavenly benediction. Those in black are monks and abbots; all of them holy men, who implore incessantly the divine favour in our behalf.” But in the meantime Argolander espying thirty poor men in mean habiliments, without either table or table-cloth, sitting and eating their scanty meals upon the ground, he inquired what they were?” “These,” replied the King, “are people of God, the messengers of our Lord Jesus, whom in his and his Apostles names we feed daily.” Argolander then made this reply: “The guests at your table are happy; they have plenty of the best food set before them; but those you call the messengers of God, whom you feed in his name, are ill fed, and worse clothed, as if they were of no estimation. Certainly he must serve God but indifferently who treats his messengers in this manner, and thus do you prove your religion false.” Argolander then refused to be baptized, and, returning to his army, prepared for battle on the morrow.
Charles, seeing the mischief his neglect of these poor men had occasioned, ordered them to be decently clothed and better fed. Here then we may note the Christian incurs great blame who neglects the poor. If Charles, from inattention to their comfort, thereby lost the opportunity of converting the Saracens, what will be the lot of those who treat them still worse? They will hear this sentence pronounced — “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; naked, and ye clothed me not.”
We must consider likewise that our faith in Christ is of little value without good works. As the body, says the Apostle, without the soul is dead, so is faith dead if it produce not good fruit. And as the Pagan King refused baptism because he found something wrong after it, so our Lord, I fear, will refuse our baptism at the day of judgment if superfluity of faults be found in us.
BOTH armies now prepared for battle in the morning, contending for their different faiths. The King mustered one hundred and thirty thousand men, but Argolander only one hundred thousand. The Christians formed themselves into four squadrons; the Saracens into five; whose first corps being speedily discomfited, they all joined in one phalanx, with Argolander in the midst. The Christians then surrounded them on all sides. First Arnaldo de Berlanda and his troops; then Astolfo; next Aristagnus, Galdebode, Ogier, and Constantine; lastly the King himself, and his innumerable warriors. Arnaldo was the first that broke in upon the enemy, overthrowing them right and left till he reached Argolander himself in the centre, and slew him with his own hand. Then ensued a great shout, and the Christians, rushing in upon the Saracens, slew them on all sides, making so great a slaughter that none escaped but the Kings of Seville and Cordova, and a few of their troops. So great, indeed, was the effusion of blood, that the Christians waded in it to their very knees. They slew likewise all the Saracens left in the city. Charles fought for the faith, and therefore triumphed over Argolander. Note then, O Christian, that whatsoever thou undertakest thou likewise shalt accomplish if thou hast faith, for all things are possible to them that believe. Greatly rejoiced at this victory, the King marched forward, and came to the bridge of Arge in the Compostella road.
CERTAIN of the Christians however, coveting the spoils of the dead, returned that same night to the field of battle, and loaded themselves with heaps of gold and silver. But as they were returning to the camp, Almanzor, King of Cordova, who had fled for refuge to the mountains with the Saracens that made their escape, came pouring down, and slew them all to the number of a thousand men. These, then, are types of such as strive against sin, but afterwards relapse; who, when they have overcome, continue not stedfast, but seek unlawful pleasures, suffering themselves to be mastered in turn by their grand adversary. So likewise the religious, that forsake their vocations to re-engage in worldly concerns and profits, lose the reward of eternal life, and entail upon themselves everlasting perdition.
THE day after the King was informed that a certain King of Navarre, called Furra, designed to fight him at Mount Garzim. Charles therefore prepared for battle; but desiring to know who should perish in it, he entreated the Lord to show him; whereupon in the morning a red cross appeared on their shoulders behind. In order therefore to preserve them, he confined them in his Oratory. Then joining battle, Furra and three thousand of his troops were slain. These were all Saracens of Navarre. The King now returned to his Oratory, but found them all dead that he had left in it, to the number of one hundred and fifty men.
“O holy band of Christian warriors, though the sword slew you not, yet did you not lose the palm of victory, or the prize of martyrdom!” Charles then made himself master of the mountain and castle of Garzim, and subdued the whole country of Navarre.
CHARLES now received news that a certain Giant, of the name of Ferracute, of the race of Goliath, was come to Nager, sent thither by Admiraldus, with twenty thousand Turks of Babylon, to fight him. This Giant neither feared spear nor dart, and was stronger than forty men. Charles therefore marched to Nager, and Ferracute, hearing of his arrival, sallied out front the city to challenge any warrior to single combat.
Charles then sent Ogier the Dacian, whom the Giant no sooner perceived, than, leisurely approaching, he caught him up under his right arm, as easily as he would a lamb, and bore him off in sight of all his friends to the city; for the Giant’s stature was twelve cubits; his face a cubit long; his nose a palm; his arms and thighs four cubits; and his fingers three palms in length.
Rinaldo of the White Thorn was next sent against him, but he seized him in like manner, and imprisoned him with Ogier. The King then sent Constantine and Ocellus, but, seizing one under each arm, he bore them off likewise. He then sent twenty warriors by pairs against him, but they shared the same fate. Charles dared not then venture to send more warriors: but Orlando with the King’s permission approached the Giant, who seized him instantly by the right arm, and seated him upon his steed before him.
But as he was bearing him to the city; Orlando, recovering his strength, and trusting in the Almighty, seized the Giant by the beard, and tumbled him from his horse, so that both came to the ground together. Orlando, then, thinking to slay the Giant, drew his sword, and struck at him, but the blow fell upon his steed, and pierced him through. The Giant being thus on foot, drew his enormous sword, which Orlando perceiving, who had remounted his own charger, struck him on the sword arm, and, though he did not wound him, struck the sword out of his hand; which greatly enraging Ferracute, he aimed a blow at Orlando with his fist, but, missing him, hit his horse on the forehead, and laid him dead on the spot. And now the fight lasted till noon with fists and stones. The Giant then demanded a truce till next day, agreeing to meet Orlando without horse or spear. Each warrior then retired to his post.
Next morning they accordingly met once more. The Giant brought a sword, but Orlando a long staff to ward off the Giant’s blows, who wearied himself to no purpose. ‘They now began to batter each other with stones, that lay scattered about the field, till at last the Giant begged a second truce, which being granted, he presently fell fast asleep upon the ground. Orlando, taking a stone for a pillow, quietly laid himself down also. For such was the law of honour between the Christians and Saracens at that time, that no one on any pretence dared to take advantage of his adversary before the truce was expired, as in that case his own party would have slain him.
When Ferracute awoke, he found Orlando awake also, who thereupon rose, and seated himself by the Giant’s side, inquiring how it came to pass he was so very strong?” Because,” replied the Giant, “I am only vulnerable in the navel.” Ferracute spoke in the Spanish language, which Orlando understanding tolerably well, a conversation now followed between them, which Ferracute recommenced by inquiring his name, which Orlando told him. “And what race are you of?” said the Giant. “Of the race of the Franks.” — “What law do you follow?” “The law of Christ, so far as his grace permits me.” — “Who is this Christ in whom you profess to believe?” “The Son of God, born of a Virgin, who took upon him our nature, was crucified for us, rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven, where he sitteth on the right hand of his Father.”
“We believe,” said Ferracute, “that the Creator of heaven and earth is one God, and that, as he was not made himself, so cannot another God spring from him. There is therefore only one God, not three, as I understand you Christians profess.” “You say well,” said Orlando; “there is but one God, but your faith is imperfect; for as the Father is God, so likewise is the Son, and so is the Holy Ghost. Three persons, but one God.” — “Nay,” said Ferracute: “if each of these three persons be God, there must be three Gods.”
“By no means,” replied Orlando; “he is both three and one. The three persons are co-eternal and co-equal. There is indeed distinction of person, but unity of essence, and equality of majesty. Abraham saw three, but worshipped one. Let us recur to natural things. When the harp sounds, there is the art, the strings, and the hand, yet but one harp. In the almond there is the shell, the coat, and the kernel. In the sun, the body, the beams, and the heat. In the wheel, the centre, the spokes, and the nave. In you, likewise, there is the body, the members, and the soul. In like manner may Trinity in Unity be ascribed to God.”
“I now comprehend,” replied Ferracute, “how God may be three in one, but I know not how he begot the Son.”
“Do you,” answered Orlando, “believe that God made Adam?” — “I do.” “Adam himself was not, then, born of any, and yet he begot sons. So God the Father is born of none, yet of his own ineffable grace begot the Son from all eternity.” — “Your arguments,” said the Giant, “please me exceedingly, but still I am at a loss to know how he that was God became man.” “The Creator of heaven and earth, who made all things out of nothing, could certainly,” said Orlando, “engender his Son of a pure Virgin, by divine afflation.” — “There lies the difficulty,” returned Ferracute, “how without human aid, as you affirm, he could spring from the womb.” “Surely,” said Orlando, “God, who formed Adam from no seed, could form his Son in like manner; and as from God the Father he was without Mother, so from his Mother did he spring without an earthly Father.” — “It makes me blush,” said the Giant, “to think that a virgin should conceive without a man.” “He,” answered Orlando, “that causes the worm in the bean, and many species of birds, beasts, and serpents, to engender without the help of the male, could procure God and Man of a pure Virgin without the help of Man. For as his power enabled him to produce the first man from the ground, so could he produce the second from a virgin.” — “I grant it,” replied the Giant; “he might be born of a virgin; but if he was the Son of God, how could he die, for God never dies?” “That indeed is true,” said Orlando; “as God, he could not die; but when he took our nature upon him, and was made man, he became subject to death, for every man dies. As we believe his nativity, so may we likewise believe his passion and resurrection.”
“And what is it we are to believe of his resurrection?” inquired Ferracute. “That he died, and rose again the third day.” — The Giant, hearing this, was greatly astonished, and exclaimed to Orlando, “Why do you talk so idly? It is impossible that a man, after he is once dead, can return to life again.” “Not only did the Son of God rise from the dead,” replied Orlando, “but all the men that have died since the creation of the world shall rise again, and appear before his tribunal, where they shall be rewarded everyone according to his deeds, whether they be good or evil. That God, who makes the tree spring from the soil, and the grain of wheat to of in the ground, that it may revive with fresh increase, can at the last day clothe the souls of men with their own bodies, and restore them to life. ‘fake the mystic example of the lion, which on the third day revives his dead cubs with his breath by licking them. What wonder, then, that God should after three days revive his Son? Nor ought it to seem strange that, as the Son of God rose from the dead, many others of the dead should rise even before his own resurrection. If Elijah and Elisha by the power of God could perform this miracle, how much more easily could the Father restore the Son, whom it was indeed impossible that Death could retain in his fetters. Death fled at his sight, as he shall fly likewise at the sound of his voice, when the whole phalanx of the dead shall rise again.” — “Enough,” said Ferracute, “I clearly perceive all this; but how could he ascend into heaven?” “He that descended,” answered Orlando, “could easily ascend. He that rose of himself could enter the skies in triumph. Does not the wheel of the mill descend low, and return to its height again? Does not the bird in the air ascend and descend? Can you not yourself come down from a mountain, and return thither? Did not the sun yesterday rise in the east and set in the west, and yet rise again in the east to-day? To that place from whence the Son of God descended, did he likewise ascend.”
“Well,” said Ferracute, “to end our arguments, I will fight you on these terms: If the faith you profess be the true faith, you shall conquer; otherwise the victory shall be mine; and let the issue be eternal honour to the conqueror, but dishonor to the vanquished.” “Be it so!” said Orlando: whereupon they immediately fell to blows. But the very first which the Giant aimed at him would have certainly been fatal, if Orlando had not nimbly leaped aside, and caught it on his staff, which was however cut in twain. The Giant, seeing his advantage, then rushed in upon him, and both came to the ground together. Orlando then, finding it impossible to escape, instantly implored the divine assistance, and, feeling himself re-invigorated, sprung upon his feet, when, seizing the Giant’s sword, he thrust it into his navel, and made his escape. Ferracute, finding himself mortally wounded, called aloud upon Mahomet; which the Saracens hearing, sallied from the city, and bore him off in their arms. Orlando returned safe to the camp; the Christians then boldly attacked the city, and carried it by storm. The Giant and his people were slain, his castle taken, and all the Christian warriors liberated.
SOON after the Emperor heard that Ibrahim, King of Seville, and Almanzor, who escaped from the battle of Pampeluna, had gathered together at Cordova a body of troops front seven1 of the neighbouring cities of Seville. Thither then did the King pursue his march with six thousand men, and found the Saracens, ten thousand strong, about three miles from the city. The King formed his army into three divisions. The first composed of his best troops, all cavalry; the two last, foot. The Saracens formed theirs in a similar manner. But when the King in person advanced against the first squadrons of Pagans, he found them all disguised in bearded masks, with horns upon their heads, like demons, making so strange a din with their hands upon their drums and other instruments, that the horses were terrified, and galloped back in spite of all their riders could do to prevent them. Whereupon the foot retreated likewise to an adjacent mountain, where, uniting in one squadron, they stopped for the Saracens, who would then advance no further, but gave our people time to pitch their tents, and encamp that night.
Charles then called a council of his captains, and agreed to tie bandages over their horses’ eyes, and to stuff their ears, in order to disconcert this stratagem on the morrow. Admirable experiment! For now we fought the enemy from morning till night, and slew a great number, though it was by no means a general slaughter; for the Saracens, again joining in martial array, brought forward a castle, drawn by eight oxen, with a certain red banner waving upon it, which so long as they saw present, it was their rule never to fly. The King, knowing this, armed himself with a strong breast-plate, a mighty spear, and invincible sword, and, aided by divine assistance, hewed his way through his enemies, overturning them to right and left, till he reached the car, when, cutting the flag-pole with his sword, the Saracens instantly fled in all directions. Prodigious shouts were made by both armies. We then slew eight thousand Moors, together with Ibrahim, King of Seville. Almanzor made good his retreat into the city, but submitted to Charles the day after, consenting to be baptized, and to do homage for his dominions.
1 The names of four of these cities were — Ubeda, Abela, Baeza, and Granada.
CHARLES then sent away the greatest part of his troops, and came to Gallicia, where he behaved very liberally to the Christians he found there, but either put to death or banished those that had revolted to the Moorish faith. He then appointed bishops and prelates in every city, and, assembling a council of the chief dignitaries in Compostella, decreed that the church of St. James should be henceforth considered as the Metropolitan, instead of Iria, as it was no city, subjecting Iria likewise to Compostella. In the same council I, Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims, together with forty other Bishops and Prelates, dedicated, by the King’s command, the church and altar of St. James, with extraordinary splendour and magnificence. All Spain and Gallicia were made subject to this holy place: it was moreover endowed with four pieces of money from every house throughout the kingdom, and at the same time totally freed from the royal jurisdiction; being from that hour styled the Apostolic See, as the body of the holy Apostle laid entombed within it. Here likewise the general councils of Spain are held; the Bishops ordained, and the Kings crowned by the hand of the Metropolitan Bishop, to the Apostle’s honour. Here too, when any crying sin is committed, or innovations made in the faith and precepts of our Lord, through the meritoriousness of this venerable edifice the grievance is discovered, and atonement made. As the Eastern Apostolic See was established by St. John, the brother of St. James, at Ephesus, so was the Western established by St. James.
And those Sees are undoubtedly the true Sees. Ephesus on the right hand of Christ’s earthly kingdom, and Compostella on the left, both which fell to the share of the sons of Zebedee, according to their request. There are, then, three Sees which are deservedly held pre-eminent, even as our Lord gave the pre-eminence to the three Apostles, Peter, James, and John, who first established them. And certainly these three places should be deemed more sacred than others, where they preached, and their bodies lie enshrined. Rome claims the superiority from Peter, Prince of the Apostles. Compostella holds the second place from St. James, the elder brother of St. John, and first inheritor of the crown of martyrdom. He dignified it with his preaching, consecrated it with his sepulchre, and ceases not to exalt it by miracles and dispensations of mercy. The third See justly is Ephesus; for there St. John wrote his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word,” assembling there likewise the bishops of the neighbouring cities, whom he calls Angels in the Apocalypse. He established that church by his doctrines and miracles, and there his body was entombed. If, therefore, any difficulty should occur that cannot elsewhere be resolved, let it brought before these Sees, and it shall, by divine grace, be decided. As Gallicia was freed in these early ages from the Saracen yoke, by the favour of God and St. James, and by the King’s valour, so may it continue firm in the orthodox faith till the consummation of ages!
THE Emperor was of a ruddy complexion, with brown hair; of a well-made handsome form, but a stern visage. His height was about eight of his own feet, which were very long. He was of a strong robust make; his legs and thighs very stout, and his sinews firm. His face was thirteen inches long; his beard a palm; his nose half a palm; his forehead a .foot over. His lion-like eyes flashed fire like carbuncles; his eyebrows were half a palm over. When he was angry, it was a terror to look upon him. He required eight spans for his girdle, besides what hung loose. He ate sparingly of bread; but a whole quarter of lamb, two fowls, a goose, or a large portion of pork; a peacock, crane, or a whole hare. He drank moderately of wine and water. He was so strong, that he could at a single blow cleave asunder an armed soldier on horseback from the head to the waist, and the horse likewise. He easily vaulted over four horses harnessed together; and could raise an armed man from the ground to his head, as he stood erect upon his hand.
He was liberal, just in his decrees, and fluent of speech. Four days in the year, especially during his residence in Spain, he held a solemn assembly at court, adorning himself with his royal crown and sceptre; namely, on Christmas-day, at Easter, Whitsuntide, and on the festival of St. James. A naked sword, after the imperial fashion, was then borne before him. A hundred and twenty orthodox soldiers watched nightly round his couch, in three courses of forty each. A drawn sword was laid at his right hand, and a lighted candle at his left. Although many would delight to read his great actions, they would be too tedious to relate.
How he invested Galifer, Admiral of Coleto, where he was banished, with the military order, and, in return for his kindness, slew Bramantes, his enemy, the proud Saracen King; how many kingdoms and countries he conquered; Abbeys he founded; bodies of the saints and relics he enshrined in gold; how he was made Emperor of Rome, and visited the holy supulchre, bringing back with him the wood of the Holy Cross, wherewith he endowed the shrine of St. James; of all this I shall say no more: the hand and the pen would sooner fail than the history. But what befel his army at his return to France, we now briefly proceed to tell.
WHEN this famous Emperor had thus recovered Spain to the glory of our Lord and St. James, after a season he returned to Pampeluna, and encamped there, with his army. At that time there were in Saragossa two Saracen Kings, Marsir, and Beligard, his brother, sent by the Soldan of Babylon from Persia to Spain. Charles had bowed them to his dominion, and they served him always, but only with feigned fidelity. For the King having sent Ganalon to require them to be baptized, and to pay tribute, they sent him thirty horse-load of gold, silver, and jewels; forty load of wine likewise for his soldiers, and a thousand beautiful Saracen women. But at the same time they covenanted with Ganalon to betray the King’s army intO their hands for twenty horse-load of gold and silver; which wicked compact being accordingly made, Ganalon returned to the King with intelligence that Marsir would embrace the Christian faith, and was preparing to follow him into France to receive baptism there, and would then hold all Spain under oath of fealty to him. The old soldiers would accept the wine only, but the young men were highly gratified with the present of the women.
Charles, confiding in Ganalon, now began his march through the pass of the mountains, in his return to France; giving the command of the rear to his nephew, Orlando, Count of Mans and Lord of Guienne, and to Oliver, Count of Auvergne, ordering them to keep the station of Ronceval with thirty thousand men, whilst he passed it with the rest of the army. But many, who had on the night preceding intoxicated themselves with wine, and been guilty of fornication with the Saracen women, and other women that followed the camp from France, incurred the penalty of death. What more shall we say? When Charles had safely passed the narrow strait that leads into Gascony, between the mountains, with twenty thousand of his warriors, Turpin, the Archbishop, and Ganalon, and while the rear kept guard, early in the morning Marsir and Beligard, rushing down from the hills, where, by Ganalon’s advice, they had lain two days in ambush, formed their troops into two great divisions, and with the first of twenty thousand men attacked our army, which making a bold resistance, fought from morning to the third hour, and utterly destroyed the enemy. But a fresh body of thirty thousand Saracens now poured furiously down upon the Christians, already faint and exhausted with fighting so long, and smote them from high to low, so that scarcely one escaped. Some were transpierced with lances; some killed with clubs; others beheaded, burnt, flayed alive, or suspended on trees: only Orlando, Baldwin, and Theodoric, were left; the two last gained the woods, and finally escaped. After this terrible slaughter the Saracens retreated a league from the field of battle.
And here it may be asked, why God permitted those to perish who in no wise had defiled themselves with women? It was, indeed, to prevent them from committing fresh sins at their return home, and to give them a crown of glory in reward for their toils. But neither is it to be doubted but those who were guilty of this fault amply atoned for it by their death. In that awful hour they confessed his name, bewailing their sins, and the all-merciful God forgot not their past labours for the sake of Christ, for whose faith they lost their lives. The company of women is evidently baneful to the warrior: those earthly Princes Darius and Mark Antony were attended by their women, and perished; for lust at once enervates the soul and the body.
Those who fell into intoxication and lasciviousness typify the priests that war against vice, but suffer themselves to be overcome by wine and sensual appetites till they are slain by their enemy the devil, and punished with eternal death.
As Orlando was returning after the battle was over to view the Saracen army, he met a certain black Saracen, who had fled from the field, and concealed himself in the woods, whom he seized and bound to a tree with four bands. Then, ascending a lofty hill, he surveyed the Moorish army, and, seeing likewise many Christians retreating by the Ronceval road, he blew his horn, and was joined by about a hundred of them, with whom he returned to the Saracen, and promised to give him his life if he would show him Marsir; which having performed, he set him at liberty. Animating his little band, Orlando was soon amidst the thickest of the enemy, and, finding one of huger stature than the rest, he hewed him and his horse in twain, so that the halves fell different ways. Marsir and his companions then fled in all directions, but Orlando, trusting in the divine aid, rushed forward, and, overcoming all opposition, slew Marsir on the spot. By this time every one of the Christians was slain, and Orlando himself sorely wounded in five places by lances, and grievously battered likewise with stones. Beligard, seeing Marsir had fallen, retired from the field with the rest of the Saracens; whilst Theodoric and Baldwin, and some few other Christians, made their way through the pass, towards which Orlando, wandering, came likewise to the foot of it, and, alighting from his steed, stretched himself on the ground, beneath a tree, near a block of marble, that stood upright in the meadows of Ronceval.
Here drawing his sword, Durenda, which signifies a hard blow, a sword of exquisite workmanship, fine temper, and resplendent brightness, which he would sooner have lost his arm than parted with, as he held it in his hand, regarding it earnestly, addressed it in these words: “O sword of unparalleled brightness, excellent dimensions, admirable temper, and hilt of the whitest ivory, decorated with a splendid cross of gold, topped by a berylline apple, engraved with the sacred name of God, endued with keenness and every other virtue, who now shall wield thee in battle? who shall call thee master? He that possessed thee was never conquered, never daunted at the foe; phantoms never appalled him. Aided by Omnipotence, with thee did he destroy the Saracen, exalt the faith of Christ, and acquire consummate glory. Oft hast thou vindicated the blood of Jesus, against Pagans, Jews, and heretics; oft hewed off the hand and foot of the robber, fulfilling divine justice. O happy sword, keenest of the keen; never was one like thee! He that made thee, made not thy fellow! Not one escaped with life from thy stroke! If the slothful timid soldier should now possess thee, or the base Saracen, my grief would be unspeakable! Thus, then, do I prevent thy falling into their hands.” — He then struck the block of marble thrice, which cleft it in the midst, and broke the sword in twain.
HE now blew a loud blast with his horn, to summon any Christian concealed in the adjacent woods to his assistance, or to recall his friends beyond the pass. This horn was endued with such power, that all other horns were split by its sound; and it is said that Orlando at that time blew it with such vehemence, that he burst the veins and nerves of his neck. The sound reached the King’s ears, who lay encamped in the valley still called by his name, about eight miles from Ronceval, towards Gascony, being carried so far by supernatural power. Charles would have flown to his succour, but was prevented by Ganalon, who, conscious of Orlando’s sufferings, insinuated it was usual with him to sound his horn on light occasions. “He is, perhaps,” said he, “pursuing some wild beast, and the sound echoes through the woods; it will be fruitless, therefore, to seek him.” O wicked traitor, deceitful as Judas! What dost thou merit?
Orlando now grew very thirsty, and cried for water to Baldwin, who just then approached him; but unable to find any, and seeing him so near his end, he blessed him, and, again mounting his steed, galloped off for assistance to the army. Immediately after Theodoric came up, and, bitterly grieving to see him in this condition, bade him strengthen his soul by confessing his faith. Orlando had that morning received the blessed Eucharist, and confessed his sins before he went to battle, this being the custom with all the warriors at that time, for which purpose bishops and monks attended the army to give them absolution. The martyr of Christ then cast up his eyes to heaven, and cried, “O Lord Jesus, for whose sake I came into these barbarous regions; through thy aid only have I conquered innumerable Pagans, enduring blows and wounds, reproach, derision, and fatigue, heat and cold, hunger and thirst. To thee do I commit my soul in this trying hour. Thou, who didst suffer on the cross for those who deserved not thy favour, deliver my soul, I beseech thee, from eternal death! I confess myself a most grievous sinner, but thou mercifully dost forgive our sins; thou pitiest every one, and hatest nothing which thou hast made, covering the sins of the penitent in whatsoever day they turn unto thee with true contrition. O thou, who didst spare thy enemies, and the woman taken in adultery; who didst pardon Mary Magdalen, and look with compassion on the weeping Peter; who didst likewise open the gate of Paradise to the thief that confessed thee upon the cross; have mercy upon me, and receive my soul into thy everlasting rest!
“Thou art he who preventest our bodies from perishing in the grave, changing them to greater glory; thou, O Lord, art he, who hast said, ‘thou rather wouldst the sinner should live than die.’ I believe in thee with my whole heart, and confess thee with my lips; therefore I beseech thee to receive me into the enjoyment of a better life when this is ended. Let my sense and intellects be in the same measure improved as the shadow differs from the substance.” And now, grasping the flesh and skin near his heart (as Theodoric afterwards related), he continued his speech with bitter groanings. “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and of the blessed Virgin, with my inmost soul do I confess that thou, my Redeemer, dost live, and that at the day of judgment I shall rise, and in my flesh behold thee, my God and my Saviour!” And thrice, thus grasping his breast, did he repeat those words; and, laying his hand upon his eyes in like manner, he said, “And these eyes shall behold thee!” Uncovering them, he again looked up to heaven, and, signing himself with the sign of the cross, he uttered, “All earthly things are vain and unprofitable; I am now taught of Christ, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the good things that God hath prepared for them that love him.” Then, stretching his hands to heaven, he uttered this prayer for them that perished in the battle: —
“Let thy bowels of compassion, O Lord, be open to thy faithful servants, who have this day perished by the hand of the barbarians. Hither did they come to vindicate thy faith; for thy sake are they fallen. Do thou, O Lord, mercifully blot out their offences, accounting them worthy to be delivered from the pains of hell. Send thy archangels to rescue their souls from darkness, and bear them to the regions of light, where thy blessed martyrs eternally live and reign with thee, who dost live and reign with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, to all ages. Amen!”— Immediately after this confession and prayer, his soul winged its flight from his body, and was borne by angels to Paradise, where he reigns in transcendent glory, united by his meritocious deeds to the blessed choir of martyrs.
WHAT more shall we say? Whilst the soul of the blessed Orlando was leaving his body, I, Turpin, standing near the King in the valley of Charles, at the moment I was celebrating the mass of the dead, namely, on the 16th day of June, fell into a trance, and, hearing the angelic choir sing aloud, I wondered what it might be. Now, when they had ascended on high, behold, there came after them a phalanx of terrible ones, like warriors returning from the spoil, bearing their prey. Presently I inquired of one of them what it meant, and was answered, “We are bearing the soul of Marsir to hell, but yonder is Michael bearing the Horn-winder to heaven.” When mass was over, I told the King what I had seen; and whilst I was yet speaking, behold Baldwin rode up on Orlando’s horse, and related what had befallen him, and where he had left the hero in the agonies of death, beside a stone in the meadows at the foot of the mountain; whereupon the whole army immediately marched back to Ronceval.
The King himself first discovered the hero, lying in the form of a cross, and began to lament over him with bitter sighs and sobs, wringing his hands, and tearing his hair and beard. “O right arm,” cried he, “of thy Sovereign’s body; honour of the French; sword of justice, inflexible spear, inviolable breast-plate, shield of safety; a Judas Maccabeus in probity, a Samson in strength; in death like Saul and Jonathan; brave, experienced soldier, great and noble defender of the Christians, scourge of the Saracens; a wall to the clergy, the widow’s and orphan’s friend, just and faithful in judgment! — Renowned Count of the French, valiant captain of our armies, why did I leave thee here to perish? How can I behold thee dead, and not die myself? Why hast thou left me sorrowful and alone? A poor miserable King! But thou art exalted to the kingdom of heaven, and dost enjoy the company of angels and martyrs. Without cease I shall lament over thee, as David did over Saul and Jonathan, and his son Absalom.
Thus did Charles mourn for Orlando to the very last day of his life. On the spot where he died he encamped; and caused the body to be embalmed with balsam, myrrh, and aloes. The whole camp watched it that night, honouring his corse with hymns and songs, and innumerable torches and fires kindled on the adjacent mountains.
EARLY on the next day they carne to the field of battle in Ronceval, and found the bodies of their friends, many of them still alive, but mortally wounded. Oliver was lying on his face, pinioned to the ground in the form of a cross, and flayed from the neck to his finger-ends; pierced also with darts and javelins, and bruised with clubs. The mourning was now dismal; every one wept for his friend, till the groves and valleys resounded with wailing. Charles solemnly vowed to pursue the Pagans till he found them; and, marching in pursuit with his whole army, the sun stood still for three days, till he overtook them on the banks of the Ebro, near Saragossa, feasting and rejoicing for their success. Attacking them valiantly, he then slew four thousand, and dispersed the rest. What further? We now returned to Ronceval, bearing with us the sick and wounded to the spot where Orlando fell. The Emperor then made strict inquiries after the treachery of Ganalon, which began to be universally rumoured about. Trial was ordained by single combat, Pinabel for Ganalon, and Theodoric for the Accuser; when, the latter gaining the victory, the treason was proved. Ganalon was now sentenced to be torn to pieces by four wild horses, which was accordingly his end.
THEY now embalmed the dead bodies of their friends; some with myrrh and balsam, some with salt, taking out the bowels, and filling the bodies with aromatic drugs, or with salt only. Some were buried on the spot; others conveyed to France; but many that became putrid and offensive were buried on the road. Wooden carriages were made for the dead, but the sick and wounded were borne away on litters upon their shoulders.
Two chief burying grounds were now consecrated at Arles and Bordeaux by seven Bishops: Maximin of Aix, Trophimus of Arles, Paul of Narbonne, Saturnine of Thoulouse, Frontorne of Perigord, Martial of Limoges, and Eutropius of Xaintonge; where the major part of the warriors were interred that fell in the battles of Ronceval and Mount Garzim.
CHARLES deferred the burial of Orlando till he came to Blaye. His body was laid upon gold tapestry on two mules, covered with a pall, and at length honorably interred in the Church of St. Roman, which he had formerly built, and endowed with regular canons. His helmet was plated upon his head, and his ivory horn at his feet. But the body was afterwards translated to St. Severin in Bordeaux, the chief city of these provinces, where it was joyfully welcomed, as it had liberally tasted his munificence.
At Blaye likewise was buried Oliver, and Galdebode, King of Friezeland; Ogier, King of Dacia; Aristagnus, King of Brittany; Garin, Duke of Lorraine; and many other warriors. Happy town, graced with the sepulchres of so many heroes! At Bordeaux, in the cemetery of St. Severin, were buried Gayfere, King of Bordeaux; Angelerus, Duke of Aquitaine; Lambert, Prince of Bourges; Galerius Galin; Rinaldo of the White Thorn; Walter of the Olive Trees; Vulterinus, and five thousand of their soldiers. Ocellus, Count of Nantes, and most of the inhabitants of Brittany, were buried in that city. Charles gave twelve thousand pieces of silver and talents of gold for the repose of their souls, and fed the poor for many miles round the city of Blaye; endowing the church likewise with rich vestments and silver ornaments, for the love he bore Orlando; freeing the Canons from all service but prayers for him and his companions. He moreover clothed and entertained thirty poor men on the anniversary of their martyrdom, establishing Minstrels, Masses, and other solemnities, which the Canons were not to neglect on that day, as they hoped to merit a crown of glory, which they promised to perform.
AFTER this the King and his army proceeded by the way of Gascony and Thoulouse, and came to Arles, where we found the army of Burgundy, which had left us in the hostile valley, bringing their dead by the way of Morbihan and Thoulouse, to bury them in the plain of Arles. Here we performed the rites of Estolfo, Count of Champagne; of Solomon; Sampson, Duke of Burgundy; Arnold of Berlanda; Alberic of Burgundy; Gumard, Esturinite, Hato, Juonius, Berard, Berengaire, and Naaman, Duke of Bourbon, and of ten thousand of their soldiers. Constantine, Governor of Rome, and other Romans, were conveyed thither by sea, and buried in Apulia. The King gave twelve thousand pieces of silver, and as many talents of gold, for the repose of their souls, and to the poor of Arles.
WE then came to Vienne, where I remained to be healed of the scars and wounds I received in Spain. The King, much fatigued, at length arrived at Paris; and, assembling a council of his chief princes and bishops at St. Denis, returned thanks to God for his victory over the Pagans, and gave all France as a manor to that church, in the same way as St. Paul and St. Clement had formerly endowed the bishopric of Rome, The French Bishops were likewise to be ordained there, and not made subject to the See of Rome. Then, standing by the tomb of St. Denis, he entreated the Lord for all who had died in his cause.
The very next night St. Denis appeared to the King in his sleep, assuring him that full pardon of sin was granted to all that followed him, and had fought and perished in the wars with the Saracens; that they likewise should recover of their wounds who had bestowed money on the church; which being made known by the King, very liberal offerings were made by the people, who thus acquired the name of Franks; and the whole land, formerly called Gaul, was now changed to France, as being freed from all servitude, and having dominion over other nations. The King then went to Aix-la-Chapelle, in the county of Liege, to bathe and drink the waters, where he liberally endowed St. Mary’s Church with gold and silver, ordering it to be painted with ancient and modern histories, and his palace to be decorated with the representation of his wars in Spain; with emblems of the seven liberal arts and other excellent embellishments.
SOON after, the King’s approaching death was revealed to me; for, behold, as I was praying in the church of Vienne, I fell into a trance, as I was singing psalms, and saw innumerable companies of soldiers pass before me by the Lorraine road. A certain one, black as an Ethiop, followed them, of whom I inquired whither he was going, and received for answer that he was awaiting the death of Charles to take possession of his soul. “I conjure you, then,” said I, “by the name of the Lord Jesus, to return when you have completed your errand.” When I had rested some time, and begun to explain the psalms, behold they returned back, and, speaking to the same person I before addressed, I inquired whom he had been seeking, and was answered, “the Gallician;” but the stones and timber of the churches he founded balanced so greatly in his favour, that his good works outweighed his bad, and his soul was snatched from us, and at this the demon vanished. Thus I understood Charles died that day, and was carried into the bosom of God and St. James. But as I had requested him, before we parted at Vienne, to send me notice of his decease in case it preceded mine, being then grievously sick, and remembering his promise, he encharged a certain learned soldier to bring me word the moment he died. What more need I add? The messenger arrived on the fifteenth day after it happened. He had, indeed, been grievously afflicted with illness from the hour he left Spain, and suffered still more in mind than in body for the friends he lost on the unfortunate 16th of June. On the same day that I saw the vision, namely, on the 5th of February, in the year of our Lord 814, he departed this life, and was sumptuously buried in the round church of St. Mary, which he had himself built; and this sign I was credibly informed happened yearly for three years together before his death, — “The Sun and Moon became dark, and his name, Charles the Prince, inscribed on the church, was totally obliterated of itself; and the portico likewise, between the church and the palace, fell to the very foundation.” The wooden bridge also which he built six years before over the Rhine at Mentz was destroyed by fire, self-kindled. And the same day, as a traveller was on his journey, he saw a great flame, like the flame of a funeral pile, pass from right to left before him; which terrifying him greatly, he fell from his horse, but was presently relieved by his friends.
We therefore believe that he now enjoys the crown of the blessed martyrs, whose labours he imitated, whose pattern and example he followed. Whereby we may understand, that whoever builds a church to God’s glory, provides for himself a residence in his kingdom. For this cause was Charles snatched from the hands of demons, and borne by good angels to heavenly habitations.