Chapter 41

[ 41 ]


       Meanwhile, king Louis has escaped from the hands of the guards (who had been ensnared by their greed for spoils) and, fleeing now this way, now that, has been wandering futilely on his wing-footed horse. A certain warrior of Rouen, noticing the unarmed king moving to and fro, this way and that, approaches him and, addressing him by name, speaks to him in rough words: "Whither, king Louis, are you going? And why, foresaken, do you hold to your course? You will not escape from our territory, into which yuo have stupidly insinuated yourself, attacking it unjustly." That said, turning his charger and rushing upon king Louis, he has seized the reins of [Louis'] bridle and has been forcibly urging [Louis] to ride along with him. However, the most sorrowful king, deprived of his arms and unable to free himself from the hands of his captor, has said to him: "Who are you, and towards what place are you now twisting me to go?" He has replied: "I am from Rouen. And that is where I will lead you, nor will you in any way be your own master after that."
       The king, however, despairing and becoming sorrowful at the imminence of unavoidable danger, has said to his boisterous captor: "Have mercy, I pray, have mercy on me and, in your compassion, pluck me from the hands of those who seek my life, and who lie in wait for me. Reinstate me at Mont-Laon, so that I might boast of and rejoice in the Frankish realm. No glory will ever be mine without you sharing in it, and whatever wealth and honor is mine, will be yours as well. If you like, I will establish you above me as king; if not, I will grant you half the realm. Let there be, in words and deeds, the greatest trust between you and me, established through the Christian bond of an oath of allegiance." The king has tumbled down from his horse, at the feet of the man leading him towards Rouen, repeating these things again and again, and begging with tears. Then the warrior, deeply affected in his mind by the groaning of the mournful king and compelled by his manifold requests, speaks through his own rising tears: "Make me a formal promise of what you have said and I will conduct you to Laon unhurt and unharmed." Truly, with the promise having been willingly covenanted and made, the warrior (wandering from the straight-and-narrow path of right) has begun to conduct the king to Laon.
       Meanwhile Bernard of Rouen, most sorrowful at the seizure of the king, has quickly sent messengers to every port along the Seine to prevent king Louis from crossing the river. And he himself has moved faster than the sluggish king, flying as speedily as possible and, on nimble horses, has hastened with his warriors to Rouen, while he has sent the trustiest scouts to every corner of the region to make a diligent search for the king. But the warrior, trying to deliver the king, has been unwilling to keep him at his home, lest perchance he be discovered, but has placed him for the night on an island in the Seine, planning to lead him to Laon after the scouts have wearied of the search and have turned back. The scouts, therefore, knowing that king Louis is in the keeping of that warrior, have come to his home and, taking his wife and his sons and his daughters, his stallions and mares, his bulls and his cows, and his every household furnishing, have speedily escorted them to Bernard at Rouen. Moreover the warrior, knowing that the king could no longer be concealed, has come immediately to Bernard at Rouen and, having fallen at his feet, has been begging Bernard to return his wife to him in return for the king. Truly Bernard, more than usually delighted, has returned his wife to him, accepting the sorrowful and captured king in exchange.
       Then he sent word of the king's longed-for fate to Bernard of Senlis. But count Bernard, arising immediatly, has come (cheerful and delighted) at night to duke Hugh the Great in Paris; he has said to him: "Have you heard, lord, any of the news now being bandied about in the common talk?" He has replied: "None." And the former: "Learn, then, that Aigrold king of the Dacians has made war on king Louis because of Richard, my nephew and his own kinsman, and that four times four counts and Herluin, count of the fortress of Montreuil, and his brother Lambert were slain in combat and that, what is more, once the Franks had been overthrown (note 1) in the bitter carnage, their king was put to flight and captured and is now still a prisoner, in the custody of the Dacian Bernard, in the town of Rouen." However, duke Hugh the Great, astounded at what was being said, has said: "Now the king has gotten what he deserves, and count Herluin what befitted him as well, and the other counsellors have suffered what it behooved them to suffer. For duke William of the Normans fell, martyred, on account of his fidelity to the king and to the Franks, and because he returned to Herluin the fortress of Montreuil which had earlier been taken away from him, and the king, whom it would have befitted to take revenge for that detestable and unheard-of accursed deed, on the advice of Herluin and the treasonous Arnulf, held William's son under his guardianship and unjustly claimed for himself the child's hereditary land. King Louis is suffering a wholly deserved retaliation in kind, by the will of the supernal king, in return for duke William's son, your nephew, whom he held prisoner, and in return for the land which he unlawfully appropriated to himself. for indeed the Normans who have conquered king Louis with such determined cunning are more judicious than other nations." Then Bernard: "Lord, remember what you promised to me and my nephew and help and assist him as befits you." Truly, the duke replies: "Before king Louis is freed from custody and lifted to sovereignty over the Frankish realm, your nephew Richard will be confirmed in holding the Norman region calmly and completely, and this possession will be ratified through the oath of allegiance of a true unbroken promise by the bishops and counts and abbots."
       Meanwhile a sorrowful report slips through to the ears of queen Gerberga and makes it clear that, with twice nine counts having been slain and the rest put to flight, the king has been captured. But the queen, incessantly bewailing the mournful misfortunes of her husband the king and of her followers (misfortunes which cruelly torment her soul) and yet, in all of Francia finding no advantageous advice concerning what to do, sending word of her deplorable defeat to her father the Transrhenish king Henry and her brother Otto (now glittering in the flower of puberty), has send for them to beseige Rouen with the military force of a gathered army in order to redeem her lord, king Louis, by force and power. However king Henry notifies his daughter queen Gerberga that he will not come to beseige Rouen, for king Louis was suffering this misfortune, added to all other previous damage, deservedly and worthily and also by God's vengeance, because he had held prisoner in his custody the son of duke William, after the duke had fallen victim to Arnulf's treachery because of his own fidelity to the king, and because he had then unjustly claimed for himself the whole Norman realm which the boy's grandfather had obtained in battle.
       Meanwhile, king Aigrold would compell all the Normans and the countrypeople (note 2) to keep to the laws and statutes of duke Rollo and, on the other hand, would confirm the boy Richard's rights to their fidelity. He would bustle about to fortify towns and citadels in a lasting manner so that the vicissitudes of unfavorable fortune would not perchance overturn his efforts.

                            Apostrophe

O compassionate, judicious, good and modest,
Valiant and constant and wise, equitable,
Rich, remarkable and opulent, ingenious
King Aigrold,
Be strong and be well and God bless you always
In the divine nature,
You who, although neither anointed with chrism
Nor reborn in sacred baptism,
Are now, in holding the most celebrated Richard,
Mightily managing the government of the realm,
Having captured the king and thrown the Franks to the ground
And having finished the battle
With your avenging right hand.
Now come! Let you bind every one by a promise
To serve, to attend Richard,
Lo! a blameless lad,
And one descended, noble, from a never-ending family
Distinguished both by his merits
And by his fruitful and bountiful life.

       


Notes:


1. Preferring the "prostratis" of Bongars 390 and CC 276.

2. Pagenses.


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