Francis Palgrave.

The history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) online

. (page 44 of 60)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 44 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

dors, despatched by Zulta, appeared most unex-
pectedly before Otho, professing friendship, nay,
obedience. Otho at once guessed the truth ;
they had come to spy out the state of the Country.
Indeed, the device was very clumsy, inas-
much as there was no one previous time or era,
when amicable relations had subsisted between
Teutscher and Mogor, and, there was no call now
for any alteration of sentiment. Otho treated
the cunning intruders with civil contempt ; and,
having been well feasted, they received some
inconsiderable gifts, and were sent away.

Scarcely had Otho thus freed himself from
them, when intelligence arrived, transmitted with
great alarm by his brother Henry, that the allies
whom Conrad had set in movement, were come.
The Barbarians were pouring into the land.
The Magyar Hordes, when they re-entered
Germany, were more fiercely determined upon
rapine than ever before. Botund the son of Cul-
pun, Zobols the son of Eleud, and Ircun, or Urcun,
the son of Eugee, were, according to the Mogor
chronicles, the chief Commanders : Magyar scho-
lars must decide as to the accuracy of their un-

The great
Magyar in-


couth names. The desire of avenging the shameful 951-937
death inflicted upon Lelu and Bulzu exacerbated - '

_ 955 96

their native fury. Wasting the country as they
advanced, they halted to the east of the river
Lech, not far from Augsburg, the residence City.

Otho rallied his vassals and subjects, prepar-
ing most energetically for the conflict ; and the
Germans of every rank and degree ought to have
been thankful that such a national Chief had
been raised up to be their Leader during this most
arduous and justifiable war ; truly justifiable
for it was wholly defensive.

The Magyar multitudes were enormous. The
main body, according to report, numbered a hun-
dred thousand, and from the full stream of the
Danube to the haunted Hartzwald and the sylvan
Schwartzwald, the whole country was darkened
by the swarms of the fiendish foes. The Magyars
boasted, that, unless the Earth should open her
mouth and swallow them, or the sky fall and
crush them, all Germany must become theirs.

Being probably well acquainted with Otho's
plans, for the Magyars were craftful in gaining*

1 but are

intelligence, they attacked Augsburg ; nor were
they repulsed but with great difficulty. Otho
had appointed his muster to be held near that
City. Thither he marched his troops, the Mag-
yars pestering them like hornets all the way.
The scantiness of Otho's forces was remark-

able, and testifies how shamefully the treasonable



951 ~ 98 7 1 family dissensions had debased the national spirit.

The army, embodied scarce ten years then
since, for the purpose of satisfying a silly rivalry,

the proud army which had been routed be-
fore Kouen, mustered two-and-thirty Legions ;
but, in this extreme urgency, only one-fourth
of that number, to wit, eight Legions, could
be raised. And yet the invasion of Normandy
was a wanton aggression, whilst, in the present
time of peril, all the Germanic tribes ought to
have been incited to the utmost exertions by the
righteousness of their cause. No provocation
had been given to the Magyars by the Germans ;
but simply for the protection of their land, their
liberty, and their faith, was their conflict waged.

When Conrad joined the army, universal

cheers resounded from the ranks as he rode by,
presence, such confidence did they place in his valour.
Their joy, however, at Conrad's approach, was
a sorrow to him ; their eager jubilee bespoke
the danger into which he had brought his native
country; and dolefully did their greetings fall
upon his ears, deepening his contrition for the
evils he had caused.
ad h v e ance- ars The Magyar s were advancing towards the

skilful or-

of Lech-feld " a district so denominated from
the river by which it is watered, evidently in-
tending to occupy the tracts to the eastward of
the stream. Otho forthwith marched in a
parallel direction, but on the opposite side.
Three Legions of Bavarians, and a fourth of

ad h v e ance- ars

skilful or-

ganization of

Otnos army.


Franconians, headed by Duke Conrad, com- 951-937
posed the right wing. The Suabian Legion, ^

955 962

under Duke Bur chard, supported by the Bohe-
mian Legion, to whom the baggage was en-
trusted, formed the left. But the Royal Legion,
a thousand warriors elected and selected from
the whole Army, constituted the centre. Before
the ranks and above Otho's head waved Saint
Michael's banner Saint Michael, the celestial
warrior, who, when the gorgeous institutions of
Chivalry assumed their full development, was
generally honoured throughout the greater part
of Western Christendom as the tutelary Pro-
tector of the Order.

In the legendary symbolism of the mediaeval saint MI.

chad's ban-

era, the hieroglyphic al representation, so signifi-
cantly pourtraying the power of evil subdued

with Saint

by the sword of faith, may be considered as

identical with the mythic Saint George : who,


amongst many of the German nations, usurped
the honour previously assigned to the Arch-
angel. The Suabian Ritterschaft peculiarly
claimed Saint George as their Patron ; and it
is a curious example of the meandering inter-
lacements of history, that the Yicariate of the
Empire, our third Edward's transient pride, pro-
bably introduced this creation of oriental hagio-
graphy to the notice of our triumphant King.
The connexion he thus formed with Germany
and the Germans induced him to favour their
minstrelsy, their language, and their decorative



951-987 arts. These tastes were inherited by his de-

*. *

scendants. Teutonic legends, Ich dien and
Hochmuth, adorn the trophied tomb of Cressy's
Hero, who, when living, actually signed his letters
by employing the latter epigraph as a confidential
substitute for his name. In like manner, his son,
the unfortunate Richard, by an ingenious arrange-
ment, made the words of the German motto, appro-
priated to the Ostrich feather, bespeak his affection
for his German Consort, the good Queen Anne.
This pleasant fancy, preserved in Richard's own
handwriting in a very singular volume catacombed
amongst the treasures of our great National Li-
brary, constitutes the most curious amongst the few
remaining autographs of our antient Sovereigns.
9th August, 5 14. Having indulged in this flight to distant

Windsor, Windsor's Round Table, and Wind-
sor's Tower, we must return to the heroic Otho,
who had taken his station westward of the Lech.
Through his scouts, he had ascertained that the
Magyars were approaching, but he seems to
have expected, as we infer by comparing the
relations given by our Chroniclers accurate
Witikind, and ambitious Ditinar that they
would come up in about the space of four-and-
twenty hours. Well did Otho know the nature of
such agile foes : many a time and oft had he dis-
comfited and slaughtered Sclave and Wend, and
Zech and Avar. But the Magyars moved more
rapidly than even the experienced General had
anticipated. Suddenly crossing the water, and

955 Otho


filling the air with elrich screechings, they 951-937
stormed the German host. The Bohemians - * S"

955962 (

were scattered many a knight caught and sudden as .

J sault of the

pinioned by the grinning Ogre, and all the
baggage became the plunder of the enemy. The

the German

stout Suabians fled, and the disorder was e

Eve of the

tending throughout the whole Army. " For- ba!i e . 8 1
ward, Conrad," was Otho's command; and
Conrad bravely performed his duty ; the Bar-
barians were cut to pieces and dispersed, the
booty recovered, the Prisoners delivered, and
Conrad returned with banners displayed.

The Germans re-encamped, and prepared for
the morrow by fasting and prayer, lhat morrow
was the feast of Saint Laurence the well-known
periodical season of the astral streams. The
natural philosopher will be interested by the notice
of the awful thunder-storms which spread terror
throughout Northern Germany, but not alone the
storms, for the other portents, by which the tem-
pests were accompanied, created extreme terror.

Early in the morning Otho rose and sought ioth A

c Morn of the

strength for the conflict by appealing to the Lord battle -
of Hosts, prostrating himself in supplication upon
the ground. Having then received the Holy Com-
munion from the hands of his Confessor, Adalric,
afterwards canonized, he addressed the soldiers,
his companions in war. He reminded them of
their former successes, which he ascribed not to
their own right hands, but to the Divine protection.
They had to wage a conflict for life or death ; and


951-987 Otho, his speech concluded, bracing his shield, and
'-^r^p brandishing the Holy Lance, led on the charge.
ioth August, The battle, fought under the unclouded rays


SSifrf the of the burning sun, lasted from the dim day-dawn
Totai'detat until the evening star shone resplendent in the

of the

darkening firmament. Conrad's exertions were

worthy of his reputation, but, suffocated by the

sweltering heat, he lifted up the visor of his

955 - helmet to take a breath, when the Magyar shaft,

Death of

speeding on her errand, gave him a mortal wound.
Thus was the prayer of Conrad granted, for he
besought that, as a warning chastisement, he
might be slain by the enemy whose aid he had
invoked against his own people, his own blood,
his own kith and kin.

. The Magyars defended themselves desper-
ately ; but their light-horsemen could not stand
against the solid masses of the German cavalry,
or resist the heavy trenchant blades wielded by
the doughty foe, and, though fighting with des-
perate pertinacity, they were utterly routed.
Otho was foremost in the chase of the fugi-
vengeance tives i no quarter ffiven ; the victors merci-

of the Ger-

less ; the field clothed with the harvest of car-
nage. Botund escaped, though Urcun, or some
Hetuniogor whom the Germans supposed to be
the King, was killed ; more fortunate than the
three who, suffering the same vile punishment as
had been inflicted on Lelu and Bulzu, were hung
like dogs by the victors. Many were drowned in
the river ; others rammed and jammed in the hor-


rible charnel pit ; all mingle-mangle, quick and 951-937

breathing:, alive and bleeding, struggling and faint- >


ing, dead and dying; others suffocated by the
smoke or consumed by the flames in the buildings
where they defended themselves, all were cleared
away.- -It was a done thing once and for ever.
Faithful to the old Roman traditions still liv-
ing throughout Europe not conned as a dreary
lesson out of the thumbed school-book, but grave-
ly told by grisly eld for the instruction of the
eagerly listening boy the German Legions, ere
they moved away from the Lech-feld, truly de-
serving to be called the Leich-feld the field of
corpses, the Suabian " Lichfield," hailed Otho
as father of his Father-land, and saluted him as
Emperor. Triumpho celebri Rex factus yloriosus,
ab exercitu Pater Patrice Imperatorque appel-
latus est. The cry was raised by a general 955-

* J Otho saluted

and uncontrollable sympathetic feeling. Hence-

forward, Otho was never addressed in Germany of battle.
otherwise than as Emperor, Emperor designate,
until duly elected by the temporal and spiritual
powers, possessing the exalted prerogative en-
titling them to name the successor of the Caesars.

Fully as the victory was appreciated through- importance
out the antient Carlovingian Empire, yet Otho's

of this

contemporaries could scarcely be conscious of the

tageous re-

high import belonging to the event. If Charles iio s upon

the Magyars.

Martel may be said to have rescued Western
Christendom from Moslem slavery when he exter-
minated the Saracen Host on the field of Tours,


951-987 and repelled the Mahometan deluge, not less is
- * > the honour due to Otho's memory. Had not the


Magyars succumbed in this conflict, it is pro-
bable that all Europe would have fallen under
their destructive domination. The consequences
were scarcely less beneficial to themselves.
conversion They desisted from their inroads. The labours

of the v

of Saint Adalbert commenced their conversion.
Geisa, their King, together with his wife and
son, accepted the Sacrament of Baptism through
Adalbert's ministration ; and that son, Stephen,
became the first Christian Monarch of Hungary.
From the second Pope Sylvester, enigmatical
Gerbert of mysterious fame, Stephen solicited and
obtained the rich Byzantine-fashioned crown still
so highly prized by the Magyars as the symbol
of the sovereignty which has departed from their
land. Stephen also received the title of " Apos-
tolic" from the Supreme Pontiff, the earliest ex-
ample of those distinctions which even our own
Sovereigns are proud to retain. Moreover, Ste-
phen was anointed upon his Coronation, and the
The three King of Hungary was one of the three Christian


Kings, distinguished by that Imperial rite ; the
other two being France now awaiting the cele-


and g H^- bration of the solemn ceremony and Anglo-
Saxon Britain ; and Hungary expanded into
one of the most brilliant European monarchies.

15. Berenger's submission to Otho did
not oust him from his royal rights. The ex-
tensive privileges enjoyed by the Prelates and



great Feudatories of the Lombard kingdom had 951-937
always been the exciting cause of dissensions , -


and jealousies between them and their Eulers.
Soured by vexation, Berenger greatly abused It ^-
his legitimate power. He sought to harass sumS-"

i i i TT i Berenger

ana encroach upon his Vassals in every way.
Sufficient reason had Berener to hate Albert

Azzo, assuredly no one better deserved his
enmity than Albert Azzo the warrior through
whose gallantry his schemes for securing Adelaide
and Italy had been marred. Triple-rampired Ca-
nossa, stoutly besieged by Berenger, defied him ;
but, at length, the Marquis was compelled to
crave the aid which Otho was bound to afford,
whether as a duty towards an ally and friend,
or in the character of Suzerain, to whom the
aggrieved Lieges of the Mesne Lord might ap-
peal for justice.

During the German troubles, Otho's atten- Ot 9 h 5 6 -f e _
tion was diverted from Italian affairs. He now SSp'h

for Albert

despatched Liudolph for the important purpose Azzo ' s relief -
of relieving Canossa, and restraining Berenger 's
misrule. The young Prince acted energetically,
but not by reason of any love he bore his Father.
He pursued the war so vigorously, that Lona-
bardy passed almost wholly beneath his power.
Adalbert, Berenger' s adventurous son, g-ave battle Lmdoi P h,iiis


to the German Prince, but, he, defeated and cap- felted! is
tured, all Lombardy submitted. Outtake the surrenderor

*> to Liudolph.

warmer partisans, there does not seem to have
been at this period much fighting blood amongst


951-937 the Lombards. Berenger fled to his stronghold
' * - of San Giullo, a fortified island-rock in the


smiling yet solemnly beautiful Lago d'Orta, rising
from the blue waters, not far from the shore,
the rock in whose centre still stands the church,
containing the rudely sculptured uncouth marble
ambo, whence Berenger may have heard the Gos-
pel the pleasant villa-covered rock then con-
verted into a fortress, walled and towered and
almost impregnable.

Berenger' s own garrison surrendered him to
Liudolph, but Otho's rebel was Liudolph's friend.
Instead of profiting by this great advantage for
his Father's benefit, he forthwith enlarged the
royal Captive. Berenger resumed his authority.
Fresh disturbances ensued, but Liudolph's miser-
able career suddenly came to an end. Some say
Liudolph fell in honourable conflict with Adalbert ;
others, that he was poisoned by Berenger ; but, ac-
cording to the third and more probable version, a
LiuS^h's fever carried him off. Liudolph's history, begin-


t ning in love, and ending in the most odious form of

some e wii a at d hatred, descends like a mournful cloud upon the


sep th 95~7 6 aureole by which Otho's majestic head is sur-
rounded. Had he lived longer, the shade might
have become deeper. Liudolph's death, preserving
him from further disobedience and sin, may be
viewed as a mercy to all parties. Adelaide might
have displayed herself in the normal character of
a spiteful step-mother ; but, fortunately, for her
fair fame, the temptation was removed : whilst


Otho was equally spared the obloquy of sinning 951-937
against Editha in her grave, by disinheriting her , * ,

D . . 955962

only child, and the dishonour of violating the
paternal promise and the national compact which
secured to Liudolph the reversion of the Crown.

16. Berenger, freed from Liudolph's pre- Be 9 r 6 e n - r
sence, and Otho, far distant, conceived himself '
to be entirely exempted from control ; and the
Prelates and Nobles, his vassals, his outrageous
violations of law and justice having become
intolerable, addressed their letters to the
laurelled "Imperator," praying him to deliver
them from the " Tyrant's" oppressions.

The request, made in writing, was impres-
sively repeated by a solemn deputation.

Walbert, Archbishop of Milan, Oberto, or
Obizzo, whom we are called upon to honour as Lombard 1 ? 6

to deliver

the Founder of the great Marquisate of Este, and

Waldo, Bishop of Como, these three appeared on Be?e 8 ng f er.
behalf of the whole Lombard Community, having
also to complain of individual wrongs. The Arch-
bishop was aggrieved by Queen Guilla, who, having
sold the See to a certain Manasses, was labouring
to install the simoniacal intruder. Obizzo had
stood very high in Berenger's confidence, and his
greatest Mend ; but Berenger was now seeking his
life. And the Patrician Octavian, raised to the
Pontificate as John the Twelfth, and equally per-
secuted by Berenger, earnestly concurred in irn-
ploringtheaid of Otho against the common enemy.
Of Otho's three sons by Adelaide, two were


951-937 left, but immediately after Otho had received the
, * . intelligence of Lindolph's death, the elder of the


Death of two, sickly Bruno, was taken away, and the puisne,

Bruno, the i /> 1 1 < T i i

eldest of his lathers namesake, was his only remaining

Otho's re-

ciifidreS by hdi\ Otho was therefore at full liberty to ac-

Adelaide. T i i i ji i j_i p

complish his heart s desire, the transmission of
his authority to the child of that second Consort,
who had so completely obliterated the memory of
the first. Forthwith Otho summoned all his lieges
from the various German populations to a general
Convention at Worms : and, in this Assembly, the
Porphyrogenitus, all rivals removed, was unani-
mously accepted as King. The Second Otho
M 96 - had scarcely attained his seventh year, and,

May 26. / /

though the postulation of his Eoyal Father was

son by Ade-

implicitly and cheerfully obeyed, the Germans

were astounded at the tender age of the new

and crowned

Monarch. But there was no hesitation either
in giving assent or completing the inauguration ;
the boy was conducted with great reverence to
Aix-la-Chapelle. The Crown was dropped upon his
infantine brows by his uncles, the Archbishops
Bruno and William ; and now, Otho set forth for
Italy, complying with the call he had received.
960- S 17. The younger Otho's Coronation per-

Otho's entry

fected, the Emperor designate, conducted his

army southwards, entering Lombardy through
fight for the Tridentine Marches. Adalbert, prepared to
meet him, had assembled formidable forces. It
was reported that they amounted to sixty thou-


sand men, but, the larger the army the worse 951-937
for Berenger. The nobles under Adalbert ,


declared they would not any longer obey his
father. Abdication, effected or promised, might
have been prudent ; but Berenger's conduct in
this strait, compels us to render an honour to his
valour, which we deny to his moral character.
He made a brave defence, nor was his Consort
less resolute.

Compelled, as we are, to view the scene from

a distant point, we may faintly discern the de- -be


posed King and the deposed Queen, keeping S ^' at
Otho at bay, in the fastnesses protected by lake ]
and mountain where they respectively took
refuge. Adalbert also, apart from his father,
continued to comport himself bravely. But the
contest was hopeless. They were compelled to
implore Otho's mercy. Berenger, his wife, and
his daughters, were considerately, nay, kindly
treated by their conqueror, and Berenger died in
honourable retirement at Bamberg. As for Adal- A /n n *? r !?

of Adalbert

bert, he took to the sea. He made for congenial i

and marries

Corsica ; and seems to have become a Captain of ^ e th d e a j g ^ n e
Pirates. His first exploit was the abduction of c
King Otho's chaplain, and we are almost tempted
to believe that his felucca may have been partly
manned by Scandinavians. But, ultimately,
Adalbert settled quietly in France, marrying
Gerberga, the daughter of Lambert, Count of
Chalons, and by her he had a son, Otho, or


951-987 Otto-Guillaume, who afterwards became sole
. * N Count of Burgundy and King of Aries, and of

955 962

whom we shall hear something more hereafter
in connection with Norman history.

The last-mentioned events were speedily
though not immediately accomplished, and we
must now wind up the main skein of this story.
Adalbert's forces dispersed, Otho presented him-
self in Lombardy, not as a foreign invader, but
as the successor of the Caesars, coming to his
own. Otho, who had repelled the Magyar flood ;
Otho, the great defender of the Christian

The constitutional distinction between King

of Italy and Emperor was carefully maintained
so long as the Holy Roman Empire subsisted,
and, it was in the first capacity that Otho
appeared at Milan. Eeceived by the Arch-
bishop Walbert in the Basilica of Santo Ambro-
gio, the ceremonial testified the rights apper-
taining to the Lombard Monarchy. The Royal
955-962 insignia, battle-axe and baldric, lance and sword,

Otho ad-

were displayed upon the altar, whilst the Crown
was imposed upon the Sovereign's head by the
ytte* Archbishop. All the Dukes and Princes and
No5es. r Marquises, Nobles of higher estate, and Capitanes
and Vavassors of lower degree, rendered their
homage to Otho as their immediate Sovereign.
The festival of the Nativity was celebrated at
Pavia, and Otho and his Queen then proceeded
to the City of the Seven hills.


Accompanied by the Clergy, the Senators and 951-937
Magistrates of the Eepublic came forth to accept - *

1 L 951-962

their Emperor. We are told how, upon these
solemn occasions, the revered standards of the
Legions, treasured, without doubt, in the massy-
walled ^Erarium beneath, were brought out from
the Capitol, such as we see them imaged on the
winding spirals of the sculptured Column or the
frieze of the triumphal Arch. The vast, many j an 9 5e" b .
terraced, mountainous Palace of the Caesars Adelaide

enter Rome.

here, deeply caverned by the gigantic vaulted
halls, such as might befit the brethren of
Enceladus - and there, emulating Babylon's
Seven-zoned tower, decaying, yet glorious, stood
ready to receive Otho and his lovely Adelaide.
We yet read, in the very remarkable ritual of
these solemnities, that, pursuant to traditionary
usage, the yet uncrowned Caesar should be lodged
in the stately chamber of Augustus, whilst the
more splendid apartment of Livia, still adorned
by the tarnished reliques of past magnificence,
was assigned to the Empress. Thundering accla-
mations welcomed Otho and Adelaide as they
traversed the City. The successor of Saint
Peter advanced to greet the successor of Charle-
magne : and the Coronation, the Feast of the
Purification coinciding, was celebrated with



unprecedented solemnity. By the Pope, Otho -otho ac-'

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 2) → online text (page 44 of 60)