תמונות בעמוד

within its walls. The king, attended by some of his leudes, armed only with their swords, entered; but the body of inferior Franks who had followed him from Soissons, posted themselves, fully armed, outside, under the portico, occupying all the entrances. Under such circumstances an obnoxious criminal stood, we might suppose, small chance of justice. On entering, the king begged the attention of the synod to two bales of stuffs, and a sack of coin, which figured prominently on the pavement of the church, observing that they would prove of great importance in the course of the inquiry.

The accused was now brought forward. The king rose, and instead of addressing himself to the judges, turned towards his adversary, and thus bluntly apostrophized him :-“ And what wert thou thinking of, O bishop, when thou didst marry my enemy, Merovig, (for such he is, rather than my son,) to his aunt, Brunchilde? Knewest thou not what the canons enact touching this thing? And not only herein hast thou offended, but, moreover, in that thou hast plotted my death, in concert with him. Thou hast stirred up the son to become his father's enemy; thou hast seduced my people by bribes ; and thou hast sought to deliver my kingdom into the hands of another.” At these words, the Frank warriors who crowded the doors of the basilica, raised a fierce shout of indignation, demanding the death of the traitor to their king; and as their fury kindled, they pushed into the naye of the building, and showed an inclination of executing at once the sentence they had pronounced against the accused. The bishops, in alarm, quitted their seats, and it required all the personal influence of the king to check the turbulence of his irritated followers, which he was not sorry, perhaps, to have exhibited in terrorem to the assembly.

When order was in some measure restored, the criminal was allowed to answer in his own behalf. Not at all disconcerted by the scene that had just occurred, the wily Roman undertook to justify himself. He could not deny the fact of the uncanonical marriage, but he turned all his defence to vindicate himself from the charge of treason. Then Chilperic summoned his witnesses. Several persons of Frank origin came forward, and producing different objects of value, declared that they had been given to them by the bishop, on condition of their promising fidelity to Merovig. Prætextatus, not at all disconcerted, replied, “ True, you have received presents from me more than once, but they were not given you with any view of expelling the king from his kingdom. But when you had bestowed valuable horses, or other things of like richness upon me, how could I do otherwise than make you some kind of return for them ?" No more substantial evidence being producible against the bishop,

the synod broke up, and the king retired to his residence, not a little chagrined at having failed, with so many advantages in his favour, in procuring a conviction.

The bishops were withdrawn to the sacristy of the church, and were conversing in separate groups familiarly enough, but with an awkward reserve on the main subject. They distrusted one another. They knew what they ought to think of the business in hand. It was evident that the king sought the ruin of Prætextatus, and wished to make them his instruments in effecting his purpose. They would have refused their cooperation if they dared; but they knew how dangerous it would be to do so.

While they were in this mood, they were surprised by the abrupt entrance of Aetius, the Archdeacon of Paris. Entering with equal suddenness on the thorny subject which they were delicately shunning in their conversation among themselves – “ Hearken, 0 priests of the Lord!" he cried; "the present occasion is one of infinite moment for you. According as you shall now act, you will either cover yourselves with the renown of a good name, or you will forfeit, in the face of all men, the character of faithful ministers of God, if you betray a brother to destruction,” But the spirit of timid reserve still kept the bishops silent, and this generous appeal met no response.

The indignation of one among them was, however, roused by their pusillanimous silence. Gregory of Tours, finding that no one of more age or weight than himself spoke, came forward and said, " Holy priests of God, and you particularly, who are thought to enjoy a larger share of the king's intimacy, hearken to me.

Do you now give the king godly counsel, and such as is fitting a priest should give; lest, now, this minister of God perish, by reason of the king's displeasure, for which God shalỊ assuredly punish the king, and his realm. Remember, I

pray you, what saith the prophet, . If the watchman see a man's iniquity, and tell him it not, behold he is guilty of the death of him that dieth.'" (Ezek. xxxiii. 6.) And he reminded them of the cases of Chlodomir, and the Emperor Maximus, whose fate was considered a providential judgment on acts of violence they had committed against two Christian bishops. The bishops made no answer, and one by one they crept away, one part to withdraw themselves from the storm which they saw now inevitable; another party, chiefly consisting of those of Frankish race, to make their court to the king, by betraying the events of their private conclave.

Chilperic was speedily informed that the man he had to fear was the bishop of Tours. A messenger was immediately despatched to summon “ his enemy" into his presence. Gregory


obeyed, and followed his conductor with a calm and composed mind. He found the king in the open air, sitting under a hut formed of the branches of trees, in the midst of the encampment of his warriors. Berthramn, the licentious bishop of Bordeaux, and Raghenemod, the bishop of Paris, who had been playing the honourable part of informer against their colleague, were at his side. Before them was a long table, on which was bread, and other meats, to be presented, according to the Frank custom, to each new visitor.

“ Thou, O bishop," said the king, in an angry tone, “ shouldest deal justice to all men; but, behold, I receive it not at thy hands. Thou art ready to become a partner in this man's evil deeds. And so I find fulfilled in thee that proverb, · The crow pecketh not out the crow's eye.

“If any one of us, o king,” answered Gregory, " transgresses the path of righteousness, he may be set right by thee; but if it is thou that transgressest, who shall set thee right? We may, indeed, tell thee thy fault, and if thou wilt thou hearest ; but if thou wilt not hear, who is there that shall pass sentence on thee, save He who has declared that He is Justice itself ?"

“ Nay, verily," said Chilperic, " of all the rest I obtain justice, but of thee only can I not. This will I do, therefore, that thy injustice may be made apparent before all the people. I will call together all the men of Tours, and I will say to them, Raise your voice now against Gregory the bishop, and cry aloud that he is unjust, and rendereth justice to no man. And when they shall cry, then will I too cry to them; I who am a king cannot have justice at his hands, how then should you, who are beneath me?"

This flimsy hypocrisy, by which he who was all-powerful sought to pass himself off as the victim of others' injustice, inspired Gregory with a contempt which he could not dissemble, and he replied—“If I am unjust, it is in nothing of which thou knowest. He to Whom the secrets of all hearts are open, alone knows my conscience. As for the clamours of the people which thou mayest excite, they are nought, for all men will know that they cry at thy bidding. But what need of more words ? thou hast the law and the canons; examine them diligently, and know if thou transgressest them that the judgment of God awaits thee.”

The king, with the craft with which a barbarian knows how to conceal his passion when he pleases, assumed an air of familiarity, and pointing to a mess of pottage which stood among

the viands on the board, said with an air of gentleness, “See a mess prepared specially for thee; nought hath gone into it save peas and some fowl.” This was intended to flatter the bishop's


vanity, as though it was matter of notoriety that he abstained from more solid food. But Gregory was not the dupe of this stratagem, and bowing, in token of refusal, he answered,

My meat ought to be to do the will of God, and not to take delight in delicate meats. Thou who chargest others with injustice, begin by promising that thou too wilt abide by the law and the canons, and we may then credit that it is justice that thou seekest.” Unwilling to break openly with the Bishop of Tours, whose great popularity at Tours, and indeed all over France, made him a person of much consideration, Chilperic lifted his hands, and calling the Almighty to witness, swore that he would not in anything trespass against the law and the canons. Then Gregory advanced to the table, and took a morsel of bread, and drank some wine, a ceremony of hospitality which could not be omitted without giving great offence. After this he retired to his lodging in the Church of St. Julian.

In the course of that night, after they had chanted nocturns, the bishop was roused by a loud and continued knocking at the door of the house. Sending down a servant to ascertain the cause, he was told that messengers from Queen Fredegonde desired to see him. Being admitted to his presence they saluted him in that queen's name, and told him that they were sent to pray him not to show himself obstinately bent on thwarting her wish in the matter now before the council. If he would declare against Prætextatus, and nothing more was needed to ensure his fall, they were authorized to promise him two hundred pounds of silver. With his habitual calmness and self-command, Gregory replied that he had but one voice amongst many, and that even if he were to give way, it would be far from deciding the matter. The messengers rejoined that it was all that was needed, for that they had already gained the votes of all the rest. Without changing his tone the bishop replied, " If the queen would give me a thousand pounds in gold and silver, it would be impossible for me to do anything but what the Lord commands me. All that I can promise is, to join the other bishops in all that they shall decide in conformity with the canon law.” The messengers misunderstood these words, either from their ignorance of what was meant by the canon law, or from supposing that by “the Lord” (Dominus) the bishop intended the king, who was often so styled in ordinary language. They accordingly withdrew to carry to the queen this favourable report of the bishop's intentions.

The members of the synod were betimes next morning in the church, and the king, recovered from his disappointment, was equally punctual. In order to reconcile his oath of the previous evening with the accomplishment of the vengeance meditated



against Prætextatus, he brought to bear all his literary and thcological knowledge. He had been diving into the collection of the canons, and had pitched upon one which enacted the heaviest punishment that could be inflicted on a clerk, that of deposition. All that was now needed was to bring a charge against the Bishop of Rouen, of such a nature as should fall within this penalty. This caused Chilperic no great embarrassment. When the judges and the accused had taken their places, the king, with the gravity of a doctor expounding ecclesiastical law, began: “ Å bishop, convicted of theft, shall be degraded from his episcopal functions. That is the Church canon.” The synod was amazed at this opening, and all the members demanded with one voice who it was who was charged with the crime of theft. “ It is he,” said the king, turning to Prætextatus," he himself; and have you not seen the matters of which he has robbed me ?”

The members of the council now remembered the bales and the bag of money which the king had pointed out to them at the opening of the sitting. Unexpected and barefaced as was this new attack, Prætextatus replied with patience, “You must, I think, recollect that when Queen Brunchilde took her departure from Rouen, I went to you and informed you that she had deposited in my custody five bales of considerable size and weight; and that since then her servants had frequently demanded that they should be given up to them, but that I had always refused, not wishing to do anything without your sanction. Your answer to me at the time was, 'Have nothing to do with these goods, but let them return to her to whom they belong, that they become not a cause of quarrel between me and my nephew.' Immediately on my return to Rouen, I put one of the packages into the hands of the servants, which was as much as they could convey away at one time. When they returned for another, I again consulted your magnificence, and you gave the same answer as before: Get rid of these goods, O bishop, lest they become an occasion of quarrel !' Thus they carried away two more of the bales, leaving two still with me. How, then, do you now charge me with theft and robbery, as to goods which I stole not, but which were put into my keeping ?”

If, then, it was a deposit intrusted to your keeping, retorted the king, giving without scruple another turn to his accusation,“ how came you to open one of the bales, and to abstract from it a piece of gold tissue, which you cut into small pieces, and distributed them among the men whom you had engaged in the plot against me ?”

“ These men of whom you speak had, as I have before said, made me presents; and having by me at the moment nothing else to offer them in return, I took that, and do not reproach


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