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same region, who loved to compare himself with the hero of these pages, and was styled by his flatterers, "the Charlemagne of the nineteenth century.” This analogy between Napoleon and Charlemagne applies, not only to their activity and achievements as warriors, but to numerous other events of their history, and points in their character; their legislative efforts, their patronage of art and learning, their simplicity of dress, their personal superintendence of the minutest affairs of their vast domains, and the fate of their respective empires. We point out the parallel thus early that our readers may trace it for themselves as they proceed.
To narrate in detail the military achievements of Charlemagne, or even to glance at the history of each of his campaigns, would be a tedious and painful task, and could serve no useful purpose, except it were to excite our gratitude to God that he has “sent peace in our time,” that he has for so many ages averted the frightful scourge of military invasion from our own shores, and that even the horrors of war have been in some measure mitigated by the indirect influence of Christianity. Instead, therefore, of tracing out this career of bloodshed, we shall condense from a contemporary chronicler the narrative of one of the campaigns of that age, so as to illustrate the character and conduct of these wars, and shall then give a summary of the whole in a tabulated form. The narrative selected as being at once the
briefest and most characteristic, is that of a war between the Franks and Bretons, related by Ermoldus Nigellus. The events described occurred indeed four years after the death of Charlemagne, but are not the less fitted for our purpose.
The chronicler relates the accession of Louis, or Hluto-wigh, as he calls him, on the death of his father, and the summons to court, according to ancient custom, of the various chiefs stationed on the frontiers. Amongst those who came was Lande-Bert, whose post was on the Breton frontier. “Well Frank," said the king to him, “ tell me what is the nation near thee doing. Does it honour God and the holy church? Does it obey its king and leave my territories in peace ?" Then Lande-Bert bowed and replied, “ It is an accursed and malicious race; Christian only in name, for it has neither faith nor works. Their king's name is Murman, but he governs his people very badly. They often attack and cross our boundaries, but they never get home again without being the worse for it." “ Lande-Bert," answered the king, “ what you say sounds very strangely. I perceive that I must punish them; yet, before marching against them, I must send them a message, more especially as their chief has received the holy sacrament of baptism. Wither* shall go to him from me.” Wither, an abbot, very wise and prudent in business, mounts on horseback immediately, and rides, without
* Wit-Her, “wise and noble."
stopping, by the shortest ways, for he knew the country. Presently he reached Murman's house, which was situated between a thick forest and a river, and was very strongly fortified by hedges and ditches. "I salute you, Murman," said Wither.
" And I you," replied Murman, and, as usual, gave him a kiss. They then sat down at a good distance from one another, and Wither delivered his
message. The Breton listened, with his eyes fixed on the ground, whilst the adroit messenger endeavoured to prevail upon him to yield, using for that purpose promises, entreaties, and threats, when suddenly the wife of Murman, a haughty and insidious woman, entered. She had just left her bed, and, according to custom, brought the first kiss to her husband. Having embraced him, she turned contemptuously to the Frank and said, “King of the Bretons, who is this stranger ? What does he here?" Murman replied, “ His business concerns men ; woman, go in peace to thy own affairs ;” and he then requested that he might be allowed the night for reflection.
At break of day, Wither presented himself at the door of the chief's apartment to demand an answer. Murman, in a voice broken with sleep and wine, said, “Tell thy king that I do not inhabit his territory, and do not want his laws; I refuse to pay tribute, and I defy his power." “ Listen, Murman,” said the sage Wither; our ancestors always said thy race was fickle and inconstant, and now I see it was with reason, for the prattle of a foolish woman
has unsettled thy nıind. We shall come against thee with thousands of troops, and neither thy marshes, thy forests, nor thy ditches, will be able to protect thee."
Wither comes back in haste with his answer. The king instantly commands arms and ammunition to be prepared, and his troops to assemble in the town of Vannes. The Franks, the Suabians, the Saxons, the Thuringians, the Burgundians, all come thither, equipped for war, and the king himself arrives, after visiting the holy places in his road, and receiving presents to enrich his treasury.
The trumpet gives the signal, and the soldiers pass the frontier. They carry off the flocks, hunt the men through their forests and marshes, burn the houses, and spare nothing but the churches. The Bretons, defeated and dispersed, dare no longer meet them in the open plain, but perfidiously kill them from ambushes and in narrow and dangerous defiles. Meanwhile Murman determines himself to go and meet the invaders ; he takes a javelin in each hand, springs upon his horse, drains, according to the custom of his country, a goblet of wine, embraces his wife and children and servants, and departs, saying, “If I can meet that king I will pay him what he demands of me; I will pay him tribute with iron.” He and his troop soon fall in with
a party of Franks, headed by a man named Kosel, and, according to their national tactics, assail it in front, flank, and rear, hastily retreat, and then return to the
charge. Murman singles out Kosel, drives his horse against him, and cries out, "Frank, shall I make thee a present? Here is one I have kept for thee; take it and remember me.” Saying these words, he hurled his javelin against Kosel, who awaited it without fear, warded it off with his buckler, and replied, “ Breton, I have received thy present, take this in return." Then, spurring his horse, he strikes the temples of Murman, not with a light javelin, but with the heavy lance which the Franks carry. It pierces the chief's iron helmet, and, with a single blow, fells him to the earth. The Frank then jumps from his horse and cuts off the head of his enemy, but as he is doing so a companion of Murman's strikes him in the back, and he perishes in the moment of victory. The report soon spreads that the head of the Breton chief is brought into the camp, and the Franks flock to see it. They take it to Wither, that he may recognise it. He washes the blood from the face, combs the hair, and declares it to be that of Murman. The Bretons then submitted to the king, promised to attend to his commands, and he thereupon left them in peace.*
The difference between these Carlovingian campaigns and those of modern times becomes evident as we read this curious narrative. They were not contests between disciplined and organized masses, but a series of individual fights, of single combats, and forcibly remind
* Abridged from “ Dix Ans d'Etudes Historiques." Par M. Aug. Thierry.