1. The Last Days of Classic Gaul: 310–480
Gaul, in the fourth and fifth centuries, was materially the most prosperous, intellectually the most advanced, of Roman provinces in the West. The soil was generous, the crafts were skilled, the rivers and the seas bore a teeming trade. State-supported universities flourished at Narbonne, Aries, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyons, Marseille, Poitiers, and Trier; teachers and orators, poets and sages enjoyed a status and acclaim usually reserved for politicians and pugilists. With Ausonius and Sidonius, Gaul took over the literary leadership of Europe.
Decimus Magnus Ausonius was the poet and embodiment of this Gallic Silver Age. He was born at Bordeaux about 310, son of its leading physician. He received his education there, and later told the world, in generous hexameters, the virtues of his teachers, remembering their smiles and forgetting their blows.25 In the even tenor of his years he too became a professor at Bordeaux, taught “grammar” (i.e., literature) and “rhetoric” (i.e., oratory and philosophy) for a generation, and tutored the future Emperor Gratian. The sincere affection with which he writes of his parents, uncles, wife, children, and pupils suggests a home and a life like that of a nineteenth-century university town in the United States. He describes pleasantly the house and fields that he inherited from his father, and where he hopes to spend his declining years. He says to his wife, in the early years of their marriage: “Let us live always as we live now, and let us not abandon the names that we have given each other in our first love. … You and I must always remain young, and you shall always be beautiful to me. We must keep no count of the years.”26 Soon, however, they lost the first child that she gave him. Years later he commemorated it lovingly: “I will not leave you unwept, my firstborn child, called by my name. Just as you were practicing to change your babbling into the first words of childhood … we had to mourn your death. You lie on your great-grandfather’s bosom, sharing his grave.”27 His wife died early in their happy marriage, after giving him a daughter and a son. He was so deeply bound to her that he never married again; and in his old age he described with fresh grief the pain of his loss, and the somber silence of the house that had known the care of her hands and the cadence of her feet.
His poems pleased his time by their tender sentiment, their rural pictures, the purity of their Latin, the almost Virgilian smoothness of their verse. Paulinus, the future saint, compared his prose with Cicero’s, and Symmachus could not find in Virgil anything lovelier than Ausonius’ Mosella. The poet had grown fond of that river while with Gratian at Trier; he describes it as running through a very Eden of vineyards, orchards, villas, and prospering farms; for a time he makes us feel the verdure of its banks and the music of its flow; then, with all-embracing bathos, he indites a litany to the amiable fish to be found in the stream. This Whitmanesque passion for cataloguing relatives, teachers, pupils, fish is not redeemed by Whitman’s omnivorous feeling and lusty philosophy; Ausonius, after thirty years of grammar, could hardly burn with more than literary passions. His poems are rosaries of friendship, litanies of praise; but those of us who have not known such alluring uncles or seductive professors are rarely exalted by these doxologies.
When Valentinian I died (375), Gratian, now Emperor, called his old tutor to him, and showered him and his with political plums. In quick succession Ausonius was prefect of Illyricum, Italy, Africa, Gaul; finally, at sixty-nine, consul. At his urging, Gratian decreed state aid for education, for poets and physicians, and for the protection of ancient art. Through his influence Symmachus was made prefect of Rome, and Paulinus a provincial governor. Ausonius mourned when Paulinus became a saint; the Empire, threatened everywhere, needed such men. Ausonius too was a Christian, but not too seriously; his tastes, subjects, meters, and mythology were blithely pagan.
At seventy the old poet returned to Bordeaux, to live another twenty years. He was now a grandfather, and could match the filial poems of his youth with the grandparental fondness of age. “Be not afraid,” he counsels his grandson, “though the school resound with many a stroke, and the old master wears a scowling face; let no outcry, or sound of stripes, make you quake as the morning hours move on. That he brandishes the cane for a scepter, that he has a full outfit of birches … is but the outward show to cause idle fears. Your father and mother went through all this in their day, and have lived to soothe my peaceful and serene old age.”28 Fortunate Ausonius, to have lived and died before the barbarian flood!
Apollinaris Sidonius was to Gallic prose in the fifth century what Ausonius had been to Gallic poetry in the fourth. He burst upon the world at Lyons (432), where his father was prefect of Gaul. His grandfather had filled the same office, and his mother was a relative of that Avitus who would become emperor in 455, and whose daughter Sidonius would marry in 452. It would have been difficult to improve upon these arrangements. Papianilla brought him as dowry a luxurious villa near Clermont. His life for some years was a round of visits to and from his aristocratic friends. They were people of culture and refinement, with a flair for gambling and idleness;29 they lived in their country houses, and seldom soiled their hands with politics; they were quite incapable of protecting their luxurious ease against the invading Goths. They did not care for city life; already French and British wealth was preferring the country to the town. In these sprawling villas—some with 125 rooms—all comforts and elegances were gathered: mosaic floors, columned halls, landscape murals, sculptures in marble and bronze, great fireplaces and baths, gardens and tennis courts,30 and environing woods in which ladies and gentlemen might hunt with all the glamour of falconry. Nearly every villa had a good library, containing the classics of pagan antiquity and some respectable Christian texts.31 Several of Sidonius’ friends were book collectors; and doubtless there were in Gaul, as in Rome, rich men who valued good bindings above mere contents, and were satisfied with the culture they could get from the covers of their books.
Sidonius illustrates the better side of this genteel life—hospitality, courtesy, good cheer, moral decency, with a touch of chiseled poetry and melodious prose. When Avitus went to Rome to be emperor, Sidonius accompanied him, and was chosen to deliver the welcoming panegyric (456). He returned to Gaul a year later with Avitus deposed; but in 468 we find him in Rome again, holding the high office of prefect of the city amid the last convulsions of the state. Moving comfortably through the chaos, he described the high society of Gaul and Rome in letters modeled upon those of Pliny and Symmachus, and matching them in vanity and grace. Literature now had little to say, and said it with such care that nothing remained but form and charm. At their best there is in these letters that genial tolerance and sympathetic understanding of the educated gentleman which has adorned the literature of France since the days when it was not yet French. Sidonius brought into Gaul the Roman love for gracious causeries. From Cicero and Seneca through Pliny, Symmachus, Macrobius, and Sidonius to Montaigne, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Renan, Sainte-Beuve, and Anatole France is one line, almost, by bountiful avatars, one mind.
Lest we misrepresent Sidonius we must add that he was a good Christian and a brave bishop. In 469, unexpectedly and unwillingly, he found himself precipitated from lay status to the episcopacy of Clermont. A bishop in those days had to be a civil administrator as well as a spiritual guide; and men of experience and wealth like Ambrose and Sidonius had qualifications that proved more effective than theological erudition. Having little of such learning, Sidonius had few anathemas to bestow; instead, he gave his silver plate to the poor, and forgave sins with an alarming readiness. From one of his letters we perceive that the prayers of his flock were sometimes interrupted by refreshments.32 Reality broke into this pleasant life when Euric, King of the Visigoths, decided to annex Auvergne. Each summer, for four years, the Goths laid siege to Clermont, its capital. Sidonius fought them with diplomacy and prayer, but failed; when at last the city fell he was taken captive, and was imprisoned in a fortress near Carcassonne (475). Two years later he was released and restored to his see. How long he survived we do not know; but already at forty-five he wished to be “delivered from the pains and burdens of present life by a holy death.”33 He had lost faith in the Roman Empire, and now put all his hopes for civilization in the Roman Church. The Church forgave him his half-pagan poetry, and made him a saint.
2. The Franks: 240–511
With the death of Sidonius the night of barbarism closed down upon Gaul. We must not exaggerate that darkness. Men still retained economic skills, traded goods, minted coinage, composed poetry, and practiced art; and under Euric (466–84) and Alaric II (484–507) the Visigothic kingdom in southwestern Gaul was sufficiently orderly, civilized, and progressive to draw praise from Sidonius himself.34 In 506 Alaric II issued a Breviarium, or summary, of laws for his realm; it was a comparatively enlightened code, reducing to rule and reason the relations between the Romano-Gallic population and its conquerors. A like code was enacted (510) by the Burgundian kings who had peaceably established their people and power in southeastern Gaul. Until the revival of Roman law at Bologna in the eleventh century, Latin Europe would be governed by Gothic and Burgundian codes, and the kindred laws of the Franks.
History picks up the Franks in 240, when the Emperor Aurelian defeated them near Mainz. The Ripuarian Franks—“of the bank”—settled early in the fifth century on the west slopes of the Rhine; they captured Cologne (463), made it their capital, and extended their power in the Rhine valley from Aachen to Metz. Some Frank tribes remained on the east side of the river, and gave their name to Franconia. The Salic Franks may have taken their distinguishing name from the river Sala (now Ijssel) in the Netherlands. Thence they moved south and west, and about 356 occupied the region between the Meuse, the ocean, and the Somme. For the most part their spread was by peaceful migration, sometimes by Roman invitation to settle sparsely occupied lands; by these diverse ways northern Gaul had become half Frank by 430. They brought their Germanic language and pagan faith with them; so that during the fifth century Latin ceased to be the speech, and Christianity the religion, of the peoples along the lower Rhine.
The Salic Franks described themselves, in the prologue to their “Salic Law,” as “the glorious people, wise in council, noble in body, radiant in health, excelling in beauty, daring, quick, hardened … this is the people that shook the cruel yoke of the Romans from its neck.”35 They considered themselves not barbarians but self-liberated freemen; Frank meant free, enfranchised. They were tall and fair; knotted their long hair in a tuft on the head, and let it fall thence like a horse’s tail; wore mustaches but no beards; bound their tunics at the waist with leather belts covered with segments of enameled iron; from this belt hung sword and battle-ax, and articles of toilet like scissors and combs.36 The men, as well as the women, were fond of jewelry, and wore rings, armlets, and beads. Every able-bodied male was a warrior, taught from youth to run, leap, swim, and throw his lance or ax to its mark. Courage was the supreme virtue, for which murder, rapine, and rape might be readily forgiven. But history, by telescoping one dramatic event into the next, leaves a false impression of the Franks as merely warriors. Their conquests and battles were no more numerous, and far less extensive and destructive, than our own. Their laws show them engaged in agriculture and handicrafts, making northeastern Gaul a prosperous and usually peaceful rural society.
The Salic Law was formulated early in the sixth century, probably in the same generation that saw Justinian’s full development of Roman law. We are told that “four venerable chieftains” wrote it, and that it was examined and approved by three successive assemblies of the people.37 Trial was largely by “compurgation” and ordeal. A sufficient number of qualified witnesses attesting the good character of a defendant cleared him of any charge of which he was not evidently guilty. The number of witnesses required varied with the enormity of the-alleged crime: seventy-two could free a supposed murderer, but when the chastity of a queen of France was in question, three hundred nobles were needed to certify the paternity of her child.38 If the matter at issue still stood in doubt, the law of ordeal was invoked. The accused, bound hand and foot, might be flung into a river, to sink if innocent, to float if guilty (for the water, having been exorcised by religious ceremony, would reject a sinful person);39 or the accused would be made to walk barefoot through fire or over red-hot irons; or to hold a red-hot iron in his hand for a given time; or to plunge a bare arm into boiling water and pluck out an object from the bottom. Or accuser and accused would stand with arms outstretched in the form of a cross, until one or the other proclaimed his guilt by letting his arm fall with fatigue; or the accused would take the consecrated wafer of the Eucharist and, if guilty, would surely be struck down by God; or trial by combat would decide between two freemen when legal evidence still left a reasonable doubt. Some of these ordeals were old in history: the Avesta indicates that the ordeal of boiling water was used by the ancient Persians; the laws of Manu (before A.D. 100) mention Hindu ordeals by submersion; and ordeals by fire or hot irons appear in Sophocles’ Antigone.40 The Semites rejected ordeals as impious, the Romans ignored them as superstitious; the Germans developed them to the full; the Christian Church reluctantly accepted them, and surrounded them with religious ceremony and solemn oath.
Trial by combat was as old as ordeal. Saxo Grammaticus describes it as compulsory in Denmark in the first century A.D.; the laws of the Angles, Saxons, Franks, Burgundians, and Lombards indicate its general use among them; and St. Patrick found it in Ireland. When a Roman Christian complained to the Burgundian King Gundobad that such a trial would decide not guilt but skill, the King replied: “Is it not true that the issue of wars and combats is directed by the judgment of God, and that His Providence awards the victory to the just cause?”41 The conversion of the barbarians to Christianity merely changed the name of the deity whose judgment was invoked. We cannot judge or understand these customs unless we put ourselves in the place of men who took it for granted that God entered causally into every event, and would not connive at an unjust verdict. With such a dire test to face, accusers uncertain of their case or their evidence would think twice before bothering the courts with their complaints; and guilty defendants would shirk the ordeal, and offer compensation in its place.
For nearly every crime had its price: the accused or convicted man might usually absolve himself by paying a wergild or “man-payment”—one third to the government, two thirds to the victim or his family. The sum varied with the social rank of the victim, and an economical criminal had to take many facts into consideration. If a man immodestly stroked the hand of a woman he was to be fined fifteen denarii ($2.25);* if he so stroked her upper arm, he paid thirty-five denarii ($5.25); if he touched her unwilling bosom he paid forty-five denarii ($6.75).42 This was a tolerable tariff in comparison with other fines: 2500 denarii ($375) for the assault and robbery of a Frank by a Roman, 1400 for the assault and robbery of a Roman by a Frank, 8000 denarii for killing a Frank, 4000 for killing a Roman:43 so low had the mighty Roman fallen in the eyes of his conquerors. If, as not seldom happened, satisfactory compensation was not received by the victim or his relatives, they might take their own revenge; in this way vendettas might leave a trail of blood through many generations. Wergild and judicial combat were the best expedients that primitive Germans could devise to wean men from vengeance to law.
The most famous clause in the Salic Law read: “Of Salic land no portion of the inheritance shall go to a woman” (lix, 6); on this basis, in the fourteenth century, France would reject the claim of the English King Edward III to the French throne through his mother Isabelle; whereupon would follow the Hundred Years’ War. The clause applied only to realty, which was presumed to require for its protection the military power of a male. In general the Salic Law did no service to women. It exacted a double wergild for their murder,44 valuing them as the possible mothers of many men. But (like early Roman law) it kept women under the perpetual wardship of father, husband, or son; it made death the penalty for adultery by the wife, but asked no penalty of the adulterous male;45and it permitted divorce at the husband’s whim.46 Custom, if not law, allowed polygamy to the Frank kings.
The first Frank king known by name was the Chlodio who attacked Cologne in 431; Aëtius defeated him, but Chlodio succeeded in occupying Gaul as far west as the Somme, and making Tournai his capital. A possibly legendary successor, Merovech (“Son of the Sea”?), gave his name to the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Franks till 751. Merovech’s son Childeric seduced Basina, wife of a Thuringian king; she went to be his queen, saying she knew no man wiser, stronger, or handsomer. The child of their union was Clovis, who founded France and gave his name to eighteen French kings.*
Clovis inherited the Merovingian throne in 481, aged fifteen. His realm was then a mere corner of Gaul; other Frank tribes ruled the Rhineland, and the Visigothic and Burgundian kingdoms in southern Gaul had been made fully independent by the fall of Rome. Northwest Gaul, still nominally under Roman power, was left defenseless. Clovis invaded it, captured towns and dignitaries, accepted ransoms, sold spoils, bought troops, supplies, and arms, advanced to Soissons, and defeated a “Roman” army (486). During the next ten years he extended his conquests till they touched Brittany and the Loire. He won over the Gallic population by leaving them in possession of their lands, and the orthodox Christian clergy by respecting their creed and their wealth. In 493 he married a Christian, Clothilde, who soon converted him from paganism to Nicene Christianity. Remi, bishop and saint, baptized him at Reims before an audience of prelates and notables judiciously invited from all Gaul; and 3000 soldiers followed Clovis to the font. Perhaps Clovis, longing to reach the Mediterranean, thought France was worth a Mass. The orthodox population in Visigothic and Burgundian Gaul now looked askance at their Arian rulers, and became the secret or open allies of the young Frank king.
Alaric II saw the oncoming tide, and tried to turn it back with fair words. He invited Clovis to a conference; they met at Amboise, and pledged lasting friendship. But Alaric, returning to Toulouse, arrested some orthodox bishops for conspiring with the Franks. Clovis summoned his martial assembly and said: “I take it very hard that these Arians hold part of Gaul. Let us go with God’s help and conquer them.”47 Alaric defended himself as well as he could with a divided people; he was defeated at Vouillé, near Poitiers (507), and was slain by Clovis’ hand. “After Clovis had spent the winter in Bordeaux,” says Gregory of Tours, “and had taken all the treasures of Alaric from Toulouse, he went to besiege Angoulême. And the Lord gave him such grace that the walls fell down of their own accord”;48 here, so soon, is the characteristic note of the medieval chronicler. Sigebert, the old king of the Ripuarian Franks, had long been an ally of Clovis. To Sigebert’s son Clovis now suggested the advantages that would come from Sigebert’s death. The son killed his father; Clovis sent professions of friendship to the patricide, and agents to murder him; this having been attended to, Clovis marched to Cologne, and persuaded the Ripuarian chieftains to accept him as their king. “Every day,” says Gregory, “God caused his enemies to fall beneath his hand … because he walked with a right heart before the Lord, and did the things that were pleasing in His sight.”49
The conquered Arians were readily converted to the orthodox faith, and their clergy, by omitting an iota, were allowed to retain their clerical rank. Clovis, rich with captives, slaves, spoils, and benedictions, moved his capital to Paris. There, four years later, he died, old at forty-five. Queen Clothilde, having helped to make Gaul France, “came to Tours after the death of her husband, and served there in the church of St. Martin, and dwelt in the place with the greatest chastity and kindness all the days of her life.”50
3. The Merovingians: 511–614
Clovis, who had longed for sons, had too many at his death. To avoid a war of succession he divided his kingdom among them: Childebert received the region of Paris, Chlodomer that of Orléans, Chlotar that of Soissons, Theodoric that of Metz and Reims. With barbarian energy they continued the policy of unification by conquest. They took Thuringia in 530, Burgundy in 534, Provence in 536, Bavaria and Swabia in 555; and Chlotar I, outliving his brothers and inheriting their kingdoms, governed a Gaul vaster than any later France. Dying (561), he redivided Gaul into three parts: the Reims and Metz region, known as Austrasia (i.e., East), went to his son Sigebert; Burgundy to Gunthram; and to Chilperic the Soissons region, known as Neustria (i.e., Northwest).
From the day of Clovis’ marriage the history of France has been bisexual, mingling love and war. Sigebert sent costly presents to Athanagild, Visigothic king of Spain, and asked for his daughter Brunhilda; Athanagild, fearing the Franks even when they bore gifts, consented; and Brunhilda came to grace the halls of Metz and Reims (566). Chilperic was envious; all that he had was a simple wife, Audovera, and a rough concubine, Fredegunda. He asked Athanagild for Brunhilda’s sister; Galswintha came to Soissons, and Chilperic loved her, for she had brought great treasures. But she was older than her sister. Chilperic returned to the arms of Fredegunda; Galswintha proposed to go back to Spain; Chilperic had her strangled (567). Sigebert declared war upon Chilperic, and defeated him; but two slaves sent by Fredegunda assassinated Sigebert. Brunhilda was captured, escaped, crowned her young son Childebert II, and ruled ably in his name.
Chilperic is described to us as “the Nero and Herod of our time,” ruthless, murderous, lecherous, gluttonous, greedy for gold. Gregory of Tours, our sole authority for this portrait, partly explains it by making him also the Frederick II of his age. Chilperic, he tells us, scoffed at the idea of three persons in one God, and at the conception of God as like a man; held scandalous discussions with Jews; protested against the wealth of the Church and the political activity of the bishops; annulled wills made in favor of churches; sold bishoprics to the highest bidders; and tried to remove Gregory himself from the see of Tours.51 The poet Fortunatus described the same king as a synthesis of virtues, a just and genial ruler, a Cicero of eloquence; but Chilperic had rewarded Fortunatus’ verse.52
Chilperic was stabbed to death in 584, possibly by an agent of Brunhilda. He left an infant son, Chlotar II, in whose stead Fredegunda ruled Neustria with as much skill, perfidy, and cruelty as any man of the time. She sent a young cleric to kill Brunhilda; when he returned unsuccessful she had his hands and feet cut off; but these items too are from Gregory.53 Meanwhile the nobles of Austrasia, encouraged by Chlotar II, raised revolt after revolt against the imperious Brunhilda; she controlled them as well as she could by diplomacy tempered with assassination; finally they deposed her, aged eighty, tortured her for three days, tied her by hair, hand, and foot to the tail of a horse, and lashed the horse to flight (614). Chlotar II inherited all three kingdoms, and the Frank realm was again one.
From this red chronicle we may exaggerate the barbarism that darkened Gaul hardly a century after the urbane and polished Sidonius; men must find some substitute for elections. The unifying work of Clovis was undone by his descendants, as that of Charlemagne would be; but at least government continued, and not all Gauls could afford the polygamy and brutality of their kings. The apparent autocracy of the monarch was limited by the power of jealous nobles; he rewarded their services in administration and war with estates on which they were practically sovereign; and on these great demesnes began the feudalism that would fight the French monarchy for a thousand years. Serfdom grew, and slavery received a new lease of life from new wars. Industry passed from the towns to the manors; the towns shrank in size, and fell under the control of the feudal lords; commerce was still active, but hindered by unstable currencies, highway brigandage, and the rise of feudal tolls. Famine and pestilence fought successfully against the eager reproductiveness of men.
The Frank chieftains intermarried with what remained of the Gallo-Roman senatorial class, and generated the aristocracy of France. It was in these centuries a nobility of force, relishing war, scorning letters, proud of its long beards and silken robes, and almost as polygamous as any Moslem save Mohammed. Seldom has an upper class shown such contempt for morality. Conversion to Christianity had no effect upon them; Christianity seemed to them merely an expensive agency of rule and popular pacification; and in “the triumph of barbarism and religion” barbarism dominated for five centuries. Assassination, patricide, fratricide, torture, mutilation, treachery, adultery, and incest mitigated the boredom of rule. Chilperic, we are told, ordered every joint in Sigila the Goth to be burned with white-hot irons, and each limb to be torn from its socket.54 Charibert had as mistresses two sisters, one a nun; Dagobert (628–39) had three wives at once. Sexual excesses perhaps accounted for the exceptional sterility of the Merovingian kings: of Clovis’ four sons only Chlotar had issue; of Chlotar’s four sons only one had a child. The kings married at fifteen, and were exhausted at thirty; many of them died before the age of twenty-eight.55 By 614 the Merovingian house had spent its energy, and was ready to be replaced.
Amid this chaos education barely survived. By 600 literacy had become a luxury of the clergy. Science was almost extinct. Medicine remained, for we hear of court physicians; but among the people magic and prayer seemed better than drugs. Gregory, Bishop of Tours (538?–94), denounced as sinful the use of medicine instead of religion as a means of curing illness. In his own sickness he sent for a physician, but soon dismissed him as ineffectual; then he drank a glass of water containing dust from St. Martin’s tomb, and was completely cured.56 Gregory himself was the chief prose writer of his time. He knew personally several Merovingian kings, and occasionally served as their emissaries; his History of the Franks is a crude, disorderly, prejudiced, superstitious, and vivid firsthand account of the later Merovingian age. His Latin is corrupt, vigorous, direct; he apologizes for his bad grammar, and hopes that sins of grammar will not be punished on Judgment Day.57 He accepts miracles and prodigies with the trustful imagination of a child or the genial shrewdness of a bishop; “we shall mingle together in our tale the miraculous doings of the saints and the slaughters of the nations.”58 In 587, he assures us, snakes fell from the sky, and a village with all its buildings and inhabitants suddenly disappeared.59 He denounces everything in anyone guilty of unbelief or of injury to the Church; but he accepts without flinching the barbarities, treacheries, and immoralities of the Church’s faithful sons. His prejudices are frank, and can be easily discounted. The final impression is one of engaging simplicity.
After him the literature of Gaul becomes predominantly religious in content, barbarous in language and form—with one shining exception. Venantius Fortunatus (c. 530–610) was born in Italy and educated at Ravenna; at thirty-five he moved to Gaul, wrote lauds for its bishops and queens, and developed a platonic affection for Radegunda, wife of the first Chlotar. When she founded a convent Fortunatus became a priest, her chaplain, and finally bishop of Poitiers. He wrote pretty poems in honor of potentates and saints; twenty-nine to Gregory of Tours; a life of St. Martin in heroic verse; above all, some sonorous hymns, of which one, Pange lingua, inspired Thomas Aquinas to a similar theme and still higher performance, while another, Vexilia regis, became a lasting part of Catholic liturgy. He mingled feeling admirably with poetic skill; reading his fresh and genial lines we discover the existence of kindliness, sincerity, and the tenderest sentiment amid the royal brutalities of the Merovingian age.