History of Charlemagne: Pseudo-Turpin's Chronicle
Llyfr Coch Hergest
When the apostles and disciples of the Lord were scattered to the four quarters of the world to preach, then the most glorious apostle James is said to have been the first to preach in Galice. And after he himself had been slain by cruel Herod, then other disciples came over the sea from Jerusalem to preach to the Galicians. And they, the Galicians, afterwards, as their sins merited," departed from their faith and returned to their unbelief until the time of Charlemagne the emperor of Rome, France, Tiester, and other nations.
When Charlemagne had, by his might and power, conquered the four quarters of the world and divers kingdoms, namely, England, France, Almaen, Baicar, Lotarius, Burgundy, Italy, Brittany, and countless other kingdoms and cities from sea to sea, and had, by Divine power, subdued them, delivered them from the hands of the Saracens, and brought them into subjection to the Christian rule, he, being weary through oppressive labour, resolved that he would henceforth rest and not go to battle. And thereupon he saw in the heaven a pathway of stars which started from the sea of Frisia and extended to Almaen and Italy, and between France and Angiw and went on straight by Gascony, Navarre, and Spain as far as Galice, where the body of the blessed James was lying unrecognised. And Charlemagne having seen this pathway many nights, he often thought what it might signify. And as his mind dwelt continually on this, one night a warrior appeared to him in his sleep. And fairer he was than heart could conceive or tongue express. And he spoke to him in this wise, "My son, what thinkest thou?" And Charles said, "Who art thou, Lord?" And he said, "I am James the apostle, the foster son of Christ, the son of Zebedee, the brother of John the evangelist, whom the Lord, of His ineffable grace, chose to preach to the people, whom cruel Herod slew with his sword, whose body lies unknown to all in Galice which the Saracens are shamefully oppressing. Wherefore I am surprised beyond measure why thou, who hast subdued so many countries, hast not set my country free from the power of the Saracens. Wherefore I tell thee that as God has made thee the mightiest of earthly kings, so has He also chosen thee before all, to prepare my way and to set my country free from the hands of the Saracens, that He may prepare for thee a crown of eternal reward. The pathway of stars which thou sawest in the heavens, signifes thy going from this place to Galice, with a great army, to fight the faithless paynims and to set free my way and my country and to visit my church and my tomb. After thee all people, from sea to sea, will make a pilgrimage to me and seek pardon for their sins, and declare the praise of God and His might and the wonders which He will perform. And from thy day until the end of the world they will come. And now, go thou thy way as quickly as thou canst, and I will be thy helper in all things. And for thy labour I will bring thee a crown in heaven. And to the last day thy name shall be praised."
In this wise, the blessed apostle appeared thrice to Charles. And having heard these things and relying on the apostolic promise, he gathered to him a great army and set out for Spain to fight the perfidious race.
The first city which he besieged was Pampilon, and for three months he surrounded it and failed to take it. For the walls surrounding it were very strong. And then Charles prayed the Lord—"Lord Jesus", said he, "for Thy faith came I to these countries to fight the faithless nation; for the glory of Thy name grant me this city. O blessed James, if indeed thou didst appear to me, grant me this city." And then, by the grace of God and the prayer of James, the walls fell from their foundation. And those of the Saracens who wished to be baptized Charles spared, and those who wished not he slew. And having heard these wonders related, the Saracens submitted to Charles wherever he went; they sent tributes to meet him and surrendered to him their cities. And all their land became tributary to him. The Saracens were surprised when they saw the French people so fair and so finely clad. They threw down their arms and received them with honour.
And having visited the tomb of the Apostle James, he went as far as the sea and fixed his lance in the shallows. And he rendered thanks to God and to James who had brought him so far. For he could not, before that time,
And the Galicians, to whom James and his disciples had preached and whom the faithless paynim people had converted, he regenerated, by the grace of baptism, through the hand of the Archbishop Turpin, namely, those of them who wished to be baptized and who had never been baptized. But those of them, however, who wished not to be baptized, he killed or they were put in bondage to the Christians. He then traversed the whole of Spain from sea to sea.
Charles then took all the fortified towns and cities of Spain, some without fighting and others with very much fighting and skill. But Lukyrn itself, the strongest city in the verdant vale, he could not take. At last he surrounded and besieged it for the space of four months. And prayer having been made to God and James, its walls fell. And from that day until now it is uninhabited. For it was covered by water in which are found black fish.
Certain of the other cities, other kings of France and kings of Almaen before Charles conquered, and they had afterwards gone back to the law of the Saracens, until his coming. And also after his death, many kings and princes of France fought against the Saracens in Spain: Clodoveus, the first Christian king of France, Lotarius, Dagobertus, Pipinus, Carolus Martellus, who in part conquered Spain and in part left it to Charlemagne. He, however, in his days conquered the whole of Spain. And these are the cities which after he had conquered with oppressive toil, he cursed, and are therefore to this day without any one dwelling therein — Lucerna, Ventosa, Capara, Adama.
Every idol and image which he then found in Spain he utterly destroyed, except the idol which was in the land of Aladalus. Its name was Mahumet. The Saracens say that he, while yet alive, made that image in his own name, and by magic art, drove into it a legion of devils and sealed them in it. And so strong is that idol that no one could ever break it. When a Christian approaches it, he is put in peril, and when a Saracen draws near to pray, he finds health. And if, perchance, a bird alights on it, it dies.
On the shore of the sea is an old hollow stone, finely carved, of Saracene workmanship, set on the ground. It was wide and four-sided below, and narrower and narrower above as high as the flight of a crow in the air. And on that stone is that image made of the finest brass, in the fashion of a man standing on his feet, with his face towards the south, and in his right hand a huge key. And that key, so the Saracens say, will fall out of his hand the year in which a king is born in France, who will subdue, in his time, the whole of Spain to the laws of Christ. And immediately when they see the key fall from his hand, they will leave their treasures, and flee out of the country.
Of the gold and treasures which the kings of Spain gave Charles, he enlarged the Church of the Apostle James, and for this purpose he abode there for three years. And he appointed bishops and canons in it, according to the rule of Isidore, Bishop and Confessor, and he embellished it with bells and books and with all other similar furniture as was necessary.
Of the residue of the treasures of gold and silver which he had when he returned from Spain, he spent it all in building other churches, namely, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Aix-la-Chapelle, and also the Church of James there; the Church of James at Bitern; the Church of James at Toulouse, and that which is in Gascony, between the city of Aix and St. John of Sordua, on the road of Santiago; and the Church of James in Paris, between the Seine and Mount Martures. And countless monasteries did Charles build throughout the world.
And when Charles had returned to France, a paynim king of Africa, Aigolant by name, came with a very great army to Spain and attacked the Christian garrison which Charles had left to guard the cities and country. When Charles heard this, he set out a second time for Spain, with a great army, and with Milo as commander-in-chief.
And what an example God showed us all then concerning those who unjustly withhold the legacy of the dead and their alms. When Charles was encamped, with his army, in the city of Baion, a knight named Romaric fell sick, and having grown weak and received Communion, he was absolved by a priest. He commanded a friend of his to sell his horse and to give its price for his soul to the clerks and the poor. After he died, his friend sold the horse for a hundred shillings, and through lust of the money, he spent it on himself in food, drink, and clothes. And as Divine vengeance for evil deeds is wont to be swift, after thirty days the dead man appeared to him in his sleep and said to him:—"Inasmuch as I bequeath my goods to thee to be given for my soul and for my sins, be it known to thee that God has fully pardoned me all my sins. And inasmuch as thou didst unjustly retain my alms, thou didst retain me also for thirty days in the pains of hell. Be it known to thee that by to-morrow thou shalt be in the pains of hell from whence I came, and I shall be in Paradise." And having said these things, the dead man departed, and the living man woke up trembling. And the following morning, as he was telling all what he had heard, and the army were discussing the matter between them, behold, all of a sudden, a loud clamour was heard in the air above his head, like the howling of wolves and lions and the bellowing of cattle, and immediately he, alive and well, in that howling, was snatched from the midst of all, by the devils. Afterwards for four days, a quest was made for him by cavalry and infantry, over mountains and through valleys, but he was not found anywhere. Twelve days afterwards, as the army was marching across the wilds of Navarre and Alanar, they found his body, all torn to pieces, on the summit of a rock above the sea, three miles high,' and four days' journey from the city whence he was taken. There the devils had thrown his corpse, and his soul they had taken to hell. And wherefore let them who withhold the alms of the dead, know that they are eternally lost.
And after that, Charles and Milo and their armies began to seek Aigolant through Spain. And after careful pursuit, they found him in a country called Desauns, on the bank of a river called Cela, on meadows the widest and best, in which place, afterwards, at the behest and by the help of Charles, a very fine church was built to the two martyrs, Facund and Primitive, and in which their bodies rest. And he founded a monastery and a very strong town in that place.
And when the hosts of Charles had approached the place, Aigolant bade Charles to fight as he listed, whether twenty men against twenty, or forty against forty, or a hundred against a hundred, or a thousand against a thousand, or one against one, or two against two. Then Charles sent a hundred knights against Aigolant's hundred, and the hundred Saracens were killed. Then Aigolant sent a hundred against a hundred, and the Saracens were killed. Then Aigolant sent two hundred against two hundred, and the Saracens were killed. And then Aigolant sent two thousand against two thousand, and of these, some were killed and some fled. The third day, Aigolant went to cast lots secretly, whose would be the victory that day. And he commanded Charles to bring his whole army to the field' that day, if he wished. And this was agreed to on both sides.
And then, some of the Christians were preparing their arms, the night before the battle, and they fixed their lances straight up in the ground, in the meadow by the bank of the river. And the following morning they found them with branches grown on them, and having bark and roots, namely, the lances of those who were about to receive the palm of victory and martyrdom for the faith of Christ, in the first line of battle. They marvelled beyond measure at the Divine wonders . . . . and they cut them near the ground, and from the roots which they left in the ground there grew a great wood of many trees, which is still there. Many of them were ash and many of other trees, according to the nature of the lances. It was a wonderful thing and a very great joy, a great profit to souls, and great loss to bodies! That day, the two armies met in battle, and forty thousand Christians were killed. And Milo, the commander-in-chief, Roland's father, secured the palm of martyrdom among those whose lances flourished. And Charles' horse was killed. And then Charles with two Christians on foot, stood in the midst of the Saracens' battle, and he unsheathed Gaudios his sword and with it slaughtered many of the Saracens. The following morning, four men came to him from Italy to help him, having with them four thousand fighting men. And forthwith, when Aigolant saw them, he turned his back in flight, and Charles and his hosts returned to France.
And then Aigolant joined with many Saracen nations, namely, with sixteen kings and their armies. And he came to Gascony and took the city of Agenni. And thereupon he sent peacefully to Charles commanding him to come to him with a few knights, and promising him nine horses laden with jewels, gold, and silver, provided he would submit to his sovereignty. He said that because he wished to know him that he might kill him, if ever he met him in battle. And Charles being aware of that, came with two thousand mighty knights within four miles of the city, and there he left them in concealment with the exception of sixty knights. And with that number he came to a mountain near the city, from whence they could see it plainly. And there he left the others. And he put on him worthless garments, and leaving his lance behind and with his shield reversed on his back, as was the custom of messengers in the time of war, and with one knight, he came to the city. And forthwith some came out of the city to meet them and asked them what they sought. "We are the messengers of king Charlemagne", said they, "sent to your king, Aigolant." And they were brought to the city before Aigolant. "Charlemagne", said they, "sent us to thee. For he has come as thou didst command him with only sixty knights. And he wishes to pay thee homage and be a knight of thine, provided thou wilt give him what thou hast promised. And wherefore come thou to him with sixty knights of thine own peacefully to speak with him." And thereupon Aigolant donned his armour and bade them return to Charles and tell him to wait for him. Aigolant, however, did not think that he was Charles. And having known Aigolant, and having minutely examined the city in what way it would be easiest to attack it, and having seen the kings that were in it, he returned to his sixty knights, and with them he returned to the two thousand knights. And Aigolant with seven thousand knights pursued them with the intention of killing Charles. But they being aware of this, fled. After that, Charles returned to France. And having gathered together a very great army, he came to the city of Agenni. And he invested and besieged it for six months. On the seventh month, Charles put up perriers, mangonels, battering rams, and several other engines, and castles of wood. One night, Aigolant and the kings and the noblest men went out, by stealth, through loop-holes and lavatories, and, along the river Guaron which was by the city, they escaped from Charles. The following day Charles entered the city with great triumph. And thereupon he slew many of the Saracens. Others fled along the river. Forty thousand of the Saracens were, however, killed in the city of Agenni.
And then Aigolant came to Ysconnas. This city was subject to the Saracens, and he held it in possession. And Charles pursued him and bade him surrender the city. And he would not surrender it, but would come out and fight a pitched battle, on condition that the city be left in peace to the one who would conquer the other. And the night before the battle, some of the Christians fixed their lances ready in the ground, they being in battle array in the meadow between the castle and the city. And the following morning they found their lances with bark and branches grown on them, namely, the lances of those who were about to receive the palm of martyrdom for the faith of Christ, in that battle. And they rejoiced at so great a Divine wonder. They cut their lances from the ground, and were the first to seek battle. And they killed many of the Saracens. And finally, they received the crown of martyrdom. And they numbered four thousand, and then was Charlemagne's horse killed. And Charles being oppressed by the power of the paynims, invoked the aid of the Almighty" and recovered his strength. And he, on foot, and his hosts slew many of them with a mighty arm. And they not being able to bear the battle fled into the city. And Charles pursued them and surrounded the city, with the exception of the part near the river. And at the close of the night, Aigolant and his hosts fled through the river. And when he was informed of this, Charles pursued them and killed two of their kings and many of the paynims, about four thousand in number.
Then Aigolant fled through the gates of Sysar and came to Pampilon. And he sent to Charles commanding him to come and fight him there. And when Charles heard that, he returned to France, and, with the greatest care, gathered together the host of France, far and wide, as thoroughly as he could. And he set free all who were in France in bondage and their heirs after them, and made them for ever free, so that no Frenchman could from that day forward be in bondage. And he gathered all with him into Spain to fight the paynim people. What prisoners he found, he released, the poor he enriched, the naked he clothed, the malcontents he pacified, the disinherited he brought back to their inheritance, the esquires who possessed arms he honourably dubbed knights, those whom he had justly separated from himself, he, prompted by the love of God, brought back to his friendship, both friends and enemies, those afar off and those near him, them the king took with him to Spain and brought in his train on that expedition. I, Archbishop Turpin, by the authority of the Lord and by mine own blessing and absolution, set them free from sins. And then having gathered together one hundred and thirty-four thousand knights mighty in battle, without counting their esquires and foot soldiers that could not easily be numbered, they set out to Spain against Aigolant.
These are the names of the nobles who went there with him. I Turpin, Archbishop of Rhiems, absolved the people who had been worthily instructed, of their sins, and exhorted them to fight vigorously and courageously. And often have I fought the Saracens with mine own hands and arms. Roland, the commander of the army, Earl of Cenoman, and Lord of Blaive, the nephew of Charlemagne, the son of Duke Milo of Angler by Bertha, the sister of Charlemagne, a man great in mind and great in honour, and with him four thousand armed knights. There was another Roland who is not mentioned here. Oliver, commander of the army, the bravest among knights, the son of Earl Reinyer, and with him three thousand armed knights. Estultus, the Earl of Limoegin, the son of Earl Odo, and with him three thousand armed knights. Arastagnus, the prince of Brittany, with seven thousand armed knights. Engeler, the Duke of Angyw, with four thousand armed knights. These were all cunning and skilled in all kinds of arms, and especially in bows and arrows. And that Earldom of Engeler, after their lord and prince and their citizens had been slain in the Vale of Briars, was for a long time a waste, and never since has that Earldom had citizens. Gaifer, King of Burdegal, with three thousand men at arms. Gandebald, King of Frigia, with seven thousand men warriors. Ernald of Belland, with two thousand warriors. Naaman, Duke of Baian, with ten thousand warriors. Lambert, Duke of Bituren, with two thousand warriors. Samson, Duke of Burgundy, with ten thousand warriors. Constans, Duke of Rome, with twenty thousand warriors. Garin, Duke of Lotarius, with four thousand. The number of Charlemagne's host from his own proper land was forty thousand knights. His foot soldiers could not be numbered. The afore-mentioned armies were composed of men of renown, the mightiest battle-loving warriors in all the world, the most powerful among the powerful, the beloved of Christ, who upheld the Christian faith in the world. For as our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples sought the world for the Christians, so Charlemagne, King of France and Emperor of Rome, and those nobles who were with him, sought Spain to the glory of God's name. And then all the hosts were gathered together on the borders of Burdegal, and they covered that country in its length and its breadth, namely, the space of two days' journey. For twelve miles in all directions was their tumult heard. And thereupon Ernald of Belland passed first through the gates of Sysar and came to Pampilon, And after him, Earl Estult, with his host. Then came King Arastagnus and then Duke Engeler and their hosts. After them came King Gandebald and his hosts. Then Constans and Oezer with their hosts. And in the rear came Charlemagne and Roland with their hosts. And they occupied the whole land, from the river Rime to a mountain which is three miles distance from the city on the road to Santiago. They were eight days in passing the gates. And Charlemagne sent to Aigolant commanding him to surrender the city in which he had his seat, or would he come out to fight. And Aigolant, seeing that he could not hold the city against him, chose rather to fight a pitched battle than to be besieged ignominiously in his city. And he then asked Charlemagne to give him time to bring his army out of the city, and to grant him his troth that he might speak with him. For he desired to see Charlemagne.
A truce having been made between them, Aigolant came out of the city with his army. And he left his army, and with 60 of his nobles came before Charlemagne, who had left his army near the city. And the two armies were set in a plain close by, which was six miles in length and breadth, to wait their fortune. And then Charlemagne said—"Art thou Aigolant who hast treacherously taken possession of my land, the country of Spain and Gascony, which by Divine aid, I won, and brought into submission to Christian laws, and whose kings I brought under my rule? And when I returned to France, thou didst kill the Christians of God, and thou didst destroy my cities and my castles and all the land, with fire and sword, of which now I greatly complain." And when Aigolant heard Charles speak the Arabic tongue, he was pleased, and he rejoiced that he spake the same language as himself. Charles had learned the Saracen language at Twlws when once in his youth he was there in school. Then Aigolant said to him—"Tell me, I pray thee, why dost thou invade a land which belongs not to thee by hereditary right, nor to thy father, nor thy grandfather, nor thy great-grandfather, and take it from our people?" "I will tell thee", said Charles, "because our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth, has chosen our people, the Christians, before all other people, and has made them rulers over all other people in the world. And as far as I could, I have converted thy people, the Saracens, to our laws." "It was most unworthy", said Aigolant, "to subject our people to your people, seeing that our law is better than yours. We have Mahumet who was a messenger of God, and whom He sent to us, and whose commandments we keep. And we have almighty gods, who at the behest of Mahumet, make known to us future things, whom we worship and by whom we live and reign." "O Aigolant", said Charles, "thou errest there. For it is we who keep the laws of God, and you the most vain precepts of a most vain man. We believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and worship Him. You, in your idolatry, believe in the devil and worship him. Our souls, by the faith we hold, go after death to Paradise and life everlasting Your souls proceed to hell. And wherefore it is evident that our law is better than yours. And in as much as you know not the Creator of all things and have no wish to know Him, you deserve no heritage, nor anything either in heaven or earth, but your portion and possession are with the devil and with your God Mahumet. Wherefore receive baptism, thou and thy people, and live, or come and fight against me, and die." "Be it far from me", said Aigolant "to receive baptism and to renounce Mahumet, mine Almighty God. But I will fight thee and thy people on this condition, that, if our law is preferable before God to yours, we conquer; if yours be the best, that you conquer. And be it a reproach to the last day to him who is conquered, and an everlasting glory and honour to him who conquers. And furthermore, if my people are conquered, I will receive baptism, if I escape alive." And this was agreed to on both sides. And forthwith twenty Christian knights were chosen against twenty Saracen knights, and they began to fight under that condition on the field of battle. And immediately the Saracens were killed. Then forty were sent against forty, and the Saracens were killed. Then a hundred were sent against a hundred, and the Christians fearing death went back in flight and were killed while fleeing. That signifies that he who fights for the faith of Christ ought not, for any kind of danger, to go back. As those who went back were killed, so shall the Christians die a shameful death in their sins, who [fighting against evil] go back to it. But if they fight bravely, they shall overcome their enemies, namely, the devils who provoke the sin. He shall not receive a crown, says the apostle, who does not fight lawfully. Then two hundred were sent against two hundred, and all the Saracens were killed. And then, a truce having been made on both sides, Aigolant came to Charles to acknowledge that the Christian law was better than that of the Saracens. Then he returned to his people and told the kings and princes that he wished to be baptized. And he bade all of them to be baptized. Some of them agreed to this. Others rejected this.
The following day, about terce, a truce having been given to all to come and to go, Aigolant came to Charlemagne with the intention of being baptized. And when he saw Charles sitting at the table dining, and about him many nobles clothed in divers robes and habits, some in knightly garb, others in the habit of black monks, and others in the habit of canons, he asked Charles the estate of each one of them. "Those", said Charles, "whom thou seest clad in robes of russet-brown are the bishops and priests of our law, who expound to us the precepts of our law and absolve us from our sins, and bestow upon us the blessing of our Lord. Those whom thou seest there habited in black are monks, and abbots also in their own proper colour, and they never cease to pray to the Divine Majesty continually on our behalf. Those whom thou seest there in white habits are the regular canons, who follow a saintly life, and pray for us, and who sing masses and matins and hours for us." And thereupon Aigolant saw thirteen poor men, naked and miserable, on the bare floor, without table or linen before them, and with little either to eat or drink. And he asked what kind of people those were. "They are the people of God", said Charles, "the messengers of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we feed daily, thirteen of them, according to our custom, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Twelve Apostles." And then Aigolant replied: "Those who are about thee are happy and have abundance of meat and drink and clothes, for they are thine. But they whom thou sayest are the kindred of thy God, and His messengers as thou affirmest—why do they perish of famine and nakedness and shame? Why are they cast away far from thee? and why treatest thou them shamefully? Much dishonour does he to God who serves His servants thus. Thy law which thou saidst to be good, thou shewest to be false." And he took his leave and returned to his own army offended. And he refused baptism, and bade Charlemagne come to fight the following day. And when Charlemagne understood that Aigolant had refused baptism because of the poor he saw, he finely clad all the poor he could find in the army, and fed them worthily with meat and drink.
NOTA.—And wherefore it is right to consider how great a reproach it is to a Christian who does not faithfully serve the poor of Christ. For Charlemagne lost the Saracen king because he so vilely treated the poor of Christ. What will be the lot of him at the day of judgment, who treated the poor here vilely? How will they hear the Voice of the Lord saying, "Depart from me ye accursed to everlasting fire. For I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat", and the other reproaches as well?" And be it known that the law of God, or the faith of a Christian, is of very little worth unless fulfilled in works. As the Scripture testifies which says, "As the body without the soul is dead, so faith by itself, without good works, is dead."
And then, on the following day, they came armed from both sides, in order to fight under the covenant of the two laws. And the army of Charlemagne numbered one hundred and thirty-four thousand knights, and the army of Aigolant one hundred thousand. The Christians formed four battalions, and the Saracens five, and the first of them which came to the battle field was forthwith vanquished. Then came the second battalion of the Saracens, and was forthwith vanquished. And as soon as the Saracens saw the loss of their men, their three battalions joined together, with Aigolant in their midst. And when the Christians saw that, they surrounded them on all sides. From one side came Arnald de Beliand with his army. From another side came Earl Estult with his army. From another side came king Arastagnus with his army. And the princes surrounded them and the commander of the hosts from another side. And they blew their ivory horns and roused them speedily, trusting in God." Arnald charged into their midst. And he killed and smote, on the right and on the left, those he met, until he came to Aigolant, who was in the midst of his army, and he killed him with his own sword, and then was a great lamentation and clamour made by all the Saracens. And the Christians fell upon them from all parts, and killed them all. Then was there a slaughter of the Saracens that none of them escaped except the king of Seville and Altumor, the king of Cordova. These, with a few of their troops, fled. So abundant was the blood there that the victors could swim in it up to their necks. And as many of the Saracens as they found in the city, they killed.
NOTA.—Behold, did not Charlemagne have the victory over Aigolant because they fought under the covenant of the Christian faith? And wherefore it is evident that the Christian faith is more excellent than all the laws of the whole world. And thou, O Christian, if thou wilt hold thy faith with thine heart, and, as much as thou canst, fulfill it with thy work, undoubtedly thou shalt be exalted above the angels, with Christ thy head, in that thou art a member of Him. If thou desirest to ascend, believe firmly, because all things are possible to him that believes. Then all the hosts, rejoicing at their great victory, gathered together, and they came and encamped at Argys, on the road to Santiago.
That night, unknown to Charlemagne, some of the Christians, coveting the spoil of the dead whom they had left lying where the battle had been, full of gold and silver, went back there. And as they were coming with their heavy loads, the king of Cordova, and with him very many Saracens who had fled from the battle and had been in hiding until then—fell upon them and killed them to a man. And there were about a thousand of them.
The following day tidings came to Charles that Furre, the king of Navarre, wished to fight him. And when Charlemagne came to Mount Garsim, that prince arranged to fight against him the following day. And the night before the battle Charles prayed God to shew him which of his men would fall in that battle. The next day, when the armies had put on their arms, lo, there was a red cross on the shoulders of the Christians who were about to be slain, above their coats of mail. And when Charles saw that, he kept that number back in his oratory lest they should be slain in the battle. O, how difficult it is to apprehend the judgments' of God, and to follow His ways. After the battle had been fought, and Furre and three thousand Saracens had been killed, Charlemagne found those whom he had shut within his oratory dead. And they were about one hundred and fifty in number. O most holy band of Christ's warriors! Though their enemies' sword did not kill them, nevertheless they missed not the palm of victory! Then Charles subdued Mount Garsim and the whole country of Navarre, and made them his own for Christianity.
And then tidings came to Charles that there was in Nager a giant, Ferracut by name, who was of the race of Goliath, and had come from the borders of Syria, whom Amilad, the King of Babylon, had sent, with twenty thousand of his people, to fight Charles. That man feared nor lance, nor sword, nor arrow, and he had the strength of forty strong men. Thereupon, Charles came to Nager. And when Ferracut knew of his coming he came out of the city offering to fight one against one. And then Charles sent to him Oger of Denmark. And when the giant saw him in the field, he approached him heedlessly and took him all armed under his right arm and carried him in the sight of all to his city, in the same way as if he were a gentle sheep. His height was twelve cubits, and his face a cubit broad. His nose was his own palm long. His arms and his thighs were four cubits long, and his fingers were three palms long. Then Reginald of the White Thorn was sent intending to fight him, and forthwith he took him into his castle to prison. Then Constans, King of Rome, and Earl Howel, and he took them, the one under his right arm and the other under his left arm, and carried them to his castle. Then were sent to him two at a time up to twenty, and those also he committed to his prison. And when Charlemagne saw that, and being amazed at it, both he and his retinue, he dared not thenceforth send anyone to him. However, Roland, the commander of the army, having with difficulty obtained leave of Charles, came to fight him. And Charles was concerned about him because he was so young. And being anxious about him, he prayed the Lord to strengthen his nephew with His own might. And when the giant saw Roland coming to him, he snatched him with his right hand, as he did the others, and pulled him off his horse, and put him between him and the saddle-bow on his own horse. And when he was bearing him towards his castle, Roland, having recovered his strength, and trusting in God, seized the giant by his throat and turned his neck back on his horse. And they both fell to the ground off the horse. And they both at once got up and each found his horse. And immediately Roland smote the giant with Durendard, his sword, with the intention of killing him, and he cut his horse in sunder with one blow. And when Ferracut had regained his feet, and was threatening Roland with his sword, Roland dealt him a blow on the arm which held the sword. And though the blow did no harm to the arm, nevertheless the sword fell out of his hand. And when Ferracut had lost his sword, he sought Roland with his fist, and missing him, hit his horse in the forehead that it fell down dead. They then fought on foot, both with fist and stones. At vesper-time, Ferracut requested truce of Roland until the morrow. And they promised that they would both come on the morrow and fight without horses and without lances. And having made this agreement of warfare, they went to their tents. On the morrow, at the dawn of day, they came to fight on foot as they had agreed. Ferracut, however, brought with him a sword. But it availed him nought. For Roland had brought with him a long twisted club, and with that he defended himself and belaboured the giant until late in the evening. But he did him no harm. And he threw also at him the big stones which were in the field all day long. But that also did him no harm. And the giant being tired and heavy with sleep, asked truce of Roland to sleep. And as Roland was a noble and magnanimous young man, he placed a stone under the giant's head that he might sleep more calmly. He could safely do that. For there was an understanding between them that a Christian who gave truce to a Saracen, or a Saracen who gave truce to a Christian, should observe it faithfully. And whosoever should break a truce without warning would be killed. And when the giant had slept enough, he woke up, and Roland was sitting near him. And Roland asked him, what kind of strength and what kind of hardness there was in his flesh, seeing that nor lance, nor sword, nor wood, nor stone could do it any harm. "I am not vulnerable", said the giant, "save in my navel" And when Roland heard that he turned from him as though he did not understand it. For the giant spoke in Spanish, and Roland knew that language well. And then the giant regarded Roland and inquired of him in this wise,—"What is thy name?" said he. "Roland", replied he "is my name." "Of what people art thou?" said he, "seeing thou dost so mightily fight against me. Never before have I met thine equal in prowess." "I am of the French people", replied Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne." "Of what law", said Ferracut, "are the Franks?" "By the grace of God", replied Roland, "we are of the Christian law, and to the sovereignty of Christ we submit, and for His law, as far as we can, we strive." And when the paynim heard the name of Christ, he asked him,—"Who is the Christ in whom thou believest?" "The Son of God", replied Roland, "who was born of the Virgin, who suffered on the cross and was buried in a grave, and the third day He rose from the dead and returned to the right hand of God." "We believe", said the giant, "that the Creator of heaven and earth is one God, and that He had neither son nor father, that is to say, that as He is begotten of none so has He begotten none. And wherefore He is one God and not three." "Thou sayest truly", said Roland, "that He is one God. But when thou sayest that He is not three, thou haltest in thy faith. If thou dost believe in the Father, believe also in His Son and in the Holy Ghost. For He is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—one God, three persons." "If", said Ferracut, "thou sayest that the Father is God, and the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, they are three Gods, which is not true, and not one God." "Not so", said Roland, "but I maintain that He is one God and three, both one and three The three persons are co-eternal and co-equal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. In the persons there are properties, and in the divinity there is unity, and in power there is similarity. One God in Trinity do the angels in heaven adore. And Abraham saw three and he worshipped one." "Shew me this", said the giant, "how are the three one?" "I will shew", said Roland, "by earthly things.' As there are three things in the harp when played, namely, art, strings, and hand, and yet it is but one harp, so there are three persons in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and yet He is but one God. And as there are three things in the almond, namely, the outward shell, the rind, and the kernel, and yet the almond is but one, in like manner there are three persons in one God. There are three things in the sun. It is white, bright, and hot. And yet it is but one sun. There are three things in the wheel of a cart, namely, nave, spokes, and tire. And yet it is but one wheel. There are in thyself three things, body, members, and soul. And yet thou art but one man. In like manner is God one and yet three." "I understand now", said Ferracut, "that God is one and is three. I know not, however, how the Father begat a Son, as thou sayest." "Dost thou believe that God created Adam?" said Roland. "I do believe", said the giant. "As Adam was born of none", said Roland, "and yet sons were born to him, so God the Father was born of none, and yet a Son was born to Him, Divine, according to His will, before all times, in an ineffable manner." "Thou sayest well", said the giant, "but I know not at all how He who was God became man." "He who made heaven and earth", said Roland, "and who made all things out of nothing, made His Son to be man, without human substance, but by His Holy Spirit." "There I am in difficulty", said the giant, "How was a Son born of a virgin, without human intervention, as thy sayest?" "God", said Roland, "who formed Adam without human intervention, made His own Son to be born of a virgin without human intervention. And as Adam was born of God the Father, without a mother, so was His own Son born of a mother, without having a human father. For such a birth became God." "I am very much amazed",' said the giant, "how He was born of a virgin, without human intervention." "He", said Roland, "who makes a weevil grow" in a bean, and a worm in a tree, and many fishes, and birds, and bees, and vipers, without male intervention, He also made the pure virgin give birth to God and man without human intervention. For He who easily made the first man, as I said, without any human intervention, could also easily cause His Son to be born of the Virgin, without human intervention." "It is possible", said the giant, "that He was born of the virgin, and yet if He was the Son of God, as thou sayest, He could in no way die. For God can never die." "Thou sayest well that He could be born of the Virgin", said Roland, "and in that He was born as a man, so He died as a man. For all who are born shall die. And since His birth is credible, credible is His death or His passion, and then His resurrection from the dead." "How can His resurrection be believed?" said the giant. "Because all who are born shall die", said Roland, "and He who died rose again the third day." And the giant, when he heard these words, was very much surprised, and he replied to him in this wise—"Roland", said he, "most vain are the words thou hast declared to me. It is impossible ever to raise a man from the dead." "Not the Son of God alone", said Roland, "rose alive from the dead, but all that ever were of men from the beginning of the world and that shall be unto its end, shall rise up before His throne to receive the recompense of the deeds done by each, whether they be evil or good. God", said Roland, "who makes the sapling grow on high, and makes the grain of corn, after it has decayed and died in the earth, grow, and fructify, and revive, He will also raise, at the last day, all the dead to life. Consider thou the nature of the lion. For the lion will, with his roaring, revive his whelps, the third day, if they are still-born. What wonder is it then that God the Father raised His own Son from the dead the third day. And it ought not to be a wonderful thing to thee that the Son of God rose from the dead, in that many dead rose before Him. For if Elias and Eliseus made the dead alive, it was easy for God the Father to raise Him. And He who raised many from the dead before His passion, easily rose Himself from the dead. And death could not withhold Him from whom death flees, and at whose voice the multitude of the dead shall rise." "I see well what thou sayest", said the giant, "but I do not understand how He ascended into heaven." "He", said Roland, "who descended easily from heaven, ascended easily into heaven. He who arose through Himself, ascended easily into heaven. Take examples of many things. The lowest part of a mill-wheel now will be the highest part presently. A bird in the air will descend as far as he will ascend. And if thou descendest from an high elevation thou canst return back from whence thou didst descend. Yesterday the sun rose in the East and set in the West. To-day it arose from whence it came yesterday. So from heaven, whence the Son of God came, there He returned again." "Therefore", said the giant, "I will fight with thee on this condition, that, if thy faith be true, I be vanquished; and if false, thou be vanquished. And be it an everlasting reproach to the people of him who is vanquished, and to the victor be everlasting glory and honour." "Be it so," said Roland. And that condition was confirmed on both sides. And Roland forthwith attacked the paynim, and he aimed a blow at Roland with his sword. But Roland sprang to his left and received the sword on his club. And when Roland's club was broken, the giant attacked him, seized him, and immediately smote him down under him on the ground. Then Roland perceived that there was no way of escape for him. He began to implore the aid of the Son of the Virgin Mary. And thereupon he slid, little by little, from under him until he was above him. And he put his hand to his sword and stabbed him in the navel and fled from him. And with a very loud voice he called upon his God, in this wise — "Mahumet, Mahumet, my God, help me, for I am now dying." And at that cry the Saracens came and snatched" him to the castle. And Roland returned whole to his own people. And immediately they attacked the city and the Saracens who were carrying the giant's body. And having thus killed the giant, they took the city and the castle, and the men were released from their prison.
Shortly afterwards tidings came to the Emperor that Ebrahim, king of Cordova, and king of Seville and Altumor, who had formerly fled from Pampilon, were waiting in ambush with the intention of fighting with him. And they had with them the armies of seven cities. And Charlemagne decreed to go and fight against them. And when he came to Cordova with his host, the above named kings, with their hosts in arms, came three miles out of the city. And the army of the Saracens numbered about ten thousand, and there were about six thousand Christians. And then Charlemagne formed three battalions, the first battalion of the most approved knights, the second of infantry, and the third of knights. And the Saracens did likewise. and when the first battalion, at the command of Charlemagne, advanced towards the Saracens, there came in front of each of their knights a foot-soldier having a mask, bearded and horned, like unto devils, and having each a harp, upon which they played. And when the horses of the Christians heard those voices and saw their terrible masks, they were so terrified that their riders could not hold them back. And when the two other battalions of the Christians saw the strongest battalion in flight, they also fell back. And when Charles mw that, he was surprised beyond measure, until he knew the cause of it. And the Saracens rejoiced, and pursued them very slowly, until the Christians came to a mountain, which was about two miles from the city. And there the Christians with one accord rallied together to wait them for battle. And when they saw that, they went back a short distance. And there the Christians pitched their tents until the morrow. And when the morning came, and counsel had been taken, Charles commanded all who had horses to cover their heads with linen and cloth to screen their eyes lest they see those devilish masks, and to stop their ears lest they hear their infernal voices. A wonderful contrivance! Having protected the eyes and ears of their horses, forthwith they boldly charged them, caring nought for their treacherous cries. And from morn till noon they overcame the Saracens, and killed many of them. They did, not however, kill all. And the Saracens crowded together, and in their midst was a waggon drawn by eight oxen. And on the waggon was their standard raised. And their custom was such that none of them took to flight as long as they saw the standard up. And when Charles knew that, he, being encompassed by Divine power, rushed among the arrayed forces and smote them on the right and on the left until he came to the waggon. And he then with his sword struck down the staff which held the standard, and brought down also the standard itself. And then the Saracens began to flee, dispersing here and there. And then the hosts on all sides raised a shout, and eight thousand of the Saracens were slain, and among them Ebrahim, king of Seville. Altumor, with two thousand men, made for the city. And on the morrow, he having been conquered, surrendered the city to the Emperor, on condition that he receive baptism, submit to Charlemagne, and hold the city under him.
Then Charlemagne divided the hundreds of Spain, its commots, its towns, and its cities, among those of his own men who wished to dwell there. And the whole of Spain he thus divided among his own men. But none of the Franks desired the land of Gralice because of its roughness. Henceforth, in those days no one could molest Charlemagne in Spain.
And then having dismissed the greatest part of his army and leaving them in Spain, Charles went to Santiago. And those he found dwelling there he made Christians, and those who had relapsed to the Saracen law he either killed or sent as exiles into France. And he then appointed bishops and priests. And he honoured and summoned a council in the city of Compostella, of princes and bishops. And then by the advice of the council, he ordained, to the honour of Santiago, that all prelates and Christian kings and princes of Spain and Galice, both present and future, should obey the bishop of Santiago. At Iria, he appointed no bishop, but that it should be under Compostella. And then, at the command of Charlemagne, I Turpin, the Archbishop, and having with me nine bishops, dedicated, with great solemnity, the church and altar of Santiago, on the Kalends of June. And the King put the whole of Spain and Galice in subjection to that Church. And he gave as its portion, four pence annually as tribute from every house in Spain and Galice, and granted to themselves freedom from all servitude. And that day it was resolved to call that Church an Apostolic See, in that the name of the Apostle James rested there; that the chapter meetings of the bishops of that country should be held in it; and that it should be the privilege of the bishop of that place to ordain the bishops of the country and its tings. And if Christianity or the Ten Commandments should fail, through the sins of the people, in any of the other cities, they should be restored under the direction of that bishop, and there also should they rightly be set straight. For as the Christian faith was established in the East at Ephesus, through the Apostle John, the brother of James, so was there established in the West, in Galice, a seat for the Christian faith, and an Apostolic See. And no doubt those are the two seats which the two apostles begged of Christ, that they should sit the one on His right and the other on His left, in His Kingdom. There are three supreme Apostolic Sees established in the world which are justly above all others, namely, Rome, Galice, and India. For as God gave the pre-eminence in His fellowship and His secrets to Peter, James, and John above the other apostles, as is evident from the scripture and the gospels, so God shewed them that pre-eminence in this world also, in the above three principal Sees. And rightly is Rome regarded as the most pre-eminent of the Apostolic Sees. For Peter, the prince of the apostles, consecrated it by his preaching, by his own blood, and by his burial. Compostella is justly the second See in pre-eminence, For, after the Apostle Peter, the Apostle James was the most pre-eminent among the apostles, most worthily pre-eminent, and the greatest in honour, age, and integrity. And in heaven he has the pre-eminence over them. He was the first to be martyred. He at another time confirmed it by his preaching, and consecrated it by the burial of his hallowed body. And he makes it famous by his miracles, and enriches it with unfailing gifts. The third See is that of India. For there the Apostle John preached his own gospel. And with the consent of the bishops whom he had himself appointed in the cities, and whom he calls angels in his book, he consecrated that church by his learning, by his miracles, and by his own burial. And if it should happen that questions pertaining either to the world or to the Church could not be decided in the other Sees throughout the world, because they were either intricate or doubtful, they should be discussed and decided lawfully in those three principal Sees. Therefore, Galice having been from the earliest times set free from the Saracens, by the power of God and of the blessed James, and by the aid of Charlemagne, continues faithfully in the Catholic faith unto this day.
Charlemagne was a man of fair complexion, graceful in person, and ruddy of face. His hair was auburn, and his visage gentle, and not unkind. His height was eight feet, after the measure of his own feet, which were very long. His loins were broad, and his waist was well proportioned. His arms and legs were stout and all his members strong. He was the wisest and cleverest in battle, the most valiant of knights. His face was a palm and a half long, and his beard a palm long, and his nose half a palm long. A foot was the width of his forehead. He had the eyes of a lion, sparkling like a carbuncle stone. Each eyebrow was half a palm long. He who regarded him when he was angry, was filled with fear and dismay. Eight palms long was the circumference of his girdle about him, without reckoning what was over and above. Very little bread did he eat, and a joint of mutton, or couple of fowls, or a goose, or a shoulder of pork, or a peacock, or a crane, or a whole hare. He was so strong that he could with one blow of a sword smite a knight, in full armour and his horse fully equipped, from the crown of his head to the ground. He could easily stretch four horse shoes at once between his hands. He could without any trouble raise level with his face an armed knight standing on his hand. He was most liberal in his gifts, most just in his laws, and most trustworthy in his words.
On the four principal feasts of the year he held at a court in Spain, and wore the crown of his kingdom on his head, and his sceptre in his hand, namely, on Christmas Day, Easter Day, Whit Sunday, and the feast of James the apostle. Before his throne, in accordance with imperial custom, a naked sword was continually held. Around his bed each night six score armed men were always placed to guard him. Forty of them took the first watch of the night, ten at his head, ten at his feet, ten on his right, and ten on his left, and in the right hand of each a naked sword, and in his left a wax taper burning. And in like manner did forty other armed knights during the second watch of the night, and the other forty armed knights likewise, during the third watch of the night, guarding him until the day and whilst the others were sleeping.
And if any one delights to hear of his great deeds, it is to us a great and heavy task to narrate them as Galafrus nobly does, and how afterwards Charlemagne, for love of that Galafrus, slew his enemy, namely, Bravant, the great and proud king of the Saracens; and then how he conquered divers kingdoms, towns, castles, and cities, and brought them into subjection as Christians, in the name of the Trinity; how he founded many churches and monasteries throughout the world; how he arranged many bodies and bones of the saints throughout the world and set them in gold and silver; how he obtained the Empire of Rome; how he went to Jerusalem; and how he brought with him from thence the cross of the Lord with which he enriched many churches, we can neither write nor narrate. However, it is the hand and pen that fail rather than his grand exploits. How, however, he returned from the battle of Roncesvalles to France; how the battle took place in the Vale of Briars; how an end was made of the knights in Spain; how the sun stood once for the space of three days, to avenge the Christians on the Saracens; how he made obsequies for his nobles; how he buried them; how a council was held at St. Denis when they returned; how he built his own court and the church of Lady Mary at Aix-la-Chapelle, and how Charlemagne died there, we will briefly narrate at the end of this book.
And this book Madoc ap Selyf translated from Latin into Welsh at the request and desire of Griffith ap Meredith ap Owen ap Griffith ap Rhys.
Madoc ap Selyf. The History of Charlemagne. A Translation of Ystorya de Carolo Magno, With a Historical and Critical Introduction. edited by Robert Williams. Y Cymmrodor vol. 20. London: The Honorable Society Of Cymmrodorion, 1907