Page 1191

1191 THE AGE OF CHARLEMAGNE-SUCCESSORS OF CHARLEMAGNE. 1191

countrymen, and lapsed into the more congenial pursuits of piracy.

Meanwhile, the Northmen gathered before

the walls of Parish Their fleet consisted of

seven hundred huge barks and obstructed

the Seine for the distance of two leagues.

The forces of Rolf and Siegfried numbered

fully thirty thousand men, and every one

was a weather-beaten warrior, hardened by

every species of exposure, and expert in

all the dangers of land and sea. But even

this wild and daring host was astonished

at the walls and towers of Paris. Everywhere

new fortifications had been reared, and

a defiant soldiery looked down from the

ramparts. Great towers of stone stood

here and there, and the solid walls of St.

Denis and St. Germain were seen in the

distance. Even the dauntless Siegfried forbore for a season to make an assault upon

the impregnable bulwarks of the city, but

rather sought to gain his end by parley and

negotiation.

The city of Paris was at this time held

and defended by Count Eudes, eldest son

of Robert the Strong, of Anjou. Of him

the Danes made the demand of a free passage through the city, and promised, if this

were granted, to refrain from all injury

and violence. But neither Eudes himself

nor the bishop Gozlin, by whom the negotiations were conducted, was silly enough

to be entrapped by the wiles of a pirate.

So the baffled Danes were obliged to give

over their stratagem and resort to open

force.

A siege ensued of thirteen month duration. Eight unsuccessful assaults were made

by the Danes. The old Abbe, a monk of St.

Germain des Pres, has left on record a poem,

recounting the progress and daring exploits

of the struggle. The leaders within the city

were Eudes and Gozlin. The latter died

during the siege, and Count Eudes, quitting

the dty, made his way to the Emperor

Charles, calling for reinforcements. On his return with three battalions of troops, he

was obliged to cut his way from the heights

of Montmartre through the Danes to the

gates of the city. The investment continued until the autumn of 886, when Charles

the Fat came with a large army to the succor

of the besieged. But it was a fatal succor

which he brought to Paris. On his arrival

he agreed to purchase with a heavy ransom

the retreat of the Northmen, who were

induced for the winter to retire into

Burgundy.

So pusillanimous was this conduct of the

king that a diet, convened in the following

year on the banks of the Rhine, passed a decree of deposition, and the Imperial dignity

was conferred upon Amulf, a natural son of

Carloman, brother of Louis III. At the

same time the title of king was conferred,

on Count Eudes, who had so bravely defended

Paris, and the monarch elect was presently

crowned by the archbishop of Sens. Another

claim to the crown of France was at the same

time advanced by Guy, duke of Spoleto, whose

alleged rights were founded on the fact that

he was descended from Charlemagne in the

female line. The duke hastened over from

Italy, and was proclaimed by the bishop of

Langres. But the accession of Eudes was

already a fact accomplished, and Guy returned to his own place as hastily as he had

come.

Meanwhile, Bozon, king of Provence, died

and was succeeded by Boso, duke of Aries.

At the same time, Count Rodolph was given

the title of king in Transjuran Burgundy, and

was crowned at St. Maurice. All the while

the young Prince Charles, son of Louis the

Stammerer, and legitimate heir of the Carlovingian House, was overlooked and well-nigh

forgotten. He was, as yet, only a child, and

the ambitious dukes and counts, themselves

eager to seize some petty crown, were little

disposed on the score of loyalty to hunt up

and honor the feeble son of the stock of

Charlemagne.

Having retired from his unsuccessful siege

of Paris, the chieftain Rollo renewed in Western France his career of cruising and pillaging. It appears, however, that his contact

with civilization began to react upon his faculties; for he was a man of genius. Before

entering upon his French conquests he had

already made an expedition into England,