Page 1244


misconceptions and chimerical projects. It is said that

his charities were so administered as to encourage idleness rather than to relieve the

needy. His mildness in the exercise of authority was understood as a license by the

vicious, and his religious sentiments were so

shallow as to be satisfied with forms and ceremonies.

After the divorce of Bertha, King Robert

married the Princess Constance of Provence. Very unlike his former queen was

the vain and insolent woman whom he now

took to the throne. She would have her

own way in the palace. She brought with

her to Paris a retinue of her gay and delightful friends from the South. Their

bright dresses flashed in the eyes of the se-

date courtiers with whom the king had surrounded himself. Their free and joyous

manners were horrifying to the pious Robert;

but to the queen all this was life. She filled

the palace with minstrels and troubadours.

She contrived exciting sports and amusements, and made the monk-shadowed hall

ring with the high glee of jocularity. The

despairing king sought refuge with his priests.

He assisted them in the church services.

He went on lonesome pilgrimages to the

shrines of the saints. He sought the companionship of filthy beggars, and was in the

habit of washing their feet as a token of his


The reign of Robert the Pious is noteworthy in French history as the time when

the first flush of the crusading fever was felt

in Western Europe. At the very time when

Queen Constance was holding high revel

with her troubadours in the palace at Paris,

and the disconsolate king was wandering here

and there in search of some balm for his

dyspeptic spirit, vague rumors floated westward and the east wind began to whisper

the story of outrage done by the sacrilegious

Saracens at the tomb of Christ. It was said

that the holy places of Jerusalem were defiled

by Infidel dogs, who spurned with the foot of

contempt the lowly Christians of Palestine.

It was the peculiarity of this premonitory

excitement, which, after smoldering for

nearly a century, was destined to wrap all

Europe in its flames, that the wrath of the

Western Christians was at first directed

against the Jews. It was said that these

people, still hating Christ and his followers, had instigated the outrages which had been

committed by the Mohammedans in Palestine. They had carried on a secret correspondence with the Infidels of the East, and

had suggested the extermination of the Asiatic

Christians. Pope Sylvester II., though now

in his old age, vehemently proclaimed the

duty of Europe to destroy the perfidious

Jews and proceed against the defilers of

holy Jerusalem. The time, however, had

not yet come when such an appeal could

fire the multitudes and fling them headlong

into Asia.

In the year 1002 Robert became embroiled with the princes of Burgundy. Duke

Henry of that province, uncle of the French

king, died and left no children; but after

his death his step-son Otho came in and

claimed the dukedom. King Robert also

laid claim to Burgundy as the nephew of

Duke Henry. But the king was not fitted,

either by disposition or experience, for a

conflict which must be decided by force of

arms. He accordingly called in his great

vassal, the Duke of Normandy, to aid him

against the Burgundian usurper. The latter

in the mean time raised an army, advanced

to meet his foe, and took possession of the

abbey of St. Germain, near the city of Auxerre.

The army of French and Normans came on

from the west, and were about to attack

the Burgundians at the abbey when a priest

came forth and warned the king not to

incur the anger of God by assaulting his

earthly sanctuary. At that moment a thick

mist rose up from the river. It was the

spirit of St. Germain himself come from

the deeps to reinforce the appeal of his


The pious King Robert could not stand

before such an apparition from the unseen

world. He and his army turned and fled.

The rebel Otho was left master of the situation. In 1003 the king made a second

abortive attempt to reduce the Burgundian

to submission. The campaign ended with

as little success as before, and Otho continued to rule the province for a period of

eleven years' At the end of that time he

made a voluntary submission to the king,

whose vassal he became, with the title of

Count of Burgundy.

King Robert held the throne of France

until the year 1031. His eldest son Hugh