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Gunnild her name; and he gave her To him who with love had asked for her,-- The noble Emperor Henry.

She remained not long with him, Because by felons, who had no reason To blame her calumniously, She was charged with shame: To the Emperor was she accused.

According to the custom of the empire, It behoved her to clear herself from shame By battle; and she takes much trouble To find one to be her champion: But finds no one, for very huge was The accuser,--as a giant.

But a dwarf, whom she had brought up, Undertook the fight with him.

At the first blow he hamstrung him; At the second he cut off his feet.

Mimecan was the dwarf's name, Who was so good a champion, As the history, which is written, Says of him. The lady was freed from blame, But the lady the emperor No more will have as her lord."

Finally, John Brompton, writing two hundred years after William of Malmesbury, repeats his account, and gives the names of _both_ the combatants,--"a youth called Mimicon, and a man of gigantic size, by name Roddyngar" (Raadengard = the Danish Ravengaard).

The story of William of Malmesbury and the rest, though it is sufficiently in accordance with the Danish and English ballads, is in direct opposition to the testimony of contemporary German chroniclers, who represent Queen Gunhild as living on the best terms with her husband, and instead of growing old in God's service in a nunnery, as dying of the plague in Italy two years after her marriage, and hardly twenty years of age. It is manifest, therefore, that the English chroniclers derived their accounts from ballads current at their day,[5]

which, as they were not founded on any real passages in the life of Gunhild, require us to look a little further for their origin.

[5] William of Malmesbury refers to ballads which were made on the splendid nuptial procession, by which Gunhild was conducted to the ship that was to bear her to her husband, as still sung about the streets in his time.

The empress Gunhild was called by the German chroniclers of her day by various names--as Cunihild, Chunihild, Chunelind, and _Cunigund_, which last name she is said to have assumed at her coronation. This change of Gunhild's name accounts for the unfounded scandals which were in circulation about her in her native land, scarcely a hundred years after her death. Cunigund, wife of Henry III., was in fact confounded with a contemporary German queen and empress, _St. Cunigund_, widow of the Emperor Henry II. This mistake, which has been made more than once, will be acknowledged to be a very natural one (especially for foreigners), when it is considered that both queens not only bore the same name, but were married each to an emperor of the same name (Henry), both of whom again were sons of Conrads.[6]

[6] An argument in confirmation of what is here said is afforded by a German annalist of the 14th century, who states, under the date 1038, that the empress Cunigund died the 3d of March, and was buried at Spires. Now St. Cunigund actually did die the 3d of March, and that day is dedicated to her in the Roman calendar, but the year was 1040, and she was buried at Bamberg, while Gunhild died in 1038 (July 18), and was buried in the monastery of Limburg, near Spires.

Referring now to the history of St. Cunigund, we read in the papal bull of Innocent III., by which she was canonized in the year 1200, that "she consecrated her virginity to the Lord, and preserved it intact,--so that when at one time by the instigation of the enemy of mankind a suspicion had been raised against her, she, to prove her innocence, walked with bare feet over burning ploughshares, and came off unscathed." Again, we read in a slightly more recent German chronicle, as follows: "The Devil, who hates all the righteous, and is ever seeking to bring them to shame, stirred up the Emperor against his wife, persuading him, through a certain duke, that in contempt of her husband she had committed adultery with another man. The empress offered to undergo an ordeal, and a great many bishops came to see it carried out.

Whereupon seven glowing ploughshares were laid on the ground, over which the empress was forced to walk in bare feet, to attest her innocence, ... which, when the king saw, he prostrated himself before her with all his nobles." Adalbert's Life of St. Henry (which is, at the latest, of the 12th century), agreeing in all essentials with these accounts, adds an important particular, explaining how it was that the Devil brought the queen's honor into question, namely, that he was seen by many to go in and out of her private chamber, in the likeness of a handsome young man.--St. Cunigund is said to have undergone the ordeal at Bamberg, in the year 1017. The story, however, is without foundation, not being mentioned by any contemporary writers, but first appearing in various legends, towards the year 1200.

But St. Cunigund is by no means the first German empress of whom the story under consideration is told. A writer contemporary with her, who has nothing to say about the miracle just recounted, relates something very similar of _another_ empress, one hundred and thirty years earlier, namely, of Richardis, wife of Charles III. The tale runs that this Charles, in the year 887, accused his queen of unlawful connection with a Bishop. Her Majesty offered to subject herself to the Judgment of God, either by duel or by the ordeal of burning ploughshares. It is not said that either test was applied, but only that the queen retired into a cloister which she had herself founded. This is the contemporary account. A century and a half later we are told that an ordeal by _water_ was actually undergone, which again is changed by later writers into an ordeal by _fire_,--the empress passing through the flames in a waxed garment, without receiving the least harm; in memory of which, a day was kept, five centuries after, in honor of St. Richardis, in the monastery to which she withdrew.

Several other similar cases might be mentioned, but it will suffice to refer to only one more, more ancient than any of those already cited.

Paulus Diaconus (who wrote about the year 800) relates that a Lombard queen, Gundiberg (of the 7th century), having been charged with infidelity, one of her servants asked permission of the king to fight in the lists for his mistress's honor, and conquered his antagonist in the presence of all the people. The same story is told, more in detail, by Aimoin, a somewhat more recent writer, of another Gundeberg, likewise of the 7th century. A Lombard nobleman makes insolent proposals to his queen, and meets with a most emphatic repulse. Upon this he goes to the king with a story that the queen has been three days conspiring to poison her husband, and put her accomplice in his place. The tale is believed, and the queen shut up in prison. The Frankish king, a relation of the injured woman, remonstrates on the injustice of condemnation without trial, and the king consents to submit the question to a duel.

The champion of innocence is victorious, and the real criminal is condignly punished. This form of the legend, the oldest of all that have been cited, approaches very near to the Danish and English ballads.

Our conclusion would therefore be, with Grundtvig, that the ballads of _Sir Aldingar_, _Ravengaard and Memering_, and the rest, are of common derivation with the legends of St. Cunigund, Gundeberg, &c., and that all these are offshoots of a story which, "beginning far back in the infancy of the Gothic race and their poetry, is continually turning up, now here and now there, without having a proper home in any definite time or assignable place." Many circumstances corroborative of this view might be added, but we must content ourselves with obviating a possible objection. An invariable feature in the story is the _judicium Dei_ by which the innocence of the accused wife is established, but there is much difference in the various forms of the legend as to the _kind_ of ordeal employed, and some minds may here find difficulty. A close observation, however, will show such a connection between the different accounts as to prove an original unity. Even the earlier legends of St.

Cunigund do not agree on this point; one makes her to have walked over burning ploughshares, another to have carried red-hot iron in her hands.

The Icelandic copy of the ballad has both of these: the queen "carries iron and walks on steel"; and there is also a "judgment by iron bands."

All these three tests are found in the Faroe ballad, which brings in Memering besides, and thus furnishes a transition to the Danish, which says nothing about the trial by fire, and has only the duel. Finally the English ballad completes the circle with the pile at which the queen was to be burned, in case she should not be able to prove her innocence by the duel.

At a time uncertain, but earlier than the 14th century, this legend was transplanted into the literature of Southern Europe. It is found in various Spanish chronicles, the earliest the _Historia de Cataluna_ of Bernardo Desclot, written about 1300; also in a Provencal and a French chronicle of the 17th century. In most of these the part of the queen's champion is assigned to the well-known Raimund Berengar, Count of Barcelona, who, in the year 1113, took Majorca from the Moors. The popularity of the story is further proved by the Spanish romance, _El Conde de Barcelona y la Emperatriz de Alemania_; the French romance _L'Histoire de Palanus, Comte de Lyon_; and a novel of Bandello, the 44th of the Second Part. This last was re-written and published in 1713, with slight changes, as an original tale, by M^{me} de Fontaines (_Histoire de la Comtesse de Savoie_), whence Voltaire borrowed materials for two of his tragedies, _Tancrede_ and _Artemire_.

By the circuitous route of Spain the story returns to England in a romance of the 15th century, _The Erle of Tolous_ (Ritson, _Metr. Rom._ iii. p. 93). Nearly related with this romance is the German story-book (derived from the French) on which Hans Sachs founded his tragedy, _Der Ritter Golmi mit der Herzogin auss Britanien_. Another German popular story-book, _Hirlanda_, exhibits a close resemblance to our ballad of _Sir Aldingar_.[7]

[7] In -- v. of his Introduction to _Ravengaard og Memering_, Grundtvig seeks to show that this ballad, though independent in its origin, was at one time, like many others, woven into the great South-Gothic epic of Diderik of Bern, and then, having divided the legend into two portions,--the Accusation and its Cause, the Vindication and its Mode,--he, in -- vi. vii. traces out with wonderful learning and penetration the extensive ramifications of the first part, taken by itself, through the romance of the Middle Ages. The whole essay is beyond praise.

"This old fabulous legend is given from the editor's folio MS., with conjectural emendations, and the insertion of some additional stanzas to supply and complete the story. It has been suggested to the editor that the author of the poem seems to have had in his eye the story of Gunhilda, who is sometimes called Eleanor (?), and was married to the emperor (here called king) Henry."--PERCY.

Our king he kept a false stewarde, Sir Aldingar they him call; A falser steward than he was one, Servde not in bower nor hall.

He wolde have layne by our comelye queene, 5 Her deere worshippe to betraye; Our queene she was a good woman, And evermore said him naye.

Sir Aldingar was wrothe in his mind, With her hee was never content, 10 Till traiterous meanes he colde devyse, In a fyer to have her brent.

There came a lazar to the kings gate, A lazar both blinde and lame; He tooke the lazar upon his backe, 15 Him on the queenes bed has layne.

"Lye still, lazar, wheras thou lyest, Looke thou goe not hence away; Ile make thee a whole man and a sound In two howers of the day." 20

Then went him forth Sir Aldingar, And hyed him to our king: "If I might have grace, as I have space, Sad tydings I could bring."

"Say on, say on, Sir Aldingar, 25 Saye on the soothe to mee."

"Our queene hath chosen a new, new love, And shee will have none of thee.

"If shee had chosen a right good knight, The lesse had beene her shame; 30 But she hath chose her a lazar man, A lazar both blinde and lame."

"If this be true, thou Aldingar, The tyding thou tellest to me, Then will I make thee a rich, rich knight, 35 Rich both of golde and fee.

"But if it be false, Sir Aldingar, As God nowe grant it bee!

Thy body, I sweare by the holye rood, Shall hang on the gallows tree." 40

He brought our king to the queenes chamber, And opend to him the dore: "A lodlye love," King Harry says, "For our queene," dame Elinore!

"If thou were a man, as thou art none, 45 Here on my sword thoust dye; But a payre of new gallowes shall be built, And there shalt thou hang on hye."

Forth then hyed our king, iwysse, And an angry man was hee, 50 And soone he found queene Elinore, That bride so bright of blee.

"Now God you save, our queene, madame, And Christ you save and see!

Here you have chosen a newe, newe love, 55 And you will have none of mee.

"If you had chosen a right good knight, The lesse had been your shame; But you have chose you a lazar man, A lazar both blinde and lame. 60

"Therfore a fyer there shall be built, And brent all shalt thou bee."-- "Now out, alacke!" said our comly queene, "Sir Aldingar's false to mee.

"Now out, alacke!" sayd our comlye queene, 65 "My heart with griefe will brast: I had thought swevens had never been true, I have proved them true at last.

"I dreamt in my sweven on Thursday eve, In my bed wheras I laye, 70 I dreamt a grype and a grimlie beast Had carryed my crowne awaye;

"My gorgett and my kirtle of golde, And all my faire head-geere; And he wold worrye me with his tush, 75 And to his nest y-beare:

"Saving there came a little gray hawke, A merlin him they call, Which untill the grounde did strike the grype, That dead he downe did fall. 80

"Giffe I were a man, as now I am none, A battell wold I prove, To fight with that traitor Aldingar: Att him I cast my glove.

"But seeing Ime able noe battell to make, 85 My liege, grant me a knight To fight with that traitor, Sir Aldingar, To maintaine me in my right."

"Now forty dayes I will give thee To seeke thee a knight therin: 90 If thou find not a knight in forty dayes, Thy bodye it must brenn."

Then shee sent east, and shee sent west, By north and south bedeene; But never a champion colde she find, 95 Wolde fight with that knight soe keene.

Now twenty dayes were spent and gone, Noe helpe there might be had; Many a teare shed our comelye queene, And aye her hart was sad. 100

Then came one of the queenes damselles, And knelt upon her knee: Cheare up, cheare up, my gracious dame, I trust yet helpe may be.

"And here I will make mine avowe, 105 And with the same me binde, That never will I return to thee, Till I some helpe may finde."

Then forth she rode on a faire palfraye, Oer hill and dale about; 110 But never a champion colde she finde, Wolde fighte with that knight so stout.

And nowe the daye drewe on apace, When our good queene must dye; All woe-begone was that fair damselle, 115 When she found no helpe was nye.

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