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PAGE 4

The Wooing Of Clotilde
by [?]

Yet he yielded to her wishes and let the child be baptized. Soon afterwards the infant died, and Clovis reproached her bitterly.

“Had he been dedicated to my gods he would still be alive,” he said. “He was baptized in the name of your God, and you see the end; he could not live.”

A second son was born, and was also baptized. He, too, fell sick.

“It will be with him as with his brother,” said Clovis. “You have had your will in baptizing him, and he is going to die. Is this the power of your Christ?”

But the child lived, and Clovis grew less incredulous of the God of his wife. In the year 496 war broke out between him and a German tribe. The Germans were successful, the Franks wavering, Clovis was anxious. Before hurrying to the front he had promised his wife–so says Fredegaire–to become a Christian if the victory were his. Others say that he made this promise at the suggestion of Aurelian, at a moment when the battle seemed lost. However that be, the tide of battle turned, the victory remained with the Franks, the Germans were defeated and their king slain.

Clotilde, fearing that he would forget his promise, sent secretly to St. Remy, bishop of Rheims, to come and use his influence with the king. He did so, and fervently besought Clovis to accept the Christian faith.

“I would willingly listen to you, holy father,” said Clovis, “but I fear that the people who follow me will not give up their gods. I am about to assemble them, and will repeat to them your words.”

He found them more ready than he deemed. The story of his promise and the victory that followed it had, doubtless, strongly influenced them. Before he could speak, most of those present cried out,–

“We abjure the mortal gods; we are ready to follow the immortal God whom Remy preaches.”

About three thousand of the Franks, however, refused to give up their old faith, and deserted Clovis, joining the Frankish King of Cambrai–who was before long to pay dearly for this addition to his ranks.

Christmas-day, 496, was fixed by Remy for the ceremony of baptism of the king and his followers, and on that day, with impressive ceremonies, Clovis the king and about three thousand of his warriors were made Christians, and the maker of the French nation was received into the fold of the Church. From that time forward Clovis won victory after victory over his surrounding enemies. He had been born leader of a tribe. He died king of a nation.

As regards Gundebaud, the result proved as Aridius predicted, whether or not through the personal influence of Clotilde upon her husband. Clovis broke his truce with Gondebaud, and entered Burgundy with an army. Gondebaud was met and defeated at Dijon, partly through the treachery of his brother, whom Clovis had won over. He fled to Avignon and shut himself up in that stronghold. Clovis pursued and besieged him. Gondebaud, filled with alarm, asked counsel of Aridius, who told him that he had brought this upon himself.

“I will save you, though,” he said. “I will feign to fly and go over to Clovis. Trust me to act so that he shall ruin neither you nor your land. But you must do what I ask.”

“I will do whatever you bid,” said Gondebaud.

Aridius thereupon sought Clovis, in the guise of a deserter from Gondebaud. But such was his intelligence, the charm of his conversation, the wisdom and good judgment of his counsel, that Clovis was greatly taken with him, and yielded to his advice.

“You gain nothing by ravaging the fields, cutting down the vines, and destroying the harvests of your adversary,” he said, “while he defies you in his stronghold. Rather send him deputies, and lay on him a tribute to be paid you every year. Thus the land will be preserved, and you be lord forever over him who owes you tribute. If he refuse, then do what pleases you.”

Clovis deemed the advice good, did as requested, and found Gondebaud more than willing to become his tributary vassal. And thus ended the contest between them, Burgundy becoming a tributary province of France.