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Edition d'╔lite

Historical Tales

The Romance of Reality

By

CHARLES MORRIS

_Author of "Half-Hours with the Best American Authors," "Tales from the
Dramatists," etc._

IN FIFTEEN VOLUMES

Volume VI

French

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

PHILADELPHIA AND LONDON




_CONTENTS_


PAGE

THE HUNS AT ORLEANS 7

THE WOOING OF CLOTILDE 18

THE RIVAL QUEENS 29

ROLAND AT RONCESVALLES 40

CHARLEMAGNE AND THE AVARS 47

THE CROWNING OF CHARLEMAGNE 58

PETER THE HERMIT 69

THE COMMUNE OF LAON 81

HOW BIG FERR╔ FOUGHT FOR FRANCE 94

BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN 103

JOAN OF ARC, THE MAID OF ORLEANS 116

THE CAREER OF A KNIGHT-ERRANT 133

LOUIS THE POLITIC AND CHARLES THE BOLD 147

CHARLES THE BOLD AND THE SWISS 158

BAYARD, THE GOOD KNIGHT 166

EPISODES IN THE LIFE OF A TRAITOR 176

ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY 188

KING HENRY OF NAVARRE 197

THE MURDER OF A KING 210

RICHELIEU AND THE CONSPIRATORS 218

THE PARLIAMENT OF PARIS 233

A MARTYR TO HIS PROFESSION 251

THE MAN WITH THE IRON MASK 257

VOLTAIRE'S LAST VISIT TO PARIS 264

THE DIAMOND NECKLACE 271

THE FALL OF THE BASTILLE 281

THE STORY OF THE SAINTE AMPOULE 287

THE FLIGHT OF THE KING 298

THE END OF THE TERROR 306

THE BURNING OF MOSCOW 316

NAPOLEON'S RETURN FROM ELBA 327

THE PRUSSIAN WAR AND THE PARIS COMMUNE 337




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

FRENCH.

PAGE

FRIEDLAND _Frontispiece_.

CITY OF ORLEANS 8

THE VOW OF CLOVIS 25

THE CORONATION OF CHARLEMAGNE 63

A MARRIAGE FEAST IN BRITTANY 82

COLUMN OF JULY, PLACE DE LA BASTILLE 100

JOAN OF ARC AT ORLEANS 125

A DUEL OF KNIGHTS 133

LOUIS XI 147

THE DUKE OF GUISE AT THE FRENCH COURT 189

EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF HENRY IV 196

CHAMBER OF MARY D' MEDICI 212

CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE DAME, PARIS 242

VOLTAIRE'S LAST VISIT TO PARIS 265

MARIE ANTOINETTE AND HER CHILDREN 274

THE LAST VICTIMS OF THE REIGN OF TERROR 307

THE CITY OF MOSCOW 317

ARC DE TRIOMPHE AND CHAMPS ELYS╔ES, PARIS 327

NAPOLEON'S RETURN FROM ELBA 332

SCENE FROM THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 340




_THE HUNS AT ORLEANS._


On the edge of a grand plain, almost in the centre of France, rises a
rich and beautiful city, time-honored and famous, for it stood there
before France had begun and while Rome still spread its wide wings over
this whole region, and it has been the scene of some of the most notable
events in French history. The Gauls, one of whose cities it was, named
it Genabum. The Romans renamed it Aurelian, probably from their Emperor
Aurelian. Time and the evolution of the French language wore this name
down to Orleans, by which the city has for many centuries been known.

The broad Loire, the longest river of France, sweeps the foot of the
sloping plain on which the city stands, and bears its commerce to the
sea. Near by grows a magnificent forest, one of the largest in France,
covering no less than ninety-four thousand acres. Within the city
appears the lofty spires of a magnificent cathedral, while numerous
towers rise from a maze of buildings, giving the place, from a distance,
a highly attractive aspect. It is still surrounded by its mediŠval
walls, outside of which extend prosperous suburbs, while far and wide
beyond stretches the fertile plain.

Such is the Orleans of to-day. In the past it was the scene of two
striking and romantic events, one of them associated with the name of
Joan of Arc, the most interesting figure in French history; the other,
which we have now to tell, concerned with the terrible Attila and his
horde of devastating Huns, who had swept over Europe and threatened to
annihilate civilization. Orleans was the turning-point in the career of
victory of this all-conquering barbarian. From its walls he was driven
backward to defeat.

Out from the endless wilds of Scythia had poured a vast swarm of nomad
horsemen, ill-favored, fierce, ruthless, the scions of the desert and
seemingly sworn to make a desert of Europe. They were led by Attila, the
"Scourge of God," as he called himself, in the tracks of whose horse's
hoofs the grass could never grow again, as he proudly boasted.

Writers of the time picture to us this savage chieftain as a deformed
monster, short, ill-formed, with a large head, swarthy complexion,
small, deep-seated eyes, flat nose, a few hairs in place of a beard, and
with a habit of fiercely rolling his eyes, as if to inspire terror. He
had broad shoulders, a square, strong form, and was as powerful in body
as he was ready and alert in mind. The man had been born for a
conqueror, and Europe was his prey.

The Scythians adored the god of war, whom they worshipped under the
shape of an iron cimeter. It was through the aid of this superstition
that Attila raised himself to dominion over their savage and tameless
hordes. One of their shepherds, finding that a heifer was wounded in the
foot, followed the track of blood which the animal had made, and
discovered amid the long grass the point of an ancient sword. This he
dug from the earth in which it was buried and presented to Attila. The
artful chief claimed that it was a celestial gift, sent to him by the
god of war, and giving him a divine claim to the dominion of the earth.
Doubtless his sacred gift was consecrated with the Scythian rites,--a
lofty heap of fagots, three hundred yards in length and breadth, being
raised on a spacious plain, the sword of Mars placed erect on its
summit, and the rude altar consecrated by the blood of sheep, horses,
and probably of human captives. But Attila soon proved a better claim to
a divine commission by leading the hordes of the Huns to victory after
victory, until he threatened to subjugate, if not to depopulate, all
Europe. It was in pursuance of this conquering career that he was
brought, in the year 451, to the banks of the Rhine and the borders of
the future realm of France, then still known as Gaul, and held by the
feeble hand of the expiring empire of Rome.

The broad Rhine proved but a feeble obstacle to the innumerable cavalry
of the Huns. A bridge of boats was quickly built, and across the stream
they poured into the fair provinces of Gaul. Universal consternation
prevailed. Long peace had made the country rich, and had robbed its
people of their ancient valor. As the story goes, the degenerate Gauls
trusted for their defence to the prayers of the saints. St. Lupus saved
Troyes. The prayers of St. Genevieve turned the march of Attila aside
from Paris. Unluckily, most of the cities of the land held neither
saints nor soldiers, and the Huns made these their helpless prey. City
after city was taken and ruined. The fate of Metz will serve as an
example of the policy of the Huns. In this city, as we are told, priests
and infants alike were slain, and the flourishing city was so utterly
destroyed that only a chapel of St. Stephen was left to mark its site.
Its able-bodied inhabitants were probably reserved to be sold as slaves.

And now, in the prosecution of his ruinous march, Attila fixed his camp
before the walls of Orleans, a city which he designed to make the
central post of the dominion which he hoped to establish in Gaul. It was
to be his fortified centre of conquest. Upon it rested the fate of the
whole great province.

Orleans lay behind its walls trembling with dread, as the neigh of the
Hunnish horses sounded in its ears, as the standards of the Hunnish host
floated in the air. Yet it was not quite defenceless. Its walls had been
recently strengthened. Behind them lay a force of soldiers, or of armed
citizens, who repelled the first assaults of the foe.



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