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ever, did not fall, in spite of the great army that had been concentrated against it, and Charles then wheeled about, and returned to Aquitaine by the same way that he had come. His expedition had not proved a great success. The Saracen rebels were untrustworthy vassals, nor was the only other result of the campaign, the homage paid to Charles by the Spanish Basques and Navarrese, after he had stormed their town of Pampeluna, a more solid gain. Indeed, while the Frankish army was returning through the passes of the Pyrenees, the Basques fell upon the king's rearguard and waggon-train, in the famous defile of Roncesvalles. They captured much booty, and slew three great officials—Eggihard, the seneschal; Anselm, the count of the palace; and Hruotland (Roland), the warden of the Breton marches. The last named, of whom history knows nothing save his untimely fall at Roncesvalles, must have been a great man among the Franks, for within a short time after his death he had become the hero of many legends, which ultimately took shape in the famous Chanson de Roland, wherein the Breton Margrave appears as second only to Charles the Great among the hosts of Christendom (778).
The king had not long reached Aquitaine when the unwelcome news arrived that the Saxons had broken their oaths, and were once more up in arms. The exile Witikind had returned from Denmark, and called the turbulent youth of Saxony into the field. The greater number of the tribes had risen at his call, and a great Saxon host had stormed the new fort of Karlstadt, and "harried Hesse and the right bank of the Rhine, as far as Deutz and the mouth of the Moselle, burning churches, and slaying the peasantry of the country-side in revenge for the destruction of the Irminsul and the ravages of Charles in 775-76. On receiving this disturbing news the king made his way to Austrasia, sent out some troops to clear the Rhine-bank of the Saxon plunderers, but put off the general muster of the hosts of the Franks for a second conquest of Saxony till next year. In the summer of 779, Period I. z
however, he again started on his endless task, and marched through Westphalia with fire and sword. The Westphalians once more surrendered, after a defeat in the open field; the Engrians and Eastphalians yielded without fighting. In the next spring he returned again, held a great diet at the headwaters of the Lippe, and divided all Saxony into missionary Fourth con districts, each to be worked by a colony of monks quest of from Austrasia, the first step towards the partition Saxony. of the |and into ^e later bishoprics. This activity was rewarded by the conversion and baptism of many thousand pagans. Charles assisted in person on more than one occasion, when whole thousands of Saxons were simultaneously passed through the waters of the Ocker and the Elbe (780).
He then turned off towards Italy. For the first time his departure was not followed by an immediate outbreak of rebellion. The land remained quiet for more than two years (780-82), and when he next passed that way Charles thought it had advanced so far in the paths of peace that he divided it up into countships, after the model of the rest of his empire, and gave the charge of many of them to native Saxon chiefs, whom he honoured with the title of count; the rest were placed under officers of Frankish blood. He also published a code of laws for Saxony, in which the harshest punishments were denounced against all those who still clung to paganism. Such offences as sacrificing to Woden, burning instead of burying the dead, openly deriding church ceremonies, or robbing a church, were to be punished with instant death. Even those who obstinately refused baptism, or who after baptism refused to fast in Lent, and conform to church discipline, were threatened with capital punishment.
It was perhaps in consequence of the issue of this cruel code that the Saxons once more flew to arms in the autumn of 782. The rebel Witikind returned from Denmark to put himself at their head, and most of the northern tribes rose at his call. The news quickly brought Charles back into the country. Once more he came in overwhelming force, and many of the Saxons at once laid down their arms and submitted. But now for the first time the king showed signs of violent wrath against the unruly race. He could not pardon them for slaying priests, burning churches, and washing off in mockery their marks of baptism. He bade each tribe send to him in bonds those men who had been most prominent in casting off Christianity and fomenting the last rising. Four thousand five hundred captives were brought before him by their submissive countrymen in his camp at Massacre of Verden, on the Aller. Yielding to an impulse verden. of revenge, Charles had the whole of this great body of helpless prisoners beheaded. But, instead of cowing the Saxons, this cruel execution only roused them to wild wrath. Every man in the nation had lost some friend or relative in the great massacre, and even the tribes which had hitherto been most submissive flew to arms. There followed more than two years of unbroken fighting (783-85). Charles marched twice through the land, burning and slaughtering over the face of every Saxon gau, from the Ems to the Elbe, but the infuriated rebels closed in behind him after he had passed, and still held out in the woods and marshes. But the king only hardened his heart. He refused to quit the land, and wintered, with all his army, near Minden, in the heart of Saxony. At last, in the spring of 785, the perseverance of the rebels began to quail; it was impossible to drive off the inflexible king of the Franks, and they once more bethought them of submission. The rebel chief Witikind obtained a promise of his life if he would surrender and be baptized, and, when he, with his chosen warriors, submitted, the great rising Fifth con was at last at 'an end. Once more the counts quest of received charge of their old districts, the mis- Saxony'785sionaries returned to rebuild their ruined churches, and the surviving Saxons submitted in despair to the yoke of the Frankish warrior and the Frankish priest.
It was seven years before any further trouble arose in Saxony, though there were to be four more partial risings between 792 and 804. But none of these threatened seriously to shake Charles's domination; they were merely the last throes of Saxon despair, and cannot be compared to the great struggle of 783-85, in which the fate of Saxon independence and Saxon heathendom was really settled.
It was shortly after the final annexation of the Germans of the Elbe and Weser that Charles fully incorporated the Germans of the upper Danube with his empire. His vassal, Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, had been a somewhat unruly and disobedient subject. He was pardoned for more than one Annexation outburst of disloyalty, but when he was treated of Bavaria. with kindness and consideration he behaved no better than before. At last, in 788, he was deprived of his duchy, which was cut up into countships and put under Frankish governors, while he himself was sent to end his days in the Neustrian monastery of Jumieges.
THE LATER WARS AND CONQUESTS
Wide scope of the later conquests of Charles —Outlying provinces governed by his sons—Conquest of the Baltic Slavs—Subjection of Bohemia—Wars with the Avars and their final subjection—Hostilities with the Eastern Empire—Conquest of the Spanish March—Later revolts of the Saxons— Wars with the Danes.
King Charles had now come to the end of the first of the stages of his conquests, and the nearer enemies of the Frankish kingdom had been reduced to subjection. With comparatively little trouble the fertile Lombard plain had been won; after long toil and exertion the pathless woods and moors of Saxony had been taken within the boundary of his realm. But his schemes of conquest had a much wider scope than the annexation of Lombardy and Saxony. Before Christendom could be reckoned as safe from all foes without, there were more realms to be won, more marches to be made secure. By pushing his frontier up to the Elbe and the Julian Alps, Charles had taken up the ancient feuds of the Lombard and the Saxon with their eastern neighbours, the Avar and the Slav. Moreover, there was still the Spanish border to be made firm, for the expedition of 778 had resulted in no permanent gain; the unstable allegiance of Barcelona and Gerona was once more being paid to the Ommeyad king at Cordova, not to the lord of the Franks.