HOW IT FARED WITH THE BRETHREN
T Pentecost King Charles held a court at Paris to which with others came Duke Aymon and his sons. Said the
King to Aymon, "You and your sons are very dear to me. Therefore I am minded to make Reynaud my steward." "I
thank you," answered the Duke; "yet this I will say that you did a grievous wrong in that you suffered my
brother Benes to be slain, when he had a safe-conduct under your hand. Nevertheless I forgive you." "Remember,"
said the King, "that Benes slew my son Lothair. Let us set one deed against the other, and speak of them no
more." "So be it," answered the Duke. But his sons were not so minded, for they came forth out of the company,
and Reynaud spake for them, "Sire," he said, "we are not of our father's mind, for we hate
 you with a great hatred." The King, being very angry, cried, "Away out of my sight, foolish boy; were it not
for this company I would set you so fast in prison that you should not move hand or foot."
After these things the whole company went to the Church to hear mass; and after mass they sat down to dinner,
but Reynaud would not sit down, so angry was he. After dinner, Berthelot, that was nephew to the King, said to
Reynaud, "Come here, play me at chess." So these two sat down to play. When they had played awhile, there arose
a dispute between them. So hot was the dispute that Berthelot called Reynaud by an ill name, and smote him on
the face, whereupon Reynaud, lifting the chess board, that was of massy gold, smote Berthelot upon the head so
strongly that he fell down dead. When the King knew this he cried in great wrath, "Lay hold on this Reynaud. By
St. Denis he shall not go out of this place alive." Then the King's knights would have laid hold on him, but
his brothers and kinsfolk defended him, and there was such a strife in the palace as had never before been
seen. In the end Reynaud and his brothers, with Mawgis their cousin, escaped out of the palace, and mounting
their horses fled to
 Dordogne, the King's knights following hard upon them. As for Reynaud he was in no peril, for his horse Bayard
was as swift as the wind, but with the others it went hard. Then Reynaud turned upon the knights that pursued
and slaying four of them, gave their horses to the others. So they came safe all of them to Dordogne, where
dwelt their mother the Duchess. She, fearing greatly for their lives, would have them take all her treasure,
and depart. So they departed, with many tears, and coming into the forest of Ardennes built for themselves a
castle which they called Montanford. A great fortress was it and a strong, for it was built upon a rock and
defended on all sides with great walls, and furnished with a great store of provisions.
When the King heard of what they had done, he required of his barons that they should help him to take
vengeance for his nephew Berthelot. This they promised to do. "Only," said they, "let us go to our own land
that we may make ready." To this the King consented. So they departed and came back to Paris in due time with
their men. After this the King departed and marched as quickly as he might to the castle of Montanford.
Now it chanced that Reynaud's three
 brothers were returning from the hunt when they saw the King's host. "Who are these?" said Guichard. Richard,
who was the youngest of the brethren, answered, "This is the King's host, for I heard it said that he was
coming to take vengeance upon us. But now let us show ourselves to be men." So they and their companions rode
to meet the vanguard of the King's army. And Guichard laid his spear in rest, and charged at the Earl Guyon,
who was leader of the vanguard, and smote him so strongly that he fell dead to the ground. Thereafter there was
a fierce battle, and it went hard with the King's vanguard, so that scarce one of them escaped. But the three
brothers got back safe into the tower, and were greatly commended by Reynaud for their valour. And now the King
besieged the castle. "I will take it," he said, "by force or by famine." But the Duke Naymes counselled him to
demand Guichard of his brother. "If Reynaud yield him up," said he, "then this matter shall be settled
peaceably and without loss." "That is good counsel," said the King, and he sent the Duke Naymes with Ogier the
Dane to make their demands. But when Reynaud heard it, he was full of anger, and said, "My lords, but that I
 surely I had cut you to pieces for bringing so evil a message. Think you that I will do so base a thing as to
yield up my own brother? tell the King that I care not a penny for his threatenings; as for you, get you away
out of my sight." So the two peers departed with all speed, and told the words of Reynaud to the King.
Then the King set guards at each of the three gates of the castle, and the commander of the guards at the third
gate was the Duke Aymon himself, for, of his loyalty to the King, he made war against his own sons.
When Reynaud saw the guards that the King had set at the gates, he said to his men, "These men are worn and
weary with travel, and it were but small glory to overcome them now. But when they are somewhat rested, then we
will set upon them." And when the men heard him so speak, they judged that he was a very gallant, noble knight.
After a while, Reynaud said, "The time is come, else the King will think that we fear him. Sound the trumpet,
and we will let him see what manner of men we are." So the trumpet was sounded, and Reynaud and his men issued
from the castle gate, and the King's men on the other hand made
 themselves ready for the fight, and there was a very terrible battle. Reynaud and his men suffered much that
day, for first the Duke Aymon wrought great damage to his sons' army, and then the Duke Fulk slew many, and the
defenders of the castle had much ado to hold their own. Nevertheless they did so valiantly that at the last the
King was fain to withdraw his men. Nor did he do this without great damage, for Reynaud came upon the army as
it retreated, and slew many, and took certain prisoners. This done, the four brothers went back to their castle
But it passed the skill of man to hold the place against such odds as were brought against them. For the King,
having gathered together a great multitude of men, surrounded the castle on all sides, and kept it close for a
year and more. Then Reynaud sent a messenger to the King, saying, "I will surrender this fortress and myself
also with my brothers, if the King will promise on his part that we shall have our lives and goods." But the
King, moved by certain of his counsellors, would promise no such thing. And so for a while the matter stood;
neither could the King win the castle, nor could the brethren go free.
After a while there came to King Charles a
 certain knight, Herneger by name, who said, "Sire, if you will give me this castle of Montanford for my own,
and all the goods that are within, and the land about it for five miles, I will deliver to you Reynaud and his
brothers within the space of a month from now." "Do this," answered the King, "and you shall have what you
Then Herneger, after he had first disposed a thousand knights in the mountains round about, rode up to the
castle gates and said, "I pray you to let me enter, for the King seeks my life. I have something to tell Sir
Reynaud that he will be right glad to hear." So the porter opened the gate, and let Sir Herneger pass within.
When Reynaud heard that there was a strange knight in the castle, he came and inquired of his business.
Herneger said, "The King seeks my life, because I spake on your behalf." "How does the King fare?" said
Reynaud. "Has he good store of victuals?" Herneger answered, "He and his army are well-nigh famished. They
will not tarry long in this place, and when they depart you may get much spoil by pursuing them." That is good
to hear," answered Reynaud. "If the King fail of his purpose
 this time, the opportunity will not soon come again." Then he and his brethren and Herneger the traitor sat
down to supper and made good cheer.
When all the knights were fast asleep, the false Herneger rose from his bed and armed himself. Then he cut the
cords of the draw-bridge, and let it fall, and he slew also the guards that kept watch on the wall. When he had
done this, the knights who were disposed upon the mountains came up, being led by Guy of Burgundy, and, finding
the gates open, entered in and slew all that they could find. Truly it had gone ill with the four brethren that
night but for the horse of Alard that woke them out of their sleep. For some of the guards had been slain, and
some who should have watched were drunken, and the brethren had been surprised but for the loud neighing of the
horse. When Reynaud saw that the enemy was within the castle, he and his brethren took their places in the
tower, and, when the tower was set on fire, they took their stand in a certain pit and defended it right
valiantly against all the King's men. After awhile, the other knights that were in the castle taking heart and
coming to help them, they drove out the enemy from the
 castle, and shut the gates and raised the drawbridge. The next day Reynaud said to his brothers, "So far we
have done well, and have been delivered beyond all hope. Nevertheless here we may not stay, for all our
provision of food has been burnt by fire. Let us depart, therefore, while we can." So they left the castle not
without much sorrow. Alard and Guichard were in the vanguard with a hundred knights, and Reynaud and Richard
brought up the rear with all the rest of their folk.
That night they passed through the army of the King without hurt or hindrance. But for many days to come they
had no rest from their enemies, nor of all that pursued them was there one that did them more damage than did
Aymon their father. At last things came to this pass that there was no one left alive of all their followers.
Their horses also were in a sore plight, for they had nothing to eat save only such roots as they could find in
the ground. Nevertheless the horse Bayard was plump and strong, while the others were so lean and weak that
they could scarce stand. A wonderful beast was he in this as in other things, being as well nourished by roots
as other horses are wont to be by hay and corn.
 As for the knights they were ill to see, for their armour was eaten away with rust and their skins dark with
hunger and want.
Then said Reynaud to his brothers, "What shall we do? As for myself I had sooner die as becomes a knight than
perish here of hunger and cold." Alard said, "My counsel is that we go straight to our lady mother in Ardennes.
For though the King and his lords hate us, and even our father is set against us, yet I am persuaded that our
mother will not fail us." "You give good counsel," said Reynaud; and to this the other two agreed.
That night the brethren set out, and travelling without stay came to the city of Ardennes. When they were in
sight of the walls, Reynaud said to his brethren, "We did ill to take no surety of our father, that he give us
not into the King's hands." "Fear not," answered Richard. "I am assured that our lady mother will keep us
safe." So they entered the town. But no man knew them, so strange were they to look upon, and the townsfolk
asked them, "Of what country are you?" "You are too curious," answered Reynaud, and they rode to the palace.
Now the Duke Aymon chanced to be hawking that day by the river, and the
 Duchess was in her chamber, where she was wont to sit, in much grief because she had no tidings of her
children. After a while she came from her chamber into the hall, where the men sat, but she knew them not. Nay
so black were they and foul to look upon that she was in no small fear of them, and was minded for a while to
go back to her chamber. But soon she took courage, and greeted the men, saying, "Who are you, Christian men or
pagans? Maybe you are doing some penance. Will you have some alms from me or clothing? methinks you need them
much. Gladly will I do you this service that God also may have mercy upon my own children." And when she
thought of her sons, and how she knew not whether they were alive or dead, she wept aloud.
When Reynaud heard her weep, he was himself greatly moved, and wept also. And the Duchess looking on him more
closely was not a little troubled, so that she had almost fallen to the ground in a swoon. But when she came to
herself she looked again and lo! there was a scar on his face that he had from a fall when he was a child. So
she knew him again, and cried, "O my son Reynaud, how comes it that you are so greatly changed,
 you that were the fairest knight in all the world? "Then she looked about her, and knew her other sons also,
and took them one by one in her arms, both rejoicing and lamenting. So she wept and they wept also.
And now came a yeoman to say that the dinner was served. So the Duchess and her sons went to the table, and sat
down and made good cheer.
As they sat, the Duke came in from his hawking, and said "Who are these men that are so strange to look upon?"
"These are your children and mine," answered the Duchess. "See what they have suffered, living in the woods. I
beseech you deal kindly with them." But the Duke hardened his heart against his sons, because he would be true
to King Charles. And there was much dispute between them, so that Reynaud had once half drawn his sword from
its sheath. Only Alard stayed him, "Set not your hand against him, for that is against God's commandment." In
the end peace was made between father and sons in this fashion. Aymon said, "I cannot abide in the house with
these men, for that were against my oath to King Charles. But you, my wife, have much gold and silver, and
horses and harness and
 armour. Give to your sons so much as they will take." Having said this, he departed from the house and his
knights went with him.
Then the Duchess called her sons to her. First she commanded that they should make baths ready for them. And
when they had bathed, she gave them rich apparel of all that they needed. This done she showed them the Duke
Aymon's treasure and bade them take of it as much as they needed. Nor did they fail so to do. For Reynaud made
such provision of men and arms that he gathered together a great company of soldiers.
The next day, just as they were about to depart, came Mawgis their cousin, telling of how he had taken three
horses of the King, laden with gold and silver. "And of this treasure," said he to Reynaud his cousin. "I am
ready to give you the half."
So they departed together, and the Duke Aymon met them as they went, and gave them his blessing, and "See,"
said he to the three, "that you obey your brother Reynaud, for he is good at counsel." To the Duchess, when she
was nigh distracted at the departure of her children, he said, "Be not troubled over much; we shall see them
come again in great prosperity and honour."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics