A LOVE STORY
PHILIP I. was succeeded in 1108 by his son Louis VI, who
bore at different times the surnames of "the Fighter,"
"the Wide-awake," and "the Fat." During his twenty-nine
years' reign he made many efforts to suppress the
brigand lords intrenched in their castles, gave his
protection to the weak against the strong, and greatly
encouraged the forming of communes. In fact, he favored
the latter so openly that he is often called the
"Father of Communes."
 Besides fighting his nobles, he also had to make war
against Henry I. of England, who made good his claim to
Normandy. During one battle in this war (Brenneville,
1119), Louis's horse happened to be seized by an enemy,
who cried out in triumph, "The king is taken!" But
Louis promptly retorted, "Do you not know enough chess
to be aware that a king cannot be taken!" Saying these
words, he raised his weapon and felled his would-be
captor, thus promptly freeing himself.
This battle is memorable chiefly because of the small
number of slain. Although the fighting lasted many
hours, it is said that only three knights fell. This is
accounted for by the fact that none but noblemen took
part in the fray, and that they were all so well
protected by their armor that it was almost impossible
to kill them. In such battles, horses, too, were
covered with heavy armor, and trained to run against
the foe with such force that knights were often
unhorsed before they had a chance to strike a blow. A
knight thrown thus upon his back would seldom rise
again without aid, so squires and attendants were
always expected to hasten to their master's rescue
whenever such an accident befell him.
The King of England, angry because the French tried to
take Normandy, now urged the Emperor of Germany to
invade France. Louis, hearing of this, called the
communes and nobles to his aid, and going to St. Denis,
took the oriflamme. These warlike preparations proved
enough to frighten the Germans, who gave up all hope of
doing anything, and signed a treaty (1124).
It was also during the reign of Louis VI that a young
man named Abélard (a-bā-lär') won a great reputation in
 the Paris schools. His eloquence was such that many
students came to listen to him, and his learning so
remarkable that he was engaged as private tutor for the
beautiful Héloïse (ā-lō-ēz'),
niece of one of the church dignitaries.
While teaching this young lady,—who was as talented
as he,—Abélard fell in love with her, and persuaded
her to elope with him. This caused much scandal, and
the young people being soon overtaken, were separated,
placed in religious houses, and ordered never to think
of each other again.
In spite of these commands, they managed to see each
other and to exchange frequent letters, some of which
have been preserved, and are considered fine specimens
of French literature. After many, many trials, these
lovers died, and were finally buried in the same tomb,
which can now be seen in a cemetery (Le Père La Chaise)
in Paris, and which is often visited by strangers as
well as by Frenchmen. There you frequently see fresh
flowers strewn over the stone figures of the recumbent
lovers, for many people have been touched by the tale
of their unhappy love affair.
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