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THE VIKINGS BESIEGE PARIS
 THE names given by the French to their kings in these
olden days were sometimes strangely undignified, as you
will agree when I tell you that the next king to reign
was Charles the Fat.
Charles was indeed of an enormous size, and
unfortunately he was as lazy as he was fat.
The story of the reign of Charles the Fat is really the
story of how the Northmen besieged Paris, while the
king, who was also Emperor of Germany, spent his time
among his German barons.
Rollo was the name of the chief who now led the Vikings
to Paris. He was a greater chief even than Hasting, of
whom you read in the last chapter.
Seven hundred huge ships, with bright red sails, were
one day seen to be making their way up the river Seine.
These ships were the Viking fleet under Rollo.
The people of Paris resolved to defend their city
against the fierce Northmen as long as they could.
Soon they heard that the town of Rouen, which is only a
short distance from Paris, had been taken, and that
Rollo with thirty thousand men was marching on Paris.
Hasting, now a respectable count, was sent to ask Rollo
what he wished.
"Valiant warrior," said Hasting to Rollo, "whence come
ye? What seek ye here? What is the name of your lord
and master? Tell us this, for we be sent unto you by
the King of the Franks."
 "We be Danes," answered Rollo, "and all be equally
masters among us. We be come to drive out the
inhabitants of this land, and subject it to our
country. But who art thou who speakest so glibly?"
Then, perhaps with some shame in his face, Hasting told
how he had once been, as Rollo now was, a Viking chief.
But Rollo interrupted him, saying with scorn, "We have
heard tell of that fellow. Hasting began well and ended
But the former chief had no wish to be taunted by
Rollo. It may be the sight of the wild sea-robbers had
brought to life a hidden wish to be again a lawless
roving chief. In any case he stopped Rollo's taunts,
demanding roughly, "Will ye yield you to the Emperor
"We yield," answered Rollo, "to none. All that we take
by our arms we will keep as our right. Go and tell
this, if thou wilt, to the emperor whose envoy thou
boastest to be."
So Hasting, none too pleased, withdrew from his meeting
with Rollo, the chief of the Viking band.
It was the dreary month of November, 885 A.D., when
Rollo led his army beneath the walls of Paris. But when
he saw the great ramparts and defences of the city, he
hesitated to begin the attack.
Instead, he begged to speak with the bishop of the
city, and being admitted to his presence he said, "Take pity on
thyself and on thy flock. Let us pass
through this city, and we will in no wise touch the town."
But the bishop was too wise to trust the Viking's
words. Charles the Fat was in Germany, and had left the
city in his charge, and in that of a brave man called
So the bishop answered Rollo, "This city hath been
entrusted to us by our king. If the city had been
entrusted to thee, wouldst thou do as thou biddest me?"
"Nay," said Rollo, "sooner would I be slain than betray
 my trust. Yet if thou yield not we will besiege
thee, and famine shall force thee to give us the city."
But the bishop and Count Eudes agreed with the Viking
in one thing. Sooner would they too be slain than
betray their trust, so there was nothing for Rollo to
do but fulfil his threat and besiege the city.
Thirteen months passed slowly away, for Rollo had
surrounded Paris, and as each day dragged its slow
length, the citizens were ever in sorer straits. Food
grew scarce and famine stared the citizens in the face.
Messengers had been sent to Charles the Fat, telling
him of the needs of his faithful subjects in Paris, but
he was lazy and paid no heed to their distress.
Then Count Eudes determined that he would go to the
king to ask him why he delayed to send help to his
It was no easy matter to get through the enemy's lines,
but messengers had already done so, and Count Eudes was
brave and, when it was necessary, careful, and he got
away unseen by the Northmen.
But by and by it became known that Count Eudes had
escaped from the besieged city, and every opening was
now strictly guarded by the enemy, that he might not be
able to get back into Paris.
The citizens knew that the Vikings were on the watch
for their brave leader, and they crowded on to the
ramparts and towers watching anxiously for him to
At length the count was seen in the distance. What
would he do? Would he forsake the city seeing it so
The people trembled at the thought, for Count Eudes was
brave and had won their trust.
But if the count was careful he was also, if need be,
rash. "As he drew near to the city, he saw that he
could enter it only in one way.
Putting spurs to his powerful war-horse, he rode
 forward through the lines of the bewildered
Northmen, striking boldly with his battle-axe all who
dared to come in his way. But, indeed, there were few
who opposed the count. His boldness had so startled the
Vikings, that Count Eudes was safe within the walls of
the city before they had recovered from their surprise.
As for the citizens, they welcomed the count's return
with laughter and tears, as a starving people might
Count Eudes had, however, succeeded in rousing the
indolent king; for in November 886 A.D., after Paris
had been besieged for a year, Charles the Fat did
actually appear before the city with a large army.
But, after all, he proved a coward and a sluggard. In
spite of the large army, he had not come to fight.
About a month later, to the unspeakable anger of Count
Eudes and the citizens, they found that Charles had
bribed the Vikings with large sums of money to raise
the siege of Paris.
So angry were the people, not only in Paris, but
throughout France, that early in the following year
they met together and deposed Charles the Fat, because
he was not fit to be a king. Soon after Charles the Fat
died in a monastery.