LOUIS THE GOOD-NATURED
 THE new king had begun to reign over one of his
father's provinces when he was a little child of three
years old. At least, if he did not reign, he had really
been anointed with holy oil just as a grown-up king
would have been.
After he had been anointed, the little boy was carried
in his cradle to the entrance of his kingdom. Here his
courtiers halted. They did not wish their baby-king to
enter his dominions in a cradle. So they clad the
little king in a tiny suit of armour and gave him tiny
arms, that looked more like toys than weapons. Then
these gallant courtiers brought a horse and put his
little Highness, on its back and held him there, safe
and sound and perhaps crowing with delight, until he
had entered his royal province amid the cheers of the
But that was long ago, when Charlemagne's strong arm
could reach to the kingdom of his little son and keep
order and peace for him during his boyhood's days.
After his father's long reign was ended, it was this
same son, grown now to be a man, who ruled over
Charlemagne's great empire.
Louis was not strong and wise as his father had been.
He was indeed so gentle and so easily pleased, that his
people called him Louis the Good-natured.
King Louis had been taught by priests when he was a
little boy, and when he grew older he followed their
teaching better than they did themselves. He determined
 when he was king, the priests should live
more simply than they had done in his father's time.
The priests had arms, for in those days they were to be
seen on the battlefield as well as in the church. But
King Louis bade them lay down their arms. They must not
fight with swords and spears as other men, but with
gentleness and kindly words and deeds.
The priests had horses, for in those days they rode on
as noble war-steeds as did the bravest knights. But
King Louis bade them put away their horses. It was not
meet for them to ride on noble steeds, for their Master
was lowly and had ridden on an ass.
Many of the monks were greedy and selfish, and had used
their power to wring money from the people. Louis cared
for the poor and forbade the monks to oppress them.
You can imagine, then, that King Louis was no favourite
with the bishops and priests, but if they were
displeased, the people were loud in their praise of
Louis the Good-natured.
Now King Louis had four sons, and as they grew up they
were quick to take advantage of their father's
good-nature. Again and again they rebelled against him.
At last even Louis was roused, and took away from
Pippin, the most troublesome of his sons, the province
over which he ruled, and gave it to his youngest son,
Charles the Bald.
The three eldest sons then assembled an army to fight
against their father. The king also gathered his
soldiers together, but when the two armies met on a
field called the Field of Red, many of King Louis's
soldiers left him and joined themselves to the rebels.
For this reason the battlefield was ever after called
"The Field of Falsehood."
Louis, when he saw that he was left with only a few
followers, bade them also go away, for he was unwilling
that any one should "lose life or limb" for his sake.
Then he surrendered himself to his sons, who treated
 badly, for they forced him to confess in church,
before his people, a long list of crimes which he had
King Louis's good-nature had turned into weakness, and
he obediently read aloud the list of crimes of which he
was guiltless. Then, laying aside his royal robes, he
allowed himself to be clad in sackcloth, and walked
bare-footed through the streets of the city, no longer
a king but a prisoner.
But now that they had got their father out of the way,
the four sons quarrelled so fiercely among themselves,
that their subjects grew discontented, and began to
wish that Louis the Good-natured was still upon the
throne. And at length they actually revolted, and set
Louis free and made him king once more.
You would expect Louis to punish his sons for their bad
behaviour, but he never seemed to dream of such a
thing. So, when the chance came, they again took up
arms against their father. King Louis was ill and worn
out with the troubles of his reign, yet he went at the
head of his army to put down the rebellion, and this
time his sons were forced to submit to him.
But the effort had been too much for the king. He took
fever and died on a little island in the river Rhine.
His last words were words of forgiveness to the son who
was named after him. "I forgive my son," he said, "but
let him remember that he has brought his father's grey
hairs in sorrow to the grave."
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