COUNT EUDES, who had won the hearts of the people
during the siege of Paris, now became King of France.
His most troublesome foe was Rollo, the Northman, who
not only seized many important towns, but at the same
time took pains to win the friendship of the citizens
he had conquered.
When Eudes died, ten years later, his brother, Count
Robert of Paris, advised the new king to make terms
Charles the Simple was a lad, barely nineteen years of
age, and he followed Count Robert's advice, sending
ambassadors to Rollo, to offer him lands and the hand
of the French princess, if he would become a Christian
and a vassal of the king.
Rollo promised to give up his roving ways and become a
So the king gave his new vassal the beautiful country
which lay between the river Seine and the sea. And that
part of France is now called Normandy, because the
Northmen or Normans settled there.
It was the custom for every new vassal to go to the
king's palace to take the oath of fealty to the
Charles the Simple was surrounded by his courtiers when
Rollo arrived. It was also, I should tell you, usual,
after the oath was taken, for the vassal to kneel to
kiss the king's foot.
But Rollo, though he was willing to take the oath of
 allegiance to Charles, was by no means willing to
humble himself by kneeling to kiss the foot of the
king. Moreover, his wild life had taught him little
respect for such foolish customs.
"Never will I bend the knee to any man, nor will I kiss
the foot of any man," cried Rollo, in a voice that no
one dared to gainsay.
But some one must kiss the king's foot, and if Rollo
would not, well, one of the Norman soldiers should do
it in his stead.
So a rough Viking was unwillingly pushed to the front.
At his master's command, refusing to kneel, he seized
the king's foot and thrust it carelessly against his
face, causing Charles to fall backward on his seat,
amid the rude jests and laughter of the Northmen.
Rollo was now created the first Duke of Normandy, and
this wild sea-roving Northman became the
great-grandfather of William the Conqueror.
The nobles, with Count Robert of Paris at their head,
now began to grow angry with their king, because he
would have nothing to do with them, but chose as his
favourite a man of humble birth, who was dishonest, and
who daily grew more proud and haughty.
At length Count Robert demanded that the favourite
should be dismissed, and when the king refused to
listen to his demand, all the nobles rebelled and
fought a great battle against Charles at Soissons in
The nobles won the day, but Count Robert was slain.
War, however, was still carried on by his son, Hugh the
White, until at length Charles was a prisoner in the
hands of his barons. For seven years he was carried
from dungeon to dungeon, until he died.
Hugh the White, had he wished it, might now have become
king, but instead of ruling himself, he sent for Louis,
the son of Charles the Simple, who had been brought up
 Louis did little save quarrel with his nobles, as
did also his son and grandson when they, each in his
turn, became King of France.
And during these reigns the nobles grew ever more
powerful, until Hugh the White's son, Hugh Capet, Count
of France, was king in all but name.
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