THE CAREER OF BISHOP HATTO
 WE have now to deal with a personage whose story is largely legendary, particularly that of his death, a highly
original termination to his career having arisen among the people, who had grown to detest him. But Bishop
Hatto played his part in the history as well as in the legend of Germany, and the curious stories concerning
him may have been based on the deeds of his actual life. It was in the beginning of the tenth century that
this notable churchman flourished as Archbishop of Mayence, and the emperor-maker of his times. In connection
with Otho, Duke of Saxony, he placed Louis, surnamed the Child,—for he was but seven years of
age,—on the imperial throne, and governed Germany in his name. Louis died in 911, while still a boy, and
with him ended the race of Charlemagne in Germany. Conrad, Duke of Franconia, was chosen king to succeed him,
but the astute churchman still remained the power behind the throne.
In truth, the influence and authority of the church at that time was enormous, and many of its potentates
troubled themselves more about the affairs of the earth than those of heaven. Hatto, while a zealous
churchman, was a bold, energetic, and
un-  scrupulous statesman, and raised himself to an almost unlimited power in France and Southern Germany by his
arts and influence, Otho of Saxony aiding him in his progress to power. Two of his opponents, Henry and
Adelhart, of Babenberg, took up arms against him, and came to their deaths in consequence. Adalbert, the
opponent of the Norsemen, was his next antagonist, and Hatto, through his influence in the diet, had him put
under the ban of the empire.
Adalbert, however, vigorously resisted this decree, taking up arms in his own defence, and defeating his
opponent in the field. But soon, being closely pressed, he retired to his fortress of Bamberg, which was
quickly invested and besieged. Here he defended himself with such energy that Hatto, finding that the outlawed
noble was not to be easily subdued by force, adopted against him those spiritual weapons, as he probably
considered them, in which he was so trained an adept.
Historians tell us that the priest, with a pretence of friendly purpose, offered to mediate between Adalbert
and his enemies, promising him, if he would leave his stronghold to appear before the assembled nobles of the
diet, that he should have a free and safe return. Adalbert accepted the terms, deeming that he could safely
trust the pledged word of a high dignitary of the church. Leaving the gates of his castle, he was met at a
short distance beyond by the bishop, who accosted him in his friendliest tone, and proposed that, as their
 would be somewhat long, they should breakfast together within the castle before starting.
Adalbert assented and returned to the fortress with his smooth-tongued companion, took breakfast with him, and
then set out with him for the diet. Here he was sternly called to answer for his acts of opposition to the
decree of the ruling body of Germany, and finding that the tide of feeling was running strongly against him,
proposed to return to his fortress in conformity with the plighted faith of Bishop Hatto. Hatto, with an
aspect of supreme honesty, declared that he had already fulfilled his promise. He had agreed that Adalbert
should have a free and safe return to his castle. This had been granted him. He had returned there to
breakfast without opposition of any sort. The word of the bishop had been fully kept, and now, as a member of
the diet, he felt free to act as he deemed proper, all his obligations to the accused having been fulfilled.
Just how far this story accords with the actual facts we are unable to say, but Adalbert, despite his
indignant protest, was sentenced to death and beheaded.
Hatto had reached his dignity in the church by secular instead of ecclesiastic influence, and is credited with
employing his power in this and other instances with such lack of honor and probity that he became an object
of the deepest popular contempt and execration. His name was derided in the popular ballads, and he came to be
looked upon as the scapegoat of the avarice and licentiousness
 of the church in that irreligious mediæval age. Among the legends concerning him is one relating to Henry, the
son of his ally, Otho of Saxony, who died in 912. Henry had long quarrelled with the bishop, and the fabulous
story goes that, to get rid of his high-spirited enemy, the cunning churchman sent him a gold chain, so
skilfully contrived that it would strangle its wearer.
THE MOUSE-TOWER ON THE RHINE.
The most famous legend about Hatto, however, is that which tells the manner of his death. The story has been
enshrined in poetry by Longfellow, but we must be content to give it in plain prose. It tells us that a famine
occurred in the land, and that a number of peasants came to the avaricious bishop to beg for bread. By his
order they were shut up in a great barn, which then was set on fire, and its miserable occupants burned to
And now the cup of Hatto's infamy was filled, and heaven sent him retribution. From the ruins of the barn
issued a myriad of mice, which pursued the remorseless bishop, ceaselessly following him in his every effort
to escape their avenging teeth. At length the wretched sinner, driven to despair, fled for safety to a strong
tower standing in the middle of the Rhine, near Bingen, with the belief that the water would protect him from
his swarming foes. But the mice swam the stream, invaded the tower, and devoured the miserable fugitive. As
evidence of the truth of this story we are shown the tower, still standing, and still known as the
Mäeusethurm, or Mouse Tower. It must be said, however, that this
 tradition probably refers to another Bishop Hatto, of somewhat later date. Its utterly fabulous character, of
course, will be recognisable by all.
So much for Bishop Hatto and his fate. It may be said, in conclusion, that his period was one of terror and
excitement in Germany, sufficient perhaps to excuse the overturning of ideas, and the replacement of
conceptions of truth and honor by their opposites. The wild Magyars had invaded and taken Hungary, and were
making savage inroads into Germany from every quarter. The resistance was obstinate, the Magyars were defeated
in several severe battles, yet still their multitudes swarmed over the borders, and carried terror and ruin
wherever they came. These invaders were as ferocious in disposition, as fierce in their onsets, as invincible
through contempt of death, and as formidable through their skilful horsemanship, as the Huns had been before
them. So rapid were their movements, and so startling the suddenness with which they would appear in and
vanish from the heart of the country, that the terrified people came to look upon them as possessed of
supernatural powers. Their inhuman love of slaughter and their destructive habits added to the terror with
which they were viewed. They are said to have been so bloodthirsty, that in their savage feasts after victory
they used as tables the corpses of their enemies slain in battle. It is further said that it was their custom
to bind the captured women and maidens with their own
 long hair as fetters, and drive them, thus bound, in flocks to Hungary.
We may conclude with a touching story told of these unquiet and misery-haunted times. Ulrich, Count of
Linzgau, was, so the story goes, taken prisoner by the Magyars, and long held captive in their hands.
Wendelgarde, his beautiful wife, after waiting long in sorrow for his return, believed him to be dead, and
resolved to devote the remainder of her life to charity and devotion. Crowds of beggars came to her castle
gates, to whom she daily distributed alms. One day, while she was thus engaged, one of the beggars suddenly
threw his arms around her neck and kissed her. Her attendants angrily interposed, but the stranger waved them
aside with a smile, and said,—
"Forbear, I have endured blows and misery enough during my imprisonment without needing more from you; I am
Ulrich, your lord."
Truly, in this instance, charity brought its reward.
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