HENRY THE FOWLER
BOUT one hundred years after the death of Charlemagne, one of his
descendants, a little boy only six years old, succeeded to
a part of his kingdom. Although the child had guardians, they
did not seem to be able to defend the crown. There was
trouble from without the kingdom and more trouble from within.
The trouble from without was because the Hungarians, or
Magyars, were making fierce and bloody invasions of the
country. The trouble from within came from the five
dukes, each of whom was afraid that the others would become more
powerful than he. The child-king died when he was only
eighteen, and then there was quarreling indeed, for every duke
wanted to be sovereign. At length Conrad, Duke of
Franconia, was set upon the throne; but that did not
quiet matters, for some of the dukes had not agreed to
Conrad was a gentle, thoughtful man. He defended his people as
well as he could, but perhaps the best thing he did for
them was to give them a piece of good advice when he was dying.
He had sent for the nobles to come to him, and when they
his bed, he talked to them as if they were his children and
begged them to live peaceably together. "I do now command
you," he said, "to choose Henry, Duke of Saxony, for
 king. He is a man of energy in battle, and yet he is
a strong friend of peace. I can find no one else so well fitted
to rule the kingdom, and therefore I send to him the
crown and the sceptre and bid him shield and protect the
The nobles were amazed, for this Henry of Saxony had opposed
most strongly of them all the election of Conrad; but the
more they thought of their king's advice, the more they saw
that it was good; and after Conrad was dead they carried the
crown and the sceptre to Henry's castle. He was not there.
"Where is he?" the nobles demanded, and the attendants
replied, "He is in the forest hunting with his falcons."
A FAMOUS CASTLE IN GERMANY
Then the nobles and their followers set out into the forest to
search for a king. It was several days before they found
him; and when they did discover him, he was standing in his
hunting suit, and on his wrist was
 a falcon waiting
patiently until its master should give it the signal to fly
after a wild duck or whatever other bird he was pursuing.
The falcon and the Duke were both surprised when the company of
nobles and their attendants appeared, and Henry was
still more amazed when they showed him the crown and the sceptre
and told him that they had followed the will of Conrad
and had chosen him for their king. This is the way that Duke
Henry of Saxony became King Henry I. of Germany and won his
nickname of "the Fowler."
The Magyars came upon the land in swarms. Henry met them
bravely; but in every battle the invaders had one great
advantage—they fought on horseback, while the Germans
only in fighting on foot. Something happened very soon,
however, that changed the whole face of matters; Henry captured
a Magyar chief, said to have been the king's son. The Magyars
were ready to do almost anything to secure his release;
and at length Henry said to them, "If you will leave my country
and promise to make no attacks upon it for nine years, I
will give back your chief and pay you five thousand pieces of
gold every year." The Magyars were glad to accept this
offer, and soon they were rejoicing over the return of their
Henry, however, was not spending time in rejoicing. He had
much business to attend to in the nine years, and he set
about it at once. First, he brought his people together in
cities which could be fortified, instead of allowing them to
live in scattered villages. Next, he trained his men to fight
on horseback. To test their ability, he tried his new
cavalry in battles with the Danes and some tribes around him.
Then he waited.
The Magyars were in no haste to give up the tribute of
and when the tenth year had come, they demanded that the
king should send it as usual. But now he was ready to fight
them, and he refused. They started out with a great army to
make this defiant ruler yield; but to their surprise he drove
them out of his kingdom. They never succeeded in entering
the northern duchies again, and it was many years before they
were seen in any part of Germany.
The wisdom and courage of Henry the Fowler brought peace to his
country; and when he died, he left to his son
Otho a quiet and prosperous kingdom. Otho was quite as
energetic as his father. He took the title of Emperor of
the Romans, as if his rule were a continuation of the ancient
Roman Empire, and for nine hundred years after him every
German king claimed the same title.