OF CERTAIN PROVERBS

Pepin, the hereditary seneschal of France was on his deathbed. He said to his son, “My dear Charles, by God’s grace you are liked by all. But now, for your own safety, observe my last precept. Never release one who has been condemned by a just sentence, never drink of old water where no stream runs, never promote a slave, do not marry the daughter of an adulteress and, above all, do not trust a low-born red-headed man.”

On the seneschal’s death his son duly received the title. Much as he wished to follow the advice of his father, he was enamoured of a beautiful noblewoman and her mother was notorious for having taken a lover soon after she was born. Thinking that any son is allowed to fail one of his father’s rules, he married her. Soon after their marriage she came to him and begged him to find some noble employment for her half-brother, a man both low-born and red-headed. Out of his great love for her he brought the young man into his household and set him in control of all his affairs.

Under the young man’s direction these affairs prospered and it was just as well the seneschal had appointed him because Charles now faced other distractions. This was one of those times when the king of the Franks was weak and the kingdom was invaded by the Moors of Spain. Charles defeated them at the battle of Tours and from then on had virtual control of the Franks. His son, Pepin, became king and his son, Charlemagne, ruled over a greater kingdom than anything seen since the Romans and from whom came the Plantagenets. However, it has been noticed by some that, since Pepin the Younger, many of the sons were red-headed, a thing not seen in the family before.

 

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