Turpin, Archbishop of Reims, faithfully recorded the events of Charlemagne’s reign and this is one of his stories.

A knight of Charles’ army departed this life at Pamplona, leaving his goods to a cleric, his dear friend, to be distributed to the poor. The cleric duly distributed everything with the one exception of the knight’s horse, generally considered the best in all the army. The cleric found that he could not bring himself to part with the animal, especially after he had ridden it and attracted the admiration of the crowd. Soon he was riding around as if it was his own horse.

Three times he was warned in his dreams by the knight to stop this despicable practice but still he persisted. On the fourth occasion the knight appeared to the cleric in broad daylight. “You have been judged.” said the knight. “Now you cannot escape your doom. On the third day from now, at the third hour, you will be taken up alive into the air by demons.”

The distraught cleric went to tell Charlemagne, who took pity on the wretch and ordered him to be encompassed around by the whole army, the clergy armed with crosses, reliquaries and candles and the laity with drawn swords.

After three days and at the third hour a great howling broke out in the air and the cleric was snatched up as if by invisible arms and went screaming and kicking up out of sight of the astonished army. His body was eventually found, many leagues away, every bone in his body broken.


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