THE COUNTS OF GRUYERE
MRS. REGINALD DE KOVEN
DUFFIELD & COMPANY
Copyright, 1916, by DUFFIELD & CO.
I. ORIGIN OF THE PEOPLE 7
II. INFLUENCE OF THE CHURCH 14
III. SOVEREIGNTY OF THE HOUSE OF SAVOY 25
IV. FOREIGN WARS 46
V. THE BURGUNDIAN WARS (COUNT FRANCOIS I) 57
VI. THE BURGUNDIAN WARS (COUNT LOUIS) 67
VII. STRUGGLE FOR SUCCESSION 85
VIII. RELIGIOUS REFORM 94
IX. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF GRUYERE 105
X. GRUYERE WITHOUT ITS COUNTS 128
LA PLACE DE GRUYERE Frontispiece From a watercolour by Colonel R. Goff
THE CHATEAU Facing p. 10
GATEWAY " 22
LACE-MAKERS " 38
FORTIFIED HOUSES—NORTH WALL " 56
THE CITY ON THE HILL " 72
TERRACE OF THE CHATEAU " 90
CHURCH OF ST. THEODATE " 112
JOUSTING COURT " 132
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THE COUNTS OF GRUYERE
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BIS SEPTEM SEACULA CURRENT MOENIA FUNDAVIT BELLO FORTISSIMUS HAEROS VANDALUS ATQUE SUO SIGNAVIT NOMINE MUROS GRUS VIXIT AGNOMEN COMITE DEDIT ADVENA PRIMO RUBEA GRUEM VEXILLA AC SCUTI PILOSI SUSTENTENT QUORUM EUTIS PARRIDA RUGIS AC ARMATA MANUS VULSIS RADICIBUS ARAE EST HUIC CELEBRIS SERVES ET LONGA PROPAGO NEPOTUM DIVES OPUM OLIVES PIETA VESTIS AURIS EXTITIT ET NOSTRIS PER PLURIMA SAECULA TERRAS PRAEFUIT GRUERIUS SEXTAE LEGIONIS VANDALORUM DUX
Behold now twice seven centuries.—That a Vandal hero bravest among warriors.—Founded this fortress.—This fortified city has since preserved the name of the Grue.—The stranger became the first count.—His descendants carried the Grue on their scarlet banners.—And on their hairy shields.—To the Vandal hero succeeded a long line of illustrious descendants.—Rich in fortune, rich in their piety.—These Counts won the order of the golden vest.—And for many centuries the posterity of Gruerius.—Chief of the sixteenth Vandal legion who lived in the year 436 governed our country.
On the edge of a green plain around which rise the first steps of the immense amphitheatre of the Alps, a little castled city enthroned on a solitary hill watches since a thousand years the eternal and surpassing spectacle.
Around its feet a river runs, a silver girdle bending northward between pastures green, while eastward over the towering azure heights the sunrise waves its flags of rose and gold.
In the dim hours of twilight or by a cloudy moonlight, the city pitched amid the drifting aerial heights seems built itself of air and cloud, evanescent and unreal.
By the fair light of noonday, sharp and clear upon its eminence, it is like a Duerer drawing, massed lines of crenelated bastions, sharp-pointed belfreys, and towered gateways completing a mediaeval vignette ideal in composition. Strange as the distant vision seems to the traveler fresh from the rude and time-stained chalets of the mountains, still more surprising is the scene which greets his arrival by the precipitous road, past the double towered gateway, within the city walls. Expressly set it seems for a theatrical decor in its smiling gayety, its faultlessly pictorial effect. Every window in the blazoned houses is blossoming with brightest flowers, as for a perpetual fete. The voices of the people are soft with a strange Italianate patois, and the women at the fountain, the children at their play, the old men sunning themselves beside the deep carved doorways are seemingly living the happy holiday life which belongs to the picture. The one street in the city, opening widely in a long oval place, is bounded by stone houses fortified without and bearing suspended galleries for observation and defence, forming thus a continuous rampart along the whole extent of the hillside.
At the eastern extremity of this enclosure beyond the slender belfrey of the Hotel de Ville and the ancient shrine where a great crucifix looks down upon the scene, a flagged pathway rises sharply under a tall clock tower within the enceinte of the castle set at the steep extremity of the ridge. There behind strong walls a terrace looks from a crenelated parapet over the descending sunset plains, a prospect as fair as any in all Italy. Within a second rampart, semi-circular in form, the castle with its interior court looks eastward and southward over the encircling valley with its winding river, up to the surrounding nether heights of the Bernese Oberland. Walls twelve feet in thickness tell the history of its ancient construction, and chambers cut in the massive stone foundations recall the rude life of the early knights and vassals who defended this chateau-fort from the Saracen invasion. Noble halls, later superimposed upon the earlier foundations, with stone benches flanking the walls and recessed windows overlooking the jousting court, evoke the glittering days of chivalry and the vision of the sovereign race of counts who here held their court.
Ten centuries have passed over this castle on the hill; six told the story of its sovereignty over the surrounding country, but unlike most of the chateaux of Switzerland it has been carefully restored and maintains its feudal character. The caparisoned steeds no longer gallop along the ancient road, the crested knights no longer break their lances in the jousting court; but in the wide street of the little city is heard a speech, and in the valleys and from the hillsides echo herdsmen's songs, which contain Latin and French words, Greek, Saracen and German, a patois holding in solution the long story of the past.
ORIGIN OF THE PEOPLE
Triply woven of the French, German and Italian races, the Swiss nation discovers in its Romand or French strain another triple weave of Celtic-Romand-Burgundian descent.
While the high mountainous regions of eastern Switzerland were early scaled and settled by the Germanic tribes, the western were still earlier inhabited by the ancient Celtic-Helvetians and then civilized and cultivated by the most luxurious of Roman colonies. Resisting first and then happily mingling with their Roman conquerors, the Celtic people were transformed into a Romand race, similar in speech and origin to the French. In the heart of this Romand country was an ancient principality where the essential qualities of the beauty loving and imaginative races, Roman and Celtic, expressed themselves uniquely. A fountain of Celtic song and legend, a centre of chivalry and warlike power, this principality is known only to the outer world by the pastoral product which bears its name "Gruyere."
Remarkable in the interest of the unbroken line of its valorous and lovable princes, and in the precious and enchanting race mixture of its brave, laughter-loving people, its supreme historical interest lies in its little recorded and astonishing political significance among the independent feudal principalities of Europe.
When the Teuton barbarians came to devastate the enchanting loveliness of the templed Roman garden which was Switzerland for three idyllic centuries, they stopped at last at the penultimate peaks of the Occidental Alps, at a certain region called aux fenils (ad fines), where a glacial stream rushes across the narrow valley of the Griesbach, among the southern mountains of the Bernese Oberland. Thus western or Romand Switzerland preserves a character definitely apart from the eastern, and this barrier across the Bernese valley, unpassed for a thousand years, still divides the German from the Romand speaking peasantry. To the north and west lies Gruyere, greenest of pastoral countries, uniquely set in a ring of azure heights, where like a lost Provence, the Romand spirit has preserved its eternal youthfulness and charm. Greatly loved by all the Swiss, its annals piously preserved by ancient chroniclers, this country is German only in its eastern rocky portion; but where the castle stands and in all the wide valleys which open towards the setting sun, it is of purest Romand speech and character. Here ruled for six hundred years a sovereign line of counts whose history, a pastoral epic, is melodious with song and legend, and glowing with all the pageantry and chivalry of the middle ages. Although skirted by the great Roman roads, and flanked by outpost towers, Gruyere was never romanized, being settled only in its outlying plains by occasional Gallo-Roman villas, while the interior country, ringed by a barrier of almost inaccessible mountains, was left to the early Helvetian adventurers who had first penetrated its wild forests and its mountain fastnesses. Here, unaffected alike by Roman domination or Teuton destruction, they had set up the altars of their Druid faith and here preserved their ancient customs and their speech.
Here also traveled the adventurous Greek merchants from old Massilia (Marseilles), leaving in their buried coins and in the Greek words of the Gruyere dialect the impress of their ancient visitation.
A country fit for mysterious rites, for the habitation of the nature deities of the Druid mythology, was Gruyere in those early days. The deep caverns, the "black" lakes, and the terrifying depths of the precipitous defiles through which the mountain streams rushed into marshy valleys, were frequented by wild beasts and birds, and haunted in the imagination of the people by fairies and evil spirits holding unholy commerce for the souls of men. Here until the Teuton invasion the early Celts lived unmolested, when some fugitives from the once smiling cities and the cultivated plains came to join them in the refuge of their mountain homes. Strange to their half-savage brothers were these softened and romanized Celts who had tended the olives and the vines on sunny lake sides, and who in earlier days had mingled in Dionysian revels with Roman maidens with curled locks and painted cheeks. Strange their tales of the white pagan temples, and all the glories of the imperial cities left smouldering in ashes after the Teuton hordes had worked their will. The arduous pioneer life of their predecessors and the task of clearing and cultivating their wild asylum among the mountains and the marshes was now their lot. Adopting slowly the altered speech of these later romanized inhabitants and converted to the Christian faith by Gallo-Roman priests, the indigenous inhabitants finally lost all memory of the teachings of their Druid bards and the firm belief in reincarnation which sent the Celtic warrior laughing to his death; but in the traditions of the peasantry, abounding with nature myths, sorcerers still haunt their mountain caves, fairies and May maidens still flutter about their crystal streams.
One more strain, that of the heroes of the Nibelungen, the blond Burgundian giants who had forced the Romans to share with them a portion of their conquered territories, was destined to add height and virile force to the Celto-Roman people of this country. Strangely differing from their ancient enemies the merciless Teutons, these mighty Burgundians, most human of all the vandal hords, in an epic of tragic grandeur rivaling the classic tales of mythology, for a century maintained an autonomous and mighty kingdom. Gentle as gigantic, indomitable in war, invading but not destroying, their greatest monarch, Gondebaud, who could exterminate his rival brothers, and enact a beneficient code of laws which forms the basis of the Gallic jurisprudence, was their protagonist and prototype. Beside his figure, looming in the mists of history, is Clothilde, his niece, the proselyting Christian queen, who fled in her ox cart from Geneva to the arms of Clovis the Merovingian, first king of France. Enthroned at Lyons, Gondebaud issued the laws which regulated the establishment of his people in their new domains, which spread over what was later the great French Duchy of Burgundy, the whole extent of occidental Switzerland and Savoy. "Like brothers," it is related by the Latin chroniclers, they mingled with the resident inhabitants, dividing lands and serfs by lot, marrying their daughters, and quickly adopting their language and their Christian faith.
Thus the whole of Romand Switzerland was deeply impregnated with the Burgundian influence, assimilating its vigorous race type and ruled by its laws. Although the country later passed under the universal domination of Charlemagne, the character of the people was little affected by the distant rule of the great monarch, and when the Carlovingian Empire fell apart and Rodolph I, of the second Burgundian line, crowned himself king in the monastery of St. Maurice, his subjects were of the same race and customs as those of his predecessors. Differing in blood from the early Burgundian rulers, these Rodolphian kings, allied to the Carlovingian emperors and long governors of lower or Swiss Burgundy, ruled pacifically and under the beloved Rodolph II and his still better loved Queen Berthe, and their son Conrad, resisted the Saracen invasion and preserved for a hundred and fifty years the autonomy of their kingdom. Nobles with their serfs and freemen already divided the land, their prerogatives and vassalage long since established by the laws of Gondebaud. The Oberland, or Pays-d'en-Haut, Hoch Gau, or D'Ogo, in the German tongue, a country no longer wild but rich in fertile valleys and wooded mountain sides, was given to a Burgundian lord, under the title of King's Forester or Grand Gruyer; Count he was or Comes D'Ogo, first lord of the country afterwards called Gruyere. Although Burgundian, the subjects of Count Turimbert were of different races. In the country of Ogo, called Haute Gruyere, they were German, while in the lower northern plains, called Basse Gruyere, they were Celtic or Celto-Roman. Between these two divisions the mountain torrent of the Sarine rushes through a deep gorge called the Pas de la Tine. For many years the Gallo-Roman peasants feared to penetrate this terrifying barrier between the rising valleys and the frowning heights, until, according to a legend, a young adventurer broke his way through the primeval woods and the rocky depths of the gorge to find out-spread before him the fertile upper plateaux of the Pays-d'en-Haut.
"It happened," so runs another legend, "that the Roman peasants who had passed the Pas de la Tine and led their herds along the course of the Sarine, wished to cut their way through the thick forest, but encountered other peasants who spoke a different language. Here peacefully they halted on the hither side of the dividing Griesbach, 'where it touched the limit of the Alamanni.'" (In ea parte quae facit contra Alamannos.)
INFLUENCE OF THE CHURCH
Twenty lords of Gruyere made up the line which maintained a singularly kindly and paternal rule over the differing people of their pastoral kingdom; all of one race, and all but the three last in the direct descent from father to son. Six centuries they ruled, distinguished first for their inexhaustible love of life, their knightly valor and their fidelity to the Catholic faith. The first Count Turimbert, with his wife Avana, lived in the first castle belonging to the domain at Castrum in Ogo or Chateau d'Oex. His was the time of good Queen Berthe, who, for defence against the Saracen invasion, built a long series of towers on height after height from Neuchatel to the borders of Lake Leman, many of which, situated in the county of Gruyere, became the property of its ruling family. That Turimbert was of importance among the secular landholders of the tenth century is attested by his participation in the Plaid of St. Gervais, a tribunal famous as being one of the earliest on record, and held by the Seigneur de la Justice of Geneva. His exchange of lands with Bishop Boson of Lausanne is also recorded in the first of a series of yellow parchments, which in monastic Latin narrate the succeeding incidents of the Gruyere sovereignty and tell the story of the long predominance of the church in Switzerland. Seven centuries before Turimbert, in the period of the Roman domination, a cloister had been founded at St. Maurice D'Agaune, near the great Rhone gateway of the Alps, in memory of the Theban legion who had preferred death to the abjuration of their Christian faith. Here, three centuries later, the converted Burgundian king, Sigismund, took refuge after the murder of his son, enlarging it into a vast monastery where five hundred monks, singing in relays from dawn to dawn in never ceasing psalmodies, implored heaven for pardon of his crime. In the seventh century came the missionary monks from Ireland, St. Columban and his successor, St. Gall, who built his hermitage on the site of the great mediaeval centre of arts and learning which still bears his name. At the same time, St. Donat, son of the governor of lower Burgundy, and disciple of Columban, mounted the archiepiscopal throne at Besancon. In his honor the earliest church of the county of Gruyere was erected near the castle of Count Turimbert in the Pays-d'en-Haut. Under the influence of these powerful religious institutions, the country was cultivated and the people instructed, but under Rodolph III the second Burgundian kingdom rapidly approached its dissolution. Weakly subservient to the church, and dispossessing himself of his revenues to such an extent that he was forced to beg a small pittance for his daily necessities from his churchly despoilers, it was said of him that "Onc ne fut roi comme ce roi." Ceding the whole of the province of Vaud, including part of the possessions of Count Turimbert, to the bishop of Lausanne, the already practically dispossessed monarch named the Emperor Henry II of Germany, as heir to his throne. And although Henry the II was unable to enter into this inheritance during the lifetime of Rodolph, the latter's nephew, the Emperor Conrad the Salique, assumed control of the kingdom which then was incorporated into the German Empire. Not without devastating wars and desperate opposition on the part of the heirs of the Rodolphian line was the country preserved to the German sovereign, and under his distant rule it became a prey to continuous dissensions between the bishops and the feudal lords.
"Oh, King," appealed the prelates, "rise and hasten to our succour—Burgundia calls thee. These countries lately added to thy dominions are troubled by the absence of their lord. Thy people cry to thee, as the source of peace, desiring to refresh their sad eyes with the sight of their King."
The answer to this appeal was the establishment of the Rectorate of Burgundy under the Count Rudolph of Rheinfelden and his successors, the Dukes of Zearingen, who founded in the borders of ancient Gruyere the two cities of Berne and Fribourg. Between these centres of the rising power of the bourgeoisie arose mutual dissensions and quarrels with the already hostile lords and bishops, and the country was more than ever the scene of wars innumerable.
Still holding the supreme power, the Church alone could bring the peace for which the country longed. At Romont, near the borders of Gruyere, Hughes, Bishop of Lausanne, invoking a great assembly of prelates, proclaimed the Treve de Dieu before a throng of people carrying palm branches and crying "Pax, Pax Domini." Thus in this corner of the world was adopted the law originating in Acquitaine, which prevailed over all Europe and which alone controlled in those strange times the violence and the pillage which was the permitted privilege of the robber bishops and the robber lords. Gruyere and its rulers reflected the influence of the all-powerful hierarchy, and Turimbert and his successors took their part in the great religious society extending over all Europe, where the conservation of faith was of supreme importance, and when men belonged more to the church than to their country.
The possession of the great monasteries surpassed those of the largest landholders, and Rome with its mighty prelates for the second time became the capital of the world. When Hildebrand the monk, mounting the papal throne as Gregory VII, excommunicated the German Emperor, Henry IV, he placed the imperial crown upon the head of none other than Rudolph of Rheinfelden, the governor of Transjurane Burgundy and of the province of Gruyere. After Henry, forced to submission, had scaled the icy heights of the Alps to prostrate himself before Hildebrand at Canossa, after Rudolph had been killed in battle by Henry's supporter Godfrey de Bouillon, Hildebrand's pupil and successor Urban II, journeying to Clermont in Cisjurane Burgundy, summoned all Europe in torrents of fiery eloquence to rise and deliver the Holy Land from the power of the Saracens. Unmarked in the churchly parchments which alone record the history of these times, were the successors of Turimbert; but in the period of the first Crusade, Guillaume I, of the succeeding and unbroken line of Gruyere counts, appears as the head of a numerous and powerful family preeminent for their loyalty to the church. Among the shining names of chivalry immortalized in the annals of the Holy wars are those of Guillaume, of his son Ulric, chanoine of the Church at Lausanne, and of his nephews Hughes and Turin.
Not with Peter the Hermit, the hallucinated dwarf whose sobbing eloquence had led an innumerable motley host of unnamed peasants to certain disaster in the deserts of the East, went the hundred Gruyerian soldiers led by Guillaume, but with the knights and priests of Romand Switzerland, the Burgundian French and Lombard nobles who swelled the fabled hosts of Godfrey de Bouillon. With gifts of lands to churches and to priories and with the blessing of the lord bishop of their county the Gruyere pilgrims, eager to battle for the holy cause, obeyed with ardor the cry of Dieu le veut, Diex le volt, and leaving their country, faced without faltering, dangers and distant lands and carried their scarlet banner with its silver crane, bravely among the bravest.
"The young bergeres of Gruyere," so runs the chronicle, "barred the gates of the city to prevent their departure, by force the gates were burst, and the poor maidens wept as they listened to the standard-bearers cry, a hundred times repeated, "En Avant la Grue, S'agit d'aller, reviendra qui pourra." How wide is the ocean we must cross," they asked as they galloped down the valleys, "as wide as the lake we must pass when we go to pray to our Lady of Lausanne?"
Tasso, the poet of the Crusades, so well appreciated the valor of the Swiss soldiers that he chose their leader for the honor of first scaling the walls of Jerusalem.
"Over the moat, on a sudden filled to the brim With a thousand thrown faggots, and with rolled trees stout and slim, Before all he ventured. On helmet and buckler poured floods of sulphurous fire. Yet scatheless he passed through the furnace of flame, And with powerful hand throwing the ladder high over the wall, mounted with pride."
Again when the Christians were in want of wood for the catapults and rolling towers with which to scale and batter down resisting walls, Tasso leads this same undaunted servant of de Bouillon into the forest enchanted by the Satanic ally of the Musselmans.
"Like all soldiers I must challenge fate— Surprises, fears and phantoms know I not. Floods and roaring monsters, the terrors Of the common herd affright not me! The last realm of hell I would invade, Descending fearless, sword in hand."
Such, according to Tasso, was the spirit of the Swiss Crusaders. Did the banner of Gruyere float with those of Tancred, of Robert of Normandy and of all the flower of the French noblesse over the walls of Jerusalem delivered? No record tells of it. Many of the hundred "beaux Grueriens" doubtless perished on the holy soil. A fraction only of the host which in multitudes like the stars and desert sands invaded the east, assembled for the assault upon the Holy City. Famine, thirst and pestilence decimated the great armies upon which fell the united cohorts of the oriental powers. Blasphemy and prostitution, the refuge of despair, alternated in the camp of the Crusaders with fanatic visions of visiting archangels, of armed and shining knights descending the slopes of heaven in their defence. From such a phantasmagoria, surpassing in the historical records all the poetic imaginations of its famous chroniclers, only a few returned to tell the tale. Among these fortunate pilgrims was Guillaume of Gruyere, who, once more safe among his home mountains, ended his life with lavish gifts to the holy church of which he was so preeminent a servant. The priory of Rougemont founded by him upon his return, the church of St. Nicholas in the same region, near the borders of the Griesbach, still exist in testimony of his devotion and preserve the memory of his name and reign. Exemplifying by his deeds the dominating religious exaltation of his time he was allied by marriage with a family equally illustrious for its loyalty to the church. His wife, Agathe de Glane, was sister to Pierre and Philippe de Glane, protectors and tutors of the young count of Upper Burgundy, who through his mother's marriage to the duke of Zearingen shared with the latter the rule of the united provinces under the sovereignty of the German Empire. Son of a father done traitorously to death by his own vassals, the young count of Burgundy was himself as basely murdered while at prayer in the church of Payerne by these same vassals, and with him the brothers-in-law of Guillaume de Gruyere, Pierre and Philippe de Glane. Guillaume de Glane, son and nephew of the murdered protectors of their young suzerain, profoundly moved by the tragedy which had befallen his house, determined to renounce the world and commanding that not one stone should remain of his great castle of Glane dedicated these same stones to the enlargement of the monastery of Hauterive, where, taking the garb of a monk, he finished the remainder of his days. Such was the origin of the power of the great Cistercian monastery which still stands at the junction of the rivers Glane and Sarine in the county of Fribourg. Not content with this unequalled act of piety and renunciation, the insatiable Bishop of Lausanne exacted the cession of every chateau and every rood of land belonging to the family of de Glane, part of which—through the marriage of Agnes to Count Rodolphe I, and of Juliane to Guillaume of the cadet branch of Gruyere—had extended the domain of the latter house. Undeterred by the greed of the bishop, Rodolphe piously preserved the traditions of his predecessors Raimond and Guillaume II, who had founded the monasteries of Humilimont and Hautcret, by continued gifts to the latter as well as to Hauterive. Yet the robber bishop implacably demanded another act of renunciation from Count Rodolphe, one of serious significance to the future of his house, by which he authorized the transference of the market of the county from Gruyere to the neighboring city of Bulle which belonged to the bishop. The city of Bulle thereafter became the centre of exchange of the county, while Gruyere, although now the chef-lieu of the reigning counts, was permanently deprived of all possibility of progress or enlargement. Thus the city of Bulle, busy and flourishing even to this day, has kept its place in the growing commercial importance of the county, while Gruyere is still the little feudal city of the middle ages, precious historically as it is picturesque, but crystalized in a permanent immobility. Forty marks, scarcely more than the worth of the mess of pottage for which Esau sold his heritage, was the price accepted by Count Rodolphe for the commercial existence of Gruyere.
Rodolphe's far more virile successors, Pierre I and Rodolphe II and III, attempted with the support of the people to defy the power of the bishop, and in disregard of the act of their predecessor, to keep up the marche at Gruyere. But the power which could excommunicate an emperor did not hesitate to launch the same formidable curse upon the princes of Gruyere and they were forced to yield. The foundation of the church of St. Theodule at Gruyere and of the rich and venerated convent of the Part Dieu by his daughter-in-law, Guillemette de Grandson (widow of his eldest son Pierre) attested the unabated devotion of the Gruyere house to the Catholic religion.
SOVEREIGNTY OF THE HOUSE OF SAVOY
In the middle of the thirteenth century the counts of Gruyere—who had so long been oppressed by the grasping prelates of the Church—came within the orbit of another power, that of the rising house of Savoy.
Fortifying their influence by alliances with the kingdoms of Europe, extending its domains over occidental Switzerland and far into Italy, the counts of Savoy were already in a position to dispute the power of the bishops, when Count Pierre took his place at the head of his house. Although he had occupied for two years the bishopric of Lausanne, which had so long been inimical to the counts of Gruyere, the spiritual overlordship of the country of Vaud did not satisfy the genius or the ambition of the ablest personage in a family which numbered five reigning queens, and who, himself was marquis in Italy, earl of Richmond in England and uncle and adviser to King Henry III of England and of his brother the Emperor Richard. Although he lived by preference in England where his lightest word could control the tumults of the populace, the wisdom of Count Pierre's choice of delegates greatly extended his Savoyard domain. "Proud, firm and terrible as a lion," "the little Charlemagne" as his contemporaries called him, was wise also and affable with his subjects. Brilliant in intellect, master of happy and courteous speech, he fascinated where he controlled. The princely air of pride and power, seen in the portraits of Pierre de Savoy, the blazing dark eyes and mobile mouth of his Gallo-Roman ancestors, present the truly majestic semblance of the founder of a dynasty and the eminently sympathetic overlord of the Gallo-Roman counts of Gruyere. Such was the great ruler and law-giver who easily supplanting his niece as head of the house of Savoy, reduced to a loyal vassalage all the nobles of Roman Switzerland. Not without opposition from the bishops and feudal lords nor without jealousy from the German emperor did Count Pierre arrive at a height where he saw only heaven above and his mountainous domain! "From Italy through the Valais," so a chronicler of his house relates, "at the rumor that a rival German governor of Vaud was besieging his castle of Chillon, he reached the heights above Lake Leman. There he surveyed the banners of the noble army, and the luxurious tents in which they took their ease before his castle. Hiding his soldiers at Villeneuve, alone and unobserved he rowed to Chillon, where from the great tower he watched the young nobles as they danced and reveled in jeweled velvets and shining armor, with the maidens of the lake-side. Then at a given signal, he emerged to lead his waiting army to the complete rout of the surprised besiegers."
Among these holiday warriors was Rodolphe III of Gruyere, who with his comrades—eighty-four barons, seigneurs, chevaliers, ecuyers and nobles of the country—were taken to the castle of Chillon where, according to the chronical: "Comte Pierre ne les traita pas comme prisonniers mais les festoya honorablement. Moult fut grande la despoilie et moult grande le butin."
After a year's imprisonment Count Rodolphe was ransomed by his people, and first among all the Romand knights swore fealty to his new overlord at the chateau of Yverdun. Growing in favor with Pierre de Savoy and his successors, the counts of Gruyere became their trusted courtiers and counselors, and through many vicissitudes and many wars merited the encomium of Switzerland's first historian, that the "Age of chivalry produced no braver soldiers than these counts, their suzerain had no more devoted vassals."
The submission of Rodolphe of Gruyere having been confirmed in formal treaty, his grandson and successor Count Pierre the Third, loyally supported during a long and brilliant reign the banners of his overlord against the rising power of Rudolph of Hapsburg. When Berne, allied with Savoy, was besieged by the Hapsburg army, Count Pierre generously supplied money to the beleaguered city and in the final battle when the city fell, it was a Jean de Gruyere who snatched the torn and bloodstained Bernese banner from the hands of the enemy. When asked the name of the hero who had saved the flag, his comrades answered "c'est le preux de Gruyere," and to this day the Bernese family of Gruyere bear the title thus bravely won by their progenitor.
The role of mediator, filled with distinction by his successors, was first assigned to Count Pierre III, who as avoyer of Fribourg at that time allied with Austria, was empowered to arbitrate the differences which arose between the houses of Savoy and Hapsburg.
Always loyal to his suzerain, Count Pierre served under the Savoy banner in the war with Hughes de Faucigny, dauphin of the Viennois, and only after the marriage of Catherine (daughter of Amedee V of Savoy) to the redoubtable Leopold of Austria had sealed a truce between the rival powers which divided and devastated the country, did he consent to join the Austrian army in Italy under Duke Leopold himself.
In the brilliant cortege which followed Duke Leopold to Italy, Count Pierre, accompanied by a number of his relatives, was notable by the command of a hundred horsemen and a force of archers. Mounted on horses, armored like their riders and covered with emblazoned velvets, such a force of cavalry was the strongest as well as the most imposing instrument of warfare in this time, when the knights, willing only to conquer by personal bravery, despised all arms except their lances and their swords. Contested by the warring Guelphs and Ghibellines, the city of Milan and the palace of the newly crowned German emperor himself was with difficulty protected by the imperial guard. The soldiers of Duke Leopold, arriving without the city walls, under a hail of stones and arrows, broke through the outer barricades and burst the city gates, and then Gruyere again, at the head of his horsemen dashed through, bringing release to the imprisoned emperor and victory to the Austrian arms.
Not long was the alliance between the houses of Hapsburg and Savoy to endure. The rising powers of the cities, still more the prowess of the mountaineers, the Waldstetten, who soon after Duke Leopold's Italian campaign had vanquished him and his shining warriors at the famous battle of Morgarten, resisted with growing success the Savoyard and the Hapsburg sovereignty, and divided in ever changing alliances the fermenting elements of the tottering feudal society. The horn of the Alps, sounding the tocsin over the rocky defile of the Swiss Thermopylae, announced the approaching end of the feudal rule of the middle ages and the dawn of liberty in Switzerland.
Although at first a willing ally of Pierre de Savoy, the city of Berne, greatly enlarging its possessions by conquests and alliances and growing rapidly in independence and republican enlightenment, warred incessantly with the nobles of the surrounding country and with particular virulence attacked the counts of Gruyere. So serious a menace did the proud city become to all the knights of Romand Switzerland, that they were driven to attempt its humiliation. All the great lords of Helvetia west and east joined the brave alliance. The banners of Hapsburg and Savoy were united in the determined onslaught upon the powerful city, and a large force from Fribourg, eager to aid in bringing her rival low, swelled the forces of the nobles in a glittering army of three thousand knights, who with their attendant vassals gayly and confidently practised feats of arms before the little fortified city of Laupen while awaiting the arrival of the Bernois.
Among them, Count Pierre de Gruyere, refusing an enormous indemnity for losses at the hands of the Bernois and as ever faithful to his order and to Savoy, took his place with other nobles of his house. Warriors each one by training and tradition, not yet had any fear of defeat chilled their ardor or their courage, nor had they learned the wisdom of concealing their threatened attack upon the growing republic. The citizens of Berne were given ample time to send a messenger to the victorious mountaineers of Morgarten, and this was their reply: "Not like the birds are we who fly from a storm-stricken tree. In trouble best is friendship known. Tell the Bernois we are friendly and will send them aid."
The June sun was setting over the plateau when the nobles desisting from their sports drew up their cavalry, supported by a chosen band of infantry from Fribourg. Retreating before the advance of the latter, the Waldstetten, in the forefront of the Bernese army, sought, as was their custom, an advantageous position for attack. From the heights above the city, with their terrifying war cries, and with the same furious onslaught which had overwhelmed Duke Leopold's glorious horsemen at Morgarten, they fell upon the nobles in a bloody melee in which horses, men and valets perished in a hopeless confusion. Three Gruyere knights were left lifeless on the battlefield and eighty-four others, who thus paid the price of their temerity in thinking to stem the already formidable confederation of citizens and free people in Switzerland. Undeterred by this defeat and continually menaced by the incursions of the Bernois, Count Pierre de Gruyere successfully held them in check, and, no less wise as ruler than he was valorous in war, enlarged the power and extent of his domain by political and matrimonial alliances with the great Romand families of Blonay, Grandson and Oron, as well as with the warlike La Tour Chatillons of the Valais, and with the powerful Wissenbourgs and the semi-royal Hapsburg-Kibourgs of eastern Switzerland. Leaving to his nephews, "Perrod" and "Jeannod," the seigneuries of Vanel and Montsalvens which they had inherited from their father, he shared with them the rule of the people.
The "three of Gruyere" whose acts are recorded in the dry and unpoetic parchments of the time, were united in a paternal and pacific rule under which people and country reached a legendary height of arcadian prosperity.
First to deserve the name so cherished in the legends of Gruyere of "pastoral king," Count Pierre III saw his herds increase and valleys and mountain sides blossom into fabulous fertility. His was the golden age of the herdsmen the "Armaillis," of whom it was related in symbolic legend that, "their cows were so gigantic and milk so abundant that it overflowed the borders of the ponds into which they poured it." By boat they skimmed the cream in these vast basins, and one day a "beau berger," busy with the skimming, was upset in his skiff by a sudden squall and drowned. The young lads and maidens sought long and vainly for his body and wore mourning for his tragic fate. Discovered only several days later, when amid floods of boiling cream they whipped the butter into a mound high as a tower, his body was buried in a great cavern in the golden butter, filled full by the bees with honey rays wide as a city's gates. "Where," asks a living Romand writer, "is the eclogue of Virgil or Theocritus to surpass the beauty of this legend?"
Dying full of years and honors, Count Pierre left the care of his beloved people and his happy country to his nephews the cherished Perrod and Jeannod, who even in the churchly parchments are known by the nicknames affectionately given them by their uncle. Together they ruled, although Pierre IV, the eldest and ablest, bore the title of Lord of Gruyere. Always by the side of his uncle in all his wars and on the bloody plain of Laupen, Perrod had already won his title of Chevalier, and did not lack occasion to further prove his courage in a new war with the Bernois who in one of their many incursions had advanced far among the upper Gruyere mountains, near the twin chateaux of Laubeck and Mannenburg, lately acquired by the Gruyere house. Accustomed to success and confident of an easy victory, the Bernois scattered about the valleys, leaving the flag to their leader with a few men-at-arms. But the Gruyeriens, wary and prepared, were already massed upon the heights over the defile of Laubeck-Stalden, whence they fell suddenly upon the Banneret of Berne, who, thinking only to save the flag, cast it far behind him among his few followers, and meeting alone the attack of the enemy, died faithful to his duty and his honor. Bitterly lamenting, the Bernois retreated with their flag, while Count Perrod and his victorious band, returning to the castle, celebrated famously with songs and jests, in a brave company of knights and ladies, their triumph over their redoubtable enemies. Not so gayly did the banners of Gruyere return homeward in the next contest with Berne, for, now allied with Fribourg and determined to avenge their late defeat, they advanced in great numbers and with fire and sword ravaged the country of the count of Gruyere and attacked the chateaux of his allies, the lords of Everdes and Corbieres. Already the chateau of Everdes was burning, the Ogo bridge was lost, and while Corbieres was hotly besieged by the men of Fribourg, the Bernois advancing within sight of the castle of Gruyere to attack the outpost Tour de Treme, encountered at the Pre de Chenes a small band of Gruyeriens. Here, until the arrival of the main force of Count Pierre, two heroes, justly celebrated and sung in all the annals of Gruyere, alone behind a barrier of corpses withstood the onslaught of the Bernois. Two men of Villars sous Mont were they: Ulric Bras le Fer, and the brave Clarimboz. So strong the arms with which they wielded the great halberds of the time, that the handles, clotted with the blood of their foes were glued to their clenched fists, so that it was necessary to bathe them long in warm water to detach them. Although the Bernois burnt the Tour de Treme and captured sixty of the defendants, Count Pierre and his soldiers forced them to retire, and the castle and city of Gruyere were saved. Strong men were these knights and vassals of Gruyere to withstand and gayly to forget the bloody assaults of their determined foes, for in the intervals of war alarms they passed a holiday life of jest and song. Within the circle of their starlit heights, they nightly watched the brandon lights on peak and hilltop; and while the sentinels in every tower scanned the wide country for a sign of the approaching foe, within they made merry in the banqueting hall. In the long summer afternoons, tourneys in the jousting court, or tribunals held in the same green enclosure alternated with generous feasts out-spread on the castle terrace for the enjoyment of the people. Often Count Pierre would mount his horse and ride among the mountains where he administered justice before the doors of the chalets, adopting the orphans who were brought to him, giving dots to the daughters of the poor, and sometimes taking part in the wrestling contests of the herdsmen—their brother in sport—their father in misfortune. During all the years of the fourteenth century the feudal society of Switzerland, although so fiercely attacked by the rising bourgeoisie power, blazed like the leaves in autumn in a passing October glory with the snows of winter seemingly still afar. At Chambery, the court of Amedee VII of Savoy, called Le Comte Vert from the emerald color of the velvet in which he and his courtiers were clad, the brother rulers of Gruyere took part in all the fetes and tourneys. Present when the great order of the Annonciata was instituted, and again, when the emperor of Germany was received at banquets served by knights on horseback, they sat at tables where fountains of wine sprinkled their rubies over gilded viands in vessels of wrought gold.
But at Gruyere the young brother rulers held a little court which for intimate gayety and charm surpassed all others. Gallic in its love of beauty, loving life and all its loveliest expressions, it was a court of dance and song—the heart of hearts of Gruyere, itself the centre and the very definition of Romand Switzerland. Often intermarried, the Burgundian counts preserved in its perfection the blond beauty of their ancient race, surpassing in athletic skill the strongest of their subjects, and with the same bonhomie with which their conquering ancestors had mingled with their vassals, they exemplified in their kindly rule the Burgundian device: "Tout par l'amour, rien par la force." The people doubly Celt in origin, added to the Celtic ardor the quick imagination, the gift of playing lightly with life, and a high and passionate idealism expressing itself in an unequaled and valorous devotion to their rulers, together with an arcadian union of simplicity and finesse, the individual mark of their sunny pastoral life.
The chateau on its green hill was a fit centre of the closely mingled life of the rulers and their people. Rebuilt on its ancient rude foundations under the reign of Pierre de Savoy, it possessed the great towers and sentinel tourelles, the moat, drawbridge, courtyards, terrace and arsenal of the time, but in its enchanting situation, its intimate, inviting charm, it quite uniquely expressed the sense and love of beauty of its unknown artist architect.
Within were the high hooded fireplaces of the time, blazoned with the silver crane on scarlet of the Gruyere arms, armorial windows and walls brilliantly painted with lozenges or squares of blue and scarlet. In the great Hall of the Chevaliers, Count Pierre and his brother Jeannod held their revels among a familiar company of their cousins of Blonay, Oron, Montsalvens and Vanel, preux chevaliers all, assembled at Gruyere after long days at the chase. There, also, were the daughters of the house, brave in jewels and brocades, and answering to the names of Agnelette and Margot, Luquette and Elinode, who took their part in the fair company dancing and singing through the long summer nights. Or Chalamala, last and most famous of the Gruyere jesters, would preside over a Conseil de folie, with his jingling bells and nodding peacock plumes, recounting with jest and rhyme the legends of the ancient heroes of Gruyere. Only Count Perrod was forbidden to wear his spurs, having one day torn the pied stockings of the fool. "Shall I marry the great lady of La Tour Chatillon?" he had asked his merry counselor. "If I were lord of Gruyere," was the reply, "I would not give up my fair mistress for that ill-featured dame."
Devoted Catholics as were the Gruyere people, their religion was a source of comfort and protection, but even more a reason for rejoicing and for the innumerable fetes in honor of their favorite saints, for which the little city was almost continually decorated. Passion plays and mysteries culminated at Easter in a wild carnival week in which priests and people sang and danced together in masks and parti-color from dawn to starlight. In the fete called Jeu des Rois, a parade in costume was led by a crowned king in scarlet robes, accompanied by his fool, by his knights and his minstrels. Music and dancing and feats of arms were followed by a religious ceremony, and at night-fall after the play, the king's banquet, where white-bearded magi offered him gifts of gold and silver goblets, of frankincense and myrrh, finished the revel.
Or again on the first Sunday in May all would assemble for the sport called Chateau d'Amour of ancient Celtic origin. In the midst of a green field or in the square before the Hotel de Ville, a wooden fortress was erected, surrounded by a little moat and with high towers and a donjon. Maidens and more maidens, smiling and flower-crowned and with white arms outstretched, poured down a rain of arrows and wooden lances from the battlements, or oftener pelted their lovers the assailants with showers of roses. Then at a given signal, in a sudden escalade, the besiegers broke over the walls, each to receive a kiss and a rose as prize of victory. Then besiegers and besieged together burned the fortress, and the day ended with bacchic libations and with dances. Meeting by moonlight nights to sing their love songs and rhymed legends in the city square, the Gruyere people better loved their dances, the long Celtic Korols (or Coraules), when, singing in chorus in wild winding farandoles, they went dancing over vales and hills, day in and day out until human strength could bear no more. Such was the famous dance quaintly recounted in ancient French by a Gruyere chronicler.
"It happened one day that the Count de Gruyere returning to his castle, found thereby a great merry-making of young lads and maidens dancing in Koraule. The same Count, greatly loving of such sport, forthwith took the hand of the loveliest of the maidens and joined the company. Whereupon, no one tiring, they proceeded, dancing always, through the hard-by village of Enney up to Chateau D'Oex in the Pays-d'en-Haut, and wonderful was it to see the people in all the villages they passed joining in that joyous band. Seven hundred were they when they finished, having danced continuously for three days over the mountain leagues between Gruyere and Chateau D'Oex, and great was the fame of Count Perrod and his dancing in this Grande Coquille."
Such was life in this idyllic country, the beloved Grevire of the melodious Romand speech, where "the houses are high with roofs leaning far towards the ground, where the plums are so ripe they fall with the breeze, where there are oats and tressed wheat, cows black and white and rich cheese, black goats, too, and horned oxen—and beautiful maids who would wed."
Nourished on rich milk smelling of the aromatic grasses of their pastures, white and pink as the apples of their orchards; light-footed and vigorous from their mountain life, their dancing and their athletic sports, the Gruyere people developed a beauty celebrated even in the grave pages of the historians. From their hearts warm with the sun, their fancy fed by the beauty of their ravishing country, issued songs witty and sad, and always melodious with their soft Italian vocables, a literature in Romand patois. Thus the golden age of chivalry, rhyming harmoniously with the golden age of the herdsmen, in the blue circle of the Gruyere heights, grew to its noon day.
Then, suddenly as a tempest gathering across the sun pours quick destruction over a parterre of flowers, black horror swallowed up Gruyere. The plague called the Black Death, born in the Levant and rushing like a destroying flood with terrifying rapidity over the borders of Switzerland, penetrated even into the mountain-encircled country of Count Pierre. The devils and evil spirits of the caverns and the forests seemed now in the imagination of the Celtic people to be the sinister authors of this mysterious and devastating curse. The youths and maidens, no longer dancing to rhymed choruses of love and joy, swung wildly in dances of death among the abandoned corpses.
Sprung from the carnival dances, where the masked Death forcing the terrified maidens to his embrace led them to the cemeteries to celebrate the memory of the dead, the priest countenanced these masks as religious rites and taught the superstitious people that their gifts would ease the souls of those sent suddenly unshrived to hell. With solemn phrase and syncopated notes, the danse macabre wound through the darkened street around the shadowed crucifix up to the chapel door, where in hideous masks, and dancing still, the hallucinated people, cast their gold before the altar. "And as the coins, tin, tin, fell in the basins, so, ha, ha, hi, hi! the poor souls laugh in purgatory." So, taught by the priests and prelates ignorant as themselves, the sadly altered Gruyere people incessantly danced and prayed, sometimes giving themselves to the strange lascivious customs to which the whole country was abandoned, and sometimes joining in the cruel persecution of the Jews, accused of poisoning their fountains and their streams. Nothing was lacking in the reign of terror which overwhelmed Gruyere in the last years of Count Pierre's reign. Fires and earthquakes succeeded to the plague, and in the midst of their terrors their implacable enemies, the Bernois, attacked them.
"O! Misfortune, and three times misfortune, beware how you touch Berne!" the refrain of an old song too often forgotten by Count Pierre, was once more exemplified in the revenge which the Bernois wreaked upon the Gruyere chateaux of Laubeck and Mannenburg, for the thefts of their herds.
On St. Etienne's day, in the dark December of 1349, the avenging Bernois took the field, and a thousand strong assembled before the walls of the twin fortresses. Reeling and shouting to the sound of fifes and drums, in a gross satire of the dance of the fanatic flagellants, they whipped themselves into a furious rage and then attacked the walls. Both donjons, although strongly fortified, fell and were destroyed. Unappeased, the Bernois were advancing towards Gruyere when their cupidity was tempted by offers of rich indemnities by Count Pierre's messengers, with whom, together with a crowd of prisoners, they returned to Berne. Rage and despair as black as this the darkest winter of his reign, possessed Count Pierre, but milder counsels spoken by the gentle voices of his countess and the two sainted Dames de Vaud, Isabelle de Savoie-Chalons and her daughter prevailed. Like a trio of angels singing over the deathlike darkness and terror of the time, they brought peace where there was no peace; and with the august assistance of the reigning prince of Savoy and the bishop of Lausanne established another Treve de Dieu between the warring cities of Berne and Fribourg, and truce between Berne and the country of Gruyere. At last, where fire and sword, where the power of rival cities and proud knights allied, had failed, the love and high influence of these noble ladies of the middle age most wonderfully succeeded. Memorable for its beneficent and permanent effects, the treaty was unique for its high and unselfish spirit of conciliation, and the final words of exhortation which stilled the waters tossed by two centuries of storm have the sacred accent of heavenly inspiration.
"The parties in this present treaty shall in all sincerity forget all bitterness, all offence and all resentment. Secret hate shall give place to the old love, which, God helping, shall endure forever."
Although by this pact Count Pierre's private wars were ended, the old warrior, unaffrighted by the anathema of excommunication, launched by Pope Clement VI against the foes of the archbishop of Sion, joined the barons who invaded the Valais at the instance of his father-in-law the lord of La Tour Chatillon. But this was his last war and during the remaining twenty years of his reign he and his people lived together, happily free at last from danger of invasion or attack. Dying at eighty, Count Pierre ended a reign, shared peacefully with his uncle and brother, of over sixty years. Strong and tenacious of character, hospitable and courageous as all his acts declare, he was the exemplar of all the traits which have united to express the typical Gruyere prince, and under him his pastoral domain blossomed into its climax of idyllic prosperity. Loyal knight and brilliant comrade of his suzerain, compassionate and kindly master, by his high unflagging gayety, his frank and affectionate dealings with his adoring subjects, he was the very soul and leader of the astonishing epopee of revel and of song which has made his reign celebrated in the history of Gruyere.
His brother-ruler Jeannod, as the years rolled by, became water to his wine, as gravely sad as Pierre was gay. Three wives preceded him to the grave, all childless, and after a fourth barren marriage he bestowed the greater part of his inheritance upon the church, and when a few years after his brother's death he was carried sumptuously in gold and silken sheets to his prepared resting place in the cathedral of Lausanne, a multitude of sacred lamps burning perpetually in shrines and monasteries over all the land celebrated his pious memory and his disappointments.
Rodolphe IV, eldest son of Count Pierre, although sole inheritor of the title and authority of count, had two younger brothers Pierre and Jean, who perpetuated the strongly contrasted traits of the elder Pierre and Jean. But in the second generation the roles were changed. Pierre was the religious brother, and became prior of Rougemont, while Jean, even more eager for martial glory than his father, went far from home to join the English armies of Edward III and the Black Prince in their wars with Charles V of France. Count Rodolphe, surpassing his predecessors in the brilliancy of his alliances, married two grand-daughters of Savoy, and through his second countess, Marguerite de Grandson, was related to the distinguished family whose soldiers following Pierre de Savoy to England there established a noble line of Grandisson. These Grandissons were intimately related with the kings of England through the Savoyard Queen Eleanor. The glorious progress of the English armies, the fame of Crecy, the capture of the King of France resounding through all Europe, inflamed with chivalric ardor, young Othon de Grandson, and in his company Jean de Gruyere, to set out in the spring of 1372 for England. Warmly received at Windsor, they were present at the fete of St. George, and assigned a place in the naval forces of Lord Pembroke, sailing shortly after with his fleet for the western shores of France. Bravely and confidently enough the English set out for the scene of their earlier and easy conquests, but the Black Prince, stricken with mortal disease, no longer led their armies; Spain under Pedro the Cruel was allied with the already disaffected English possessions in Brittany, and when Pembroke sailed up to the harbor of La Rochelle he was attacked by an overwhelmingly superior Spanish fleet.
Recounted immortally in the glowing pages of Froissart, is the story of Pembroke's hopeless battle with the Spanish fleet. Confiding in the skill and valor of his soldiers and bestowing the title of chevalier on every man among them in the last hour before the combat, he gave the signal to advance. It was dawn and the tide flowed full, when, with a favoring wind, the forty great Spanish vessels, bearing the floating pennons of Castille, advanced to the sound of fife and drum in battle line upon the English fleet. Arrived at close quarters, and grappling Pembroke's ships with chains and iron hooks, they poured down from their tall towers a rain of stones and lead upon the lower and exposed decks of the English, who with swords and spears sustained the fierce attack all day until darkness fell. With the twenty-two newly-made knights who valiantly defended Pembroke's ship was Jean de Gruyere, and when at last, grappled by four great galleons, they were boarded and every resisting arm subdued, he was taken prisoner with Pembroke. On another vessel, fighting as bravely, Othon de Grandson was also taken prisoner and with Jean de Gruyere was transported in captivity to Spain. Dearly paying for their ambition and their new titles, they were furnished in recompense for their valor with lands in Spain by a Burgundian noble, and by industrious commercial enterprise paying their ransom and their debts, after two years regained their liberty and their homes.
Rodolphe IV, reigning count of Gruyere, displayed in his long career no quality worthy of his generous and high spirited father, no trace of the conciliatory wisdom or devoted piety of his mother. Calculating in his marriages, he was unjust and even dishonest with his people, whom he forced to pay twice over for their exemptions and their privileges. Still dishonestly withholding the signed and purchased acknowledgement of their new privileges from his subjects, he was surprised alone at night in the castle by a doughty peasant, who forced the paper from his unwilling hands and threw it out of the window to a waiting confederate. Left in charge of the Savoyard troops who had driven the invading Viscounti from the Valais, and entrusted with the guardianship of the chateaux and prisoners won by the Savoyard arms, he exacted and obtained large sums for his services, although those services consisted in a complete surprise and defeat at the hands of the sturdy inhabitants of the Valais, wherein, except for the heroic defence of the very subjects he had so oppressed, he would himself have perished. From the benefits of the peace which was ultimately established in the Valais, these same loyal subjects were excluded.
How greatly Count Rodolphe was lacking in the noble and humanitarian qualities which had so generally characterized the counts of Gruyere, was shown in his dealings with his young relative Othon de Grandson. The comrade of his brother, Jean de Gruyere, in his French campaigns and in his long captivity in Spain, Othon de Grandson was later doubly related to Count Rodolphe, as brother-in-law of his first wife Marguerite d'Alamandi, and as nephew of his second countess, Marguerite de Grandson. The tragic hero of an unjust drama of prosecution which divided in opposing camps the nobles of Romand Switzerland, Othon de Grandson was falsely accused of complicity in the poisoning of Count Amedee VII of Savoy, and although declared innocent by a royal French tribunal, was again implacably accused by his rival in love, Count Estavayer, on his return to his estates. Calling God to witness that his accuser lied, he consented to defend and prove his innocence in a trial of arms, where, in the presence of his suzerain and of his council and knights assembled, he fell mortally wounded at the feet of his opponent. No effort was made by Count Rodolphe to defend his relative, while Rodolphe le Jeune was not only an unprotesting witness of his undeserved and tragic fate, but the purchaser with his father's assistance of the confiscated Grandson estates. Again, although selling the newly acquired chateaux of Oron and Palezieux to increase their revenues, the two Rodolphes, in total disregard of the rights of the new owners, attempted to retake them by force of arms, and except for the immediate intervention of the count of Savoy, would have plunged the newly pacified country into a general war.
An enchanting legend regarding the first wife of Count Rodolphe illuminates the dismal story of his inglorious reign. Marguerite d'Alamandi has been confused in the tradition with Marguerite de Grandson, the second wife of Rodolphe. It is Marguerite d'Alamandi, and not the other Marguerite who is the heroine of the tale which has been elaborated into a moving little drama by a poet pastor of the eighteenth century, and which beautifully preserves the customs and the atmosphere of that distant time.
Countess Marguerite of Gruyere, so runs the story, was so sadly afflicted that she had borne no heir, that she had no longer any joy in her fair castle, no comfort with her beloved lord. Vainly journeying to distant shrines, as vainly invoking the aid of sorcerers and magicians, she went one day, clad as one of her poor subjects, to pray in the chapel at the foot of the Gruyere hill. There, as the November day was closing, poor Jean the cripple, well known through the country, came also to tell his beads. Very simple and kindly was poor Jean, with always the same blessing for those who gave him food or mocked him with cruel jeers. Perceiving in the shadow a poor woman sadly weeping, he gave her all his day's begging, a piece of black bread with a morsel of coarse cheese, repeating his usual blessing, "May God and our Lady grant thee all thy noble heart desires." That evening, again clad in her jewels and brocades, the Countess Marguerite, at the close of a feast laid for her husband's comrades after a day at the chase, offered each knight a bit of this bread and cheese, with a moving story of poor Jean and a prayer that all should wish what her heart so long and vainly had desired. Nine months later, so concludes the tale, a fair son and heir was born to the happy dame. On the walls of the Hall of the Chevaliers, among the painted legends of the house, poor Jean and Countess Marguerite live in pictured memory; and a room next the great kitchen of the chateau, called by the cripple's name, has been pointed out for many generations as the spot where, fed on the fat of the land, he enjoyed the bounty of the countess during the remainder of his days.
Rodolphe le Jeune, the long awaited heir of this story, did not live to inherit the rule of the domain whose fame his father had so sadly stained. Brilliantly educated at the court of Savoy, and later the councilor of the countess regent, he emulated his uncle's heroic example and joined the English armies under Buckingham in France, there winning praise and the offer of the chevalier's accolade. But he failed to fulfil the promise of his youth and died prematurely, leaving his young son Antoine, the last hope of the family, to succeed to his grandfather. Count Antoine's overlord, the youthful count of Savoy, confided the education of his vassal and protege to a venerable prelate of Lausanne; but heeding nothing of his pious instructions the young ruler wasted his revenues in extravagant hospitality, lived gaily with his mistresses, and celebrated the weddings of his two sisters with famous feasting and generous marriage gifts. Unlike his predecessors, who shared the rule of Gruyere with brothers or sons, he reigned alone, and gave himself wholly to the ambition of maintaining the pleasure-loving reputation of his house. More than ever under Count Antoine was Gruyere a court of love. The numerous and beautiful children of his mistresses filled the castle with their youthful gayety and charm, and his two splendid sons, Francois and Jean, proudly acknowledged by their father and legitimized with the sanction of the pope, took their place among the young nobles of the country as heirs of the Gruyere possessions. Again the gay Coraules of flower-crowned shepherds and maids wound over the valleys and hills. Again minstrels and chroniclers recorded and sang the lovely traditions of their pastoral life.
"Gruyere, sweet country, fresh and verdant Gruyere Did thy children imagine how happy they were? Did thy shepherds know they lived an idyll? Had they read Theocrite, had they heard of Virgil? No, no! as in gardens the lilac and rose Grow in innocent beauty, their days drew to a close."
So in a fond ecstasy of recollection, sings a Romand poet, and thus in the famous lines of Uhland is related the Coraule of Count Antoine.
The Count of Gruyere
Before his high manor, the Count of Gruyere, One morning in Maytime looked over the land. Rocky peaks, rose and gold, with the dawning were fair, In the valleys night still held command.
"Oh! Mountains! you call to your pastures so green, Where the shepherds and maids wander free, And while often, unmoved, your smiles I have seen, Ah! to-day 'tis with you I would be."
Then afloat on the breeze, there came to his ear, Sweet pipes faintly blowing—still distant the sounds—— As across the deep valley, each with his dear, Came the shepherds, dancing their rounds.
And now on the green sward they danced and they sang, In their holiday gowns, a pretty parterre, With oft sounding echoes the castle walls rang, To the joy of the Count of Gruyere.
Then slim as a lily, a beauteous maid, Took the Count by the hand to join the gay throng. "And now you're our captive, sweet master," she said, "And our leader in dancing and song."
Then, the Count at the head, away they all went, A-singing and dancing, through forest and dell. O'er valleys and hillsides, with force all unspent, Till the sun set and starry night fell.
The first day fled fast, and the second dawned fair, The third was declining, when over the hills Quick lightning flashed whitely—the Count was not there! "Has he vanished?" they asked of the rills.
The black storm clouds have burst, the streams are like blood By the red lightning's glare, and dark night is rent, Oh, look! where our lost one fights hard with the flood, Until a branch saves him, pale and spent.
"The mountains which drew me with smiles to their heights, With thunders have kept me, their lover, at bay. Their streams have engulfed me, not these the delights I dreamed of, dancing the hours away.
"Farewell, ye green Alps! youths and maidens so gay, Farewell! happy days when a shepherd was I, Stern fates I have questioned have answered me nay, So I leave ye, with smiles and a sigh.
"My poor heart's still burning, the dance tempts me yet, So ask me no longer, my lily, my belle! For you, love and frolic, but I must forget, Take me back, then, my frowning castel."
No attacks from feudal lords or from rival cities threatened Gruyere during the reign of Count Antoine, which came to its end in undisturbed tranquility. The kindly and complaisant father, brother and lover essayed as he grew in years to correct some of the follies of his youth, and according to the opinion of Gruyere's principal historian married the mother of the children he had already legitimized. A pious and lamenting widower, he instituted many masses and anniversaries for the repose of the soul of his wife, the Countess Jeanne de Noyer of blessed memory; and erecting a chapel to his patron St. Antoine in the parochial church of Gruyere caused to be painted therein the kneeling portraits of himself and his countess, in perpetual testimony of his devotion to the rites of matrimony and religion.
THE BURGUNDIAN WARS (Count Francois I)
The inheritance of the estates Count Antoine had so diminished by his improvident generosity was bitterly contested by the husbands of his two sisters, but the duke of Savoy did not hesitate to recognize the rights of his legitimized descendants, and Francois I of Gruyere and his brother Jean of Montsalvens entered without difficulty into the enjoyment of their inheritances. Count Francois, flower of the race of pastoral kings, presents one more historical example of the brilliant intellect, of the abounding vitality and extraordinary beauty with which nature—unheeding law—seems unwisely to sanction the overwhelming preference and inclination of unmarried lovers. A celebrated chronicler of Zurich who had seen the famous personage whom the historians describe as "the handsomest noble in Romand Switzerland," records in Latin how greatly he exceeded in his noble proportions and mighty stature the majority of mankind, and spoke also of his armor, fit for giants, which was long preserved in the chateau of Gruyere.
Becoming in his youth the favorite companion and support of Amedee IX, during his early years in Italy, he was entrusted by that gentle ruler, when he acceded to the ducal throne of Savoy, with every important office in his domain. Governor and Bailli of Vaud, "conseiller" and "chambellan" of the court, he was chatelain of Moudon and Faucigny, military governor of the great fortress of Montbeliard; and finally, as marechal of Savoy, became the general-in-chief of all his forces. When Amedee, resigning his flute playing and his many charities, returned to Italy and abandoned his throne to the Duchess Yolande—worthy sister of Louis the XI of France—Francois de Gruyere was still the principal support of the throne. The virtual governor by reason of his judicial and military administration of the whole duchy of Savoy, Count Francois of Gruyere did not neglect to continue and to strengthen the amicable relations of his house with Fribourg. Winning prizes in its tournaments, taking part in all its fetes and often dwelling in the imposing chateau which he had erected within its gates, he became a personage of the utmost importance and influence with the city authorities, and persuaded them to renounce their alliance with the dukes of Austria and swear allegiance to Savoy. In the triumphal entry which he made therein, on the occasion of the formal signing of its vassalage to its new suzerain, his splendid appearance as he advanced mounted and in armor, followed by the bishop of Lausanne, the court of justice and all the authorities of Fribourg, is recorded in the annals of the city. Equally respected at Berne, he indefatigably labored with the proud and stiffnecked council of its citizens until they also consented to form an alliance with Savoy. But although frequently residing at Fribourg or at the ducal court of Chambery, and absent for the most part in the administration of his multifarious offices, he did not forget Gruyere, where he wisely and economically regulated the finances, increased and improved the herds, and effectually restrained the people in their habitual depredations upon the possessions of Berne and Fribourg.
But Switzerland, the battlefield of so many warring powers, was now to become the scene of a European drama, of rival principalities and potentates avid of world control—a family tragedy of the related rulers of France, Germany, Burgundy and Savoy. By his delegated rule of the latter country, Francois de Gruyere, although playing his part only in the prologue, took his place beside the great figures of the Emperor Ferdinand of Germany, Louis XI of France, the Duchess Yolande and their magnificent cousin Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Sent by his father, Charles VII of France, at the head of the redoubtable Armagnacs, to help the German emperor to subdue the Confederated Cantons, the dauphin Louis XI had such a taste of the quality of the Swiss soldier as he was never afterwards to forget, when, at the battle of St. Jacques, fighting as heroes never fought before, snatching the arrows from their bleeding wounds, battling to the last, fourteen hundred Swiss despatched eight thousand French and Austrians with eleven hundred of their horses. Such soldiers Louis XI preferred as allies rather than antagonists and, when he succeeded to the throne made haste to attach them to his cause. He was wiser in this than his sister Yolande, who assured of the precious alliance with the leading cities of the Swiss Confederates, lately so ably negotiated by the count of Gruyere, paid less attention to preserving their friendship, than to her ambitious designs upon the vast territories and untold wealth of Burgundy. These territories she dreamed of annexing to Savoy through a marriage with Marie, daughter and heiress of Duke Charles and her young son Philibert, and for this reason took sides with the duke against France and her treacherous brother. Taking Hannibal and Alexander as his models, the duke of Burgundy, already ruler of the Flemish provinces and the richest potentate in Europe, dreamed of a kingdom which should extend from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and as far as the borders of the Rhine. With the alliance of the German emperor, he saw the possibility of a still further extension of his power, and for this reason promised his daughter to the heir of the empire, Maximilian. With the passing of her hopes for this coveted marriage alliance, the Duchess Yolande was content to maintain her alliance with Duke Charles, and to preserve her regency under his protection and support, little dreaming of the swift and terrible destruction which awaited him in the shadow of the Alps.
That destruction stealthily prepared by all the arts at the command of the most malevolently skilful monarch who ever wore a crown, was not at the outset so lightly defied by the great duke of Burgundy, who had no mind to alienate the country of Romand Switzerland, which had originally formed a part of his own domain, and was still allied to its divided half by a common language and centuries of amicable commercial relations. Supported by the Duchess Yolande, he was still more closely allied with his brother-in-law, the able Jacques de Savoy, who was count of Romont and ruler of the whole Savoyard country of Vaud. An early comrade of Duke Charles, he had been appointed marechal of his Flemish provinces, and by this office maintained the close relations between Romand Switzerland and Burgundy. But Louis devilishly and implacably planning his rival cousin's ruin, sowed dissension between the confederated cities and their lately acknowledged suzerain the duchess of Savoy. Determined to attach to himself the indomitable Swiss soldiers, he bought with pensions and unlimited promises the alliance of Berne and Fribourg and the associated cantons of German Switzerland.
Divided between French and German-speaking inhabitants, the French citizens in the two cities who were loyal to Savoy and sympathetic with their Burgundian cousins, were outwitted by Louis' agent, his former page Nicholas de Diesbach. In October of the year 1474, the adherents of Louis in Berne had so prevailed that war was formally declared against Burgundy by the confederates, and in November before the fortress of Hericourt, Louis' brother-in-law the Archduke Sigismund of Austria, with the assistance of the Bernois, inflicted the first bloody defeat upon Duke Charles. Messengers were then sent by Charles to Berne to treat for peace but with no result, and two months later the Bernois, who had already seized a Savoy fortress in the Jura, took possession of three chateaux in the Pays de Vaud belonging to Count Romont. Justly indignant at this invasion of the Savoy territory, the duchess sent the Count de Gruyere to Berne to remonstrate against the infraction of the still existing alliance with her house. A strange reception was accorded him. No penitence for the unwarranted attack upon the Savoy fortresses, but an insolent ultimatum, declaring instant war unless she immediately recalled Count Romont from his command in the Flemish provinces, and herself declared war upon Duke Charles. No more Lombard soldiers of Duke Charles were to be permitted to pass through the Bernese territories, but Swiss soldiers unarmed or armed should pass at their discretion. Equally unsuccessful with Fribourg, the duchess, wondering "whence came the evil wind which had blown upon the two cities," heeded no one of the commands which had been issued by Berne, and, as double-faced though far less skilful than her brother, still continued to negotiate with the two cities, still permitted the Lombard troops to pass. The result was that the Bernois addressed themselves directly to the count of Gruyere, whom they had already forbidden to take sides with Burgundy, holding him personally responsible for the passage of the Lombards and threatening instant invasion of his estates. Count Francois now addressed his friends of Fribourg, asserting that he had forbidden the passage of the troops and so far influenced the city authorities that they sent their advocate to their allies of Berne, asking to be released from bearing arms against Duke Charles.
But this was the utmost that he could accomplish for his hesitating and untrustworthy mistress, and with the refusal of Berne to release Fribourg from assisting them in their war against Duke Charles, he permitted his subjects to form new treaties with the cities by which, though refusing to bear arms against Savoy, they were bound to join in the war against Burgundy.
That the Duchess Yolande could not fail to suffer in the defeat of her allies was no less plain to her than to her general, and threatened with reprisals, seeing the storm gather about his head, Count Francois, sick of heart and of body, retired to his chateau. There, fortunate in that he was spared the necessity of openly bearing arms against the duchy he had so long and ably governed, he died in the very moment of the outbreak of the impending conflict.
The most illustrious of the sovereigns who presided over the destinies of Gruyere, Francois I has left an imperishable memory and bore a unique role in the history of the fifteenth century in Switzerland. By a personal force and ability surpassing any of the nobles of his time, he justified the confidence of the suzerains he successively served. Everything possible was accomplished under his administration for the duchy of Savoy, torn between such powers as Burgundy and France. Gloved in velvet, the hand of Francois was of iron, but a rare judgment and discretion characterized him, so that whether as supreme judge, presiding as his suzerain's delegate over the tribunals of Fribourg, or as general holding the Savoy fortresses and the Savoy armies in readiness for defence, he supported the reign of law and justice in the land, and so long as he lived succeeded in keeping the Savoy rulers on their ducal throne. Never had Gruyere enjoyed such a rule, and greatly did it redound to his credit that his little pastoral domain was preserved in growing prosperity and independence between the threatening and ambitious republics of Berne and Fribourg. Even in the days of his brilliant youth when he brought his Italian bride, the noble Bonne da Costa, from among the ladies of the Piemontaise court of Savoy, to share with him the pleasures of his charming little domain, he showed how strong a defender he could be of its liberties and possessions. For when threatened by the Fribourgeois he sent them such a message, declaring that war if they wished it should be waged with "sword and fire," as sufficed effectually to calm the turbulent disturbers of the peace, and induce the city authorities to the pacific relations which thereafter were established. Again when the succession of a prince of Savoy was contested for the bishopric of Lausanne, he superbly cut short the deliberations of the council of prelates, saying, "Why bargain thus? Whether they wish it or not, he shall be bishop."
The Savoy possessions suffered no curtailment during his administration, and no flower fell from the Gruyere crown while he so splendidly wore it, but many liberties harmonious with the growing republicanism of Switzerland were voluntarily granted to his beloved subjects, who inconsolably lamented their loss when the noble features and towering form of their incomparable ruler were shut forever from mortal sight in the church under the Gruyere hill.
THE BURGUNDIAN WARS (Count Louis)
Among the many benefits with which Count Francois' ability and sagacity had enriched his inherited estates were the acquisition of the seigneuries of Grandcour and Aigremont, and the repurchase of the beautiful castles of Oron and Aubonne. The two latter residences were assigned during his life to his two sons Louis and Francois, Louis being early established at Aubonne, and Francois becoming seigneur of Oron. Louis, worthy successor of his father, passed at Aubonne by the shores of lake Leman a youth of peace and happiness. Writing from thence to his young wife Claude de Seyssel, a daughter of an illustrious knight of Savoy, Louis showed in the following intimate little letter, the charming nature he had inherited from his parents.
I recommend myself to thee. I have thy letter sent by Gachet, and I think that my wish to see thee is as great as thine to see me, but I must still delay a little. Ma Mie, I recommend to thee the little one, my horse and all the household. Recommend me to our good Aunt Aigremont, to her sister and to M. Aigremont and the nurse, to the maid and Perrisont. Ma Mie, please God, to give thee a good and long life and all thy heart desires.
Written at Aubonne, the morrow of St. Catherine's day.
Louis de Gruyere, All thine. A Ma Mie.
The joy of this happy household, of kind relatives and devoted servants, was soon broken by the early death of the child, their first-born son, Georges, who was taken from his parents six years before their accession to the rule and responsibilities of their estates. The birth of two other children, Francois and a daughter Helene, had consoled them, and it was a truly "joyeuse entree" which they made on a beautiful July Sunday in the year 1475 to the square before the Gruyere church, formally to take possession of their domain according to the ancient custom of their predecessors. The herald crying out the summons of the count, his subjects, who had collected from towns and villages and valleys, raised their hands and swore fidelity. Count Louis, with his hand on the holy book, promised to protect them; and the standard-bearer, waving the silver crane, declared that their flag should lead them against all their foes. Three months only were to pass before this banner took the field, for the storm clouds approaching from the neighboring kingdoms of Burgundy and France were thundering now over Switzerland, and the bitter rivalries of Duke Charles and his cousin of France had now reached the moment of collision on Helvetian soil. Fortified by a renewal of his alliance with the German emperor, the duke of Burgundy, eager to chastise the Confederates who had dared to defy his imperial ally and who had humiliated him at Hericourt, prepared to invade Switzerland. But Louis, the diabolus ex machina, who had secretly fostered the discord between Burgundy and the Confederates, hastily signed a nine-years' truce with Charles, and remarking with his usual sardonic smile that his "fair cousin did not know his foes," left him and his sister to the tender mercies of the enemies he had arrayed against