Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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240                          SIR ALDINGAE.
thing very similar of another empress, one hundred and thirty years earlier, namely, of Richardis, wife of Charles III. The tale runs that this Charles, in the year 887, accused his queen of unlawful connection with a Bishop. Her Majesty offered to subject her­self to the Judgment of God, either by duel or by the ordeal of burning ploughshares. It is not said that either test was applied, but only that the queen retired into a cloister which she had herself founded. This is the contemporary account. A century and a half later we are told that an ordeal by water was actually un­dergone, which again is changed by later writers into an ordeal by fire, — the empress passing through the flames in a waxed garment, without receiving the least harm; in memory of which, a day was kept, five cen­turies after, in honor of St- Richardis, in the monas­tery to which she withdrew.
Several other similar cases might be mentioned, but it will suffice to refer to only one more, more ancient than any of those already cited. Paulus Diacoiius (who wrote about the year 800) relates that a Lom­bard queen, Gundiberg (of the 7th century), having been charged with infidelity, one of her servants asked permission of the king to fight in the lists for his mis­tress's honor, and conquered his antagonist in the presence of all the people. The same story is told, more in detail, by Aimoin, a somewhat more recent writer, of another Gundeberg, likewise of the 7th cen­tury. A Lombard nobleman makes insolent proposals to his queen, and meets with a most emphatic repulse. Upon this he goes to the king with a story that the queen has been three days conspiring to poison her husband, and put her accomplice in his place. The