At this time the King was yet in the errors of his idolatry and went to war with the Alemanni, since he wished to render them tributary. Long was the battle, many were slain on one side or the other, for the Franks fought to win glory and renown, the Alemanni to save life and freedom. When the King at length saw the slaughter of his people and the boldness of his foes, he had greater expectation of disaster than of victory. He looked up to heaven humbly, and spoke thus: "Most mighty God, whom my queen Clothilde worships and adores with heart and soul, I pledge you perpetual service unto your faith, if only you give me now the victory over my enemies."
Instantly when he had said this, his men were filled with burning valor, and a great fear smote his enemies, so that they turned their backs and fled the battle; and victory remained with the King and with the Franks. The king of the Alemanni were slain; and as for the Alemanni, seeing themselves discomfited, and that their king had fallen, they yielded themselves to Chlodovocar and his Franks and became his tributaries.
The King returned after this victory into Frankland. He went to Rheims, and told the Queen what had befallen; and they together gave thanks unto Our Lord. The King made his confession of faith from his heart, and with right good will. The Queen, who was wondrously overjoyed at the conversion of her lord, went at once to St. Remi, at that time archbishop of the city. Straightway he hastened to the palace to teach the King the way by which he could come unto God, for his mind was still in doubt about it. He presented himself boldly before his face, although a little while before he [the bishop] had not dared to come before him.
When St. Remi had preached to the King the Christian faith and taught him the way of the Cross, and when the king had known what the faith was, Chlodovocar promised fervently that he would henceforth never serve any save the all-powerful God. After that he said he would put to the test and try the hearts and wills of his chieftains and lesser people: for he would convert them more easily if they were converted by pleasant means and by mild words, than if they were driven to it by force; and this method seemed best to St. Remi. The folk and the chieftains were assembled by the command of the King. He arose in the midst of them, and spoke to this effect: "Lords of the Franks, it seems to me highly profitable that you should know first of all what are those gods which you worship. For we are certain of their falsity: and we come right freely into the knowledge of Him who is the true God. Know of a surety that this same God which I preach to you has given victory over your enemies in the recent battle against the Alemanni. Lift, therefore, your hearts in just hope; and ask the Sovereign Defender, that He give to you all, that which you desire---that He save our souls and give us victory over our enemies." When the King full of faith had thus preached to and admonished his people, one and all banished from their hearts all unbelief, and recognized their Creator.
When shortly afterward Chlodovocar set out for the church for baptism, St. Remi prepared a great procession. The streets of Rheims were hung with banners and tapestry. The church was decorated. The baptistry was covered with balsams and all sorts of perfumes. The people believed they were already breathing the delights of paradise. The cortege set out from the palace, the clergy led the way bearing the holy Gospels, the cross and banners, chanting hymns and psalms. Then came the bishop leading the King by the hand, next the Queen with the multitude. Whilst on the way the King asked of the bishop, "If this was the Kingdom of Heaven which he had promised him." "Not so," replied the prelate; "it is the road that leads to it."
When in the church, in the act of bestowing baptism the holy pontiff lifted his eyes to heaven in silent prayer and wept. Straightway a dove, white as snow, descended bearing in his beak a vial of holy oil. A delicious odor exhaled from it: which intoxicated those near by with an inexpressible delight. The holy bishop took the vial, and suddenly the dove vanished. Transported with joy at the sight of this notable miracle, the King renounced Satan, his pomps and his works; and demanded with earnestness the baptism; at the moment when he bent his head over the fountain of life, the eloquent pontiff cried, "Bow down thine head, fierce Sicambrian! Adore that which once thou hast burned: burn that which thou hast adored!"
After having made his profession of the orthodox faith, the King is plunged thrice in the waters of baptism. Then in the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity---Father, Son, and Holy Ghost---the prelate consecrated him with the divine unction. Two sisters of the king and 3000 fighting men of the Franks and a great number of women and children were likewise baptized. Thus we many well believe that day was a day of joy in heaven for the holy angels; likewise of rejoicing on earth for devout and faithful men!
The King showed vast zeal for his new faith. He built a splendid church at Paris, called St. Genevieve, where later he and Clothilde were buried. Faith and religion and zeal for justice were pursued by him all the days of his life. Certain Franks still held to paganism, and found a leader in Prince Ragnachairus but he was presently delivered up in fetters to Chlodovocar who put him to death. Thus all the Frankish people were converted and baptized by the merits of St. Remi....
At this time there came to Chlodovocar messengers from Anastasius, the Emperor of Constantinople, who brought him presents from their master, and letters whereof the effect was, that it pleased the Emperor and the Senators that he [Chlodovocar] be made a "Friend of the Emperor," and a "Patrician" and "Councilor" of the Romans. When the King had read these letters, he arrayed himself in the robe of a senator, which the Emperor had sent to him. He mounted upon his charger; and thus he went to the public square before the church of St. Martin; and then he gave great gifts to the people. From this day he was always called "Councilor" and "Augustus."From The Chronicle of St. Denis, I.18-19, 23
Elena Maria Vidal at Tea at Trianon quotes Yves-Marie Adeline, president of the Royal Alliance of France:
Et vu sous l’angle politique, “Noël” est le cri que les Français poussaient aux sacres et aux entrées des rois dans leurs villes: “Noël! Noël!”. Car l’Etat français est né un jour de noël 496, avec le baptême de Clovis qui lui ouvrit la confiance des Gaules en espérance d’unité.
(And seen under the political angle, "Noël" is the cry of the French in the holy places and at the entrance of kings into their cities: "Noël! Noël!" For the French state was born one day on Christmas 496, with the baptism of Clovis who won the trust of the Gauls in the hope of unity.)
Also on Christmas Day, in 800, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, became the first Roman Emperor to reign in the West in over three centuries. Richard at Le Fleur de Lys Too gives a good account:
On December 26, 795, Leo III was chosen Pope. The Roman populace did not like him; it accused him of various misdeeds; and on April 25, 799, it attacked him, maltreated him, and imprisoned him in a monastery. He escaped, and fled for protection to Charlemagne at Paderborn. The King received him kindly, and sent him back to Rome under armed escort, and ordered the Pope and his accusers to appear before him there in the following year. On November 24, 800, Charlemagne entered the ancient capital in state; on December 1 an assembly of Franks and Romans agreed to drop the charges against Leo if he would deny them on solemn oath; he did; and the way was cleared for a magnificent celebration of the Nativity. On Christmas Day, as Charlemagne, in the chlamys and sandals of a patricius Romanus, knelt before St. Peter’s altar in prayer, Leo suddenly produced a jeweled crown, and set it upon the King’s head.
The congregation, perhaps instructed beforehand to act according to ancient ritual as the senatus populusque Romanus confirming a coronation, thrice cried out: “Hail to Charles the Augustus, crowned by God the great and peace-bringing Emperor of the Romans!” The royal head was anointed with holy oil, the Pope saluted Charlemagne as Emperor and Augustus, and offered him the act of homage reserved since 476 for the Eastern emperor. If we may believe Eginhard, Charlemagne told him that had he known Leo’s intention to crown him he would not have entered the church. Perhaps he had learned of the general plan, but regretted the haste and circumstances of its execution; it may not have pleased him to receive the crown from a pope, opening the door to centuries of dispute as to the relative dignity and power of donor and recipient; and presumably he anticipated difficulties with Byzantium.
Lastly, in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having defeated the Anglo-Saxons at Hastings with an army of Normans, Bretons, Flemish, and Franks earlier in the year, was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey, also on Christmas Day. So was born England as we know it, a great nation cut from the same hardy cloth as France. The relationship and rivalry between these two nations is one of the greatest stories of our Western history.
It was an accident of faith that, at the very moment the crown was placed upon the head of this elected and consecrated King, his Norman guards, mistaking the customary acclamations of the spectators for a popular uprising, fell upon the people outside and put them to the sword while firing the surrounding houses, until their leader's appearance in his Coronation robes at the Abbey door quieted their barbaric fears.
Meanwhile the congregation had fled precipitately from the building. A few priests, however, had wisely remained, and the ceremony was concluded, with few onlookers, but without further interruption.
Nevertheless, even in this turbulent crowning the seeds were sown of future good. William, in his Coronation Oath, swore to "maintain the Church of God and all Christian people in true peace; to prohibit all orders of men from committing injustice and oppression, and to enjoin the observance of equity and mercy in all judgments."
And, though he may not have intended to have done so, he and his successors did actually accomplish something of this kind their strength of purpose, jealousy of all rivalry from their own coevals and immediate subordinates, and their strong Norman sense of law, order, and precedent made England a country in which something more than barbaric feudal anarchy could grow to maturity.
The King's Peace began to establish itself in the most remote and turbulent places; presently it penetrated into the fierce anarchical valleys of Wales and even crossed St. George's Channel.
That bloodstained, flame-lit Christmas Day in the Abbey was the beginning of British history as we know it today. The future of a new kind of world, and of an empire and firm peace wider and stronger even than that of fabulous, fallen Rome, was in it. more
Vive le Roy!
Vive le Roy!
Vive le Roy!