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Title: The Counts of Gruyère
Author: Koven, Mrs. Reginald de
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Counts of Gruyère" ***

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 THE COUNTS OF GRUYÈRE

 BY

 MRS. REGINALD DE KOVEN

 ILLUSTRATED

 NEW YORK

 DUFFIELD & COMPANY

 1916

 Copyright, 1916, by DUFFIELD & CO.



 CONTENTS

 CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

 PROLOGUE                                                               3

 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
 FRANÇOIS 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 GRUYÈRE                                 105

 X. GRUYÈRE WITHOUT ITS COUNTS                                        128

 APPENDIX                                                             139

 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                         141


 ILLUSTRATIONS

 LA PLACE DE GRUYÈRE                                         _Frontispiece_
 _From a watercolour by Colonel R. Goff_

 THE CHÂTEAU                          _Facing p._                      10

 GATEWAY                                    "                          22

 LACE-MAKERS                                "                          38

 FORTIFIED HOUSES--NORTH WALL               "                          56

 THE CITY ON THE HILL                       "                          72

 TERRACE OF THE CHÂTEAU                     "                          90

 CHURCH OF ST. THEODATE                     "                         112

 JOUSTING COURT                             "                         132


        *       *       *       *       *


 THE COUNTS OF GRUYÈRE


       *       *       *       *       *


     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

     ANNO 436

     _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._



PROLOGUE


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 Dürer drawing, massed lines of crenelated bastions,
sharp-pointed belfreys, and towered gateways completing a mediæval
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 _décor_ in its
smiling gayety, its faultlessly pictorial effect. Every window in the
blazoned houses is blossoming with brightest flowers, as for a perpetual
fête. 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 _château-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 châteaux 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.



GRUYÈRE



CHAPTER I

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 "Gruyère."

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 Gruyère, 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, Gruyère
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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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.

[Illustration: THE CHÂTEAU]

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
Gruyère. Although Burgundian, the subjects of Count Turimbert were of
different races. In the country of Ogo, called Haute Gruyère, they were
German, while in the lower northern plains, called Basse Gruyère, 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._)



CHAPTER II

INFLUENCE OF THE CHURCH


Twenty lords of Gruyère 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 Château 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 Gruyère, 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 Gruyère
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 mediæval 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 Besançon. In
his honor the earliest church of the county of Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère,
Hughes, Bishop of Lausanne, invoking a great assembly of prelates,
proclaimed the _Trêve 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. Gruyère 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 Gruyère. 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 Gruyère counts, appears as the head of a numerous and
powerful family preëminent 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 Gruyèrian
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
Gruyère 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 bergères of Gruyère," 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 Gruyère 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 Gruèriens"
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 Gruyère, who, once more safe among his home
mountains, ended his life with lavish gifts to the holy church of which
he was so preëminent 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 Gruyère, 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 château 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 Gruyère--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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère, 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère.

[Illustration: GATEWAY]

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
marché at Gruyère. But the power which could excommunicate an emperor
did not hesitate to launch the same formidable curse upon the princes of
Gruyère and they were forced to yield. The foundation of the church of
St. Théodule at Gruyère 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 Gruyère house
to the Catholic religion.



CHAPTER III

SOVEREIGNTY OF THE HOUSE OF SAVOY


In the middle of the thirteenth century the counts of Gruyère--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 Gruyère, 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 Gruyère. 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 Gruyère, 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: "_Comté 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 château of Yverdun. Growing in favor with Pierre de Savoy and his
successors, the counts of Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère_," and to this day the Bernese family of Gruyère
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 Amédée 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 cortège 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère. 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 Gruyère, 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 melée in which horses,
men and valets perished in a hopeless confusion. Three Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère" 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 Gruyère 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
Gruyère. 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 Gruyère mountains, near the twin châteaux of Laubeck and
Mannenburg, lately acquired by the Gruyère 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 Gruyèriens, 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 Gruyère 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
Gruyère and attacked the châteaux of his allies, the lords of Everdes
and Corbières. Already the château of Everdes was burning, the Ogo
bridge was lost, and while Corbières was hotly besieged by the men of
Fribourg, the Bernois advancing within sight of the castle of Gruyère to
attack the outpost Tour de Trême, encountered at the Pré de Chénes a
small band of Gruyèriens. Here, until the arrival of the main force of
Count Pierre, two heroes, justly celebrated and sung in all the annals
of Gruyère, 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 Trême and captured sixty of the defendants, Count
Pierre and his soldiers forced them to retire, and the castle and city
of Gruyère were saved. Strong men were these knights and vassals of
Gruyère 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 Chambéry, the court of Amédée VII of
Savoy, called Le Comté Vert from the emerald color of the velvet in
which he and his courtiers were clad, the brother rulers of Gruyère took
part in all the fêtes 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère, 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 château 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère
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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère. 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 Gruyère," was the reply, "I would not give up my fair mistress
for that ill-featured dame."

Devoted Catholics as were the Gruyère people, their religion was a
source of comfort and protection, but even more a reason for rejoicing
and for the innumerable fêtes 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 fête 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.

[Illustration: LACE-MAKERS]

Or again on the first Sunday in May all would assemble for the sport
called _Château 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère chronicler.

"It happened one day that the Count de Gruyère 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 Château 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 Gruyère and Château 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 _Grévire_ 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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
Gruyère. 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
Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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
Gruyère châteaux 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 Gruyère 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 Trêve de
Dieu between the warring cities of Berne and Fribourg, and truce between
Berne and the country of Gruyère. 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 Gruyère
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 _épopée_ of revel and of song
which has made his reign celebrated in the history of Gruyère.

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.



CHAPTER IV

FOREIGN WARS


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 rôles 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
Crécy, 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 Gruyère, to set out in the spring of 1372 for England.
Warmly received at Windsor, they were present at the fête 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 Gruyère, 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère, 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
châteaux 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 Gruyère,
was shown in his dealings with his young relative Othon de Grandson. The
comrade of his brother, Jean de Gruyère, 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
Amédée 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
châteaux of Oron and Palézieux 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 Gruyère, 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 Gruyère 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 château, 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 protégé 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
Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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,
François 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 Gruyère 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.

    "Gruyère, sweet country, fresh and verdant Gruyère
    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 Gruyère_

    Before his high manor, the Count of Gruyère,
    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 Gruyère.

    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 Gruyère
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 Gruyère'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 Gruyère 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.

[Illustration: FORTIFIED HOUSES--NORTH WALL]



CHAPTER V

THE BURGUNDIAN WARS (Count François 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 François I of Gruyère and his
brother Jean of Montsalvens entered without difficulty into the
enjoyment of their inheritances. Count François, 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 château of Gruyère.

Becoming in his youth the favorite companion and support of Amédeé 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 Montbéliard; and finally, as
maréchal of Savoy, became the general-in-chief of all his forces. When
Amédeé, 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--François de Gruyère 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 François
of Gruyère 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 fêtes and often dwelling in the imposing château
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 Chambéry, and absent for the most part in the
administration of his multifarious offices, he did not forget Gruyère,
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, François de Gruyère, 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 Gruyère, 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 maréchal 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
Héricourt, 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
châteaux in the Pays de Vaud belonging to Count Romont. Justly indignant
at this invasion of the Savoy territory, the duchess sent the Count de
Gruyère 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 Gruyère, 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 François 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 François, sick
of heart and of body, retired to his château. 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 Gruyère, François 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 François 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère 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 Gruyère hill.



CHAPTER VI

THE BURGUNDIAN WARS (Count Louis)


Among the many benefits with which Count François' 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 François, Louis being
early established at Aubonne, and François 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.

     Ma Mie,

     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 Gruyère,
                                                 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, François and a daughter Helène, had consoled them, and
it was a truly "_joyeuse entrée_" which they made on a beautiful July
Sunday in the year 1475 to the square before the Gruyère 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 Héricourt, 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 them. A clause in the treaty which preserved Louis from all
participation in the impending conflict, stipulated that Savoy and the
Confederates should be included in the peace, provided that they
committed no single act of depredation or hostility for a period of
three months. Secretly subsidized by Louis with ample funds to
prosecute the war, the Confederates immediately sought a pretext for
the attack upon the possessions of Savoy, and found one ready to their
hand in the confiscation by Count Romont of the celebrated contraband
load of German sheepskins carried illegally through his country by some
Bernese carters. Calling to their aid the inhabitants of the Valais, who
had long resented the suzerainty of Savoy, they prepared to march
against the duchess and Count Romont. The frightened duchess now again
attempted to negotiate with this strong combination, when the news of
Duke Charles' advance with a splendid army dissipated her fears, and she
openly declared for Burgundy and sent her forces to join those of
Charles. Another cause involving the count of Gruyère precipitated the
internal quarrels of Savoy and the Confederates. Count Romont, incited
by the jealousy of the family of de Vergy, which (through their alliance
with the sisters of Count Antoine de Gruyère, had disputed the
inheritance of his legitimized successor François) pillaged and captured
the Gruyère châteaux of Oron, Aubonne and Palézieux, and Duke Charles
sent a force of Burgundian and Savoyard soldiers to invade Gruyère
itself. Calling his friends the Fribourgeois to his side, Count Louis
met and conquered this army, capturing a banner which is still preserved
in the church at Lessoc. No further hesitation was thereafter possible
for the ruler of Gruyère, who was thus compelled to take sides against
the duchess if he wished to preserve his country from dismemberment and
the cruel and ferocious devastation which the Confederates were now
inflicting upon the beautiful country of Romand Switzerland, and
particularly upon the country of Vaud, the apanage of Duke Charles'
maréchal, Count Romont. For, fully supplied with funds by Louis, nothing
could arrest the German inhabitants of Fribourg and Berne, who, in a
three-weeks' campaign of murder, violence and pillage, utterly
devastated and conquered the above provinces, burning the châteaux,
decapitating their defenders and soiling the reputation of the Swiss
soldier by inexcusable acts of cupidity and ferocity. Never was so venal
and brutal a war waged at the will of a foreign and detestably
traitorous king, and the coming of the great Duke Charles was awaited by
all the inhabitants of the Romand country as a welcome deliverance from
the hated Bernois. Postponing his Italian campaign, Duke Charles, deaf
to his advisers and eager to chastise the cruel depredations of the
"insolent cowherds" he so despised, started from Nancy with his
magnificent army in midwinter of the year 1476 as for a brief pleasure
excursion, and laid siege to Grandson which had been captured by the
Bernois. After a stubborn resistance the Bernois garrison, promised
pardon by a venal German volunteer of the Burgundian cause, surrendered
only to suffer the same cruel fate which they had dealt to the
defenders of the Savoy fortresses. But now flocking to the aid of their
confederates came the unconquerable victors of the Austrian dukes, the
Waldstetten; and the horn of the Alps with the same fatal clarion led
the mountaineers from the heights above Grandson to their old victory
over the nobles, and to the surprising defeat of such an army of wealth
and kingly power as the world had not seen since Xerxes. Massed in his
jeweled tents and golden chapel were the treasures of the richest
potentate in all Europe; harnesses and habiliments of gold and velvet,
tapestries and gemmed crowns and orders, ropes of pearls, rubies and
diamonds (which still glorify the tiaras of the pope and emperors)--all
these were sold for a few sous or were trampled in the snow by the
ignorant shepherds and cowherds of the Alps. After such an unimaginable
tragedy, Duke Charles, like a beaten child, weeping with rage and sick
with despair, at last roused himself to send with the consent of the
Duchess Yolande a deputation to treat with the Confederates; and this
deputation was sent to Count Louis of Gruyère. Announcing this
extraordinary event to the authorities at Fribourg, he wrote: "It is
true that I received last Saturday a letter from M. de Viry, with a
sauf-conduit, to take me to Vauruz, to talk of peace. When asked what
authority I had to act for you, Gentlemen of Fribourg, I replied that I
had none whatsoever. I said, moreover, that I could not engage to
approach you without the written consent of M. de Bourgogne, but that I
would, with this guarantee, work body and soul in the matter. These
gentlemen assured me on their honor that they would not have spoken
without his consent, but I answered that trusting them in all else, I
would have nothing further to do with their propositions without this
writing from the Duke. Whereupon, it was agreed that M. de Viry, who was
to dine with Madame (the Duchess Yolande) to-day at Lausanne, would send
me news by this Tuesday or Wednesday."

[Illustration: THE CITY ON THE HILL]

Repeating in this communication the report that Duke Charles had
recovered from his illness and would be within a mile of Fribourg in a
few days, Count Louis added that a trusted agent of his own had been
sent to the duke's camp and had reported that he was still ill, that his
artillery was in poor condition and that some of his supporters had
deserted him. Ill as he was, Duke Charles, hastily collecting a new army
to avenge his defeat and too proud to confide to paper his real desire
for peace, refused the condition of Count Louis, sending a haughty reply
that "he was not accustomed to make advances to his foes, that he was,
nevertheless, disposed particularly to make terms with Fribourg but not
with its confederates." Thus the pride which was the origin of all his
woes caused Duke Charles to reject the mediator who would have worked
with "soul and body" for his welfare, and thus vanished the fair
prospect of peace between Burgundy and the Confederates. Although the
latter had been victorious at Grandson, the country captured in their
three-weeks' campaign had in a still shorter time been recaptured by the
Savoyards, and a strong party in Romand Switzerland was opposed to them.
At this juncture, the German emperor, twice foresworn, deserted their
ally the Archduke Sigismond, and the Bernois, alarmed for the safety of
their city, hastily invoked the promised aid of Louis XI. No answer came
from their perfidious ally and the Swiss Confederates, alone at last,
were left to defend their own country and their freedom. Emperor and
king alike were absent, all their machinations finished, and although on
the memorable day of Morat, Savoy was pitted against its own cities, and
the Confederates against their Burgundian cousins in as unnatural and
unnecessary a conflict as ever divided ancient friends, the Swiss
soldiers then immortally testified to their patriotism and their valor.

Three months had passed since Grandson and Duke Charles had succeeded in
assembling a new army--less in numbers than that which had there been
annihilated--a motley force of Savoyards and discontented Italian
mercenaries ready to desert his cause, but containing three thousand
English under Somerset who were eager to fight with the enemy of France.
The duke, still ill and half insane with fury and the determination to
avenge his defeat, was in no condition easily to accomplish that
revenge. He was determined to let no further time elapse, therefore he
assembled these forces and established his fortified camp within a mile
of the little city of Morat, held by a Bernese garrison. Magnificently
fighting before the great breaches in the defending walls, the Bernese
held the city during ten long days, giving time for their confederates
to assemble behind the hills which concealed their approach from the
Burgundian camp. Six thousand more men of Berne were joined by the
Waldstetten mountaineers, the German troops of Archduke Sigismund, one
hundred horse and six hundred foot from Gruyère, "all men of great
stature, athletic force and indomitable courage;" and, lastly, by the
men of Zurich, who had marched day and night to swell this army of
24,000 which were to meet a like number of Burgundians. On the 22nd day
of June, the anniversary of the death of the ten thousand martyrs who
had fallen at Laupen, their descendants prepared with masses and with
prayers to avenge their death. It was a day of pelting rain, and when
the Burgundians, advancing to the attack, had waited six hours under the
downpour for any sign of an approaching foe, they retired to their camp
with soaked powder and loosened bow-strings at the very moment when the
clouds dispersed and the sudden sunshine illuminated the serried pikes
of the Swiss as they advanced in unexpected numbers over the crest of
the hills. Duke Charles had retired to his tent and was surprised at
table by a messenger announcing the imminent attack of the enemy. He was
compelled to don his armor on the battlefield itself where he took
command of his confused ill-arranged forces, fighting beside the English
soldiers under Somerset in the thick of the battle as it raged about the
green hedge and little moat which divided the two armies. Against them
was Duke René, battling with the Swiss to regain his lost Lorraine, and
Louis of Gruyère with his brave soldiers. Many times the Swiss
halberdiers were driven back under the fire of the Burgundian artillery,
as many times the Burgundian cavalry charged with brilliant success, and
a hope of regaining his lost honor began to smile upon Duke Charles,
when a terrible clamor arose from the very midst of his camp. Again the
horn of the Alps, the loud appalling roar of the "Bull of Uri," the "Cow
of Unterwalden," which had overwhelmed in panic terror the Austrian
knights at Sempach and Morgarten and which the Burgundians themselves
had heard at Grandson, fell upon their ears; and quickly following the
crash of their own guns which had been captured and turned upon
themselves by their own adversaries, the mountaineers of the
Waldstetten. At the hedge, in the very centre of the conflict, Duke
Charles and Somerset still desperately encouraged their men to a
hopeless resistance. Here in the midst of the carnage was Duke René,
leaping from his fallen horse and fighting by the side of Count Louis
under the scarlet banner of Gruyère; here fell Somerset and here fell at
last the great banner of Burgundy in the arms of its dying defender.

Soon the Burgundians were completely surrounded by the rear-guard of the
Swiss, and by the Morat garrison, and Duke Charles breaking his way
through his beaten and disorganized army with a force of three thousand
cavalry, succeeded in making his escape. Red was the water of the little
lake where, in a mad retreat, the Burgundians were drowned in thousands;
red was the battlefield where, after all hope was gone, a still greater
number were massacred in cold blood by the implacable Swiss. "Cruel as
Morat" was the saying which, passing into common speech, commemorated
for centuries this unforgotten conflict.

Ill-prepared to meet the united and well-nigh unconquerable Swiss as was
Duke Charles, the irremediable defeat which he suffered in this
celebrated battle might have been averted. But like a predestined victim
of the gods, driven mad by pride, and surrounded by rumors of the
desertion of his supporters, he had most unhappily chosen the only
Savoyard prince who was unalterably faithful to him, for his distrust,
and had forbidden Count Romont and his strong army of nine thousand men
to take part in the conflict. Thus the able general and the fresh,
unbroken force which might have saved the day watched from a neighboring
hill the the annihilation of the Burgundian army. Retiring at last from
his post of observation when he saw the great banner fall, Count Romont
offered to cover the retreat of the duke, who, still refusing his aid
although deserted by all but a dozen of his guard, fled madly across
country, taking refuge at last at Morges. The fleeing remnant of his
army was pursued by the Lorraine and Gruyère cavalry to Avenches, Count
Romont and his Savoyards alone escaping the general destruction; while
Count Louis of Gruyère, still riding triumphantly at the head of his
horsemen, as far as Lausanne, laid that city under contribution. The
appetite of the Bernois was by no means appeased by the great spoils of
the Burgundian army, and in spite of the injunction of Louis the XI, who
did not intend to lose the jurisdiction of Savoy, they again took the
field, capturing Payerne, burning Surpierre and Lucens; while the
château of Romont, besieged by their allies of Fribourg and defended
gallantly to the last by Count Romont himself, fell also. At Lausanne,
the rage and cupidity of the Bernois knew no restraint, and the city and
cathedral were sacked remorselessly, thus bringing to an end an utterly
unwarranted campaign of wanton destruction.

Duchess Yolande, who had hastened to the relief of Duke Charles, was
also so suspected by her defeated ally that he caused her to be arrested
by his maître d'hôtel and some brutal Italian soldiers and cast into the
Burgundian fortress of Rouvres, whence, finally convinced that her
brother was the most powerful as well as the most friendly of her foes,
she appealed to him for deliverance. Brought by his agents to France
after three months' imprisonment, Louis summoned her to his presence at
Plessis-les-Tours: "Madame la Bourguignonne," he said with his evil
smile, "you are welcome." "I am a good French woman," replied his
sister, "and ready to obey the will of your Majesty."

Whether, as has been recorded, Louis really loved his sister, who was
almost as able and far more attractive than himself, he kept her in
strict imprisonment until she signed a paper of perpetual fidelity to
him, and then he sent her back to Savoy and reëstablished her on her
ducal throne. The prince bishop of Geneva was even more eager than his
sister-in-law to desert Duke Charles, and fearing that his city would
suffer the fate of Lausanne, offered to assist the Bernois in invading
Burgundy, there to complete the duke's destruction; whereupon the
Bernois at the price of an enormous indemnity consented to spare Geneva,
and to cease all further conquests in the Pays de Vaud. They also
agreed, under the repeated commands of King Louis to send their deputies
to a convention of the ambassadors of all the powers to meet at
Fribourg in July, 1476. A great and imposing company were these
ambassadors, who from France and Austria, Savoy, and the confederated
cities and cantons of Switzerland met to treat of the long needed peace.
Among them were Duke René of Lorraine and Count Louis of Gruyère, who
together with a representative of Archduke Sigismund, were chosen as
arbitrators to decide the terms of the proposed treaty. Acting for
Savoy, the count of Gruyère, who only by _force majeure_ had sided with
its foes, now ably and happily proved his real fidelity to its
interests, providing for the restoration of all its possessions in the
Pays de Vaud. At a second conference at Annecy, when the alliance
between the Confederates and Savoy was amicably regulated, he was also
present, receiving from the Genevan delegates rich donations for his
invaluable services. For Duke Charles, also Count Louis was as before
willing to negotiate a peace with Fribourg, but when a second deputation
of the same messengers whom the duke had before despatched to him, was
again unable to furnish the written authority he required, he was once
more unable to mediate on the duke's behalf. But when his friend and
co-arbitrator, Duke René of Lorraine, appealed for assistance to the
Swiss to repel Duke Charles' final attack upon his duchy, no answer was
forthcoming from Gruyère, and among the German-Swiss confederates at
whose hands Duke Charles suffered his cruel death before the walls of
Nancy, Count Louis' soldiers had no part. Small benefit was destined to
accrue, as the history of Europe unrolled through the succeeding years,
from the fall of the house of Burgundy. For while Louis XI by his evil
plotting had enlarged his kingdom, by obliterating the barrier of
Burgundy between France and Austria he had at the same time made way for
centuries of wars. "Here," said the 15th Louis before the tomb of the
last duke of Burgundy, "is the cradle of all our wars." As for
Switzerland, the system of mercenary service inaugurated by Louis
debased its honor and divided its sons, who, fighting in the opposing
armies of Europe, delayed for many years the development and the
independence of their country. For a few years only, Savoy and Romand
Switzerland enjoyed peace. Duchess Yolande, although still threatened by
the Savoy princes, was sustained upon the throne by her brother who in
this one instance was faithful to his promises. She reëstablished the
customs of the ducal court and organized plays and festivities; and
surrounding herself with a train of musicians, with the soothing sounds
of flutes and harps, attempted to forget the fierce trials and tumults
of her reign. But her spirit and her strength were broken, and,
succumbing to an early death, she left her young son Philibert to
succeed to the duchy under the governorship of the Count de la Chambre,
who had been chosen by King Louis. The influence of this agent, however,
became too great for the designing king who intended to preserve his
jurisdiction over Savoy. He, therefore, instigated a revolt in the
Piemontaise provinces of the duchy with the connivance of its ruler the
Savoyard prince, Count Philippe de la Bresse. Realizing the necessity at
once to control this revolt, which favored the never slumbering desires
of the Count de la Bresse to grasp the control of Savoy, the Count de la
Chambre, accompanied by the Count de Gruyère and his brother, journeyed
to Piémont. The Count de la Bresse, on the arrival of these
representatives of his nephew, caused the Count de la Chambre to be
arrested in his bed and by acts of dangerous violence imperiled the
lives of the Count of Gruyère and his brother. The lately renewed
alliance with the powerful cities of Berne and of Fribourg now proved of
invaluable assistance to the threatened duchy of Savoy, for at the
appeal of the count de la Chambre they exacted an indemnification for
these injuries, and reduced the Count de la Bresse to submission.

After the death of Duke Philibert, his brother and successor Duke
Charles III renewed the useful alliance with the confederated cities,
and confirmed the appointment of Count Louis de Gruyère as "conseiller"
and "chambellan" of his court with the grant of additional pensions.

It was not long before Count Louis had a fresh opportunity of proving
his loyalty to Savoy, an opportunity doubtless welcomed by him to
obliterate the memory of his former and enforced opposition; for when
the warlike margrave of Saluzzo revolted from his allegiance to Savoy,
Count Louis practically organized an army of Bernois and Savoyards to
reduce him to submission, supplying a far greater number of Gruyèriens
than was required of him, and financing the expedition with loans from
Fribourg for which he was personally liable. Before the walls of
Saluzzo, it was he who led the assaults, preserved the assailants from
destruction when the garrison made an unexpected sortie, dispersed a
relieving army, and at last made a triumphant entry into the city behind
the allied banners of Berne and Gruyère. Engaged thus in the mutual
support of Savoy, Count Louis, always working heart and soul for peace
if he could, for war if compelled, so merited the approbation of the
Bernois that their captain wrote that "Count Louis de Gruyère and his
brother had conducted themselves as faithful and valorous friends of
their allies." Count Louis was also enthusiastic over this new alliance
of the Confederates with his beloved Savoy, and declared that "he was
resolved to live and die with his allies and that with God's help their
united strength would prevail against all foes."

Count Louis' new allies warmly appreciated the chivalry, generosity and
independence for which he was justly renowned, and in the various
differences which arose among the restless subjects of Gruyère, advised
them to trust to the justice of their ruler. Preserving to his last day
the enthusiasm and the frank amenity of a singularly charming and
well-balanced character, Count Louis was wise in the management of his
estates, encouraged printing at Rougemont, and sharing the love of pomp
and beauty of the Savoy court, was an amateur in architecture and as
enthusiastic in his religion as he was in all things else. When a
tornado followed by a disastrous fire destroyed a part of the city and
the château of Gruyère, he planned and partially executed an extensive
enlargement of his ancestral manor, rebuilding it in the later style of
the fifteenth century. He also rebuilt the adjoining chapel of St. Jean,
asking and receiving from the pope a grant of indulgence for the
faithful who should communicate therein on the anniversary of its second
foundation and on the fête of its patron saint. The chapel richly
furnished with sacred books, chalices, luminaries, and ecclesiastical
ornaments still preserves with its commemorative inscription the name
and fame of Count Louis.



CHAPTER VII

STRUGGLE FOR SUCCESSION


In view of the tender age and delicate health of his only son, Count
Louis, having long enjoyed a formal alliance with Fribourg, thought it
wise to make a like treaty with Berne; and foreseeing that his son's
life would probably not be a long one, he drew up a will in which he
appointed his successors. In this will, he decreed that his brother
François should be the next heir, after him his daughter Hélène, and
next, in default of male heirs of the direct line, the son of his
brother, Jean de Montsalvens. The signing of the treaty with Berne was
the last political act of his reign of twenty-three years, in which,
from beginning to end, he had well seconded the constructive
administration of his father. Inheriting Count François' brilliant
qualities, with less extended powers over Savoy, his opportunities for
the display of his soldierly abilities were greater; and although wars
and disasters had reduced his revenues and lessened the growth of the
estates, he was able to pay a debt to Fribourg incurred by his father,
and besides rebuilding the chapel and château made various important
acquisitions of property. Through his wife he was connected with one of
the oldest and most powerful families of Savoy whose representatives
were distinguished like those of Gruyère for honorable offices at the
ducal court, and whose vast possessions extended over a large part of
Savoy, including the city of Aix-les-Bains. The Countess Claude, left to
the charge of a young and delicate son, who after a brilliant début in
the tournaments and festivities at Chambéry died at the early age of
seventeen, was surrounded by a multitude of annoyances and demands from
the powerful republic of Berne, which she met with more courage than
discretion. Although during her popular husband's reign, the people of
Gruyère voluntarily assisted in the assemblage of the materials for the
restoration of the château, they revolted when the countess imposed
taxes upon them for the continuation of the work, and a most unusual
bitterness of feeling arose, which was only pacified by the arbitration
of the Council of Fribourg. Little understanding her people--who, as
always, could be ruled by love and not by force--she was not only
compelled to yield in this matter, but conceded to the Bernois the
fortress of Mannenburg, to keep the peace with her formidable neighbor.
The countess, grief-stricken at the death of her only son, was for a
brief period relieved from her onerous responsibilities by her
brother-in-law, François III, who, according to Count Louis' will,
followed his nephew in the rule of Gruyère. Although succeeding at an
advanced age to the throne of his ancestors and occupying it for less
than a year, Count François III had shared the offices of "conseiller"
and "chambellan" at the court of Savoy with his brother Louis, and was
held in equal honor by the cities of Fribourg and Berne. Like Louis, he
was admitted to the diplomatic councils of the European powers, and
allying himself with the prince of Orange, who, with the Orleans league,
disputed the control of France with Louis XII, prevented the threatened
intervention of the Swiss Confederates. Astonishing as was the influence
of so small a principality as that of Gruyère, containing at no time
more than twenty thousand inhabitants, it was due not only to its
intermediate situation between the republics of Berne and Fribourg and
the possessions of Savoy but to the great personal importance of its
rulers--particularly of Count François and his two sons Louis and
François, who were not only supreme in their control of the duchy of
Savoy, but were unquestionably the greatest nobles in Romand
Switzerland. Holding its sovereignty directly from the emperor, Gruyère
had long been an independent state, and by the grant of Wenceslas its
rulers were not only empowered to issue money but had always possessed
unqualified rights of justice and administration over their subjects. An
interregnum of discord was unfortunately destined to lessen the power
and diminish the prosperity of Gruyère, for Count François III, who had
accompanied the prince of Orange in his unfortunate invasion of Italy,
succumbed to the fatigue of the campaign, leaving the countess and her
daughter to a long and bitter struggle for the latter's rights to the
succession.

Although by the old Burgundian law, the right of female succession was
not without precedent, the general inclination of popular sentiment was
definitely against it; and while Hélène by her father's will was
authorized during her life to claim the rule of Gruyère, that will
directed that his nephew Jean of the cadet branch of the family should
succeed her. But the wills of Count Antoine as well as of his son
François provided for the immediate and direct succession of the next in
line of that cadet branch, Jean de Montsalvens, the brother of Count
Louis, and not the young son designated by the latter. Fully foreseeing
the impending difficulties which would beset his wife and daughter when
they should attempt to carry out his designs, Count Louis could never
have imagined that the Countess Claude would assist the family which had
already disputed the right of his own line to the throne by consenting
to a marriage of her daughter with Claude de Vergy. Legitimized by the
pope, sustained by Savoy, Count François had by his incomparable ability
brought Gruyère to such a height of power and prosperity that, after the
first attempt to dispossess him, he had been left undisturbed. Count
Louis, however, had been violently attacked by Count Guillaume de Vergy,
who had instigated during the Burgundian wars, the seizure of Aubonne
and the invasion of Gruyère, while during the short reign of his son
François raids of undisciplined marauders sent out by the same family
only too plainly announced their hostile intentions. With the rapidly
succeeding deaths of the young François II and his uncle François III,
the astute Guillaume de Vergy--a very great noble, head of his family
and maréchal of Burgundy--saw an opportunity of grasping the long
coveted succession for his son Claude by means of a marriage with Hélène
of Gruyère. But he reckoned without the well founded claims and stout
opposition of Jean de Montsalvens, between whom and his son on one side
and Hélène and her mother on the other side such a contest arose as
nearly plunged Switzerland into civil war. While Berne was on Hélène's
side, Fribourg supported Jean de Montsalvens. The duke of Savoy
supported the two ladies, but could find no better solution of their
difficulties than to ask them to receive the rival pretendant as a
guest in the château. When finally their friends the Bernois and their
enemies of Fribourg proposed to install Jean provisionally at Gruyère
under the protection of an armed force, the countess thought prudent to
retire, leaving the château to the management of her chatelain. But
while the duke of Savoy and the two cities were temporizing and
hesitating between the rival claimants, the mountaineers of Gessenay,
leaders of the German-Swiss people of Gruyère, and who were violently
opposed to the marriage of Mdlle. de Gruyère with the detested family of
de Vergy, formally acknowledged Jean de Montsalvens as their ruler. In
spite of the popular opposition, Hélène's marriage was duly celebrated
and her rival soon after installed himself at the château. Whereupon,
the duke of Savoy indignant at the disregard of his futile propositions,
sent a messenger to Berne commanding their intervention in favor of
Hélène, and another to Jean himself with a mandate immediately to
evacuate the château. Berne informed the men of Gessenay of its
intention to support Hélène, and commanded them to keep the peace. The
prospect of a general war seemed so imminent that the king of France
sent his ambassador, the Cardinal d'Amboise, to investigate the matter,
and the maréchal of Burgundy so influenced the emperor that he issued an
imperial mandate recognizing Claude de Vergy as ruler of the disputed
province. But Jean de Montsalvens, supported by his mountaineers,
with an enrolled force of four thousand men, dismissed with calm
politeness the messenger of Savoy, ignored the threats of the two cities
as well as the mandate of the emperor, and preserved so bold a front
against all his foes that he gained the assistance of Berne and the
unanimous support of all his people, and was formally recognized as
count of Gruyère. The duke of Savoy and the two cities now proposed a
council of all the parties concerned by which the rival claims should be
decided, but refusing at first to submit his rights to arbitration,
Count Jean delayed until he was assured by popular consent of the
success of his cause, and then appearing before the council at Geneva,
was formally confirmed in his already established succession.

[Illustration: TERRACE OF THE CHÂTEAU]

The Countess Claude, although supported by such friends as the maréchal
of Burgundy, the duke of Savoy, the king of France, and the emperor of
Germany, had been reduced to sad straits. From her retreat at the
château of Aubonne, without heat, without food, she had appealed to the
guard which Berne and Fribourg had established at Gruyère for a little
of her home butter and cheese to keep her from actual starvation. The
council at Geneva provided for her necessities by requiring the
restoration of the amount of her dot, and to her and her daughter
possession of the châteaux of Aubonne and Molière for their lives, with
a purchasable reversion in favor of Count Jean. But when, dying early,
Hélène, in defiance of this provision, left these properties to her
husband and his family, there were more quarrels about their possession,
and again the European powers were invoked by Guillaume de Vergy, who
procured from Louis XII of France a protest as unheeded as the mandate
of the emperor, against their diversion to Count Jean. But the maréchal
at last succeeded in his long considered plan of amicably uniting the
rival claims, for in a family council it was finally agreed that his
daughter Marguerite should marry Count Jean's son and successor, and
that the purchase money of the two châteaux, supplied by Count Jean,
should constitute her dowry. So was concluded a quarrel of more than
sixty years, begun and ended by a marriage.

The estates so manfully won by Count Jean were not destined to bring him
unmixed satisfaction. The men of Gessenay demanded pay for their support
in the form of costly enfranchisements from contributions or taxes; the
revenues of Gruyère had already been decreased by the long legal
processes of the succession, the maintenance of the army of defence, and
the payment of Countess Claude's dot and her daughter's pension, as well
as by the heavy purchase money of the châteaux of Aubonne and Molière.
While still preserving its appearance of luxury the court of Gruyère was
now supplied and maintained by loans from Berne and Fribourg, while
Count Jean, who had prevailed against so powerful an array of foes, was
like his predecessors, despoiled by the bishop of Lausanne, who demanded
the cession of his rights over a rich part of his possessions. Thus the
reign which had begun by an astonishing display of courage and firmness
was so embarrassed by the expenditure incident to its establishment,
that it ran thereafter a very inglorious course unmarked by the happy
prosperity of former years. When Maximilian I prepared to proceed to
Italy to be crowned emperor of the Romans, the Bernois consented to
enroll Count Jean's son, his son-in-law, the seigneur of Châtelard, and
Claude de Vergy, under the Gruyère banner in the army of confederates
which was to swell the imperial forces. But with the refusal of Venice
to permit the passage of Maximilian this dream of worldly experience and
adventure was necessarily abandoned. Except for the service of the
Count's illegitimate son Jean, who fought with a force of Gruyèriens in
the battle of Novara, when the Swiss preserved Milan to its dukes
against the invading army of Louis XII, no military honor accrued to
Gruyère during his reign.



CHAPTER VIII

RELIGIOUS REFORM


The death of Count Jean in the beginning of the 16th century left to his
son Jean II the task of upholding the old ideals of the Gruyère house
against the continually growing democracy in Switzerland, as well as
against the advance of religious reform. Endowed with all his father's
firmness, he possessed the chivalric ardor of his predecessors and a
full share of their personal charm. The long and intimate relation of
Gruyère and Savoy which had been interrupted by his father's maintenance
of his rights of succession against the will of Duke Philibert II, were
renewed by Count Jean II, who soon merited the title so worthily won by
his predecessors of the "greatest noble in Romand Switzerland."

When Count Philippe de Bresse, after a lifetime spent in envious
agitations against the ruling dukes at last succeeded to the throne of
Savoy, he splendidly atoned for his ill-treatment of Count Louis de
Gruyère and his brother by immediately investing Count Jean II with the
offices held by his predecessors; and when he magnificently celebrated
his reconstitution of the Order of the Annonciata in the chapel of
Chambéry, he invested Count Jean with the order, and at the ensuing
fêtes gave him a seat at his side. The gift of this order, bestowing
upon its possessor the privilege of diplomatic negotiations with the
thrones of Europe, brilliantly recognized the position already held by
the counts of Gruyère of arbitrators for Savoy and Romand Switzerland in
the continual differences which arose between them and the monarchs of
France and Austria. Although still only a duchy, Savoy had long been
related by marriage with all the kingdoms of Europe. It was triply
related to France through the wife and the sister of Louis XI and
through Louise de Savoie, mother of François I; it was doubly related to
the latter's great rival, the emperor Charles V, through Philibert's
wife, the able Marguerite d'Autriche, and again through the emperor's
sister-in-law, the Duchess Beatrix of Portugal, wife of Philibert's
successor, Charles III. Fortified and elated by this imperial alliance,
Duke Charles III began his unfortunate reign with a magnificent progress
through Piémont and Savoy, where, particularly in the Pays de Vaud, he
was cordially welcomed. At Geneva "the youth of the city were gayly
decked out in damask, velvet and cloth of gold, while a corps of the
most beautiful women, superbly dressed as amazons carrying lances and
shields, were led by a fair Spaniard in honor of the Duchesse." At
Vevey, bells rang, and a great procession of soldiers in parti-color
followed by others in pure white, with a hundred pages also in white,
carrying the white cross of Savoy, came out from the gates to meet him.

Presenting his suzerain with the donations of the Pays de Vaud at
Lausanne, Count Jean was also present with the bishops of Tarentaise,
Lausanne and de Bellay at the general assembly of the Savoy estates at
Morges, and at the château of Oron received the duke and his suite at a
splendid banquet.

The Swiss, divided by religious wars, and since the battles of Grandson,
Morat and Nancy the actual arbiters of Europe, were constantly solicited
for their alliance, and yielding to their cupidity and a widespread
spirit of adventure, continually divided their forces into mercenary
bands, fighting for Italy and then France in the long series of
disastrous Italian campaigns undertaken by Charles VIII and his
successors, Louis XII and François I. "_Point d'argent, point de
Suisse_," a saying only too well merited by the conduct of these
mercenary armies, originated from these French-Italian campaigns. In
1499 the Swiss, fighting with France, betrayed the duke of Milan to
Louis XII. At Novara, fifteen years later, they fought for the duke, and
took for themselves a large part of Piémont. At Marignan, the young
François I at the head of a brilliant army of the French noblesse,
furnished with all the accoutrements and artillery of modern warfare,
received his baptism of fire, and Bayard won his shining immortality.
There also the Swiss in a second battle of giants, although defeated,
won as they had at St. Jacques the admiration of their conqueror; and
just as Louis XI had tempted them by unlimited pay to join his cause,
again François I induced them by promises of permanent pensions to a
perpetual alliance, and to the peace called "perpetual" which afterward
was maintained between Switzerland and France.

With the strictest historical justice this alliance, based on cupidity,
was by the same ignoble motive made void of result. When the great
Emperor Charles V, allied with the pope and England, threatened the
French possessions in Italy, the Swiss soldiers compelled the French
general to engage the imperial forces under the most unfavorable
conditions, and in the disastrous battle of the Bicoque brought about
the defeat of their allies, the loss of Milan and the evacuation of
Italy. Among the 16,000 Swiss who here demonstrated the worst of their
national qualities, was a force of 400 men from Gruyère under the
command of Count Jean, who fought with his natural son Jean, his
brother Jacques and his cousin of Blonay in the thick of the battle. The
French were hopelessly outnumbered by the combined imperial and Italian
armies and suffered a crushing defeat, and the Swiss soldiers whose pay
had been stolen by the mother of François I returned to their own
country after the battle. Confessing in truth that they were "_mal
payés, mal dotés_," Count Jean also declared that the Milanese duchy
would never be recovered by the French king unless he came himself to
Italy to conduct the campaign. He, therefore, returned to his estates
after this disheartening experience where he found the long smouldering
resentment against the predatory bishop of Lausanne at the point of
explosion. By threat of arms, he exacted payment for his despoiled
rights from the bishop, and before a great assemblage of his nobles,
communes and people solemnly enacted the cessation of all trade with the
bishop's market at Bulle in favor of Fribourg, with whose authorities he
also established new commercial relations. But Count Jean, who had great
reason to pursue these wise measures for the rehabilitation of his
already impoverished and mortgaged estates, was soon drawn into the
contest which arose between the democratic and Savoyard parties of
Geneva, when the former, making an alliance with the republics of Berne
and Fribourg, essayed to shake off the control of Savoy. The severance
of the alliance of those cities with Savoy, announced a formidable
alignment of the adherents of liberty in Romand Switzerland against the
ruling duchy. But before this new combination had become sufficiently
consolidated to accomplish its end, there were many efforts at
pacification and compromise, and the count of Gruyère most reluctantly
was forced to accept the office of arbiter between Savoy and the free
cities.

Again as so often had happened before, the ruler of Gruyère was faced
with a choice between his suzerain and the republics of Switzerland.
Count Jean unhesitatingly chose the former, and announced in his
capacity of arbitrator the dissolution of the alliance of the free
cities with Geneva. The result of this exceedingly courageous action was
his own arraignment by Fribourg for conduct which they announced as
unjustifiable and actionable. But the duke of Savoy was determined to
reward Count Jean for his fidelity, and prevailed upon Berne and Soleure
to renew their alliances but released Fribourg from all relations with
his house, thus delivering Count Jean from its threatened revenge. This
treaty, regulating the relations of Savoy with the cities of Berne and
Soleure, did not, however, finish the contest between the Genevan
democrats and the duke of Savoy, for the duke within a month sent an
army within sight of the city to reduce it to submission. The feudal
powers in Switzerland were now arrayed with Savoy against the rebels of
Geneva in a league of young nobles, who assembled in force at Coppet to
attack the city of Geneva. But now, although the heir of Gruyère was
among the nobles, the people joined the army of Berne and Fribourg which
marched to the aid of the rebellious city. Resorting to their old
pastime of devastation, the army of liberty burned château after château
in their march to Geneva, and uniting their forces with the rebels they
summoned the duke of Savoy to account for his responsibility in the
threatened attack. In an assemblage of the ambassadors of the ten
confederated cantons, the duke of Savoy secured his continued control of
Geneva, but paid dearly for it in the hypothecation to the greedy cities
of Berne and Fribourg of the whole of the Pays de Vaud. Following this
important concession, the victorious cities solemnly ratified their
treaties with Geneva, and with the establishment of religious reform,
which had developed simultaneously with the struggle for political
independence, Geneva finally succeeded in freeing itself from the rule
of Savoy. Catholic among the Catholics, Count Jean vigorously supported
the duke in the defence of their religion, and converted his château of
Oron into a refuge for the fugitives from the Lutheran persecution.
While the Bernois were breaking the sacred images and wrecking the
churches and chapels, Count Jean regularly maintained the celebration
of mass at Oron, and threatened to wreak vengeance upon the Lutheran
heretics who fell into his hands. Therefore, the Bernois, with
evangelical pronunciamentos, commanded him to desist, and under threat
of depriving him of the château and seigneurie of Oron, forced the
adoption in this Catholic stronghold of the Lutheran faith. At Gruyère
all the people were faithful, and in large numbers journeyed to
Fribourg, declaring they would die rather than abandon their religion.
At the warning that a band of Bernese Lutherans was preparing to invade
Gruyère, the Fribourgeois summoned the people to be ready at the sound
of the tocsin to take arms to repel them. Epidemics succeeded to these
alarms, the restless people continually demanded new concessions, and
finally the Bernois, openly declaring war upon Savoy, rapidly conquered
the long coveted Pays de Vaud and summoned the count of Gruyère to
acknowledge their sovereignty. When Count Jean stoutly rejected the
demands of the Bernois, they immediately threatened the invasion of his
estates; but their watchful rivals of Fribourg energetically protested,
and when an ambassador of Charles V arrived on the scene to lend the
Imperial support to the threatened principality, the Bernois consented
to recognize the independence of Gruyère but exacted and at last
obtained Count Jean's acceptance of their sovereignty over his
possessions in the Pays de Vaud. Berne's demands were no sooner
satisfied than Fribourg with an army prepared to take Corbières, but at
this Count Jean's loyal subjects rose in a body, and the Fribourgeois,
threatened by the people of Berne, consented to arbitrate their claims
at the very moment when the valiant Count Jean was seized with sudden
illness and ended his greatly tormented existence.

"Towards the end of the month of November," a contemporary chronicler
relates, "died at Gruyère, the noble and powerful lord Jean, Count of
the said Gruyère, who before his death had suffered great troubles and
pains, as much from the change in the overlordship and government of his
country as from that of religion."

The change of overlordship had been a desolating disaster to the loyal
vassal of the good Duke Charles of Savoy, who, when François I despoiled
him of all but a remnant of his duchy, was sent into a poverty-stricken
exile. A less firm resistance on the part of Count Jean against the
encroaching powers of the confederated cities would have brought a like
fate on Gruyère. In an epoch of transition, when the old feudal order
was giving place to the increasingly triumphant democracy in
Switzerland, in a period embittered by cruel religious persecutions,
involved in the wars and events which altered the political and moral
aspect of Europe, he preserved to the last the integrity of his domain
and its fidelity to its ancient faith. Personifying all the virtues of
the old order of chivalry, greatly honored by his suzerain, loved and
respected at home, it cannot be denied that he was at the same time the
exemplar of its faults, and of these a great and practically licensed
immorality was the chief. From the earliest period in the history of
Gruyère, many of the illegitimate sons of its rulers were dedicated to
the church, and often rising to high places among its prelates shared in
the prevailing laxity and were naturally forced to condone and finally
to recognize the continuance of this state of affairs. With even less
attempt at concealment than had been observed by his ancestors in the
pursuance of these irregular relations Count Jean openly installed his
mistress the famous Luce d'Alberguex, at the château. An ideal Gruyère
beauty was la Belle Luce, with the vigorous perfection of her race and a
smile of such naïve sweetness and charm as still lingers in the popular
tradition. Count Jean gave her his fairest mountain as a gage of his
affection and villages and rich pasture lands to her brave son, his
namesake, who had fought by his side at the Bicoque. The gallant count
was, according to tradition, very prodigal in his favors, and a certain
road, leading to the neighboring village of Charmey where the unhappy
Countess Marguerite could watch her faithless lord as he rode away on
his various adventures, is still known as the "_Charrière de
Crêve-Coeur_."

Married for reasons of family policy to the daughter of the de Vergys,
who resided for the most part in the château of Oron, Count Jean passed
his happiest days with la Belle Luce at Gruyère. After the death of his
countess, and the passing of his youthful loves, he married Catherine de
Monteynard, with whom he honorably passed the last decade of his life.



CHAPTER IX

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF GRUYÈRE


The three sons of Count Jean II not strangely reflected the conditions
of their birth and the widely differing characters of their mothers.
François, only son of his second marriage, which was founded on a real
preference and esteem, possessed the kindly and charitable nature of his
mother and the firm character of his distinguished Gruyère ancestors.
Jean, the illegitimate son of Luce d'Alberguex, was lovable and
valorous, but lacking in firmness or dignity of character. Michel, the
heir of Gruyère, and the child of Count Jean's loveless marriage with
Marguerite de Vergy, while personifying in their perfection the physical
beauty and charm of his line, was like the fair fruit of a decaying tree
hollow at heart, and was only too well fitted by his fantastic
pretensions and his frivolous weakness of character for the tragic rôle
which was assigned to him in the fall of his house.

    "_Véla, Michel li preux li beaux
    Fleur de tous autres damoiseaux._"

a couplet describing the romantic figure of the last count of Gruyère,
is still rhymed by the people and still finds its place among their
records. Imposing in height as his great forerunner François de Gruyère,
his features were of a beautiful regularity and nobility, his manner had
that princely pride and simplicity which was the greatest charm of
François I of France. At the French court, as in all Switzerland, he was
renowned as "the handsomest knight of his day." With the extinction of
the court at Chambéry, where his predecessors had received their
education in chivalry and where they had so faithfully and honorably
served the dukes of Savoy, the young Michel was sent to the still more
brilliant court of France. Blazing with the beauty of the great ladies
who ruled the adored and adorable young king, the resort of painters and
poets, the rendezvous of all the noblesse of France, this court at its
highest pitch of pageantry and pride was a dazzling school for the young
_damosel_ of Gruyère. Here in the white and gold dress of the "_Enfants
du Roi_," and next as king's _Pannétier_, he passed eight years of his
youth, patterning his ideals only too faithfully upon the young
sovereign he served. On his return to Switzerland fresh from this
experience in France, he joined the league of young nobles called "_de
la cuiller_," from their vow to make a sweet morsel of the rebel
republicans of Geneva. In highwaymen raids in company with his mad
cousin de Beaufort of Coppet and Rolle, he defied the formidable
seigneurs of Berne, and was only saved from their chastisement by their
regard for his father. After these escapades, he departed for Italy to
the court of the emperor Charles the Fifth, who at first treated him
with extraordinary confidence, but when he demanded to be appointed
prince of the empire and gentleman of the bed-chamber, the emperor
refused. Passing only enough time at Gruyère to receive the vows of
fidelity from his subjects and to make a tour of his estates, he
proceeded by way of France to carry out a mission of the emperor in
Flanders. At Paris where the emperor halted on his way to deal with his
rebellious Flemish subjects, Count Michel was so pleasantly entertained
in the round of fêtes and _divertissements_ which celebrated the
imperial visit, that he postponed again and again the adjustment of the
important differences with Fribourg which had been left in abeyance at
the death of his father. His mission to Flanders was so carelessly
executed that he soon lost the confidence of the emperor who, openly
declaring that "he thought little of him," sent him away from Turin. On
his return to Paris after another brief visit to his country Count
Michel received a better welcome from François I, who invested him with
the Order of the King and with the Collar of St. Michæl. No better
example of the personal charm of François I is to be found in history
than his influence over his Swiss allies. Assuring the ambassadors of
Berne, when they visited Paris with the hope of being released from
their military service, that the disastrous results of his Italian
campaigns were due only to the derangement of his finances, he promised
personally to lead them in his approaching invasion, beguiled them with
fair words and promises, even engaging to place the crown diamonds in
their custody as gage of their pay, and professing that he was "_l'ami
de coeur_" of the Confederates bound them for weal or woe to his
cause. At the battle of Sésia when Bayard fell before the armies of the
emperor and the traitorous Constable of France, it was the Swiss who
saved the existence of the French forces. At the disastrous defeat of
Pavia, losing half of their soldiers, they fought with a desperate
courage for the lost cause of the still beloved king, who at the moment
of surrender could salute the Swiss guard and say to his captor: "If all
my soldiers had fought like these, I would not be your prisoner but you
would be mine."

In the complications which arose from Berne's renewed demands for the
recognition of their authority over Gruyère, Count Michel became a
figure of international importance. When his domain was threatened with
invasion, he declared that he had received it from God and his fathers,
and would not submit. The Fribourgeois, in the interests of the Catholic
party, were against Berne, and declared they would support him to the
full extent of their power. Six other Catholic cities also ranged
themselves with Fribourg, and war seemed so imminent that the matter was
taken before the Diet, when, with the aid of the French ambassadors and
a summons from the emperor Charles V to respect the independence of his
imperial fief, Count Michel was able to retain the freedom of Gruyère,
but compelled like his father to admit Berne's authority over his
possessions in the Pays de Vaud. In the support which François I gave to
Count Michel, he followed not so much his predilection for a courtier
whom he had invested with the Order of St. Michel as his habitual policy
of conciliating the Swiss, whose support was indispensable to him in the
war he had again declared against the emperor. In December of the year
1543, Count Michel at the invitation of the king joined the French army
before Landrécies, where with a small force of cavalry armed and
equipped at his own expense he was fortunate enough to assist his old
master in relieving the siege of the city.

But this was the only fortune which fell to the Gruyère banner during
the various campaigns in which he was engaged. "Fanfarront" and proud,
the new and richly embroidered flag he commanded represented the
symbolic and hitherto honorable "Grue," in a guise as "fanfarront" as
Count Michel himself. Assuming the title of prince, and for his
poverty-stricken little domain the powers and independence of a royal
principality, he was not content to furnish the two thousand men
required by the king, but rashly undertook to double the number. Still
more rashly he left the levée of these troops to a delegate, who hastily
assembled a motley and disreputable collection of untrained men from all
parts of the country, with a few ignorant peasants from Gruyère itself
who were in no way fitted to sustain the valorous reputation of their
country. Detained by the quarrels which against all advice he
continually pursued with Geneva and Berne, he delegated his command of
these troops to the same untrustworthy agent who had collected them, a
certain Sire de Cugy of Vaud. At a critical moment in the battle of
Cérisolles this helpless band of peasants not surprisingly took to their
heels and seriously endangered the victory of the French. The other
Swiss soldiers sustained their old reputation with prodigies of valor,
but upon the Gruyèriens were lavished every epithet of contempt. The
pitiful episode was the object of many royal witticisms. To the king
who "supposed that they were of the same stuff as the Confederates," his
chronicler du Bellay replied that "it was folly to disguise an ass as a
charger"----"Why pay these cowards," asked the king in return, "who fled
like _Grues hier_?"

How important the little Swiss province was considered among the great
kingdoms of Europe, was again shown in the multitude and variety of
observations in the contemporary memoirs upon the conduct of the men who
untruthfully called themselves Gruyèriens. A comment of Rabelais in his
Pantagruel, adds to the general reproach. "It has always been the custom
in war, to double pay for the day when the battle is won. With victory
there is profit and somewhat for payment; with defeat, it is shame to
demand reward, as did the runaways of Gruyère after the battle of
Serizolles." Thus Rabelais mocked the last Gruyère soldiers as Tasso
praised the first, and an undeserved stigma was set on the banner which
had been carried unstained through six centuries of warfare at home and
abroad.

[Illustration: CHURCH OF ST. THEODATE]

With a persistency which deserved a better reward, Count Michel now
determined to redeem his disgrace, and joined the French armies in the
prolonged attempt to relieve the city of St. Dizier, besieged by the
imperial forces. But fortune on this occasion was unfavorable to the
French and no glory was gained and no rehabilitation of the unfortunate
Gruyèriens. In a third campaign under the command of the Duc de Guise,
Count Michel was again with the French before Boulogne, and a witness of
the peace of Crépy which was signed at the moment when that city fell
into the hands of the English. Thus although putting forth every effort
to restore the ancient reputation of his house, the unlucky Count Michel
was forced to return without laurels to Gruyère where, during the last
peaceful years of the reign of François I, no further military service
was required of him. But the Bernois still tormented him for recognition
of their sovereignty over the disputed seigneuries of Palézieux, and
continued to lend him money, thus gradually and surely laying their
hands on his long coveted possessions. With a like calculating
generosity, Fribourg accepted mortgages on such portions of his property
as were not already mortgaged to Berne, while Count Michel, like a
butterfly caught in the closing net of its captors, lived gayly in the
lingering sunshine of this false prosperity. A romantic imbroglio in
which his cousin de Beaufort was involved afforded him congenial
distraction, and again served to attract the attention of the king of
France and the emperor to the affairs of Gruyère. Passing their
brilliant youth together at the court of François I, where the young
sire de Beaufort was also "_Enfant du Roi_," the comrades were also
associated in the mad escapades of the "_Lique de la Cuiller_,"
against the Geneva republicans, and when de Beaufort carried off the
beautiful Marie de la Palud, it was to Gruyère that he fled, riding
madly across country to ask Count Michel's protection. The mother of the
runaway beauty--a certain Countess de la Varax, was determined to
recover her daughter and as a bourgeoise of Berne, denounced the
ravisher to the city authorities, but when informed by the countess of
Beaufort that she had been married by bell and by book, and had Count
Michel's promise to intercede in her favor, they declined to prosecute
her or her husband. Fribourg also took the side of the lovers, and sent
a letter in their behalf to the king of France. But the Countess de la
Varax had already secured the support of both emperor and king, who,
thinking the matter of high political importance, sent pressing letters
by their ambassadors to Berne and Fribourg and, later, to the Diet of
the Confederation, commanding that de Beaufort should give up his bride.
Informed of these royal and imperial commands, the Sire de Beaufort
declared he would die rather than give up his wife or emerge from his
Gruyère asylum, and prayed the seigneurs of Berne to write to the king
in his favor. Before the grave assemblage of the Confederation of the
Diet at Baden, Count Michel magnificently declared that as for him he
would protect the refugees at all costs, and left the matter to the
justice of the delegates. The Diet as stoutly declining to dissolve a
legalized marriage, defied the summons of the king and the emperor and
ordered the pursuit of the lovers to cease. The two counts of Gruyère
and of Beaufort were so gratified by this support that when the emperor
prepared to invade Switzerland they offered to join the Confederate army
in the defence of their country. With the passing of this threat of
invasion Count Michel lost his last opportunity of military distinction.
The remainder of his reign was one long struggle with the net of
financial embarrassment which now encompassed him. The youthful
impression of magnificence gained at the French court, the vanity of his
extraordinary beauty, the favor of the dazzling François I, the actual
independence of his imperial principality exalted his imagination to a
pitch of pretension utterly beyond his capacity of either leadership or
organization. He was fertile in imagination, persistent and
indefatigable, but he had unfortunately inherited no trace of the
firmness or judgment displayed by the long line of his ancestors, while
from the intriguing de Vergy strain, he derived a treacherous and feeble
duplicity, which lost him the confidence of the sovereigns he served and
the cities with which he was allied. Although maintaining an apparent
friendship with Berne and Fribourg, whose monetary assistance he
constantly demanded, he succeeded by a complicated system of loans and
partial payments of interest in possessing himself of a long line of
châteaux-forts extending from Gruyère to the Pays de Gex. As he was the
acknowledged head of the still existing league "de la Cuiller," his
acquisition of this formidable line of fortresses only too clearly
indicated his design of restoring the supremacy of the nobles in
Switzerland, and by a brilliant dash for liberty at once to obliterate
the power and the embarrassing financial claims of Berne and Fribourg.
His friends had already begun to collect ammunition, and apparitions of
armed bands were reported to Berne, when a warning from the French
ambassador that a project was on foot to threaten their liberties and to
reëstablish the exiled duke of Savoy, caused the authorities to send
word to the baillis in the several departments to watch Count Michel and
find out the secret of his intentions. When he was summoned to appear at
Berne to account for these suspicious occurrences, Count Michel
forthwith abandoned his far-reaching and unpracticable scheme, and sent
a request to the council asking for time to prepare the documents to
establish his innocence. Vanished now were his splendid hopes of
reëstablishing the noblesse under his leadership, and crushed under the
enormous debts which he had incurred in the acquisition of the now
useless fortresses, he was forced to make a supreme effort to preserve
himself and his domain from utter and imminent ruin. His long
attachment to François I, although rewarded by the very considerable
dignity of the royal Order of St. Michæl, had been far less profitable
in substantial results, for his old master, according to his custom, had
failed to pay either the salaries of his positions at court or the
pensions alloted to Gruyère according to the terms of the Perpetual
Peace. To the arrears of these pensions and salaries, Count Michel added
the expenses of his various expeditions with the French armies and the
pay of the soldiers who had so disgraced him at Cérisolles. The sum of
these claims, drawn up in an interminable document and presented to
François I's son and successor Henri II, amounted to no less than
1,700,000 francs. King Henri, who had by no means forgotten the sort of
service rendered by these soldiers, was irritated at the fantastic sum
of Count Michel's claims, and after a long delay offered half of the
arrears of the pay of his soldiers but rejected the other demands,
declaring that as a knight of the Order of St. Michæl the count was a
French subject and had no right as a Confederate to the pensions granted
by the terms of the Perpetual Peace. This offer Count Michel indignantly
refused, threatening to send back the Order of St. Michæl, and appealing
to the Diet to confirm his undoubted status as a Confederate. Berne and
Fribourg and at length the Diet ratified this claim and sent messengers
to the king recommending its recognition, but assigned the greatly
reduced sum of 60,000 francs as the amount of the pensions due. The king
replying that he would in no case alter his decision, the Berne
authorities, with a singular consideration for their unfortunate debtor
procured the additional recommendations of all the cantons; but the king
still insisted that as Chevalier of St. Michæl, the count was bound to
come to Paris to present his claims before the tribunal of the order.
The count, however, as persistently refused to go to Paris "to be mocked
by the King," and defiantly proposed that the latter should be summoned
to personally appear before the Diet. A less extravagant demand, a less
obstinate refusal, would have surely obtained a better recognition from
the monarch who "never broke his word," but failing to persuade either
the king or his claimant, the Confederates were forced to abandon their
intervention and Count Michæl got nothing at all. Ill and despairing, he
now abandoned the administration of his hopelessly involved estates to
his brother François, who with the aid of an appointed council vainly
essayed to bring order out of confusion. In an open assembly the people
were asked to guarantee a new loan on the promise of the cession of all
the Gruyère revenues at a fixed date. Irritated but still faithful to
their ruler they consented, but the delay thus obtained only postponed
the inevitable disaster. Berne and Fribourg now announced their
intention of assuming the debts of the entirely mortgaged domain and
dividing it between them. The unhappy people of Gruyère prepared to
witness the dispossession of their ruler and the dismemberment of their
beloved country when Count Michel played his last card, marrying through
the good offices of his uncle Claude de Vergy, (who had now succeeded
his father as maréchal of Burgundy) the widow of the Baron d'Alègre,
Madeleine de Miolans, a daughter of a once illustrious Savoyard family.
To her devotion and that of his de Vergy's relatives, who spared nothing
but the necessary funds to avert his impending ruin, Michel owed a short
reprieve from the execution of his creditors. Four months' delay was
granted his wife in which to raise the interest due on the loans; but
although journeying to Paris and soliciting every influence to procure
the required sum, the countess of Gruyère failed in her efforts. The
poor lady now saw the end of her dream of rehabilitating the fallen
fortunes of the man she had so unwisely married. How potent was the
charm of the bankrupt hero who could still inspire her unlimited
devotion was still better proved by the affection of his half brother
François. Modest, dignified and charitable, as his brilliant senior was
wasteful and rash, François' loyalty was unaltered by any disgrace of
misfortune. But in the very climax of his ills Count Michel lost this
invaluable brother and friend. In a letter to his implacable executors
he thus poured out his grief:

"Sirs, this letter is to inform you that in addition to all the
misfortunes and adversities, illnesses and otherwise, which it has
pleased God to send me, it has been His good pleasure to take from me my
brother François d'Aubonne who died yesterday morning at eleven o'clock
at Gruyère. The sorrow and grief which I suffer, dear Sirs, you cannot
imagine, at thus losing my second self and the brother who has rendered
me constant loyalty and service. Therefore, to you who are my chief
masters, fathers and friends, I confide my sorrow, praying you as good
fathers, friends, lords and ancient protectors of my house to console
and assist me as has hitherto been your good pleasure."

"Fanfarront" no longer, but helpless as a child in the face of the ills
he had wrought, Count Michel sent his courageous wife on her many futile
errands in his behalf, while he waited alone at the château for the
inevitable end. Writing again and again to Fribourg and Berne, declaring
that his illness gave him no peace and that the slightest effort to
think redoubled his pains, he found no better occupation for one of his
solitary days than to re-read his treaty with Fribourg.

"Magnifique Monsieur l'Avoyer, and honored lords, to your good graces I
affectionately commend myself.

"While I was sitting the other day, overwhelmed by the sufferings of my
poor body, I began to re-read my treaty of Combourgeoisie with your
city, to distract the ennui of my malady, when the countess' little dog
who had been gamboling about me dragged off, while I was not looking,
the ribbon and seal, which greatly annoyed me. I send you back the
paper, therefore, asking you to be as good as to affix another seal, by
which you will greatly oblige him who in heart and affection, Magnifique
Monsieur l'Avoyer, is entirely your good citizen and servant."

The four months' respite had now passed, and the countess with her
devoted sister presented herself before the Diet to make a last effort
to procure a postponement of the sentence of dispossession. In silence
the deputies listened to her tearful appeal, when realizing that no
answer was possible and unwilling to listen to the fatal decree, the
countess and her sister requested permission to retire. Respectfully
conducting the weeping women from the chamber, the delegates then
formally authorized the transference of Gruyère to the cities of Berne
and Fribourg. At ten o'clock in the evening of this same fatal day,
Count Michel, followed by a single faithful domestic, mounted his horse
and rode away from Gruyère. The shadows of a November night, the sighing
winds, the falling leaves, were the fitting accompaniment of this tragic
departure. Significant also was it that with the fall of the house of
Gruyère, the last remaining feudal sovereignty, the old chivalric order
forever passed from Switzerland. With the extinction of the power of
Savoy, and the establishment of the inclusive league of cantons and
cities representing the new and united nation, the little principality
of Gruyère was in any case doomed to the acceptance of the prevailing
form of government. But although hastening by his extravagance the fall
of his house, Count Michel had various difficulties for which he was not
personally responsible. With the repeated enfranchisement of his people
from their feudal contributions and taxes, his revenues had already been
seriously reduced, and the long legal process and armed resistance
necessitated by his grandfather's struggle with the rival de Vergys, had
exhausted a large part of the accumulated capital. Thus only a rigid
system of retrenchment would have sufficed to preserve the financial
integrity of Gruyère. For such an administration Count Michel was
utterly unfitted both by character and training, and he precipitated his
own inevitable ruin, when, yielding to his unbounded and unrealizable
ambitions, he essayed to reverse the course of events and restore the
power of feudality in Switzerland, at the very moment of its
disorganization. His refusal to accept any portion of his claims on the
French crown, his rejection of the proposition to sell, while it was yet
time, any part of his estates, were examples of his immoderate and
unreasoning pride. But another cause, the machinations of the powerful
and envious de Vergys, singularly conspired to hasten the final
dismemberment of the coveted province. Causing first the exhaustion of
the Gruyère revenues, through the forced and loveless alliance with the
ruling and legitimate line, the de Vergy strain produced in Michel a
changeling heir, who was empty of heart as he was bankrupt in purse.
Thus as the old order of feudalism, yielding to the progress of free
thought, free speech and free faith, in the whole extent of Europe
crumbled and fell, then was fulfilled in the already democratic
Switzerland the old prophecy of the fool Chalamala, that "the Berne Bear
would some day eat the Grue in the caldron of Fribourg." To Berne in the
final division was allotted the mountainous regions of Gessenay and
château d'Oex, while Fribourg took possession of the lower pasture
lands, the city and the château, and the château itself they converted
into the seat of government. In the deserted castle where for six
centuries Count Michel's vigorous forbears had pacifically ruled with
their vigorous sons, the last pitiful illegitimate child of the line was
discovered by the Bailli of Fribourg. Sent with her mother, an old
domestic of the château, the little Guillauma was brought up in the
_hospice_ and supported, like her mother, at the expense of the city.
Thus finished in utter disgrace the illustrious line of pastoral kings.
At the château of Oron, where the countess of Gruyère had fled after
the decree of dispossession, her despairing husband joined her. In the
cold of the November weather, the empty château, without servants, heat
or supplies, was only a temporary refuge, although the council of Berne
mercifully sent the countess a small sum of money for her immediate
necessities. The paternal patience of the calculating Berne authorities
was solicited by their equally hypocritical victim, in the following
humble appeal sent by Count Michel upon his arrival at Oron.

"Since it has pleased God so to chastise and afflict me that I am
compelled to depart from your Excellencies and to follow the path He has
pointed out to me, I praise Him in that His punishment is meted out to
me in mercy and not according to my sins; my absence and inability to
serve you as I have all my life desired being of equal affliction with
my loss. I have always had such confidence in your great kindness and
humanity, that I am assured that your magnificences will have compassion
on me and my wife, who is departing to solicit you as humbly as possible
to pardon my not appearing before you, as my heart is so desolate that I
can say or do naught to help in these circumstances. Therefore, may it
please you to listen to her proposition and to grant as great a degree
of honor and welfare as is possible to your child."

Although Berne had permitted the temporary residence of the deposed
count at Oron, and had granted to the countess the revenues of a small
piece of land, the refugees soon left the "logis" which they found "_si
froid et si mal fourni de vivres_," and repaired to Burgundy and the
protection of their powerful de Vergy relatives. For many years the
dispossessed princeling was destined to pursue his adventurous career in
the various kingdoms of Europe. With his immediate necessities supplied
by his wife's income, in the accustomed luxury of the châteaux of his
relatives he quickly recovered his old pose of an independent and only
temporarily deposed potentate, and proceeding to Paris in his character
as Chevalier du Roi, was able to obtain a surprising degree of
recognition. Welcomed by Catherine de Medici as a Catholic among the
Catholics, he was present as a councilor of the King's Order at the
private and preliminary trial conducted by the queen mother of the
assassin of his old general and commander the Duc de Guise. King Charles
IX may possibly have granted a part of Count Michel's claims upon the
French crown, and was in any case so much influenced by his
representations that he wrote to Berne and Fribourg recommending his
reëstablishment in his estates. When informed by the council of the
respective cities of the conditions of his dispossession, King Charles
made no further effort on his behalf. The still undiscouraged adventurer
then repaired to Flanders to the palace and protection of his powerful
aunt the Sénéschale of Hainault. From Hainault as a base of supplies, he
journeyed about Flanders and Belgium, finding temporary sympathizers and
supporters in various notabilities with whom he consulted as to the best
method of recovering his estates, or at least wresting them from the
hands of Berne and Fribourg. The Cardinal de Granvelle, who was
intimately known to the king of Spain, and the Belgian ambassador to the
Spanish court were solicited to represent his claims for recognition as
a good Catholic to his Spanish majesty. To his suggestions that Gruyère
would be a valuable addition to the Spanish territories, no more
attention was paid than to his desire to be decorated with the Order of
the Toison d'Or and to be received as a colonel in the Spanish army. For
Philip II, enlightened by the cardinal as to the character of the
pretendant for his favor, had no wish to tempt him from the service of
France, and still less to embroil himself with the Swiss Confederation
by intriguing with a dispossessed bankrupt for the recovery of his lost
estates. Deserted by the kings of France and Spain, the count, since the
death of his faithful wife, old and alone, proceeded to the court of the
emperor. A new friend, the Alsatian Count Bollwiler, was solicited to
arrange for him another advantageous matrimonial alliance, while the
Emperor Maximilian II was so moved by the recital of his woes that he
sent a letter to Berne and Fribourg requesting that in view of the
count's advanced age and many adversities, he should be permitted to
repurchase and enjoy his lost principality for the brief remainder of
his days. A long memorial from the count accompanied the emperor's
letter and announced that with the aid of his new and powerful friends,
he would soon be in a position to buy back Gruyère. He ended with an
appeal for compassion on his bald head and his white beard.

With respectful attention to the august request of of the emperor, Berne
and Fribourg replied that no provision had been made for the repurchase
of Gruyère, and detailed the conditions by which they had acquired the
property. The emperor thereupon declined to renew his recommendations,
and after this final defeat, Count Michel, deprived of his last hope of
royal or imperial assistance, the neediest and loneliest of adventurers,
lived a hand-to-mouth existence with the faithful domestic who had
followed him since the day he had departed from Gruyère. Nursing always
the same chimera of some day returning triumphant to his lost province,
he pursued his peregrinations, finding a final refuge in the Burgundian
château of Thalémy, belonging to his cousin François de Vergy, where he
died at last in March of the year 1576. On a day in May a messenger from
Burgundy announced his decease to his uncle the protonataire Dom Pierre
de Gruyère. With tolling of bells the news was proclaimed, and a month
later, before a great throng of people from all parts of the country, a
memorial service was held in the church at Gruyère. "_Desolatione magna
desolata est Grueria, ploratus et ulleratus auditi sunt in Grueria, et
in omnibus finibus eius._" With such a text the last Gruyère prelate
celebrated the honors due to the last count of his line. "Desolate with
a great desolation," in truth were the people who, bitterly weeping,
lamented the loss of their happy independence, preserved through so many
long centuries under the kindly rule of their beloved counts. A halo of
melancholy romance had gathered through the popular traditions about the
figure of Count Michel, so that he has strangely become the typical
representative of the beauty, strength and valor of his far worthier
predecessors. Conflicting reports about the place of his death and
entombment, strange tales of his reappearance, have made him a second
Boabdil, unburied, always returning to the beloved home of his youth. An
hallucinated exile in life, his ghost, hallucinated, ever returning,
haunts his lost and lovely Gruyère.



CHAPTER X

GRUYÈRE WITHOUT ITS COUNTS


Nearly four hundred years have passed since the fall of its counts, but
the merciless march of democracy, although changing the government of
Gruyère has left the people strangely unaltered. In spite of the
injunctions of the Lutheran Bernois, they still danced and sang, and
until the dawn of the present century still spoke their musical patois.
The château, long used as the residence of a préfet of Fribourg, was
offered for sale when in the middle of the 19th century the prefecture
was transferred to Bulle. For a long time left to decay, it was finally
doomed to demolition, when for the same sum offered by a housebreaker of
Vevey, it was happily purchased by M. Bovy of Geneva. His brother, a
painter and pupil of Ingres, devoted the remaining strength left to him
after a disabling paralysis, to the restoration of the château, and in
this enthusiastic service exhausted the family fortune. His friends and
companions in Paris gathered about him, and to the beautiful frescoes
with which he adorned the walls of the Hall of the Chevaliers were added
the landscape vignettes of the salon. Thus several Corot canvases are
strangely found in this out of the way corner in the Swiss mountains, a
lovely tribute of the great modern master to the long past glories of
Gruyère. In the jousting court flowers bloom bravely through the passing
seasons, the old well with its moss covered roof jewels the terrace with
its emerald green; through the chapel windows the painted light streams
over walls where in silver on scarlet still flies the Grue. On the clock
tower, still circling, the hands mark the passing of time and the bells
in the church still ring out their summons to prayer. At Easter the
"Bénichons" bring the people together for their old dances and songs,
and in the long "Veillées" the lads and the maids through the summer
nights or in winter beside their bright fires, watch the dawning of
love. The maidens, like Juliet, lean from low vine-covered windows, and
with beckoning candles invite their lovers to climb. The spring pastures
still blossom with marjolaine and narcissus, with cowslips and rue, the
orchards still redden in autumn with ripe fruit which falls with the
breeze, with tressed wheat, goats, and cows black and white; the green
fertile country abounds, and as in Provence a Mireille is the poet's
dream of its maids, so is "_Marie la Tresseuse_" in poems and tales the
wheat weaving girl of Gruyère. The "Armaillis" still drive their herds
to the mountains, still singing "_Le ranz des vaches_," the song which
among all others best reveals the soul of their race. "Lioba," "Lioba,"
one should hear the refrain as it echoes from the valleys and hills, the
same cry, musical, lingering, melancholy, which through century after
century has been sung by generations of Gruyère herdsmen.

        "Le Ranz des Vaches."

    The herdsmen of the Colombettes,
    To milk the cows arose.
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    Come! Come! Large and small,
    The black, the white, the short, the tall,
    Starry forehead, red and gold,
    All the young and all the old.
    Under the oak tree come!
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    Bells came first,
    Jet black came last,
    But at the stream they stopped aghast.
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    Alas, poor Pierre! what will you do?
    Trouble enough you have, 'tis true.
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    At the Curé's door
    You now must tap,
    He'll tell you how to cross the gap.
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    And what should I to the Curé say?
    A mass shall I beg, or will he pray
    To help my cows go over?
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    The Curé he, of a cheese was fain,
    "A creamy cheese, or your cows remain
    On the other side, 'tis very plain."
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    "Send us your pretty maid," said Pierre,
    "To carry the cheese,
    I speak you fair."
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    "Too pretty by far is my rosy maid,
    She might not return," the Curé said.
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    "What belongs to the Church
    We may not take,
    Confession humble we then should make."
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    "Go to friend Pierre,
    The mass shall be said,
    Good luck be yours, rich cheese and bread."
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

    Gayly Pierre went to his waiting herd,
    And freely they passed at the Curé's word.
        Ha! Ha! Lioba.

The soft terminations of the romanized French are never more musical
than in this famous song which, during their foreign campaigns, reduced
the Swiss soldiers to such weeping longing for home that it was
forbidden by their generals. Melancholy as is the repeated refrain, the
couplets reveal a ravishing picture of the customs and the observing
satirical spirit of the Gruyèrien. Is not the quip of the Curé worthy of
any son of the Emerald Isle?

[Illustration: JOUSTING COURT]

In truth this "_verte Gruyère_" shut away from the world by its
mountains as Ireland is by the sea, is like a lost island, fabled,
remote, its speech Provençal, its soul purely Celt. Laughter loving,
warlike and brave in the idyllic years of their prime, the Gruyèriens of
to-day are still gay, caustic of wit as they are kindly at heart; and,
in a changed world, as tenacious of their new republican rights as they
were erstwhile valiant vassals to their pastoral kings. The source of
innumerable songs and legends in the rich and melodious Gruyère speech,
still pastoral, this country has been celebrated in its exquisite,
unchanging beauty by many poets; its romances and its national song have
been the themes of dramatic and musical inspirations. Not yet has the
cruel light of modern day chased the fairies, the may-maidens, the
"servans" and the evil spirits from the forests and the caves. The place
where the devil, joining in a coraule, drew the dancing people over a
precipice is still shunned by young and old; with pride also will they
point out the slope of the Gruyère hill where when the men were fighting
at the _Pré de Chênes_ the women drove their goats, each bearing a
lighted candle, through the darkness upon an invading horde of Bernois,
who, thinking they were devils, fled in affright. For the refreshment of
the good spirits who guard the herds, basins of fresh milk are still set
in every mountain chalet. The origin of the Gruyère customs, like the
coraules and the still observed habit of hanging wreaths on their door
posts or in the oak groves, have a derivation of the most distant
antiquity, in the Chaldean cradle of the race, in the myths of India and
the Orient. The personified forces of Nature, the cloud wraiths of the
mountains, the lisping voices of the streams, for many centuries
haunting the imaginations of the people, still live in their legends, as
they do in Celtic Ireland. The idyllic loveliness of the country is
deliciously completed by the vines which are trained over the houses, by
the flowers which grow in their windows, so that from spring to
November Gruyère is a garden, ringed by blue mountains under a sky of
pure blue. In the Romand country are many exquisite towns such as Romont
and Rue, Estavayer, Oron and Morat--happily preserved in their unaltered
mediæval perfection. But the heart of this country is Gruyère,
impregnated with the romance of the departed days of chivalry, its
people affectionately faithful to the memory of their noble and beloved
rulers.

As for the Celtic wit, ever present in their sayings and legends, it is
characteristically shown in the following little story of the "Fountain
of Lessoc."


THE FOUNTAIN OF LESSOC

It happened one day that good father Colin went to the fair at château
d'Oex, where he successfully transacted his business, particularly at
the tavern. On his return journey he stopped at the inn at Montbovon,
not so much for the pleasure of drinking as to chat with his old
cronies, with the result that it was midnight before he was on his way
to Lessoc. A cold welcome awaited him at home. "Thou art a selfish and a
drunken wight, and the donkey is dying of thirst," said Fanchon with
many reproaches for his evil conduct. Greatly ashamed was Colin, and to
quickly repair his error untied la Cocotte and led her to the fountain.
The night was superb, and in the water was reflected the shining disk
of the moon. Precisely in this silver spot, the poor Cocotte began to
ease her thirst when, "Behold," said her master, "she is drinking the
moon." Then suddenly the moon went under a cloud, and at the same moment
Cocotte, quite satisfied, lifted her head, "Heavens!" cried Colin, "the
moon has gone and my donkey has drunk her."

Not a word did he say to his wife, but all night watched over Cocotte in
the stable. In the morning, up and down the village street, he drove her
to help her digestion. "It matters little to me," he said to himself,
"what becomes of the moon, for there is a new one each month, but I
intend to take care of my good donkey." And soon all Lessoc marveled to
see Colin and Cocotte, Cocotte and Colin, passing and repassing
continually over the same road, one apparently frightened, the other
sadly bored by the exercise. "Is your donkey ill?" asked the good mayor
at last. "Woe is me, she is ruined," replied Colin, "for she has
swallowed the moon and will not give her up." Whereupon the mayor, after
grave reflection remarked, "If la Cocotte has not yet gotten rid of the
moon, poor Colin already is rid of his senses."

At the communal council, the mayor presented at length the strange case.
"If a new moon appears," he declared, "we may be reassured, but to avoid
the possibility of further accident, we will place a spacious roof over
the fountain." This wise decision was adopted to the general
satisfaction, and such was the authentic origin of the elegant fountain
of Lessoc.

In ancient chronicles and modern publications many similar stories are
repeated, while a multitude of ballads, of legends taken from the lips
of the old peasants, constitute a precious and abounding document of the
ancient Gruyère customs.

But uniquely characteristic as are these Gruyère people, the history of
their country is still more extraordinary. Almost negligible in wealth
or population, the little mountain province, lying midway between
France, Austria, and Savoy, held in the days of its prosperity an almost
unexplainably important position beside the great monarchies of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Midway also between the Berne and
Fribourg republics, the Gruyère counts held something very nearly
approaching a balance of power between Savoy and the Confederates.
Feudal by race and by the independence of their little principality,
they were so trusted by the Confederates and so powerful with Savoy,
that they repeatedly acted as arbitrators in their mutual quarrels, and
by this high influence were sharers and at times framers of the treaties
with the neighboring kingdoms, and admitted to the diplomatic councils
of Europe. They were not only valorous in the defence of their country
but by the Latin charm of their race were adored by their subjects, and
held in great favor by the dukes of Savoy, themselves allied by many
inter-marriages with all the crowns of Europe. So important was the
little Gruyère to the French kings and the emperors of Germany that, as
has been related, they occupied themselves with its internal affairs,
attempting to intervene in such matters as runaway marriages and the
rival claims for succession. But the attitude of its rulers towards
royal and imperial mandates was so independent, their maintenance of
their feudal sovereignty was so tenacious that they preserved the high
and happy ideals of their house, and were the last of the Swiss nobles
to yield to the march of democracy.

Their long rule, extending through six centuries of internal wars,
during times when oppression was the prerogative of their order, was
stained by no single act of cruelty. In the peculiar charm of their
race, in the unique influence of their position in Europe, as in the
unbroken length of their rule, the counts of Gruyère were the most
important of all the noble Swiss families. Titles and aristocratic
privileges have long since vanished from republican Switzerland, where
liberty triumphant, the age-wrought jewel of a thousand years, shines
clearly among the tumults of the warring nations. But remote among its
mountains, a cherished place of pilgrimage and refreshment, the little
feudal city still crowns its green hill, and in the Gruyère people the
Celtic soul, undying fresh and free, still sings in their love songs and
war songs, still speaks in their legends and tales of its birth in the
morning of time.



APPENDIX


The traditions of Romand Helvetia have preserved the memory of the
establishment of Vandal or Burgundian hordes in that part of Gaul.

Thus has arisen the belief that the once wild region traversed by the
river Sarine came into the possession of some chief of these tribes who
there settled with his followers. The unavowed author (Bonsetten) of a
history of the Counts of Gruyère is of the opinion that it is possible
that, in accordance with the customs of the Germanic tribes, that
Gruerius, the hero of the popular legend, or his warriors, might have
carried a Grue (crane) as a symbol of a migratory race on their helmets
or shields, and that the leader himself might have adopted the name
Gruerius from the emblem.

The theory, however, disagrees entirely with the tradition that the
Burgundians were so fond of liberty that they bore the figure of a cat
upon their banners. It is well known that the arms of Gruyère are a Grue
on a scarlet field, and this circumstance alone has evidently given rise
to the anonymous author's conjecture. His opinion not only has no
positive proof to support it, but has no color of probability in its
favor.

J. J. Hisely, author of "Le Comté de Gruyère."



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ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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