David, Charlemagne’s Faithful Retainer

February 13, 2020

The retainers were blindly devoted to their masters. They never argued with him, they loved him. We are all aware what a high place the family servant occupies in Christian families, and we have only to recall our own youthful days to be reminded of those old servants who were so excellent, grumbling occasionally of course, but so proud, and willing to stand by us to the death. There is much simplicity mingled with the savagery of the feudal domestic. When the youthful son of Pepin—he who was subsequently Charles the Great—when this child was menaced and compelled to fly, and conceal his identity, even his name, he had one friend who braved fortune and did not despair, followed him like a faithful dog, protected him, defended him, and procured him food.

If Charles quitted France, David would also go; if Charles went to Spain, David also went. If he begged a refuge amongst the infidels, David would even abase himself to that extent, with a view of saving his young master. Over the lion’s cub he watched with the tenderness of the lioness: he prevented the young eaglet from roaming too far from the nest; but how he was surprised when he perceived the youth growing up a hero and a knight in defiance of all his care. Charles’s first escapade rather troubled poor David; but they did not estrange the old man’s love, and he was very proud of the exploits which he only wished had been postponed. David is the type of the feudal retainer.


León Gautier, Chivalry, trans. Henry Frith (London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1891), 409.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 713


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