Bulfinch Mythology - Legends of
Thomas Bulfinch 1863
Chapter 20 - Death of Rinaldo:
THE distress in Rinaldo’s castle for want of food
grew more severe every day, under the pressure of the siege. The
garrison were forced to kill their horses, both to save the
provision they would consume, and to make food of their flesh. At
last, all the horses were killed except Bayard, and Rinaldo said to
his brothers, "Bayard must die, for we have nothing else to eat." So
they went to the stable and brought out Bayard to kill him. But
Alardo said, "Brother, let Bayard live a little longer; who knows
what God may do for us."
Bayard heard these words, and understood them as if
he was a man, and fell on his knees, as if he would beg for mercy.
When Rinaldo saw the distress of his horse his heart failed him, and
he let him live.
Just at this time, Aya, Rinaldo’s mother, who was
the sister of the Emperor, came to the camp, attended by knights and
ladies, to intercede for her sons. She fell on her knees before the
king, and besought him that he would pardon Rinaldo and his
brothers; and all the peers and knights took her side, and entreated
the king to grant her prayer. Then said the king, "Dear sister, you
act the part of a good mother, and I respect your tender heart, and
yield to your entreaties. I will spare your sons their lives, if
they submit implicitly to my will."
When Charlot heard this, he approached the king and
whispered in his ear. And the king turned to his sister and said, "Charlot
must have Bayard, because I have given the horse to him. Now go, my
sister, and tell Rinaldo what I have said."
When the Lady Aya heard these words, she was
delighted, thanked God in her heart, and said, "Worthy king and
brother, I will do as you bid me." So she went into the castle,
where her sons received her most joyfully and affectionately, and
she told them the king’s offer. Then Alardo said, "Brother, I would
rather have the king’s enmity than give Bayard to Charlot, for I
believe he will kill him." Likewise said all the brothers. When
Rinaldo heard them, he said, "Dear brothers, if we may win our
forgiveness by giving up the horse, so be it. Let us make our peace,
for we cannot stand against the king’s power." Then he went to his
mother, and told her they would give the horse to Charlot, and more,
too, if the king would pardon them, and forgive all that they had
done against his crown and dignity. The lady returned to Charles and
told him the answer of her sons.
When the peace was thus made between the king and
the sons of Aymon, the brothers came forth from the castle, bringing
Bayard with them, and, falling at the king’s feet, begged his
forgiveness. The king bade them rise, and received them into favor
in the sight of all his noble knights and counsellors, to the great
joy of all, especially of the Lady Aya, their mother. Then Rinaldo
took the horse Bayard, gave him to Charlot, and said, "My lord and
prince, this horse I give to you; do with him as to you seems good."
Charlot took him, as had been agreed on. Then he made the servants
take him to the bridge, and throw him into the water. Bayard sank to
the bottom, but soon came to the surface again and swam, saw Rinaldo
looking at him, came to land, ran to his old master, and stood by
him as proudly as if he had understanding, and would say, "Why did
you treat me so?" When the prince saw that, he said, "Rinaldo, give
me the horse again, for he must die." Rinaldo replied, "My lord and
prince, he is yours without dispute," and gave him to him. The
prince then had a millstone tied to each foot, and two to his neck,
and made them throw him again into the water. Bayard struggled in
the water, looked up to his master, threw off the stones, and came
back to Rinaldo.
When Alardo saw that, he said, "Now must thou be
disgraced forever, brother, if thou give up the horse again." But
Rinaldo answered, "Brother, be still. Shall I for the horse’s life
provoke the anger of the king again?" Then Alardo said, "Ah, Bayard!
what a return do we make for all thy true love and service!" Rinaldo
gave the horse to the prince again, and said, "My lord, if the horse
comes out again, I cannot return him to you any more, for it wrings
my heart too much." Then Charlot had Bayard loaded with the stones
as before, and thrown into the water; and commanded Rinaldo that he
should not stand where the horse would see him. When Bayard rose to
the surface he stretched his neck out of the water and looked round
for his master, but saw him not. Then he sunk to the bottom.
Rinaldo was so distressed for the loss of Bayard,
that he made a vow to ride no horse again all his life long, not to
bind a sword to his side, but to become a hermit, He resolved to
betake himself to some wild wood, but first to return to his castle,
to see his children, and to appoint to each his share of his estate.
So he took leave of the king and of his brothers,
and returned to Montalban, and his brothers remained with the king.
Rinaldo called his children to him, and he made his eldest born,
Aymeric, a knight, and made him lord of his castle and of his land.
He gave to the rest what other goods he had, and kissed and embraced
them all, commended them to God, and then departed from them with a
He had not traveled far when he entered a wood, and
there met with a hermit, who had long been retired from the world,
Rinaldo greeted him, and the hermit replied courteously, and asked
him who he was and what was his purpose. Rinaldo replied, "Sir, I
have led a sinful life; many deeds of violence have I done, and many
men have I slain, not always in a good cause, but often under the
impulse of my own headstrong passions. I have also been the cause of
the death of many of my friends, who took my part, not because they
thought me in the right, but only for love of me. And now I come to
make confession of all my sins, and to do penance for the rest of my
life, if perhaps the mercy of God will forgive me." The hermit said,
"Friend, I perceive you have fallen into great sins, and have broken
the commandments of God, but His mercy is greater than your sins;
and if you repent from your heart, and lead a new life, there is yet
hope for you that He will forgive you what is past." So Rinaldo was
comforted, and said, "Master, I will stay with you, and what you bid
me I will do." The hermit replied, "Roots and vegetables will be
your food; shirt or shoes you may not wear; your lot must be poverty
and want, if you stay with me." Rinaldo replied, "I will cheerfully
bear all this, and more." So he remained three whole years with the
hermit, and after that his strength failed, and it seemed as if he
was like to die.
One night the hermit had a dream, and heard a voice
from heaven, which commanded him to say to his companion that he
must without delay go to the Holy Land, and fight against the
heathen. The hermit, when he heard that voice, was glad, and,
calling Rinaldo, he said, "Friend, God’s angel has commanded me to
say to you that you must without delay go to Jerusalem, and help our
fellow–Christians in their struggle with the Infidels." Then said
Rinaldo, "Ah! master, how can I do that? It is over three years
since I made a vow no more to ride a horse, nor take a sword or
spear in my hand." The hermit answered, "Dear friend, obey God, and
do what the angel commanded." "I will do so," said Rinaldo, "and
pray for me, my master, that God may guide me right." Then he
departed, and went to the seaside, and took ship and came to Tripoli
And as he went on his way his strength returned to
him, till it was equal to what it was in his best days. And though
he never mounted a horse, nor took a sword in his hand, yet with his
pilgrim’s staff he did good service in the armies of the Christians;
and it pleased God that he escaped unhurt, though he was present in
many battles, and his courage inspired the men with the same. At
last a truce was made with the Saracens, and Rinaldo, now old and
infirm, wishing to see his native land again before he died, took
ship and sailed for France. When he arrived, he shunned to go to the
resorts of the great, and preferred to live among the humble folk,
where he was unknown. He did country work and lived on milk and
bread, drank water and was therewith content.
While he so lived, he heard that the city of Cologne
was the holiest and best of cities, on account of the relics and
bodies of saints who had there poured out their blood for the faith.
This induced him to betake himself thither. When the
pious hero arrived at Cologne, he went to the monastery of St.
Peter, and lived a holy life, occupied night and day in devotion. It
so happened that at that time, in the next town to Cologne, there
raged a dreadful pestilence. Many people came to Rinaldo, to beg him
to pray for them, that the plague might be stayed. The holy man
prayed fervently, and besought the Lord to take away the plague from
the people, and his prayer was heard. The stroke of the pestilence
was arrested, and all the people thanked the holy man and praised
Now there was at this time at Cologne a Bishop,
called Agilolphus, who was a wise and understanding man, who led a
pure and secluded life, and set a good example to others. This
Bishop undertook to build the Church of St. Peter, and gave notice
to all stone–masons and other workmen round about to come to
Cologne, where they should find work and wages. Among others came
Rinaldo; and he worked among the laborers and did more than four or
five common workmen. When they went to dinner, he brought stone and
mortar so that they had enough for the whole day. When the others
went to bed, he stretched himself out on the stones. He ate bread
only, and drank nothing but water; and had for his wages but a penny
a day. The head–workman asked him his name, and where he belonged.
He would not tell, but said nothing and pursued his
work. They called him St. Peter’s workman, because he was so devoted
to his work.
When the overseer saw the diligence of this holy
man, he chide the laziness of the other workmen, and said, "You
receive more pay than this good man, but do not do half as much
work." For this reason the other workmen hated Rinaldo, and made a
secret agreement to kill him. They knew that he made it a practice
to go every night to a certain church to pray and give alms. So they
agreed to lay wait for him with the purpose to kill him. When he
came to the spot, they seized him, and beat him over the head till
he was dead. Then they put his body into a sack, and stones with it,
and cast it into the Rhine, in the hope the sack would sink to the
bottom, and be there concealed. But God willed not that it should be
so, but caused the sack to float on the surface, and be thrown upon
the bank. And the soul of the holy martyr was carried by angels,
with songs of praise, up to the heavens.
Now at that time the people of Dortmund had become
converted to the Christian faith; and they sent to the Bishop of
Cologne, and desired him to give them some of the holy relics that
are in such abundance in that city. So the Bishop called together
his clergy to deliberate what answer they should give to this
request. And it was determined to give to the people of Dortmund the
body of the holy man who had just suffered martyrdom.
When now the body with the coffin was put on the cart, the cart
began to move toward Dortmund without horses or help of men, and
stopped not till it reached the place where the church of St.
Rinaldo now stands. The Bishop and his clergy followed the holy man
to do him honor, with singing of hymns, for a space of three miles.
And St. Rinaldo has ever since been the patron of that place, and
many wonderful works has God done through him, as may be seen in the