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The Deeds of Wiprecht

Peter Leo

The pope therefore took flight with his uncle, Peter Leo. They were trying to get to the House of Theodoric through the mother church, but their adversaries anticipated their attempt and intercepted them. Thus, they were confined within the church, where they remained together for three days. After they had repeatedly attempted to break out through the church’s doors and to challenge those outside by some kind of a sudden assault, Wiprecht agreed with his standard-bearer that when the doors were thrown open, they two would shove in a timber of astonishing bulk, in order that those inside might not shut the doors so quickly, as they had done before, and retreat back inside. And so, when those men tried to carry out their daring in a similar attempt, Wiprecht and his standard-bearer threw the beam forward and created a gap between the adjoining doors. The Romans were now zealously defending the open doors. First among his men, Wiprecht attempted to rush the doors, in order to strike at those resisting for such a long time there. At length, they drove them inside. Wiprecht followed—although, not protected by a shield, he was actually being cut to pieces, little by little, by the enemies’ swords. Seizing a swordpoint in each hand, by both voice and example, he encouraged the multitude breaking in after him.
Meanwhile, the pope had withdrawn into the sanctuary with Peter Leo. Apprehended there, along with those more distinguished by birth, they were handed over into Wiprecht’s custody at the king’s order. Afterwards, having considered saner counsel on both sides and after many opinions had been offered on the dispute—as to whether it was an occasion for their release or indictment—the pope was reconciled to the king. The king ordered and carried this out: after three days’ labour, the church, venerable to the whole world, was with difficulty finally cleansed of the filth of bloodshed and consecrated anew in his presence; the king was raised up through imperial consecration; and all their captives were released to the pope for free. The slaughter seemed to come to an end and a new life to begin.