You are here

The Deeds of Wiprecht


Standing around the emperor then were the archbishops of Mainz and Cologne, the bishops of Halberstadt and Münster, the abbots of Fulda and Hersfeld, and the other princes, along with the Czech youth.
Meanwhile, men gave a speech about Wiprecht, declaring that he was a man of most extraordinary honesty, and that this had become obvious to everyone on this expedition through sure tests. Then the emperor said that he himself wanted to test this more surely. He ordered him to be recalled with speed, as if he had incompletely indicated the reasoning for his decision [i.e., to send him to Verona]. There was a lion shut up in a certain house there. To test Wiprecht’s steadfastness, the emperor ordered it let out. Released, the lion roared. The whole crowd of people present fled to safer places. Wiprecht entered, unaware of what was happening. When the lion was set loose against him, he was warned only by the Czech youth, who put him on guard. Wiprecht, seeing it rushing toward him unexpectedly, strove to take his sword quickly from his sword-bearer. But when Wiprecht seized him by the hand, he threw himself steadfastly toward the lion for the sake of his unarmed lord. However, Wiprecht bore this act indignantly. Trusting more in his own strength than that of another, he restrained the miles and-—wondrous to say!—approached the lion with his fist. The lion, his mane disordered, soon turned away from him.
In this event, I think, we can discern nothing other than divine providence, which has a care for all. Thus Wiprecht, to whom God’s mercy provided such great things in the future, was miraculously snatched away from the present danger. Next, Wiprecht approached the emperor and inquired why he had been recalled. 'For the sake of your salvation,' he said, 'since we just proved by this test that you are blessed.'
But after Wiprecht interrogated him more diligently, the emperor finally revealed to him that he had been recalled to prove his fortitude and steadfastness. Then Wiprecht also sought the truth of the matter from the bishops and the rest of the princes. When they had related the same, he immediately requested permission to return home with his men. But the emperor deferred granting this. When the emperor, more stubbornly, would not be persuaded by his request, Wiprecht resolved now to part ways from them. 'I judge,' he said, 'that for my labours and my injuries I have merited good compensation from you'—speaking to the king—'for whom I have endured great dangers. Lo, what sorts of benefices do I receive, I who—for the advantage of the whole kingdom—ran into costs in all my affairs, and especially risks to my own life and my men? I call all these princes to witness that I crossed the summit of the Alps first before everyone; that I stood out among your leading men as a champion in securing the well-being and victory of you and your men; and that I—with my men—am the principal author of everything that you accomplished successfully on this Italian expedition. If it is lawful to be said: I stood out as the one who set the tune. I think it’s enough that I uselessly squandered great labour and great expense, and have even lost milites. Therefore I will return, ready to serve others now, not you. For them it will be seen as enough to test my steadfastness in their time of need, not to expose my life to the mockery of wild animals. Indeed I was thinking it sufficient that I offered you an acceptable spectacle, when I raged with my arms and strength in the slaughter of your enemies. But it seemed more spectacular that I be demolished by the teeth of beasts!' With these and similar words, Wiprecht raved without control against the emperor, since he was energetic, passionate, unconquerable, spirited, and proud in arms. Then Wiprecht departed from him, causing fear even in the emperor on account of his high spirits. Since the emperor hoped to be able to draw Wiprecht back to him without any blandishments or promises of benefices, he judged it a better idea to appease him and soften his inflexibility of mind through other people, to whose words he might be better disposed. Therefore, the emperor exhorted the archbishop of Mainz, together with the rest of the aforesaid bishops and abbots, and other princes to go to him wisely. He entreated them earnestly that, in his stead, they each—inspired by the king’s devotion to them and with a view to a twofold reward—bestow on Wiprecht some kind of benefice out of the incomes of their churches and offices, as they might see fit. Moreover, they should not doubt him to be entirely prepared to make up, as soon as it should be convenient, whatever amount they themselves should deem worthy. They therefore followed Wiprecht and spoke with persuasive words. Although he was reluctant for a long time, they finally bent the high-spirited man—with, however, this promise introduced: that they would all return home with him, if the emperor should do other than he had promised.
In the emperor's presence, they all carried out solemnly this handing over of benefices. The archbishop of Mainz conceded to Wiprecht a benefice of 1,300 talents, the archbishop of Cologne the whole district called Orla, the bishops of Halberstadt and Münster 50 talents each, and the abbots of Fulda and Hersfeld 300 each. Finally, the emperor advanced to meet Wiprecht on his return and confessed that he had carelessly done wrong against a man so useful and most loyal to him and to the whole kingdom. Accordingly, he granted into his full possession the castle named Leisnig with its many appurtenances. Afterwards, at a gathering of the court in Allstedt, he granted him a benefice of 300 talents and Dornburg with its appurtenances. Later, he assigned him 300 talents at a court gathering held in Merseburg.