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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Fidelity




Paulus, the historian of the Longobards, mentions a certain Onulphus, surnamed Papien, a knight who gave signal proofs of fidelity to his master, King Portaticus; insomuch, that he exposed himself to death for his safety. For when Grimmoaldus, duke of Beneventum, forcibly entered the pavilion of Godobert, king of the Longobards, (afterwards treacherously slain by Geribaldus[1], duke of Ravenna, the first betrayer of a royal crown,) Portaticus, the brother of the aforesaid king Godobert, flying to the Hungarians, was reconciled to Grimmoaldus by the knight Onulphus, so that without fear he might quit Hungary and solicit pardon at the king's feet. Thus his life was secure, although he obtained not the regal dignity which was his due. But a few days after this reconciliation, some malicious tongues disposed Grimmoaldus to put to death Portaticus. To get rid of him the more easily, and prevent his seeking safety in flight, he commanded that he should be intoxicated. Onulphus hearing this, went, with his squire, to the house of Portaticus; and leaving his attendant in bed, concealed with the coverture, he led out Portaticus, disguised as his squire, threatening, and even striking him, the better to cover the deceit. Thus they passed through the watch, or guard, placed before the house of Portaticus, till they reached the abode of the knight, which was built upon the city walls. He then hastened to let him down by a rope; and catching certain horses from the pasture, Portaticus fled to the city of Astensis, and from thence to the king of France. In the morning, Onulphus and his squire were brought before the king, and examined as to the escape of their master. They answered exactly as the case was; and Grimmoaldus, turning to his counsellors, said, "What punishment do they deserve who have done this contrary to our royal pleasure?" All agreed that it should be capital. Some protested that they should be flayed alive; and others, that they should be crucified. "By Him that made me," replied the king, "they are deserving of honour, not death, for their unshaken fidelity." Acting up to this feeling, Grimmoaldus loaded them with favours; but Geribaldus the traitor was miserably, though justly slain by the hand of Godobert's squire, the follower of him whom he had treacherously deprived of life and kingdom. This happened on the solemn festival of St. John the Baptist.


My beloved, the knight Onulphus is any good Christian; Portaticus is the soul. Grimmoaldus typifies Christ, and Hungary the world. The horses taken from the pasture are the merits of martyrs and saints; Astensis is the city in the Apocalypse. France signifies heaven.


  1. He is called Genebaldus here, and afterwards Geribaldus, in all the five different editions I have inspected.