Historical setting: 584 C.E. The Road to Tours
I climb into the bed of Daniel’s wagon with several barrels of wine and this fellow Bert. Daniel flicks the rein and the mules move this load forward. My many questions swirl. Why horses on this simple farm? And why am I needed for this venture? Who is this fellow Bert who married my granddaughter while I was sleeping and now has all these children with her?
“So you are Bert?”
“You’re a Count?”
“I’m endowed that title by King Chilperic himself. I collect the king’s portion for him, and for that I have been given a land for my grand house and along with my wife’s sector of the vineyard lands I am a newly wealthy man.”
So now I learn that even though Ezra and Colleta and Eve are still very much a living part of this family, Ezra has already divided their inheritance. Apparently my first thoughts of this fellow were accurate: he is inconsiderate of children, driven, impatient and possibly even greedy. But of course any greed I notice would only for the betterment of my own great-grandchildren. I should be pleased to know my family is part of the landed aristocracy now.
“Why are we acquiring horses?” I ask.
“I need horses. Daniel is my secretary, and he said you have knowledge of horses.”
I do know, “Of course. I was once in Hispania where horses aren’t just used for war, they are common. Hispania is under the rule of the Arian Visigoths these days.”
“I know that.” And Bert does know his politics. “Their princesses became our Frankish Queens but of course they converted to the true creed when they arrived.” [Footnote]
Another curious new thing I learn.
Bert’s thick brown locks are shorn even with his beard as is the fashion and the law these days. He talks on and on while his eyes wander everywhere around at the sky and the earth as though I’m nothing of importance in this conversation. I persevere in my attentive stare anyway.
He yammers on. “My king’s brother married Princess Brunhilda. But King Chilperic is never to be outdone, and even though he had his wives and children already it was a clever move on his part to marry a princess. Do you mean you knew nothing of this?”
I add, “I was only returning from Hispania when I endured an accident that has taken my memory. When last I knew of the Kings of the Franks, Clotiare had only recently died and these Frankish lands were being partitioned among his four sons.”
[Footnote] For a modern English telling of the history of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, ref. Geary, Patrick J. “Before France & Germany: The creation & transformation of the Merovingian world.” New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Pages 120 and 121.