The Emperor Who Wanted to Be a Saint
The death of Carloman, younger brother of King Charles of the Franks, is a mystery. Twenty-three years of age, in perfect health and in a time of peace when no plagues threaten? It might be thought to warrant investigation. Yet no investigation is made.
King Charles of the Franks is a superlative military leader and a lover of scholarship and high culture who has conquered all the provinces lost to Rome and made a Christian empire. Now, he seeks the immortality of sainthood. First, he needs the backing of the Pope. No problem. He has waged several campaigns to defend the Papal claim to lands in central Italy. Secondly, he needs to be seen to work miracles. Again, to unite all Christendom against paganism will probably be miraculous enough. Thirdly, he needs to be without sin. Problems arise when the king’s claim to beatification meets this condition.
There is the matter of his brother’s death. There is the unknown fate of his brother’s wife and children. And what about the massacre of a large part of his army due to his appointment as commander the obviously inept Count Roland? Military blunders might not be seen as sinful but putting a scapegoat to a cruel death might. Who will investigate these matters?
Osulf, a humble monk, gets the job. Osulf, the drunk, Osulf the fornicator, who would believe Osulf? Even if he was witness to a terrible war-crime.
Len Dansey was born in 1945 to East End parents who migrated to a small, seaside town where he spent a wayward adolescence. After university in Manchester, he stayed in the north becoming a teacher in an inner city comprehensive. Contact with the diverse cultures of present day Britain fostered an interest in creating a historical context for individual lives. Spare time walking in the Peak District gave him a sense of how, in the struggle to impose order on wild landscapes, so much of value is lost. A lengthy spell as a guide in an industrial museum furthered an interest in research into how historical events impact on human actions. His main interest remains the early middle ages and his first three novels are set in this period when civilised ideals confronted encroaching barbarism. Len Dansey lives in Manchester, with his wife and family nearby. His website is www.lendansey.co.uk