Fulk Nerra

The two servants rushed into Fulk’s chambers. He was still screaming incoherently.

By torchlight, they saw him standing atop his mattress, desperately trying to climb the wall at its headboard. His fingertipss were bloodied; the nails had broken off against the stone. When they called out to him, his mad scrambling stopped and slowly he turned his anguished face toward them. He stared past them with dilated eyes and whispered in an exhausted faraway voice.

“They won’t leave me alone...”

The servants said nothing, as this scene had become familiar in recent months, but only gave their hands to help him back down under his blankets.

When he was settled back into bed, one of the servants pulled up a chair next to the old man’s sweaty gray head.

“Who was it this time, master?”

Count Fulk had spent his lifetime consolidating the House of Anjou in Western France. He was extremely successful. His territory had grown incredibly and was marked with new towns, abbies, fortresses and castles. His neighbors at least feared his hard-gained power if they didn’t respect him, for Fulk’s success lay in the fact that he knew no boundaries. He was called a plunderer, a murderer, a robber, and a swearer of false oaths. He was truly a terrifying character of fiendish cruelty.

“It was all of them... even my wife...” he said shakily, “Make arrangements to travel immediately. I only pray I have time...”

On April 6, 1040, Easter Sunday, the trio approached the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Fulk was naked and being dragged along by one of his servants while the other followed behind, whipping his bare back with a stick. Severe in his lust for power, Fulk Nerra was just as severe in his penance.

He died on his return from the pilgrimage.


Enbrethiliel said...


There's a quote about the men of the Middle Ages that completely slips my mind. Something about one major difference between them and us being that they'd never be cynical about a hardened sinner's repentance late in life--that they'd actually expect it!

cyurkanin said...

It's pretty characteristic of man in general I think, no matter how brutal, up until this last century.