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"These two princes (i. e., the prince and princess of Bavaria), had no more than one son, who was killed in his early days with a Chess board, at the court of King Pepin of France, by another young Prince."
Now, here we have an anecdote as well authenticated as any recorded in history; therefore we are bound to receive it as a fact. The old chroniclers, to be sure, did tell many improbable and some impossible tales; but this is not one of them. For example, we heretics have some hesitation in believing the statement of Harduinus, and a whole host of other good and holy men respecting the edifying exit of St. Denis from this wicked world. They tell us that "the Saint aforesaid was beheaded at Montmartre, near Paris, and that he afterwards walked some three or four miles to the spot where the famous church bearing his name now stands.”. As if this was not marvellous enough, we are further told, "that he, very accommodatingly, carried his own head in his hand the whole way, singing Hallelujahs as he went along." Well, then, these and such like strong facts, being of rather rare occurrence among us, we may reasonably be allowed to entertain some doubts on the score of their authenticity; but no such objections can be raised against the story of King Pepin's passionate son and the prince of Bavaria.
Accepting the story then as a historical fact, and I see no reason why we should not, we have still remaining two points for consideration. The first, which is not very weighty is, to determine the precise period, or nearly so, when the event took place. This point fortunately falls within a narrow compass, that is, the reign of Pepin, from 752 to 768, a period of only sixteen years. Sir Frederic Madden in a note, p. 206, states, that "this story is repeated in a fragment of a chronicle
published by Canisius, in which it is referred to the 746." This is evidently an error, either on the part of the chronicler or of Canisius. We know well from history that Charles was the eldest son of Pepin, and that he was born in 742. Now although this "Baby Charles" became afterwards a very great man, it is not easy for us to believe that he was so exceedingly precocious as to have played Chess and committed murder when only four years old. We must therefore consider the date 746, to be an oversight, probably for 756, or 766; and I would humbly suggest, that even then, we have no reason to suppose that either Charles or his next brother Carloman was the culprit. It must have been a still younger son of Pepin's, whose name appears not in history.
The second point for our consideration is much more difficult to determine in a satisfactory manner, viz., through what channel did the game of Chess reach King Pepin's court ?" To this question we have two plausible though not positive answers, and it so happens that both of them may be quite correct in point of fact, and differing only as to time. We may say in the first place, that Chess was introduced among the Franks by the Saracens, immediately from Spain; or secondly, we may say that it was brought among them through the intercourse of the early sovereigns of the Carlovingian dynasty with the court of Byzantium. Let us then carefully weigh each of these probabilities, for we have no decisive proof in favour of either assumption.
We have shown in our twelfth chapter, that the Arabs were acquainted with Chess at the time of Muhammad in the first quarter of the seventh centuryand that ere the close of the same century their conquests extended over all Persia on the one hand, and
over the whole of the north of Africa on the other. Under their leader Tarik, they crossed the strait of Gibraltar (i.e., "Jibal Tarik," or "Tarik's mountain,") about 711. Then in A.D. 718, after having subdued the whole of Spain, they crossed the Pyrenees and extended their conquests thence to the eastward as far as the Rhone, and northwards as far as the Loire; and thus they kept possession of one half of France for the next twelve years. At their first irruption they were bravely resisted by Eudes, Duke of Acquitaine, who, being defeated, entered into an alliance with them, and even bestowed his daughter in marriage on the Amir Munuza, one of the Saracen leaders. Now in consequence of this doubly unholy alliance, (politic and matrimonial), one half of the people of France were accustomed to intermingle freely with the Saracens for a period of twelve years; and this is the precise time at which I conceive it most probable that Chess was introduced at the court of Eudes of Acquitaine. It accounts at once for the game's being familiarly known in France some thirty or forty years later in the reign of King Pepin ; and conversely, it confirms us in our belief of the authenticity of the anecdote cited from so many sources by the Duke of Luneburg.
Towards 732, Eudes, Duke of Acquitaine, had broken off his friendly intercourse with the Saracens, and being again defeated by them, he allied himself with the renowned Charles Martel, the "Pounder of the Infidels." The forces of all France now united, encountered the Saracens near the left banks of the Loire, and gave them a check from which they never thenceforth recovered;
1 We are gravely told by the veracious Jesuit Petau (or Petavius, as he learnedly styles himself), in his erudite work entitled Rationarium Temporum, tom. i. p. 327, edit. 1724, that in one day three hundred and seventy-five thousand of the Infidels were cut to pieces, whilst the Franks lost no more than
for they were afterwards finally expelled from France by King Pepin and his son and successor Charlemagne. Charles Martel, on the death of Eudes, in 735, annexed to his own dominions the dukedom of Acquitaine as far as the Pyrenees. I think, then, the inference which I have here drawn, is quite satisfactory viz., that Chess was introduced by the Arabs from Spain among the people of Acquitaine. These on becoming the allies and subjects of the Carlovingian princes, communicated the game to the Franks; and from the latter, in the course of another century, it found its way northwards as far as Scandinavia, and thence to the Hebrides, and the Anglo-Saxon court, as we shall see further on. The soundness of this inference is much strengthened by the names of some of the pieces which prevailed in Spain, France, and Italy, for several centuries after the period here mentioned. I allude more especially to the King, the Queen, the Bishop, and the Rook, on each of which let me here offer a few remarks.
1ST.-OF THE KING.
When the Arabs received the game from the Persians they adopted the original word Shah, " King," which they have all along retained, applying the same word both to the piece which we call King, and to the term check. The original Persian word for what we call mate was mand, from the verb mandan "to be exhausted," or "to be helpless." The Arabs changed mand into māt, which last in their language signifies "he is dead," an expression less applicable than the original, because
fifteen hundred men! Here, now, is one of our strong facts; the good father is somewhat partial to the marvellous; but this is no invention of his own, for he refers us to very grave and pious authorities in proof of his assertion. The graceless philosopher Voltaire would here say, "N'en croyez rien." I more prudently say nothing-let the reader judge for himself.
strictly speaking the King at Chess is neither slain nor captured, he is merely "driven to his last resource, which is the precise meaning of mand. When the Arabs introduced the game among the people of Southern Europe, the word Shah denoting the piece was by the latter literally translated into their own various languages and dialects under the forms of Rey, Rei, Roy, Koenig, King, &c. At the same time the word Shah in every nation gave rise to the name of the science itself, as well as to the term check. This is evident from the words Scacco, Eschecs, Skak, Schach, Chess, and Check, &c., &c. Again, the Persi-Arabian term Shah-māt, "the King is dead," was adopted untranslated, and still continues in use, more or less modified, in every country of modern Europe. All this clearly indicates that we must have received the game itself as well as the appellation given to it, together with the term denoting checkmate, from the Saracens.
Ponziani asserts that the Italian term Scaccomatto is derived from the Latin verb mactare. The derivation at first sight appears very plausible, and had we not a far more rational and satisfactory one, we should be content to let it pass. The term Scaccomatto is evidently the Arabic Shāhmät slightly modified so as to suit Italian ears and organs of enunciation. That the Italian verb mattare as well as the Spanish matar to kill, come from the Latin mactare, we readily allow, because it is all in perfect accordance with the soundest rules of philological deduction; but the matto of the Chess board is simply the mat of the Arabic, a language of a totally different family from that of the Latin and its modern dialects. We have seen, however, some crazy derivators who will have it that both the Italian mattare and the Spanish matar and matador are derived from the Arabic māt, as