Tales and legends
The BAYARD HORSE
One claims that every seven years coming back in the Ardennes woods, the Bayard horse remains a few minutes on a rock it formerly stamped to such a point that it left quite visible its horseshoe prints. It neighs very loudly and disappears but if we can hear its neighs it is very difficult to see it because no-one can boast about seeing it. It especially appears in the surroundings of Château-Regnault between "the four Aymon sons peaks" and the "Maugis table" place.
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Here is what we can read in the valiant knights story, 4 Aymon sons, chapter XXX (As Richard of Normandy introduced to the king the Regnault brothers and as when the siege was lift, the Bayard horse was thrown away in the river) :
Regnault left, Richard and his brothers prepared to visit Charlemagne ; immediately they shed Dordogne and went at the king tent who was very happy to see them ; he ordered his barons to meet them on the way.
Roland said : "Here are the three very doleful brothers brought by Richard". In front of the king, they prided themselves, then Allard said : "Our brother Regnault greets you and refers to your kindness acts, he sends back the Duke Richard of Normandy and requests him to recommend us to you because he is overseas to carry out your order". "Friends, said the king, you are welcome as we are good friends, if I can see Regnault again, I will love him as much as Roland my nephew, because he is of great merit".
His speech to the brothers of Regnault finished he kissed Richard and asked him : "Which prison, which meat did Regnault give you ?" "Sire, he said, I've never been so nicely treated in all my life". The king then ordered to every one to clear off in order to go next to Liege.
Once on the Meuse bridge he saw someone bringing Bayard, Regnault's nice horse. When he saw it he said : "Ah! Bayard, you irritated me many times, but it's time for me to take revenge on you". So he made it bind a stone to the neck and made it throw over the bridge, in the Meuse river, Bayard went to the bottom. When the king saw that, he was very happy and said: "I have all I asked for, finally it is dead." Bayard stamped so much its four feet that it succeeded in breaking the rope and it came back on the bank. It began to neigh loudly, then it set off with so much rapidity that it seemed it was pushed by the lightning. It went in the Ardennes wood. Charlemagne was extremely irritated by the escape of Bayard. But all the barons were very satisfied of that. Many people say that Bayard is still alive in the Ardennes wood ; but when it sees man or woman, it flees and we cannot approach it..."
This legend is, undoubtedly, very different from the one related by Mr H. DE NIMAL in his fanciful legends of the Meuse. Here is an extract by way of simple connection :
"… In the surge of their tremendous running the Aymon sons and following them the whole imperial army have only hardly covered an immense circle. So that in the evening they were approximately back to their starting point. The four brothers always chased arrive thus to the rock peak since then known as the Bayard rock and which at that time was not separated from the rest of the mountain as it is today.
"On their feet the abyss, the thundering and deep Meuse. Behind them and following them closely the spear ready, more than a thousand knights ! No more hope !
"Long live God! already cried out Charlemagne, finally I hold these wolf cubs. Don't kill them I want them alive to disgrace them. I will make them clip, I will lock up them in a convent; they will confess women and children; they will die very fatty and very old"
"late, Charles, too late!" The four brothers together, drove their gold spurs in their mount sides. Bayard raised proudly its head, crouched on his four feet. It leaps forward like a winged horse and will fall down quietly, on the other side of the Meuse, while the four brothers cross themselves and thank Our-Lady"
In the valuable unpublished manuscripts of M. CHERRI PAUFFIN, the Ardennes, registered at the Rethel archives, see also an essay on: The step of Bayard; the Maugis table and also the fairy cave (Belair estate).
Here is besides what we read about the Maugis table in the Ardennes tourist guide by LEON DOMMARTIN :
"The Maugis table (at half hill of the north western side, at about sixty meters above the Valet inn) completed the four Aymon sons peaks (in Château-Regnault), at the top of the rocky ridge. It was a flattened rock, horizontally put down as a dolmen and supported by three peaks.
The legend which devoted the upper peaks to the four Aymon sons had very equitably kept the table for Cousin Maugis enchanter by profession. By a fine night a kind joker of Monthermé imagined to let the stone fall using jacks and, this same night, Cousin Maugis did not have any table anymore.
The stone remained a long time on the ground. Finally it was used for doing macadam stones.
Today only remains a quarry. Such is the Maugis Table in Château-Regnault appalling and truthful story. As far as more or less incredible jumps made by Bayard and hoofs prints inlayed on stones are concerned, legends are numerous in the French and Belgian Ardennes.
In the Lesse valley, on a rock near Dinant, we can see two prints representing hoofs horse. The four Aymon sons , chased by Charlemagne, ride Bayard which in a jump crossing the Lesse, pinches right towards the Meuse and arrives by the Herbeuval way above the rocks where is the famous peak bearing its name.
From there it passes over the Meuse and still leaves on the rock its horseshoe prints. "The inhabitants of Dinant show a horse hoof print on their immense coast situated near their city.
They maintain that it was made by Bayard, the four Aymon sons' steed, when he left to disappear into the dark forests. The legend says that we sometimes can meet it still extremely preoccupied by its four riders fate." - PIMPURNIAUX: Ardenne Traveller Guide. br>
The Bayard step is not far from the Franco-Belgian border, on the Remonochamps hamlet territory. In its incredible jump the horse would have crossed one mile!
We read in SEBILLOT : Historic characters in tradition.
"Following a local legend noted by the Boucheron and Ducrest abbots of Villeneuve, two groups of rocks not far from the Dampierre market-town, in between which flows the Cantacha river, are called the "jump of Rolland".
"One day with his horse, Rolland would have crossed the one hundred distance separating these two rocks and this on several times.
A first time it was for God, a steed jump launched him on the opposite bank.
A second time, it was for our nice Virgin, and an effort of his generous palfrey brought him at his starting point.
Lastly, he tried to jump a third time for his wife. But it was for his misfortune. The wretched Rolland and his steed fell at the precipice bottom and perished in their fall. We can still see, engraved on the stone, the holes of a horseshoe : what comes in support of this legend".
The fiery horse hoof carrying Satan until the Nino pass in Corsica when he was visiting saint Martin, left its prints, indelible red prints on a rock showed by the Létia people, not without pride, to anyone wishing to see them. - According to CHANAL : Trip in Corsica.
In the Ys King legend (Souvestre version) : The Gradlam horse " Foyer Breton " leaves his hoofs prints on the Garreo rock from where it soars in an incredible jump.
An impending volume by the Doctor BERANGER-FERAUD will come out : Stones and legends. Will we find in, some similar story related to our Ardennes ?