THE LIFE OF THE EMPEROR CHARLES

[22] Corpore fuit amplo atque robusto, statura eminenti, quae tamen iustam non excederet - nam septem suorum pedum proceritatem eius constat habuisse mensuram -, apice capitis rotundo, oculis praegrandibus ac vegetis, naso paululum mediocritatem excedenti, canitie pulchra, facie laeta et hilari. Unde formae auctoritas ac dignitas tam stanti quam sedenti plurima adquirebatur; quamquam cervix obesa et brevior venterque proiectior videretur, tamen haec ceterorum membrorum celabat aequalitas. Incessu firmo totaque corporis habitudine virili; voce clara quidem, sed quae minus corporis formae conveniret.

Valitudine prospera, praeter quod, antequam decederet, per quatuor annos crebro febribus corripiebatur, ad extremum etiam uno pede claudicaret. Et tunc quidem plura suo arbitratu quam medicorum consilio faciebat, quos poene exosos habebat, quod ei in cibis assa, quibus assuetus erat, dimittere et elixis adsuescere suadebant.

Exercebatur assidue equitando ac venando; quod illi gentilicium erat, quia vix ulla in terris natio invenitur, quae in hac arte Francis possit aequari.

Delectabatur etiam vaporibus aquarum naturaliter calentium, frequenti natatu corpus exercens; cuius adeo peritus fuit, ut nullus ei iuste valeat anteferri. Ob hoc etiam Aquisgrani regiam exstruxit ibique extremis vitae annis usque ad obitum perpetim habitavit. Et non solum filios ad balneum, verum optimates et amicos, aliquando etiam satellitum et custodum corporis turbam invitavit, ita ut nonnumquam centum vel eo amplius homines una lavarentur.


Personal Appearance

[22] Charles was large and strong, and of lofty stature, though not disproportionately tall (his height is well known to have been seven times the length of his foot); the upper part of his head was round, his eyes very large and animated, nose a little long, hair fair, and face laughing and merry. Thus his appearance was always stately and dignified, whether he was standing or sitting; although his neck was thick and somewhat short, and his belly rather prominent; but the symmetry of the rest of his body concealed these defects. His gait was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear, but not so strong as his size led one to expect. His health was excellent, except during the four years preceding his death, when he was subject to frequent fevers; at the last he even limped a little with one foot. Even in those years he consulted rather his own inclinations than the advice of physicians, who were almost hateful to him, because they wanted him to give up roasts, to which he was accustomed, and to eat boiled meat instead. In accordance with the national custom, he took frequent exercise on horseback and in the chase, accomplishments in which scarcely any people in the world can equal the Franks. He enjoyed the exhalations from natural warm springs, and often practised swimming, in which he was such an adept that none could surpass him; and hence it was that he built his palace at Aixla-Chapelle, and lived there constantly during his latter years until his death. He used not only to invite his sons to his bath, but his nobles and friends, and now and then a troop of his retinue or body guard, so that a hundred or more persons sometimes bathed with him.

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