Legend of “The Four Sons of Duke Aymon“
Knight Aymon of the Ardennes was a true liege of Charlemagne. He was married to Aye, a sister of Charlemagne. She gave birth to four bold sons: Ritsaert, Writsaert, Adelaert and Reinout. Reinout was the strongest of the four. Due to an old tradition each of them got a horse as a present from their father. Reinout was though so strong that he accidentally killed his mount. He was offered a second horse but already at the first ride he broke its haunches. Sir Aymon knew what to do. Because after all a knight must have a horse he took his taut son to a castle where the infamous stallion Beyaert was locked up. Everbody feared this hot-tempered horse which hadn’t met his match yet. Bravely, Reinout faced that horse which sent him with a brisk kick a few meters away, bristling with anger. Reinout didn’t give in. After a lion-hearted fight he made this wonderful horse bowing to him. From this moment “Ros Beyaert” blindly followed knight Reinout.
But there arose a serious veut between Charlemagne who was married to Hildegard in those times, and Aymon and his sons. While playing chess at court a high blazing quarrel was picked by Reinout and his cousin Lodewijk, the son of Charlemagne. The irascible Reinout became so furious that he knocked over the chess pieces and stroke his opponent’s head so fiercely with the heavy silver chessboard that he dropped dead.
Charlemagne swore to take revenge and followed the four brothers who fled on the back of Beyaert hiding in the impenetrable forest of the Ardennes. From their strong castle Montalbaen they defended themselves against the attacking mercenaries of their uncle. The oldest son of Charlemagne, Pippin, was king of Italy at that time and not concerned by that fight. But their father Aymon was now fallen into the hands of Charlemagne. He was only then willing to make peace and free Aymon as the vicious horse Beyaert was handed over to him. Of course, Reinout refused to accept that demand, but yielded to his mother’s pleading.
Because the stallion was said to be invincible Charlemagne decided to drown him. With a broken heart and deep sorrow Reinout had to watch the horse taken to the river and thrown into the water, heavy millstones around his neck. Twice the horse dashed the stones to pieces with a hefty kick and swam back to the banks where Reinout stood watching. By the third attempt the stones were even heavier but anyway the horse went up with a longing look towards his master. Because he thought that Reinout didn’t care any more the noble animal refused to live any longer and drowned himself.