Count Robert of Paris is a knight of the First Crusade (1096-1099), and the story is chiefly concerned with his insult to a Greek ruler and its reparation. In order to protect his domain from invasion, Alexius Comnenus, Greek emperor of Constantinople, hires a bodyguard of warriors from other nations, who are termed Varangians. Jealousies arise between these and native soldiers, and Hereward a Saxon is attacked by a Greek, but escapes and afterwards becomes a valuable retainer for the imperial family.
The armies of the First Crusade approach the city, and the Emperor, knowing himself powerless to check their progress, consents to allow them to pass through his country. On their part, the Crusaders acknowledge his sovereignty in a public review, though many of the arrogant nobles deem themselves his peers. One in particular, Count Robert of Paris, shows his contempt for the imperial authority by seating himself upon the throne for a moment, with his dog at his feet. Alexius feigns to overlook the insult but secretly plots vengeance, and thereafter the Count's stay in Constantinople is full of peril. He is separated by trickery from his wife, Brenhilda, a handsome Amazonian who had followed him to the wars, and is cast into a dungeon with a tiger which he slays ...
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