"Charlemagne and the Ring" was once described by the Italian writer and master storyteller, Italo Calvino, as epitomising all that a good story should contain.
It is a deceptively simple tale that employs a magic ring to expose the disturbing traits of a monarch, and of all men, who fall prey to their passions.
It is the chronicle of a king, who touched the pinnacle of true love only to plummet into the deepest despair, resurfacing to seek solace in a lake.
"Late in life the emperor Charlemagne fell in love with a German girl. The barons at his court were extremely worried when they saw that the sovereign, wholly taken up with his amorous passion and unmindful of his regal dignity, was neglecting the affairs of state. When the girl suddenly died, the courtiers were greatly relieved—but not for long, because Charlemagne’s love did not die with her. The emperor had the embalmed body carried to his bedchamber, where he refused to be parted from it. The Archbishop Turpin, alarmed by this macabre passion, suspected an enchantment and insisted on examining the corpse. Hidden under the girl’s dead tongue he found a ring with a precious stone set in it. As soon as the ring was in Turpin’s hands, Charlemagne fell passionately in love with the archbishop and hurriedly had the girl buried. In order to escape the embarrassing situation, Turpin flung the ring into Lake Constance. Charlemagne thereupon fell in love with the lake and would not leave its shores."
From Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium