Early in the 6th century, northern Gaul came under the control of the Franks, whose capital was Metz on what is now the border between France and Germany. Their chieftains frequently kidnapped and enslaved or ransomed the sons of noble Roman families.
GREGORY, Bishop of Langres, had a nephew named Attalus, who was kidnapped by a Frankish chieftain near Trier, and kept in slavery as a stable-boy.
His ransom price was ten gold pounds, a sum the Bishop could not possibly raise, so Leo, the Bishop’s cook, offered to sell himself into slavery to the Franks, and help Attalus escape.
Leo’s gifts as a chef did so much for his new master’s political standing that he became indispensable.
‘Should we be worried,’ joked his master’s son-in-law, who fancied himself a wit, ‘that one day you’ll run off and leave us?’
‘I plan to do so tonight’ Leo said without a blush, and they both laughed.
But that night Leo and Attalus stole two horses from the stable, and made for home.
They passed four nervous and hungry days and nights, always listening for the sound of pursuit. But at last they reached Langres, where the Bishop publicly declared Leo a free man, and even made him a Roman citizen for life.