The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy by Orderic Vitalis

The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy by Orderic Vitalis is in Late Medieval Books.

Late Medieval Books, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy by Orderic Vitalis 1100

02 Aug 1100. The morning1 of the day following, King William, having dined with his minions, prepared, after the meal was ended, to go forth and hunt in the New Forest. Being in great spirits he was joking with his attendants while his boots were being laced, when an armourer came and presented to him six arrows. The king immediately took them with great satisfaction, praising the work, and unconscious of what was to happen, kept four of them himself and held out the other two to Walter Tirel.2 " It is but right, " he said, " that the sharpest arrows should be given to him who knows best how to inflict mortal wounds with them. " This Tirel was a French knight of good extraction, the wealthy lord of the castles of Poix and Pontoise, filling a high place among the nobles, and a gallant soldier; he was therefore admitted to familiar intimacy with the king, and became his constant companion. Meanwhile, while they were idly talking on various subjects, and the king's household attendants were assembled about him, a monk of Gloucester presented himself and delivered to the king a letter from his abbot. Having read it, the king burst out laughing, and said merrily to the knight just mentioned, " Walter, do what I told you. " The knight replied, " I will, my lord. " Slighting then the warnings of the elders, and forgetting that the heart is lifted up before a fall, he said respecting the letter he had received, " I wonder what has induced my lord Serlo to write to me in this strain, for I really believe he is a worthy abbot and respectable old man. In the simplicity of his heart, he transmits to me, who have enough besides to attend to, the dreams of his snoring monks, and even takes the trouble to commit them to writing, and send them a long distance. Does he think that I follow the example of the English, who will defer their journey or their business on account of the dreams of a parcel of wheezing old women? "

Note 1. Wednesday, August 1, 1100. Malmesbury, whom we have just quoted, tells us that the king did not go out to hunt till after dinner, but that was an early meal in those days.

Note 2. Walter Tirel, lord of Poix ( Somme ), and keeper of the castle of Pontoise.

Thus speaking, he hastily rose, and mounting his horse, rode at full speed to the forest. His brother, Count Henry, with William de Breteuil1 and other distinguished persons followed him, and, having penetrated into the woods, the hunters dispersed themselves in various directions according to custom. The king and Walter de Poix posted themselves with a few others in one part of the forest, and stood with their weapons in their hands eagerly watching for the coming of the game, when a stag suddenly running between them, the king quitted his station, and Walter2 shot an arrow. It grazed the beast's grizzly back, but glancing from it, mortally wounded the king who stood within its range. He immediately fell to the ground, and alas! suddenly expired3. The death of one man caused the greatest confusion among numbers, and the wood echoed with fearful shouts occasioned by the death of their prince. Prince Henry lost no time in riding as fast as his horse could carry him to Winchester, where the royal treasure was kept, and imperiously demanded the keys from the keepers, as the lawful heir. William de Breteuil arrived at the same instant with breathless haste, for he anticipated Henry's deep policy and resolved to oppose it. "We ought," he said, "to have a loyal regard for the fealty we have sworn to your brother Robert. He is, undoubtedly, the eldest son of King William, and both I and you, my lord Henry, have paid him homage4. Therefore we ought to keep our engagements to him in all respects, whether he be absent or present. He has long laboured in God's service, and the Lord now restores him, without a contest, the duchy which he relinquished for the love of heaven, as well as his father's crown. There was now a sharp contention between them, and crowds flocked round them from all quarters; but the influence of an heir present in person to claim his rights began to prevail. Henry hastily seizing his sword drew it out of the scabbard, declaring that no foreigner should on frivolous pretences lay hands on his father's sceptre.

Note 1. William de Breteuil, son of William FitzOsberne.

Note 2. Walter Tirel, the third of that name. He must have undertaken the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in which he died after he founded the abbey of Selincourt in 1134. He also founded the priory of St. Denys at Poix. He lived in the Vexin in 1091, at which time he appears as witness in a charter of King Philip I., being a donation of the abbey of St. Melon at Pontoise to the archbishop of Rouen. We must not be surprised to find him sometimes at Pontoise and at others in Picardy, as the counts of Amiens were both counts of Pontoise and the French Vexin.

Richard Giffard, his wife's father, was probably brother of Walter Giffard, earl of Buckingham.

Hugh Tirrel, son of Walter III. and Anne, went also to the Holy Land in 1146.

Note 3. Malmesbury informs us that on receiving the wound the king uttered not a word, but breaking off the shaft of the arrow where it projected from his body, fell upon the wound by which he accelerated his death. The sun was declining, and the king, at the time he was shot, was holding up his hand to screen his eyes from the sun's rays athwart the glades of the forest, while he was keenly gazing at a stag which he had just slightly wounded.

Note 4. Our author, so far from applauding the loyalty of William de Breteuil, already exhibits his great partiality for Henry I. Robert Curthose was odious to the clergy not only on account of his licentious conduct, but because he afforded them no protection against the rapacity of the barons.

At length, through the intervention of friends and prudent counsellors, the quarrel abated on one side and the other, and by a wise resolution, to prevent a serious rupture, the castle, with the royal treasures, was given up to Henry, the king's son. This had been long before predicted by the Britons, and the English desired to have for their lord a prince they regarded as illustrious because he was nobly born on the throne.1

Note 1. He was the only son of William the Conqueror born after his acces- sion to the throne of England, being what the Greeks of the lower empire called Porphyrogenites, born in the purple, a circumstance to which the Anglo - Saxons attached great importance, regarding it as a strong confirma- tion of the right to the throne.

On the king's death, many of the nobles hastened at once from the forest to their own abodes, and began to put their affairs in order, in anticipation of the troubles which they feared would follow. Some of the servants wrapped the king's bloody corpse in a mean covering, and brought it, like a wild boar pierced by the hunters, to the city of Winchester. The clergy, the monks and citizens, with the poor widows and mendicants, went in procession without delay to meet the body, from respect to the royal dignity, and buried it in the old minster of St. Peter1. Notwithstanding,

Note 1. The king was interred within the court of the castle. That part of the building soon afterwards fell to the ground, and it was regarded as a sign of the divine wrath against the king. It was rebuilt from funds left by Bishop Walkelin. The funeral procession was not so mean as our author infers: multorum procerum conventu , paucorum planctu [the assembly of many nobles, the lamentation of a few]. Many of the nobility attended, though there were few mourners .

Late Medieval Books, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy by Orderic Vitalis 1119

Chapter XVIII. The battle of Bremule, or Noyon, between Henry of England and Lewis of France — Soon after his defeat Lewis makes a second irruption into Normandy, but retreats at the approach of Henry's army

1119. Meanwhile King Lewis effected his retreat into France with the utmost expedition, but quickly counter-marched from Etampes into Normandy, attended by some brave knights. On the twentieth day of the month of August, King Henry having heard mass at Noyon marched out with his principal nobles on an expedition against the French, not knowing that the king of France had arrived at Andeli.1 The king of England rode at the head of a gallant troop of men-at-arms, and caused the harvest in the fields2 about Etrepagni to be reaped by his rapacious soldiery, giving orders that great sheaves of com should be carried on the backs of their horses to the castle of Lions. Four knights were stationed by the king on the top of Verclive3, to keep watch against any opposition that might be offered to his enterprise. These sentinels, observing the helmets and standards of troops moving towards Noyon, gave immediate notice to King Henry.

Note 1. Henry did not put himself in marching order until he heard that Lewis had retired. As long as he thought that Lewis-le-Gros was in the Vexin, he prudently shut himself up at Rouen, although fire and pillage were carried within four miles of his capital city. The king of France, notwithstanding his corpulence, for which he is jeered by the Norman writers, was become very active.

Note 2. It may be thought strange that on the 20th of August the corn should be still standing on the plains of the Vexin; but it must be recollected that there, as well as elsewhere during the middle ages, it principally consisted of late crops, barley and oats.

Note 3. This place standing on an isolated hill, near Écouia, commands the whole plain of the Norman Vexin to a vast distance.

The same day King Lewis marched from Andeli with the French army, making frequent complaints to his attendants that they could not meet with the king of England in an open field, not knowing that the king was close at hand, Lewis rode in haste with his brilliant cavalry towards Noyon, expecting that the castle would be given up to him the same day, by a concerted treason, but the affair turned out very differently. Victory did not favour those who were swelling with pride and eager for the fight, but routed and put them to flight when they were exulting in the prospect triumph. Burchard de Montmorenci1, and some other prudent men, dissuaded Lewis from fighting in Normandy, but the people of Chaumont urged him furiously to give battle. William the chamberlain2 also tried to prevent Henry in engaging in the conflict, but William de Warrenne3 and Roger de Bienfaite4 gave him great encouragement. At last, it was generally understood, by the exchange of messengers, and by rumours which spread the intelligence far and wide, that both kings were in presence at the head of their armies, and, if they wished, battle might be joined. The French had by this time reached the neighbourhood of Noyon, and had set fire to a granary belonging to the monks Boucheron5, the smoke of which was visible to the English as it rose in the air. Near Mount Verclive there an open ground and vast plain, called by the inhabitants bhe country Brémule.6 King Henry descended to it [?] five hundred cavalry, the warlike hero having put on armour and skilfully disposed his mailed troops. He had with him his two sons, Robert and Richard, illustrious knights, and three counts, Henry d'Eu, William de Warrenne, and Walter Giffard. The king was also supported by Roger, son of Roger, and Walter d'Aufay, his own cousins,1a as well as bv William de Tankerville, William de Roumare, Nigel d'Aubigni, and several others who may be compared to the Scipios, the Mariuses, and the Catos, the Roman censors, for their civil virtues and knightly valour as the result proved. Edward of Salisbury2a carried the standard, whose approved intrepidity was in high renown and never failed him even when fighting to the death.

Note 1. Bouchard III de Montmorenci. He was still living in the year 1124.

Note 2. William de Tankerville (the Normans spelt the name Tancarville), the same person who the year before stopped Henry's expedition against [?]le by a false alarm.

Note 3. William de Warrenne, second of that name, earl of Surrey.

Note 4. Roger de Bienfaite, lord of Hommet, which he received in exchange Brionne.

Note 5. The foundation of this priory, which was a cell of St. Evroult, is mentioned before, p. 419. Our author here speaks of a grange which stood on plain.

Note 6. This plain belongs to the commune of Gaillardbois. and is traversed be public road from Rouen to Paris. To the south of this road lies farm of Brémule which appears to have been the central point of the battle, and gave it its name, at least in the French accounts; some English historians, calling it the battle of Noyon, Henry's head quarters, three leagues distant. Duchesne's text calls the place Brenneville, but the original MS. gives the right name BRENMULA.

Note 1a. Walter d'Aufay was Henry's cousin in two ways; by his great grandmother Papia, sister of Duke Robert I., and by his mother Beatrix, [?] of Queen Matilda. Walter was probably the third son of the VI d'Aufay and Aricia, some account of whom, with their epitaphs, is j in vol. ii. pp. 268—270.

Note 2a. This person had large possessions at Salisbury and in that ndgh hood. His daughter Matilda, by order of William Rufus married Humphrey de Bohun, who had in her right part of their vast domains, rest were inherited by Edward's son, Walter of Salisbury.