Late Medieval Books, The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon

The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon is in Late Medieval Books.

1119 Battle of Bremule

1138 Battle of the Standard aka Northallerton

Late Medieval Books, The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon Book 1

There are four things in England which are yery remarkable. One is that the winds issue with such great violence from certain caverns in a mountain called the Peak [Probably the Devil's Arse [Map]] that It ejects matters thrown into them, and whirling them about in the air carries them to a great distance. The second is at Stonehenge, where stones of extraordinary dimensions are raised as columns, and others are fixed above, like lintels of immense portals; and no one has been able to discover by what mechanism such vast masses of stone were elevated, nor for what purpose they were designed. The third is at Chedder-hole1, where there is a cavern which many persons have entered, and have traversed a great distance under ground, crossing subterraneous streams, without finding any end of the cavern. The fourth wonder is this, that in some parts of the countiy the rain is seen to gather about the tops of the hills, and forthwith to fall on the plains.

Note 1. Wookey Hole, in Cheddar Cliffs, under the Mendip Hills, in Somersetshire.

Late Medieval Books, The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon 1119

1119. King Henry, in the fifty-second year after the Normans conquered England, and in the nineteenth year of his reign, fought a great battle with the King of France1. That king placed the first division of his army under the command of William, the son of Eobert, King Henry's brother, supporting him with the main body of his army* On the other side, King Henry posted his [Norman] vassals in the first line; the second, consisting of his household troops, he led himself on horseback; in the third, he placed his sons, with the main body of infantry. At the outset, the first line of the French unhorsed and quickly dispersed the Norman knights. It afterwards attacked the, division which Henry himself commanded, and was itself routed. The troops imder the command of the two kings now met, and the battle raged fiercely; the lances were shivered, and they fought with swords. At this time, William Crispin2 twice struck King Henry on the head, and though his helmet was sword-proof, the violence of the blow forced it a little into the king's fore-head, so that blood gushed forth. The king, however, returned the blow on his assailant with such force, that though his helmet was impenetrable, the horse and its rider were struck to the ground, and the knight was pre sently taken prisoner in the king's presence. Meanwhile, the infantiy, with whom the king's sons were posted, not being yet engaged, but waiting for the signal, levelled their spears, and charged the enemy. Upon which the French were suddenly daunted, and broke their ranks, and fled. King Henry, thus victorious, remained on the field until all file nobles of the defeated araiy were taken prisoners and brought before him. He then retiuned to Eouen, while the bells were ringing, and the clergy were chanting hymns of thanksgiving to the Lord God of hosts. This glorious victory has been thus celebrated in heroic verse:

Where Noyon's tow'rs rise o*er the plain.

And Oise flows onward to the Seine,

Two banner'd hosts in ranks advance:

Here, Lewis leads the powers of France;

Henry of England, there, commands His English and his Norman bands

See his arm the foremost crush.

The island spearmen onward rash;

While the bold chivalry of France

Recoils before the Norman lance;

And mattered oaths reveal their shame,

As they curse the conqueror's name.

So distant ages long shall tell

Of gallant Henry, first to quell

On his own soil the Frenchman's pride,

Where Noyon's field with blood was dyed;

And conq'ring England's mighty son

The spoils and laurell'd trophies won.

Note 1. Henry of Huntingdon omits mentioning in the text of his history where the battle was fought, but the verses which follow supply the name at the place, Noyon. We are indebted to Henry of Huntingdon for a fiill account of this very important and decisive action, of which the Saxon Gbreniele S'ves only a slight notice. Indeed, from this time, or shortly afterwards, enry of Huntingdon assumes the character of an original historian of events contemporary with the period in which he lived.

Note 2. Count of Evreux.

1119. Wars between Henry and Lewis

War having broke out between Henry, king of England, and Lewis, king of France,1 with the count of Anjou and the count of Flanders, king Henry seized an opportunity of making a separate peace with the count of Anjou, receiving his daughter in marriage with his son William, whom he had already declared heir of all his kingdom. The count of Anjou went to Jerusalem. After this, king Henry, with the concurrence of his nobles, made peace with the king of France, on which occasion his son William was invested with Normandy, to be held of the king of France. The king also made peace with his nobles who had unjustly and treasonably revolted against him, and also with the count of Flanders. An earthquake was felt in several parts of England on Sunday, the fourth of the calends of October (28th September), about the third hour of the day.

Note 1. Our author treats very summarily of the wars between the kings Henry and Lewis, which ended in the decisive battle of Bremull or Noyon, fought on the 20th August, 1119. Ordericus gives considerable details of these hostilities in the early chapters of his twelfth book (vol. iii., pp. 446—492, of the edition in the Antiq, Lib.). See also Henry of Huntingdon's History, ibid, pp. 247, 248.

Late Medieval Books, The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon Book 8

22 Aug 1138. While the king was thus engaged in the south, David of Scotland (age 54) led an immense army into the north of England, against which the northern nobles, at the exhortation and under the command of Thurstan, archbishop of York (age 68), made a resolute stand. The royal standard was planted at Alverton1, and as the archbishop was prevented by illness from being present at the battle, he commissioned Balph, bishop of Durham2, to fill his place, who, standing on an eminence in the centre of the army, roused their courage with words to this effect:

Brave nobles of England, Normans by birth ; for it is well that on the eve of battle you should call to mind who you are, and from whom you are sprung: no one ever withstood you with success. Gallant France fell beneath your arms; fertile England you subdued; rich Apulia flourished again under your auspices; Jerusalem, renowned in story, and the noble Antioch, both submitted to you. Now, however, Scotland which was your own rightly, has tataken you at disadvantage, her rashness more fitting a skirmish than a battle. Her people have neither military skill, nor order in fighting, nor self command. There is, therefore, no reason for fear, whatever there may be for indignation, at finding those whom we have hitherto sought and conquered in their own country, madly reversing the order, making an irruption into ours. But that which I, a bishop, and by divine permission, standing here as the representative of our archbishop, tell you, is this: that those who in this land have violated the temples of the Lord, polluted his altars, slain his priests, and spared neither children nor women with child, shall on this same soil receive condign punishment for their crimes. This most just fulfilment of his will God shall this day accomphsh by our hands. Rouse yourselves, then, gallant soldiers, and bear down on an accrursed enemy with the courage of your race, and in the presence of God. Let not their impetuosity shake you, since the many tokens of our valour do not deter them. They do not cover themselves with armour3 in war; you are in the constant practice of arms in times of peace, that you may be at no loss in the chances of the day of battle. Your head is covered with the helmet, your breast with a coat of mail, your legs with greaves, and your whole body with the shield. Where can file enemy strike you when he finds you sheathed in steel? "What have we to fear in attacking the naked, bodies of men who know not the use of armour? Is it their numbers? It is not so much the multitude of a host, as the valour of a few, which is decisive. Numbers, without discipline, are an hindrance to success in the attack, and to retreat in defeat. Your4 ancestors were often victorious when they were but a few against many. What, then, does the renown of your fathers, your practice of arms, your military discipline avail, unless they make you, few though you are in numbers, invincible against the enemy's hosts? But I close my discourse, as I perceive them rushing on, and I am delighted to see that they are advancing in disorder. Now, then, if any of you who this day are called to avenge the atrocities committed in the houses of God, against the priests of the Lord, and his little flock, should fall in the battle, I, in the name of your archbishop, absolve them from all spot of sin, in the name of the Father, whose creatures the foe hath foully and horribly slain, and of the Son, whose altars they have defiled, and of the Holy Ghost, from whose grace they have desperately fallen."

Note 1. Allerton. This famous Battle of the Standard is also fully described by Roger of Wendover. See also William of Newbury and Trivet; but the MS. of the "Gesta Stepfani" after relating the irruption into Northumberland, becomes imperfect just in this place.

Note 2. Both the MSS. which I have consulted concur with Savile's printed text in the reading of "Orcadum;" but as Roger of Wendorer calls Ralph Bishop of Durham, and he was evidently a suffragan of the Archbishop of York, I have adopted that reading. Perhaps the bishop of Durham had jurisdiction in the Orkneys? [Note. Possibly Bishop Radulf Novell, Bishop of Orkney?]

Note 3. "Nesciunt annare se ;" and just afterwards the historian calls them "nudos et inermes!" Not that they went to battle unarmed, as the passage has been rendered, but the rank and file of the Scots used no defensive armour, and perhaps, like their posterity, they only wore the kilt.

Note 4. Arundel MS., "our."

Then all the English replied witli a shout, and the mountains and hills re-echoed, "Amen! Amen!" At the same moment the Scots raised their country's war-cry, "Alban! Alban!" till it reached the clouds. The sounds were drowned amid the crash of arms. In the first onset the men of Lothian, to whom the king of the Scots had reluctantly granted the honour of striking the first blow, bore down on the mailed English knights with a cloud of darts and their long spears, but they found their ranks impenetrable as a wall of steel; while the archers mingled with the knights, pierced the unarmed Scots with a cloud of arrows. The whole army of English and Normans stood fast round The Standard1 in one solid body. Then the chief of the men of Lothian fell, pierced by an arrow, and all his followers were put to flight. For the Almighty was oflended at them, and their strength was rent like a cobweb. Perceiving this, the main body of the Scots, which was fighting bravely in another quarter, lost courage, and retreated also. King David's chosen body of soldiers also, which he had selected from various tribes, when they saw this, began to flee, first singly, and then in troops, until the king stood almost alone; upon which his friends compelled him to mount a horse and escape. But his brave son, heedless of what his countrymen were doing, and inspired only by his ardour for the fight and for glory, made a fierce attack, with the remnant of the fugitives, on the enemy's ranks. The body nnder his own command, composed of English and Normans attached to his father's household, had retained their horses. But this body of cavalry could by no means make any impression against men sheathed in armour, and fighting on foot in a close column; so that they were compelled to retire with womided horses and shattered2 lances, after a brilliant but unsuccessful attack. It is reported that 11,000 of the Scots fell on the field of battle, besides those who were found in the woods and corn-fields, and there slain. Our army gained this victory with very little effusion of blood. Its leaders were William Peperel, of Nottingham, Walter Espec, and Gilbert de Lacy, whose brother was the only knight slain. When the issue of the battle was reported to King Stephen, he and all who were with him offered solemn thanks to Almighty God. It was fought in llie month of August.

Note 1. From which thia battle was called "The Battle of the Standard."

Note 2. Savile'a text has "shortened," but both the MSS. collated for contractu read confractU, shattered.

During Advent, Alberic, the pope's legate, and Bishop of Ostia, held a synod at London, in which Theobald, aboot of Bec, was made Archbishop of Canterbury, with the concurrence of King Stephen.1

Note 1. See the "Acts of King Stephen," for a long account of transactioiui in the west of England this year, not even referred to by Huntingdon.