William of Malmesbury

William of Malmesbury is in Late Medieval Books.

978 Murder of King Edward the Martyr

1002 St. Brice's Day Massacre

1100 Death of William Rufus Accession of Henry I

Bohn's Antiquarian Library. William Of Malmesbury's Chronicle. William Of Malmesbury's Chronicle Of The Kings Of England. From The Earliest Period To The Reign Of King Stephen. With Notes And Illustrations. By J. A. Giles, D.C.L., Late Fellow Of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden. M.DCCC.XLVII. J. Haddon. Printer, Castle Street, Finsbury.

Late Medieval Books, William of Malmesbury Editor's Preface

"William of Malmesbury", according to archbishop Usher, "is the chief of our historians"; Leland records him "as an elegant, learned, and faithful historian"; and Sir Henry Saville is of opinion, that he is the only man of his time who has discharged his trust as an historian. His History of the Kings of England was translated into English by the Rev. John Sharpe, and published in quarto, in 1815.

Though the language of Mr. Sharpe's work is by no means so smooth as the dialect of the present day would require, yet the care with which he examined MSS., and endeavoured to give the exact sense of his author, seemed so important a recommendation, that the editor of the present volume has gladly availed himself of it as a ground-work for his own labours. The result of this plan is, that the public are enabled to purchase without delay and at an insignificant expense, the valuable contemporary historian, who has hitherto been like a sealed book to the public, or only accessible through a bulky volume, the scarcity of which served to exclude it from all but public libraries or the studies of the wealthy.

But the translation of Mr. Sharpe has by no means been reprinted verbatim. Within the last ten years a valuable edition of the original text, with copious collations of MSS., has been published by the English Historical Society. This edition has been compared with the translation, and numerous passages retouched and improved. Some charters, also, have been added, and a large number of additional notes appended at the foot of the pages, together with a few other improvements and additions calculated to render this interesting history more acceptable to the reading public.

J.A.G. Bampton, June, 1847.

Late Medieval Books, William of Malmesbury Translator's Preface

The author whose work is here presented to the public in an English dress, has, unfortunately, left few facts of a personal nature to be recorded of him; and even these can only be casually gleaned from his own writings. It is indeed much to be regretted that he who wrote so well on such a variety of topics, should have told so little to gratify the curiosity of his readers with respect to himself. Every notice of such an ardent lover of literature as Malmesbury, must have been interesting to posterity, as a desire to be acquainted with the history of those who have contributed to our instruction or amusement seems natural to civilized man. With the exception indeed of the incidental references made by successive chroniclers, who borrowed from his history, there is nothing to be learned of him from extrinsic sources till the time of Leland, who indignantly observes, that even at Malmesbury, in his own monastery, they had nearly lost all remembrance of their brightest ornament.

To himself then we are indebted for the knowledge of his being descended from both English and Norman parents; his father having probably come hither at the conquest. The exact time of his birth cannot be ascertained; though perhaps an approximation to it may be made. In the "Commentary on Jeremiah"1, Malmesbury observes, that he "had long since, in his youthful days, amused himself with writing history, that he was now forty years of age"; and, in another place, he mentions a circumstance which occurred "in the time of king Henry";2 apparently implying that Henry was then dead. Now, admitting the expression of "long since" to denote a period often years, this, as his "Histories of the Kings" and "of the Prelates" were completed in the year 1125, must have been written about 1135, the time of Henry's death, and would of course place his own birth about 1095 or 1096.3

Note 1. "Olim enim cum historias lusi, viridioribus annis rerumque laetitiae congruebat rerum jocunditas. Nunc aetas progressior, et fortuna deterior, aliud dicendi genus expostulant. Quadragenarius sum hodie", etc. Prol. in expos. Thren. Hierem. MS. Bodl. 868.

Note 2. "Ista autem avis (struthio) membrorum grandium, pennas quidem habens, sed volatu carens. Qualem in Anglia vidimus, tempore regis Henrici externorum monstrorum appetentissimi". Ch. iv. v. 31.

Note 3. He has afforded another notice of time, but not equally precise. Godfrey is said to have been abbat of Malmesbury from the year 1084 till 1105; and Malmesbury mentions certain transactions which took place in Godfrey's time as beyond his memory; and others which happened when he was a boy. Anglia Sacra, II. 45-7. If Malmesbury wrote the miracles of St. Andrew, a work which is attributed to him, he was born the 30th of November.

Note 4.

The next circumstance to be noticed is, that when a boy, he was placed in the monastery whence he derived his name, where in due time he became librarian, and, according to Leland, precentor; and ultimately refused the dignity of abbat. His death is generally supposed to have taken place about 1143; though it is probable that he survived this period some time: for his "Modern History" terminates at the end of the year 1142; and it will appear, from a manuscript hereafter to be described, that he lived at least long enough after its publication to make many corrections, alterations, and insertions, in that work as well in the other portions of his History.

With these facts, meagre as they are, the personal account of him must close. But with regard to his literary bent and attainments there is ample store of information in his writings. From his earliest youth he gave his soul to study, and to the collecting of books1 and he visited many of the most celebrated monasteries in the kingdom, apparently in prosecution of this darling propensity. The ardour of his curiosity, and the unceasing diligence of his researches, in this respect, have perhaps been seldom surpassed. He seems to have procured every volume within his reach; and to have carefully examined and digested its contents, whether divinity, history, biography, poetry, or classical literature. Of his acquirements as a scholar it is indeed difficult to speak in terms of sufficient commendation. That he had accurately studied nearly all the Roman authors, will be readily allowed by the classical reader of his works. From these he either quotes or inserts so appositely, as to show how thoroughly he had imbibed their sense and spirit. His adaptations are ever ready and appropriate; they incorporate with his narrative with such exactness that they appear only to occupy their legitimate place. His knowledge of Greek is not equally apparent; at least his references to the writers of Greece are not so frequent, and even these might probably be obtained from translations: from this, however, no conclusion can be drawn that he did not understand the language. With respect to writers subsequent to those deemed classics, his range was so extensive that it is no easy matter to point out many books which he had not seen, and certainly he had perused several which we do not now possess.

Note 1. He says he also collected many books for the monastic library: and mentions others which he had seen at Canterbury, Bury St. Edmunds, etc. Gale, tom. iii. pp. 376, 298.

Malmesbury's love of learning was constitutional: he declares in one of his prefaces, that had he turned to any other than literary pursuits, he should have deemed it not only disgraceful, but even detrimental to his better interest. Again, his commendations of Bede show how much he venerated a man of congenial inclinations and studies; and how anxious he was to form himself on the same model of accurate investigation and laborious research, and to snatch every possible interval from the performance of his monastic duties, for the purposes of information and improvement.

His industry and application were truly extraordinary. Even to the moment when we reluctantly lose sight of him, he is discovered unceasingly occupied in the correction of his works.1 In the MSS. of the "History of the Kings" may be found traces of at least four several editions; and the "History of the Prelates" supplies nearly as many varieties. And though it may reasonably be imagined that a great portion of the alterations are merely verbal, and of course imperceptible in a translation, yet they contribute in an extraordinary degree to the polish and elegance of his style.2 Another excellent feature of Malmesbury's literary character is, his love of truth. He repeatedly declares that, in the remoter periods of his work, he had observed the most guarded caution in throwing all responsibility, for the facts he mentions, on the authors from whom he derived them; and in his own times he avers, that he has recorded nothing that he had not either personally witnessed, or learned from the most credible authority. Adhering closely to this principle, he seems to have been fully impressed with the difficulty of relating the transactions of the princes, his contemporaries, and on this account he repeatedly apologizes for his omissions. But here is seen his dexterous management in maintaining an equipoise between their virtues and vices; for he spares neither William the First, nor his sons who succeeded him: indeed several of his strictures in the earlier editions of this work, are so severe, that he afterwards found it necessary to modify and soften them.

Note 1. Some notion of his diligence may perhaps be afforded by the following list of his writings.

1. De Gestis Regum. The History of the Kings of England. The first three books were probably written soon after the year 1120. Malmesbury intimates that he then hesitated for a time on the expediency of continuing his history; but at length having determined on prosecuting his design, he dedicated the fourth and fifth books to Robert earl of Gloucester; at whose request he afterwards composed

2. Historiae Novellae. The Modern History. This appears to have been begun after the death of Henry I; probably not long before 1140.

3. De Gestis Pontificum. The History of the Prelates of England containing, in four books, an account of the bishops, and of the principal monasteries, from the conversion of the English, by St. Augustine, to 1123; to which he added a fifth

4. De Vita Aldhelmi. The Life of St. Aldhelm: which was completed in 1125. It is very reasonably conjectured that this last was published separately and some time after the others; as, though there are many ancient MSS. of the first four books, one copy only has yet been discovered with the fifth. The former were published by Saville, but from very faulty and scanty MSS. The latter by H. Wharton, and by Gale; but also very defectively.

5. De Vita S. Dunstani. The Life of S. Dunstan, in two books. MS. Bodley Rawlinson, 263. This was written at the request of the monks of Glastonbury, for whom he had previously composed the following three:

6. Vita S. Patricii. The Life of S. Patrick, in two books. Leland, Collectanea, 3, 272, has extracts from it, but no MS. has hitherto occurred.

7. Miracula S. Benigni. The Miracles of S. Benignus. This has not occurred.

8. Passio S. Indracti. The Martyrdom of S. Indract. MS. Bodley Digby, 112. This he translated and abridged from the Anglo-Saxon. Abbreviated in Capgrave's Legenda Nova.

9. De Antiquitate Glastonienais Ecclesiae. The History of Glastonbury. It is addressed to Henry bishop of Winchester, and was of course written after 1129. Printed in Gale's Collection, t. 3, and by Hearne, from an interpolated MS.

10. Vita S. Wulstani Episcopi Wigorniensis. The Life of S. Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester. A Translation from the Anglo-Saxon, addressed to Prior Guarin, between 1124 and 1140. The greater part of it has been printed. Anglia Sacra, t. 2.

11. Chronica. Chronicles, in three books. See p. 480. This work is probably lost.

12. Miracula S. Elfgifae. The Miracles of Elfgifa, in metre. A specimen of these rhymes, there printed as prose, may be seen in the De Gestis Pontif. f. 143: they were apparently written while he was very young; as, before 1125, he says, "quondam cecini".

13. Itinerarium Joannis Abbatis Meldunensis versus Romam. The Itinerary of John Abbat of Malmesbury to Rome. This was drawn up, after 1140, from the relation of another monk of that foundation who accompanied the abbat. Leland, Collect. 3, 272, ed. 1774, mentions it as being very curious. It does not occur, but it was formerly in the possession of Bale.

14. Expositio Threnorum Hieremiae, A Commentary on the Lamentations of Jeremiah. MS. Bodley, 868. Abridged from Paschasius Radbert, probably about 1136.

15. De Miraculis Divae Mariae libri quatuor Gul. Cantoris Malmsburie. The Miracles of the Blessed Virgin, in four books. Leland, Coll. 4. 155.

16. De Serie Evangelistarum, Carmine. The Order of the Evangelists, in verse, Leland, Collect. 4. 157. These two have not occurred.

17. De Miraculis B. Andreae. The Miracles of S. Andrew. MS. Cotton. Nero, E. 1. Abridged from a very prolix work.

18. Abbreviatio Amalarii de Ecclesiasticis Officiis. Amalarius on Ecclesiastical Offices, abridged. MS. Lambeth. 380.

19. Epitome Historiae Aimonis Floriacensis. The History of Haimo of Flory, abridged. MS. Bodley, Selden. Arch. B. 32.

Several other works are attributed to him by Tanner, on the authority of Bale and Pits.

Note 2. These remarks on the character and style of our author must be received, as they say, cum grano salis. They more justly evince the zeal of Mr. Sharpe than the merits of Malmesbury's composition. The classical reader will probably lament with me that our early historians should have used a style so cumbersome and uninviting. To this general censure Malmesbury is certainly no exception. His Latinity is rude and repulsive, and the true value of his writings arises from the fidelity with which he has recorded facts, which he had either himself witnessed or had obtained from eye-witnesses.

His character and attainments had early acquired a high degree of reputation among his contemporaries. He was entreated by the monks of various monasteries to write either the history of their foundations, or the lives of their patron saints. He associated with persons of the highest consequence and authority; and in one instance, at least, he took a share in the important political transactions of his own times. Robert earl of Gloucester, the natural son of Henry the First, was the acknowledged friend and patron of Malmesbury. This distinguished nobleman, who was himself a profound scholar, seems to have been the chief promoter of learning at that period. Several portions of our author's work are dedicated to him, not merely through motives of personal regard, but from the conviction that his attainments as a scholar would lead him to appreciate its value as a composition, and the part which he bore in the transactions of his day, enable him to decide on the veracity of its relation.

Having thus stated the leading features of Malmesbury's life, his avocations and attainments, it may not be irrelevant to consider the form and manner which he has adopted in the history before us. A desire to be acquainted with the transactions of their ancestors seems natural to men in every stage of society, however rude or barbarous. The northern nations, more especially, had their historical traditions, and the songs of their bards, from the remotest times. Influenced by this feeling, the Anglo-Saxons turned their attention to the composition of annals very early after their settlement in Britain; and hence originated that invaluable register the Saxon Chronicle1, in which facts are briefly related as they arose;- in chronological order, indeed, but without comment or observation. After the Norman conquest, among other objects of studious research in England, history attracted considerable attention, and the form, as well as the matter, of the Saxon Chronicle, became the prevailing standard. It might readily be supposed that Malmesbury's genius and attainments would with difiiculty submit to the shackles of a mere chronological series, which afforded no field for the exercise of genius or judgment. Accordingly, following the bent of his inclination, he struck into a different and freer path; and to a judicious selection of facts gave the added charm of wisdom and experience. It may therefore be useful to advert to the exemplification of this principle in the scope and design of the work immediately before us. His first book comprises the exploits of the Anglo-Saxons, from the period of their arrival till the consolidation of the empire under the monarchy of Egbert. Herein too is separately given the history of those powerful but rival kingdoms, which alternately subjugated, or bowed down to the dominion of, each other, and deluged the country with blood, as the love of conquest or the lust of ambition prompted. The second portion of the work continues the regal series till the mighty revolution of the Norman conquest. The three remaining books are occupied with the reigns of William and his sons, including a very interesting account of the first Crusade. His Modern History carries the narrative into the turbulent reign of Stephen.

Note 1. This valuable work has been published, together with Bede's Ecclesiastical History, in a preceding volume of this series.

Such is the period embraced: and to show these times, "their form and pressure", Malmesbury collected every thing within his reach. His materials, as he often feelingly laments, were scanty and confined, more especially in the earlier annals. The Chronicles of that era afforded him but little, yet of that little he has made the most, through the diligence of his research and the soundness of his judgment. His discrimination in selecting, and his skill in arranging, are equally conspicuous. His inexhaustible patience, his learning, his desire to perpetuate every thing interesting or useful, are at all times evident. Sensibly alive to the deficiencies of the historians who preceded him, he constantly endeavours to give a clear and connected relation of every event. Indeed, nothing escaped his observation which could tend to elucidate the manners of the times in which he wrote. History was the darling pursuit of Malmesbury, and more especially biographical history, as being, perhaps, the most pleasing mode of conveying information. He knew the prevailing passion of mankind for anecdote, and was a skilful master in blending amusement with instruction. Few historians ever possessed such power of keeping alive the reader's attention; few so ably managed their materials, or scattered so many flowers by the way. Of his apt delineation of character, and happy mode of seizing the most prominent features of his personages, it is difficult to speak in terms of adequate commendation. He does not weary with a tedious detail, "line upon line", nor does he complete his portrait at a sitting. On the contrary, the traits are scattered, the proportions disunited, the body dismembered, as it were; but in a moment some master-stroke is applied, some vivid flash of Promethean fire animates the canvass, and the perfect figure darts into life and expression: hence we have the surly, ferocious snarl of the Conqueror, and the brutal horse-laugh of Rufus. Malmesbury's history, indeed, may be called a kind of biographical drama; where, by a skilful gradation of character and variety of personage, the story is presented entire, though the tediousness of continued narrative is avoided. Again, by saying little on uninteresting topics, and dilating on such as are important, the tale, which might else disgust from the supineness or degeneracy of some principal actor, is artfully relieved by the force of contrast: and the mind, which perhaps recoils with indignation from the stupid indifference of an Ethelred, hangs, with fond delight, on the enterprising spirit and exertion of an Ironside.

It may be superfluous, perhaps, after enumerating qualities of this varied kind, in an author, who gives a connected history of England for several centuries, to observe, that readers of every description must derive instruction and delight from his labours. Historians, antiquaries, or philosophers, may drink deeply of the stream which pervades his work, and find their thirst for information gratified. The diligent investigator of the earlier annals of his own country, finds a period of seven hundred years submitted to his inspection, and this not merely in a dry detail of events, but in a series of authentic historical facts, determined with acuteness, commented on with deliberation, and relieved by pleasing anecdote or interesting episode. When the narrative flags at home, the attention is roused by events transacting abroad, while foreign is so blended with domestic history, that the book is never closed in disgust. The antiquary here finds ample field for amusement and instruction in the various notices of arts, manners, and customs, which occur. The philosopher traces the gradual progress of man towards civilization; watches his mental improvement, his advance from barbarism to comparative refinement; and not of man alone, but of government, laws, and arts, as well as of all those attainments which serve to exalt and embellish human nature. These are topics carefully, though perhaps only incidentally, brought forward; but tbey are points essentially requisite in every legitimate historian. Here, however, it must be admitted, that in the volume before us, a considerable portion of the marvellous prevails; and though, perhaps, by many readers, these will be considered as among the most curious parts of the work, yet it may be objected, that the numerous miraculous tales detract, in some measure, from that soundness of judgment which has been ascribed to our author. But it should be carefully recollected, that it became necessary to conform, in some degree, to the general taste of the readers of those days, the bulk of whom derived their principal amusement from the lives of saints, and from their miracles, in which they piously believed: besides, no one ever thought of impeaching the judgment of Livy, or of any other historian of credit, for insertions of a similar nature. Even in these relations, however, Malmesbury is careful that his own veracity shall not be impeached; constantly observing, that the truth of the story must rest on the credit of his authors; and, indeed, they are always so completely separable from the main narrative, that there is no danger of mistaking the legend for history.

Having thus noticed the multifarious topics embraced by Malmesbury, it may be necessary to advert to his style: although, after what has been premised, it might seem almost superfluous to add, that it admits nearly of as much variety as his facts. This probably arises from that undeviating principle which he appears to have laid down, that his chief efforts should be exerted to give pleasure to his readers; in imitation of the rhetoricians, whose first object was to make their audience kindly disposed, next attentive, and finally anxious to receive instruction.1 Of his style, therefore, generally speaking, it may not be easy to give a perfect description. To say to which Roman author it bears the nearest resemblance, when he imitated almost every one of them, from Sallust to Eutropius, would be rash indeed. How shall we bind this classical Proteus, who occasionally assumes the semblance of Persius, Juvenal, Horace, Lucan, Virgil, Lucretius; and who never appears in his proper shape so long as he can seize the form of an ancient classic?2

Note 1. See his prologue to the Life of Wulstan, Anglia Sacra, ii. 243.

Note 2. Some of these allusions are occasionally marked in the notes.

Often does he declare that he purposely varies his diction, lest the reader should be disgusted by its sameness; anxiously careful to avoid repetition, even in the structure of his phrases. It may be said, however, that generally, in his earlier works, (for he was apparently very young when he wrote his History of the Kings), his style is rather laboured; though, perhaps, even this may have originated in an anxiety that his descriptions should be full; or, to use his own expression, that posterity should be wholly and perfectly informed. That his diction is highly antithetical, and his sentences artfully poised, will be readily allowed; and perhaps the best index to his meaning, where he may be occasionally obscure, is the nicely-adjusted balance of his phrase. That he gradually improved his style, and in riper years, where he describes the transactions of his own times, became terse, elegant, and polished, no one will attempt to dispute; and it will be regretted, that this interesting portion of history should break off abruptly in the midst of the contest between the empress Maud and Stephen.

In this recapitulation perhaps enough has been said to make an attempt at translating such an author regarded with kindness and complacency. To prevent a work of such acknowledged interest and fidelity from remaining longer a sealed book to the English reader, may well justify an undertaking of this kind; and it should be remarked that a translation of Malmesbury may serve to diffuse a very different idea of the state of manners and learning in his days from that which has been too commonly entertained; and at the same time to rescue a set of very deserving men from the unjust obloquy with which they have been pursued for ages. For without the least design of vindicating the institutions of monachism or overlooking the abuses incident to it, we may assert that, in Malmesbury's time, religious houses were the grand depositaries of knowledge, and monks the best informed men of the age.

It remains briefly to speak of the mode in which the translation has been conducted. The printed text of Malmesbury1 was found so frequently faulty and corrupted that, on a careful perusal, it was deemed necessary to seek for authentic manuscripts. These were supplied by that noble institution, the British Museum; but one more especially, which, on an exact comparison with others, was found to possess indisputable proofs of the author's latest corrections. This, Bib. Reg. 13, D. II, has been collated throughout with the printed copy; the result has produced numerous important corrections, alterations, and insertions, which are constantly referred to in the notes. In addition to this, various other MSS. have been repeatedly consulted; so that it is presumed the text, from which the translation has been made, is, by these means, completely established.

As the plan pursued by Malmesbury did not often require him to affix dates to the several transactions, it has been deemed necessary to remedy this omission. The chronology here supplied has been constructed on a careful examination and comparison of the Saxon Chronicle and Florence of Worcester, which are considered the best authorities; although even these occasionally leave considerable doubt as to the precise time of certain events. The remoteness of the period described by Malmesbury makes notes also in some measure indispensable. These are derived as frequently as possible from contemporary authors. Their object is briefly to amend, to explain, and to illustrate. By some perhaps they may be thought too limited; by others they may occasionally be considered unnecessary; but they are such as were deemed likely to be acceptable to readers in general.

With these explanations the translator takes leave of the reader, and is induced to hope that the present work will not be deemed an unimportant accession to the stock of English literature.

Note 1. A considerable portion of the present work was printed anonymously as a continuation of Bede, at Heidelberg, in 1587. The whole, together with the History of the Prelates, was first printed by Sir Henry Saville, who appears to have consulted several copies in the "Scriptores post Bedam", London, 1596, fol. This was reprinted, but with many additional errors, at Frankfort, 1601, fol. Saville's division into chapters, in the second book more especially, has no authority; but as it appeared sufficiently convenient, it has been adopted: the division of the sections is nearly the same throughout all the MSS.

Late Medieval Books, William of Malmesbury Thee Author's Epistle

The Author's Epistle To Robert, Earl Of Gloucester1, Son Of King Henry.

Note 1. Robert, Earl of Gloucester, the Mecaenas of his age, was a natural son of Henry I., and a man of great talents and of unshaken fidelity. He married Mabil, daughter of Robert Fitzhamon, by whom he had a numerous issue. He died October 31, A.D. 1147.

To my respected Lord, the renowned Earl Robert, son of the King, health, and, as far as he is able, his prayers, from William, Monk of Malmesbury.

The virtue of celebrated men holds forth as its greatest excellence, its tendency to excite the love of persons even far removed from it: hence the lower classes make the virtues of their superiors their own, by venerating those great actions, to the practice of which they cannot themselves aspire. Moreover, it redounds altogether to the glory of exalted characters, both that they do good, and that they gain the affection of their inferiors. To you, Princes, therefore, it is owing, that we act well; to you, indeed, that we compose anything worthy of remembrance; your exertions incite us to make you live for ever in our writings, in return for the dangers you undergo to secure our tranquillity. For this reason, I have deemed it proper to dedicate the History of the Kings of England, which I have lately published, more especially to you, my respected and truly amiable Lord.

None, surely, can be a more suitable patron of the liberal arts than yourself, in whom are combined the magnanimity of your grandfather, the munificence of your uncle, the circumspection of your father; more especially as you add to the qualities of these men, whom you alike equal in industry and resemble in person, this peculiar characteristic, a devotion to learning. Nor is this all: you condescend to honour with your notice those literary characters who are kept in obscurity, either by the malevolence of fame, or the slenderness of their fortune. And as our nature inclines us, not to condemn in others what we approve in ourselves, therefore men of learning find in you manners congenial to their own; for, without the slightest indication of moroseness, you regard them with kindness, admit them with complacency, and dismiss them with regret. Indeed, the greatness of your fortune has made no difference in you, except that your beneficence can now almost keep pace with your inclination.

Accept, then, most illustrious Sir, a work in which you may contemplate yourself as in a glass, where your Highness's sagacity will discover that you have imitated the actions of the most exalted characters, even before you could have heard their names. The Preface to the first book declares the contents of this work; on deigning to peruse which, you will briefly collect the whole subject matter. Thus much I must request from your Excellency, that no blame may attach to me because my narrative often wanders wide from the limits of our own country, since I design this as a compendium of many histories, although, with a view to the larger portion of it, I have entitled it a History of the Kings of England.

Late Medieval Books, William of Malmesbury Preface

The history of the English, from their arrival in Britain to his own times, has been written by Bede, a man of singular learning and modesty, in a clear and captivating style. After him you will not, in my opinion, easily find any person who has attempted to compose in Latin the history of this people. Let others declare whether their researches in this respect have been, or are likely to be, more fortunate; my own labour, though diligent in the extreme, has, down to this period, been without its reward. There, are, indeed, some notices of antiquity, written in the vernacular tongue after the manner of a chronicle, [1] and arranged according to the years of our Lord. By means of these alone, the times succeeding this man have been rescued from oblivion: for of Elward, [2] a noble and illustrious man, who attempted to arrange these chronicles in Latin, and whose intention I could applaud if his language did not disgust me, it is better to be silent. Nor has it escaped my knowledge, that there is also a work of my Lord Eadmer, [3] written with a chastened elegance of style, in which, beginning from King Edgar, he has but hastily glanced at the times down to William the First: and thence, taking a freer range, gives a narrative, copious, and of great utility to the studious, until the death of Archbishop Ralph. [4] Thus from the time of Bede there is a period of two hundred and twenty-three years left unnoticed in his history; so that the regular series of time, unsupported by a connected relation, halts in the middle. This circumstance has induced me, as well out of love to my country, as respect for the authority of those who have enjoined on me the undertaking, to fill up the chasm, and to season the crude materials with Roman art. And that the work may proceed with greater regularity, I shall cull somewhat from Bede, whom I must often quote, glancing at a few facts, but omitting more.

Note 1. This alludes to those invaluable records, the Saxon Chronicles. These, as originally compiled, have been already published in the present Series of Monkish Historians.

Note 2. Elward, or Ethelwerd, was a noble Saxon, great-great-grandson of King Ethelred, brother of Alfred. He abridged and translated the Saxon Chronicle into Latin, published in the present Series. He lived apparently in the time of Edgar, towards the close of the tenth century.

Note 3. Eadmer, a monk and precentor of Christ-Church, Canterbury, and pupil of Archbishop Anselm, together with a variety of other works, wrote " Historia Novorum", or, a history of modern times, from A.D. 1066 to 1122.

Note 4. MS. Anselmi. Eadmer at first brought down his history to the death of Archbishop Anselm only, A.D. 1109, but afterwards continued it to the decease of Ralph, A.D. 1122.

The First Book, therefore, contains a succinct account of the English, from the time of their descent on Britain, till that of King Egbert, who, after the different Princes had fallen by various ways, gained the monarchy of almost the whole island.

But as among the English arose four powerful kingdoms, that is to say, of Kent, of the West Saxons, of the Northumbrians, and of the Mercians, of which I purpose severally to treat if I have leisure; I shall begin with that which attained the earliest to maturity, and was also the first to decay. This I shall do more clearly, if I place the kingdoms of the East Angles, and of the East Saxons, after the others, as little meriting either my labours, or the regard of posterity.

The Second Book will contain the chronological series of the Kings to the coming of the Normans.

The three following Books will be employed upon the history of three successive kings, with the addition of whatever, in their times, happened elsewhere, which, from its celebrity, may demand a more particular notice. This, then, is what I purpose, if the Divine favour shall smile on my undertaking, and carry me safely by those rocks of rugged diction, on which Elward, in his search after sounding and far-fetched phrases, so unhappily suffered shipwreck. "Should any one, however", to use the poet's expression, [1] "peruse this work with sensible delight", I deem it necessary to acquaint him, that I vouch nothing for the truth of long past transactions, but the consonance of the time; the veracity of the relation must rest with its authors. Whatever I have recorded of later times, I have either myself seen, or heard from credible authority. However, in either part, I pay but little respect to the judgment of my contemporaries: trusting that I shall gain with posterity, when love and hatred shall be no more, if not a reputation for eloquence, at least credit for diligence.

Late Medieval Books, William of Malmesbury Book 2

William of Malmesbury Book 2 Chapter 9

Of St. Edward king and martyr the son of Edgar. [A.D. 975-978.]

975In the year of our Lord 975, Edward (age 13) the son of Edgar (age 32) began to reign, and enjoyed the sovereignty for three years and a half. Dunstan (age 66), in common consent with the other bishops, elevated him to the royal dignity, in opposition, as it is said, to the will of some of the nobility, and of his stepmother (age 30); who was anxious to advance her son Ethelred (age 9), a child scarcely seven years of age, in order that herself might govern under colour of his name. Then, from the increasing malice of men, the happiness of the kingdom was impaired; then too, comets were seen, which were asserted certainly to portend either pestilence to the inhabitants, or a change in the government. Nor was it long ere there followed a scarcity of corn; famine among men; murrain among cattle; and an extraordinary accident at a royal town called Calne. For as soon as Edgar (age 32) was dead, the secular canons who had been for some time expelled their monasteries, rekindled the former feuds, alleging, that it was a great and serious disgrace, for new comers to drive the ancient inmates from their dwellings; that it could not be esteemed grateful to God, who had granted them their ancient habitations: neither could it be so to any considerate man, who might dread that injustice as likely to befall himself, which he had seen overtake others. Hence they proceeded to clamour and rage, and hastened to Dunstan (age 66); the principal people, as is the custom of the laity, exclaiming more especially, that the injury which the canons had wrongfully suffered, ought to be redressed by gentler measures. Moreover, one of them, Elferius, with more than common audacity, had even overturned almost all the monasteries which that highly revered monk Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester (age 71), had built throughout Mercia. On this account a full synod being convened, they first assembled at Winchester. What was the issue of the contest of that place, other writings declare;1 relating, that the image of our Saviour, speaking decidedly, confounded the canons and their party. But men's minds being not yet at rest on the subject, a council was called at Calne; where, when all the senators of England, the king being absent on account of his youth, had assembled in an upper chamber, and the business was agitated with much animosity and debate; while the weapons of harsh reproach were directed against that firmest bulwark of the church, I mean Dunstan (age 66), but could not shake it; and men of every rank were earnestly defending their several sides of the question; the floor with its beams and supporters gave way suddenly and fell to the ground. All fell with it except Dunstan (age 66), who alone escaped unhurt by standing on a single rafter which retained its position: the rest were either killed, or subjected to lasting infirmity. This miracle procured the archbishop peace on the score of the canons; all the English, both at that time and afterwards, yielding to his sentiments.

Note 1. When the question was agitated, whether the monks should be supported or the canons restored, the crucifix is said to have exclaimed, "Far be it from you: you have done well; to change again would be wrong". See Edmer, and Osberne, Angl. Sacra, ii. 219, 112.

18 Mar 978. Meanwhile king Edward (age 16) conducted himself with becoming affection to his infant brother (age 12) and his step-mother (age 33); he retained only the name of king, and gave them the power; following the footsteps of his father's piety, and giving both his attention and his heart to good council. The woman (age 33), however, with that hatred which a step-mother only can entertain, began to meditate a subtle stratagem, in order that not even the title of king might be wanting to her child, and to lay a treacherous snare for her son-in-law [step-son], which she accomplished in the following manner. He was returning home, tired with the chase and gasping with thirst from the exercise, while his companions were following the dogs in different directions as it happened, when hearing that they dwelt in a neighbouring mansion, the youth proceeded thither at full speed, unattended and unsuspecting, as he judged of others by his own feelings. On his arrival, alluring him to her with female blandishment, she made him lean forward, and after saluting him while he was eagerly drinking from the cup which had been presented, the dagger of an attendant pierced him through. Dreadfully wounded, with all his remaining strength he clapped spurs to his horse in order to join his companions; when one foot slipping, he was dragged by the other through the trackless paths and recesses of the wood, while the streaming blood gave evidence of his death to his followers. Moreover, they then commanded him to be ingloriously interred at Wareham; envying him even holy ground when dead, as they had envied him his royal dignity while living. They now publicly manifested their extreme joy as if they had buried his memory with his body; but God's all-seeing eye was there, who ennobled the innocent victim by the glory of miracles. So much is human outweighed by heavenly judgment. For there lights were shown from above; there the lame walked; there the dumb resumed his fticulty of speech; there every malady gave way to health. The fame of this pervading all England, proclaimed the merits of the martyr. The murderess excited by it, attempted a progress thither; and was already urging forward the horse slie had mounted, when she perceived the manifest anger of God; for the same creature which she had heretofore constantly ridden, and which was used to outstrip the very wind in speed, now by command of God, stood motionless. The attendants, both with whips and clamours, urged him forward that he might carry his noble mistress with his usual readiness; but their labour was in vain. They changed the horse; and the same circumstance recurred. Her obdurate heart, though late, perceived the meaning of the miracle; wherefore, what she was not herself permitted to do, she suffered to be performed by another: for that Elferius, whom I before blamed for destroying the monasteries, repenting of his rashness, and being deeply distressed in mind, took up the sacred corpse from its unworthy burial-place, and paid it just and distinguished honours at Shaftesbury [Map]. He did not escape unpunished, however, for, within a year afterwards, he was eaten of the vermin which we call lice. Moreover, since a mind unregulated is a torment to itself, and a restless spirit endures its own peculiar punishment in this life, Elfthrida declining from her regal pride, became extremely penitent; so that at Werewell [Map], for many years, she clothed her pampered body in hair-cloth, slept at night upon the ground without a pillow; and mortified her flesh with every kind of penance. She was a beautiful woman; singularly faithful to her husband; but deserving punishment from the commission of so great a crime. It is believed and commonly reported, that from her violence to Edward, the country for a long time after groaned under the yoke of barbarian servitude.

975. At Shaftesbury [Map], truly shines a splendid proof of royal sanctity; for to his merit must it be attributed, that there a numerous choir of women dedicated to God, not only enlighten those parts with the blaze of their religion, but even reach the very heavens. There reside sacred virgins wholly unconscious of contamination, there, continent widows, ignorant of a second flame after the extinction of the first; in all whose manner, graceful modesty is so blended with chastened elegance, that nothing can exceed it. Indeed it is matter of doubt which to applaud most, their assiduity in the service of God or their affability in their converse with men: hence assent is justly given to those persons who say that, the world, which has long tottered with the weight of its sins, is entirely supported by their prayers.

979. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 979, Ethelred (age 13), son of Edgar and Elfthrida (age 34), obtaining the kingdom, occupied, rather than governed it for thirty-seven years. The career of his life is said to have been cruel in the beginning, wretched in the middle, and disgraceful in the end. Thus, in the murder to which he gave his concurrence, he was cruel; base in his flight, and effeminacy; miserable in his death. Dunstan (age 70), indeed, had foretold his worthlessness, having discovered it by a very filthy token: for when quite an infant, the bishops standing round, as he was immersed in the baptismal font, he defiled the sacrament by a natural evacuation: at which Dunstan (age 70), being extremely angered, exclaimed, "By God, and his mother, this will be a sorry fellow". I have read, that when he was ten years of age, hearing it noised abroad that his brother was killed, he so irritated his furious mother (age 34) by his weeping, that not having a whip at hand, she beat the little innocent with some candles she had snatched up: nor did she desist, till herself bedewed him, nearly lifeless, with her tears. On this account he dreaded candles during the rest of his life, to such a degree that he would never suffer the light of them to be brought into his presence. The nobility being assembled by the contrivance of his mother, and the day appointed for Dunstan (age 70), in right of his see, to crown him, he, though he might be ill-affected to them, forbore to resist, being a prelate of mature age, and long versed in secular matters. But, when placing the crown on his head he could not refrain from giving vent with a loud voice, to that prophetic spirit which he had so deeply imbibed. "Since", said he, "thou hast aspired to the kingdom by the death of thy brother, hear the word of God; thus saith the Lord God: the sin of thy abandoned mother (age 34), and of the accomplices of her base design, shall not be washed out but by much blood of the wretched inhabitants; and such evils shall come upon the English nation as they have never suffered from the time they came to England until then". Nor was it long after, that is, in his third year, that seven piratical vessels came to Southampton, a port near Winchester, and having ravaged the coast fled back to the sea: this I think right to mention because many reports are circulated among the English, concerning these vessels.

After 979. A quarrel between the king (age 13) and the bishop of Rochester had arisen from some unknown cause; in consequence of which he led an army against that city. It was signified to him by the archbishop, that he should desist from his fury, and not irritate St. Andrew, under whose guardianship that bishopric was; for as he was ever ready to pardon, so was he equally formidable to avenge. This simple message being held in contempt, he graced the intimation with money, and sent him a hundred pounds, as a bribe, that he should raise the siege and retire. He therefore took the money, retreated, and dismissed his army. Dunstan (age 70), astonished at his avarice, sent messengers to him with the following words, "Since you have preferred silver to God, money to the apostle, and covetousness to me; the evils which God has pronounced will shortly come upon you; but they will not come while I live, for this also hath God spoken". Soon after the death of this holy man, which was in the tenth year of his reign, the predictions speedily began to be fulfilled, and the prophecies to have their consummation. For the Danes infested every port, and made descents on all sides with great activity, so that it was not known where they could be opposed. But Siric, the second archbishop after Dunstan (age 70), advised that money should repel those whom the sword could not: thus a payment of ten thousand pounds satisfied the avarice of the Danes. This was an infamous precedent, and totally unworthy the character of men, to redeem liberty, which no violence can ever extirpate from a noble mind, by money. They now indeed abstained a short time from their incursions; but as soon as their strength was recruited by rest, they returned to their old practices. Such extreme fear had seized the English, that there was no thought of resistance: if any indeed, mindful of their ancient glory, made an attempt to oppose, or engage them, they were unsuccessful, from the multitude of their enemies, and the desertion of their allies. The leader of revolt was one Elfric, whom the king had appointed to command the fleet: he, instead of trying his fortune, as he ought, in a naval conflict, went over, on the night preceding the battle, a base deserter to the enemy, whom he had apprised, by messengers, what preparations to make; and though the king, for this perfidious crime, ordered his son's eyes to be put out, yet he returned again, and again deserted. All Northumbria being laid waste, the enemy was met in battle and worsted. London was besieged, but honourably defended by its citizens. In consequence, the besiegers, after suffering severely and despairing of taking the city, retired; and devastating the whole province to the eastward, compelled the king to pay a sum of money amounting to sixteen thousand pounds. Moreover, hostages being given, he caused their king Anlaf to come to him, stood for him at the font, and soothing him with royal munificence, bound him by an oath that he should never return into England again. The evil however was not thus put to rest. For they could never provide against their enemies from Denmark, springing up afresh, like the heads of the hydra. The province in the west of England, called Devonshire, was laid waste; the monasteries destroyed; and the city of Exeter set on fire: Kent was given up to plunder; the metropolitan city and seat of the patriarchs, burnt; the holy patriarch himself, the most reverend Elphege (age 26), carried away and bound in chains: and at last, when required to plunder his tenants in order to ransom himself, and refusing to do so, he was stoned, struck with a hatchet, and glorified heaven with his soul. After he was murdered, God exalted him; insomuch, that when the Danes, who had been instrumental to his death, saw that dead wood besmeared with his blood miraculously grew green again in one night, they ran eagerly to kiss his remains, and to bear them on their shoulders. Thus they abated their usual pride, and suffered his sacred corpse to be carried to London. There it was honorably buried; and when taken up, ten years afterwards, free from every taint of corruption, it conferred honour on his cathedral at Canterbury.1 To the present moment both its blood remains fresh, and its soundness unimpaired, and it is considered a miracle, that a carcass should be divested of life, and yet not decay. That I may not be tedious in mentioning severally all the provinces which the Danes laid waste, let it be briefly understood, that out of thirty-two counties, which are reckoned in England, they had already overrun sixteen; the names of which I forbear to enumerate on account of the harshness of the language. In the meantime, the king, admirably calculated for sleeping, did nothing but postpone and hesitate, and if ever he recovered his senses enough to raise himself upon his elbow, he quickly relapsed into his original wretchedness, either from the oppression of indolence, or the adverseness of fortune. His brother's ghost also, demanding dire expiation, tormented him.

Note 1. The life of Elphege, by Osberne, is in the Anglia Sacra, ii. 122.

Who can tell how often he collected his army? how often he ordered ships to be built? how frequently he called out commanders from all quarters? and yet nothing was ever effected. For the army, destitute of a leader and ignorant of military discipline, either retreated before it came into action, or else was easily overcome. The presence of the leader is of much avail in battle; courage manifested by him avails also; experience, and more especially, discipline avail much; and as I have said, the want of these, in an army, must be an irreparable injury to its countrymen, as well as a pitiable object of contempt to an enemy. For soldiers are a kind of men, who, if not restrained before the battle, are eager to plunder; and if not animated during it, are prone to flight. When the ships, built for the defence of the sea-coast, were lying at anchor, a tempest suddenly arising dashed them together, and rendered them useless by the destruction of their tackling: a few, fitted from the wrecks of the others, were, by the attack of one Wulnod, whom the king had banished, either sunk, or burnt, and consequently disappointed the expectations of all England. The commanders, if ever they met to confer, immediately chose different sides, and rarely or never united in one good plan; for they gave more attention to private quarrels, than to public exigences: and, if in the midst of pressing danger, they had resolved on any eligible secret design, it was immediately communicated to the Danes by traitors. For besides Elfric, the successor of Elfere who had murdered the late king, there was one Edric, a man infamously skilled in such transactions, whom the king had made governor of the Mercians. This fellow was the refuse of mankind, the reproach of the English; an abandoned glutton, a cunning miscreant; who had become opulent, not by nobility, but by specious language and impudence. This artful dissembler, capable of feigning anything, was accustomed, by pretended fidelity, to scent out the king's designs, that he might treacherously divulge them. Often, when despatched to the enemy as the mediator of peace, he inflamed them to battle. His perfidy was sufficiently conspicuous in this king's reign, but much more so in the next; of which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

Ulfkytel, earl of the East Angles, was the only person who, at that time, resisted the invaders with any degree of spirit; insomuch that although the enemy had nominally the victory, yet the conquerors suffered much more than the conquered:1 nor were the barbarians ashamed to confess this truth, while they so frequently bewailed that victory. The valour of the earl was more conspicuously eminent, after the death of Ethelred, in that battle which mowed down the whole flower of the province; where, when he was surrounded from the rear, deeming it disgraceful to fly, he gave fresh confidence to the king by his blood; but this happened some time after.2 At this juncture, that the measure of king Ethelred's misery might be full, a famine ravaged all England, and those whom war had spared perished from want. The enemy over-ran the country with such freedom, that they would carry off their booty to their ships through a space of fifty miles, without fearing any resistance from the inhabitants. In the midst of these pressing evils, the expedient of buying off hostilities by money was again debated and adopted; for first twenty-four, and soon after, thirty thousand pounds were given to the Danes: with what advantage, succeeding times will show. To me, indeed, deeply reflecting upon the subject, it seems wonderful, how a man, as we have been taught to suppose, neither very foolish, nor excessively heartless, should pass his life in the wretched endurance of so many calamities. Should any one ask me the reason of this, I could not easily answer, except by saying, that the revolt of the generals proceeded from the haughtiness of the king. Their perfidy has been spoken of before: I now hasten to instances of his violence, which was so intolerable, that he spared not even his own relations.

Note 1. Ulfkytel attacked the Danes near Thetford, A.D. 1004, and though compelled to retreat, yet occasioned so severe a loss to the enemy, that they are said to have acknowledged that they had never endured a more powerful attack. See Flor. Wigorn., and the Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1004.

Note 2. At Assingdon in Essex, A.D. 1016.

13 Nov 1002. For, besides the English, whom he King Æthelred (age 36) despoiled of their hereditary possessions without any cause, or defrauded of their property for supposititious crimes: besides the Danes, whom, from light suspicion only, he ordered to be all butchered [St. Brice's Day Massacre] on the same day throughout England; which was a dreadful spectacle to behold; each one compelled to betray his dearest guests, now become dearer from the tenderest connexions of affinity, and to cut short their embraces with the sword: yet besides all this, I say, he was so inconstant towards his wife [Emma aka Ælfgyfu of Normandy Queen Consort England (age 17)], that he scarcely deigned her his bed, and degraded the royal dignity by his intercourse with harlots. She too, a woman, conscious of her high descent, became indignant at her husband, as she found herself endeared to him neither by her blameless modesty nor her fruitfulness; for she had borne him two children, Elfred and Edward. She was the daughter of Richard, earl of Normandy, the son of William, who, after his father, presided over that earldom for fifty-two years, and died in the twenty-eighth year of this king. He lies at the monastery of Fescamp, which he augmented with certain revenues, and which he adorned with a monastic order, by means of William, formerly abbat of Dijon. Richard was a distinguished character, and had also often harassed Ethelred: which, when it became known at Rome, the holy see, not enduring that two Christians should be at enmity, sent Leo, bishop of Treves, into England, to restore peace: the epistle describing this legation was as follows:- "John the fifteenth, pope of the holy Roman church, to all faithful people, health. Be it known to all the faithful of the holy mother church, and our children spiritual and secular, dispersed through the several climates of the world, that inasmuch as we had been informed by many of the enmity between Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and Richard the marquis, and were grieved sorely at this, on account of our spiritual children; taking, therefore, wholesome counsel, we summoned one of our legates, Leo, bishop of the holy church of Treves, and sent him with our letters, admonishing them, that they should return from their ungodliness. He, passing vast spaces, at length crossed the sea, and, on the day of the Lord's nativity, came into the presence of the said king; whom, having saluted on our part, he delivered to him the letters we had sent. And all the faithful people of his kingdom, and senators of either order, being summoned, he granted, for love and fear of God Almighty, and of St. Peter, the chief of the apostles, and on account of our paternal admonition, the firmest peace for all his sons and daughters, present and future, and all his faithful people, without deceit. On which account he sent Edelsin, prelate of the holy church of Sherborne, and Leofstan, son of Alfwold, and Edelnoth, son of Wulstan, who passed the maritime boundaries, and came to Richard, the said marquis. He, peaceably receiving our admonitions, and hearing the determination of the said king, readily confirmed the peace for his sons and daughters, present and future, and for all his faithful people, with this reasonable condition, that if any of their subjects, or they themselves, should commit any injustice against each other, it should be duly redressed; and that peace should remain for ever unshaken and confirmed by the oath of both parties: on the part of king Ethelred, to wit, Edelsin, prelate of the holy church of Sherborne; Leofstan, the son of Alfwold; Edelnoth, the son of Wulstan. On the part of Richard, Roger, the bishop; Rodolph, son of Hugh; Truteno, the son of Thurgis. "Done at Rouen, on the kalends of March, in the year of our Lord 991, the fourth of the indiction. Moreover, of the king's subjects, or of his enemies, let Richard receive none, nor the king of his, without their respective seals".

After the death of this John, Gregory succeeded; after whom came John XVI.; then Silvester, also called Gerbert, about whom it will not be absurd, in my opinion, if I commit to writing those facts which are generally related about him. [1] Born in Gaul, from a lad he grew up a monk at Flory; afterwards, when he arrived at the double path of Pythagoras, [2] either disgusted at a monastic life or seized by lust of glory, he fled by night into Spain, chiefly designing to learn astrology and other sciences of that description from the Saracens. Spain, formerly for many years possessed by the Romans, in the time of the emperor Honorius, fell under the power of the Goths. The Goths were Arians down to the days of St. Gregory, when that people were united to the Catholic church by Leander bishop of Seville, and by king Recared, brother of Hermengildus, [3] whom his father slew on Easter night for professing the true faith.

Note 1. In several of the manuscripts there is an omission of several words which has made nonsense of the whole paragraph. Its restoration is due to Mr. Hardy, in whose edition of William of Malmesbury it is given correctly from MS. authority.

Note 2. That is, when he had attained that age when a man settles, or chooses his future line of conduct; or, to years of discretion. This Pythagoras represented by the form of the letter Y, or the Greek gamma.

Note 3. Hermenegild the eldest son of Leovigild. He was invested by his father with the royal diadem and the principality of Boetica, and contracted an alliance with Ingundis, daughter of Sigebert, king of Austrasia. Ingundis was persecuted, and at length killed by her husband's mother, on account of her Catholic faith. Leander, archbishop of Seville, easily persuaded Hermenegild to resent the treatment of his bride, and assisted him in an attempt to dethrone his father. Hermenegild was taken and sentenced to death for his rebellion. The inflexible constancy, with which he refused to accept the Arian communion, from which he had been converted by Leander, as the price of his safety, procured for him the honour of being enrolled among the saints of the Romish church.- Hardy.

To Leander succeeded Isidore,1 celebrated for learning and sanctity, whose body purchased, for its weight in gold, Aldefonsus king of Gallicia in our times conveyed to Toledo. The Saracens, who had subjugated the Goths, being conquered in their turn by Charles the Great, lost Gallicia and Lusitania, the largest provinces of Spain; but to this day they possess the southern parts. As the Christians esteem Toledo, so do they hold Hispalis, which in common they call Seville, to be the capital of the kingdom; there practising divinations and incantations, after the usual mode of that nation. Gerbert then, as I have related, coming among these people, satisfied his desires. There he surpassed Ptolemy with the astrolabe,2 and Alcandraeus in astronomy, and Julius Firmicus in judicial astrology; there he learned what the singing and the flight of birds portended; there he acquired the art of calling up spirits from hell: in short, whatever, hurtful or salutary, human curiosity has discovered. There is no necessity to speak of his progress in the lawful sciences of arithmetic and astronomy, music and geometry, which he imbibed so thoroughly as to show they were beneath his talents, and which, with great perseverance, he revived in Gaul, where they had for a long time been wholly obsolete. Being certainly the first who seized on the abacus3 from the Saracens, he gave rules which are scarcely understood even by laborious computers. He resided with a certain philosopher of that sect, whose good will he had obtained, first by great liberality, and then by promises. The Saracen had no objection to sell his knowledge; he frequently associated with him; would talk with him of matters at times serious, at others trivial, and lend him books to transcribe. There was however one volume, containing the knowledge of his whole art, which he could never by any means entice him to lend. In consequence Gerbert was inflamed with anxious desire to obtain this book at any rate, "for we ever press more eagerly towards what is forbidden, and that which is denied is always esteemed most valuable". [1] Trying, therefore, the effect of entreaty, he besought him for the love of God, and by his friendship; offered him many things, and promised him more. When this failed he tried a nocturnal stratagem. He plied him with wine, and, with the help of his daughter, who connived at the attempt through the intimacy which Gerbert's attentions had procured, stole the book from under his pillow and fled. Waking suddenly, the Saracen pursued the fugitive by the direction of the stars, in which art he was well versed. The fugitive too, looking back, and discovering his danger by means of the same art, hid himself under a wooden bridge which was near at hand; clinging to it, and hanging in such a manner as neither to touch earth nor water. [2] In this manner the eagerness of the pursuer being eluded, he returned home. Gerbert, then quickening his pace, arrived at the sea-coast. Here, by his incantations, he called up the devil, and made an agreement with him to be under his dominion for ever, if he would defend him from the Saracen, who was again pursuing, and transport him to the opposite coast: this was accordingly done.

Note 1. Isidore was bishop of Seville in the sixth century.

Note 2. An instrument for making celestial observations. The reader who is conversant with the Arabian Nights' Entertainments will remember its being frequently mentioned in that amusing book.

Note 3. The abacus was a counting table: here it seems used metaphorically for arithmetic, Gerbert having written a treatise on arithmetic with that title. The authors of the Hist. Litt. de la France, t. vi. understand him literally, as stealing a book containing the principles of the science, and then confound this supposed book with the conjuring treatise mentioned below. They also seem very much displeased with Malmesbury for relating these tales of their countryman, and attribute them to cardinal Benno; but there is nothing of this kind in his work published by Goldastus, and in Brown's Fasciculus, t. i.

William of Malmesbury Book 8 Chapter 1

William the Conqueror's tomb and epitaph - William Rufus crowned - Robert succeeds as duke of Normandy - His feeble character - The Norman barons become turbulent - Odo, bishop of Bayeux, his character and acts - Robert sells the Cotentin to his brother prince Henry.

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 1087, [1] the tenth indiction, William the Bastard, king of England, died at Rouen on the fifth of the ides [9th] September, and his remains were interred at Caen, in the church of St. Stephen, the proto-martyr. His son Robert then became, in name at least, duke of Normandy and lord of Maine, but abandoning himself to sloth and indulgence, his government was never remarkable for virtue and justice. William Rufus delivered his father's letter [2] to Archbishop Lanfranc, on perusing which that prelate hastened with the young prince to London, and crowned him in the old church of St. Peter the apostle, called Westminster, on the feast of St. Michael. His reign lasted twelve years and ten months; [3] and, as to the affairs of this world, he endeavoured to follow his father's example in some things, being distinguished for his valour and secular magnificence, while he was but too prone to pride, lust, and other vices. But he had but scanty zeal for the worship of God and frequenting the services of the church.

Note 1. The Paris edition (1845) of Ordericus gives the date in the text as 1082; but it is probably a misprint, as the learned editor, in a note in the same page, fixes the accession of William Rufus in 1087, which is the true date of the death of William the conqueror. The text of Duchesne, and the French edition published in 1826, give it correctly.

Note 2. See before. p. 414.

Note 3. September 24, 1087-August 2, 1100.

He delivered to Otho the goldsmith [1] a large quantity of gold, silver, and precious stones, ordering him to erect a monument of extraordinary magnificence over his father's tomb. Accordingly, in obedience to the royal commands, he executed the work in an admirable manner, and the tomb may be now seen resplendent with gold, silver, and gems. Skilful versifiers have composed a number of noble and elegant poems on this great man, whose life furnished so copious a theme for their poetical genius, but I shall only insert the epitaph written by Thomas, archbishop of York, [2] out of respect for his metropolitan dignity.

Here WILLIAM, greatest of his princely race,

A home, a tomb, finds in this narrow space.

Him the fierce Normans faithful homage paid,

And lordly Maine his stern commands obeyed;

But mightier still, he England's sceptre swayed,

The glorious prize, when Senlac's bloody field [3]

Saw her brave sons before the Conqueror yield.

When seventeen days his course the August sun [4]

'Mid the bright Virgin's stars his course had run,

To Him who rules on high he bowed his head,

And the proud king was numbered with the dead. [5]

Note 1. This person is mentioned in Domesday-book, among the king's gold-smiths, as Otto Aurifaber. His son William was living in 1130.

Note 2. Thomas, Archbishop of York (August, 1070-November 18, 1100), was a native of Bayeux, and brother of Samson, bishop of Worcester.

Note 3. The reader will have observed that this is the name invariably given by our author to the battle of Hastings.

Note 4. The verse in the original gives the date ter septem atque duobus, but William died on the 9th of September, which corresponds with the seventeenth, not the twenty-third degree, of the constellation of the Virgin.

Note 5. The magnificent tomb erected, as our author relates, by William Rufus over the Conqueror's grave, was destroyed, the grave broken open and the bones scattered, by the Huguenots in 1562. It was again opened by the prefect Cafarelli in 1793, after having escaped the ravages of the revolutionists. The stone coffin then contained some fragments of bones, which fell to dust, and one thigh-bone, which was re-interred. A grey marble slob in the pavement before the high altar, with a simple inscription, now marks the spot.

Many of the Norman nobility died the same year as their sovereign. During his last illness his cousin Gilbert d'Aufay, [1] son of Robert de Hougleville, a worthy and simple-minded man, paid the debt of nature on the nineteenth of the calends of September [August 14], and was interred in the church of St. Mary, which he had endowed for the maintenance of six monks of the abbey of St. Evroult. Four years afterwards the pious lady, his wife Beatrix, [2] was also buried there on the second of the nones [9th] of January. At the death of their duke many of the Normans were plunged into grief, if not for him, at least for their friends and relations who died about the same period, among whom were Simon de Montfort, [3] son-in-law of Richard, Count d'Evreux, Hugh Paganel, [4] Hugh, son of Hugh de Grantmesnil, [5] a young man of distinguished bravery, and his cousin Robert de Rhuddlan, [6] William d'Avranches, [7] son of Witmond, [8] with many other men of eminence. Happy those who, departing thus opportunely, were spared the pain of seeing their country desolated and having no protector!

Note 1. See before, p. 262.

Note 2. See ibid.

Note 3. Simon de Montfort, father of Amauri de Montfort, who inherited the county of Evroux after his uncle William's death. Our author has already related that this marriage was effected by carrying off in the night Agnes d'Evreux, with the aid of Ralph, lord of Conches, her half-brother, and Simon's brother-in-law.

Note 4. William Paganel, lord of Montiers-Hubert, which is supposed to have been the original seat of this ancient family, and not their estates in the Cotentin. William was probably the eldest brother of Ralph Paganel, sheriff of Yorkshire, who possessed forty-five lordships at the time Domesday-book was made and founded the priory of the Holy Trinity at York in the reign of William Rufus. Fulk, the founder of the family of the Paganels of Dudley, who was living in 1130, was grandson of this William.

Ralph Paganel had a son also named William, whose daughter was married first to Richard de Courci, and secondly to Robert de Gant. His eldest son, Alexander, was the founder of the family of the Paganels of Hooton in Yorkshire.

William Paganel (II.) also held the lordships of Drax, West-Rasen, etc., by grant from the king. He died about 1150, leaving four children, the eldest of whom received from Henry II., then count of Anjou and duke of Normandy, all his father's barony in Normandy and England, except Brehal. From this Hugh descended the branch who were lords of West-Rasen in Lincolnshire, who lost their family estate of Montiers in the time of Philip Augustus; and from Fulk, his eldest brother, those of the Paganels of Hamby, lords of Drax. Having settled in Normandy, and entirely attached himself to the kings of France, Drax was taken from him and given to Hugh Paganel, to indemnify him for the loss of Montiers.

Note 4. Hugh, third son of Hugh de Grantmesnil. It will appear hereafter that this young nobleman was buried at St. Evroult.

Note 5. Robert de Rhuddlan will be spoken of in the third chapter of the present book.

Note 6. William d'Avranches was son of Guitmond, lord of Haie-Painel. He married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin de Meules, and granddaughter of Gilbert, lord of Sap and Meules, and sheriff of Devonshire. She brought him the estate of Dolton in that county. William d'Avranches was lord of Folkstone in Kent, which remained in the possession of his male heirs until the beginning of the thirteenth century. At this time it passed by marriage to the family of Crevecoeur. William's son, Robert d'Avranches, was living in 1130. Besides his daughter, married to William Paganel, he had a natural daughter, afterwards legitimated, who was called Matilda d'Avranches, who brought to Robert, the bastard son of Henry I. (and earl of Gloucester), one half of the lordships of Sap and Meules. This family of Avranches must not be confounded with that of the viscounts d'Avranches, earls of Chester.

Note 7. This note doesn't appear in the text??

At that time affairs in Normandy suffered a great revolution; the unarmed population shuddered with alarm, while the powerful gave full vent to their towering ambition without any check. Robert de Belesme [1] had been on his way to court to confer with the king on urgent affairs, but on arriving at the gate of Brionne he learnt the king's death. Thereupon he immediately turned his horse round, and hastening to Alencon [2] took the royal garrison by surprise and drove them out of the castle. He did the same at Belesme and all his other strongholds, and not only in his own, but in those of such of his neighbours as he condescended to consider as his equals. All these he either got into his power by introducing his own adherents, or razed to the ground to prevent their offering him any resistance thereafter. William, Count d'Evreux, also expelled the royal warders from the keep of his castle, and William de Breteuil, Ralph de Conches, and all the rest, got their fortresses into their own hands, so that every one might be able to prosecute with impunity his infernal feuds against his neighbours, and those whose territories bordered on his own. In this manner the Norman lords drove out the royal garrisons from their castles, and alternately ravaged the country, which was rich and flourishing, with bands of their own retainers. The wealth which had been plundered from the English and other nations was thus deservedly lost by rapine and violence.

Note 1. Robert became count de Belesme (the second of his name) on the death of his mother, the countess Mabel, so often mentioned by our author, although his father, Roger de Montgomery, was still living, and did not die till 1094.

Note 2. In the middle ages there were two roads from Alencon to Rouen, one by Bernai and Brionne, the other by Orbec and Pontaudemer. Robert de Belesme probably chose the former, as the shortest, and passing by Bernai, his father's domain.

All the world knew that the Duke Robert was sunk in sloth and carelessness, so that he was despised by men of enterprise who fomented traitorous insurrections at their pleasure. The duke was personally brave and daring, and had many merits; was a good speaker, but inconsiderate in conducting his affairs, profuse in spending, and liberal in his promises, while no dependence could be placed upon them; he was compassionate to those who implored his mercy, but too gentle and easy in executing justice on offenders; changeable in his resolutions, and too affable and condescending in his general behaviour, he was held in contempt by the evil-minded and those who wanted discretion; his figure was short and corpulent, from which his father gave him the surname of Curt-hose. Endeavouring to please all, he gave, promised, or yielded, what every one asked. His prodigality led him daily to lessen the domains of his ancestors, absurdly granting whatever was demanded of him, so that he impoverished himself while he augmented the power of others to injure him. He gave to William de Breteuil, Ivri, where there is a well-fortified castle, erected by his grandmother Alberede; [1] and he granted to Roger de Beaumont, who had the custody of Ivri, under King William, Brionne, a strong fortress in the heart of his territories.

Note 1. Alberede, wife of Ralph, count of Ivri and Bayeux, and half-brother of Richard I.

Odo, bishop of Bayeux, being released from prison, regained all his former possessions in Normandy, and became the counsellor of the young duke, his nephew. This prelate was a person of distinguished eloquence and high spirit; he was liberal, and his bravery would have become a secular man: but he treated men of religion with great respect, protecting his clergy resolutely both by word and arms, and enriching the churches with valuable ornaments wherever they were needed. The buildings he erected are proof this, with the splendid vessels and vestments in gold and silver which his liberality furnished fbr the use of the churches and clergy. His near relationship to Duke William procured for him the bishopric of Bayeux while he was very young, and he was actively employed during the fifty years he held it. [1] The spirit had a praiseworthy pre-eminence in some parts of his conduct, in others the flesh was sadly predominant over the spirit. Led away by carnal passions, he had a son named John, who is now about the court of King Henry, [2] where he is eminent for his eloquence and virtues. But while, in some things, Bishop Odo lent himself to worldly vanities, externally he did much for the advantage of the church. He laid the foundations of the church of St. Mary, mother of God, and completed it in a beautiful style of architecture, amply providing it with wealth and ornaments. [3] He established monks in the church of St. Vigor, [4] bishop of Bayeux, which stands outside the city walls, and appointed, as their superior, Robert de Tombelaine, a pious and learned man, who, among other monuments of his ability, has left the church a short and clear, but profound, commentary on the Canticles. After Bishop Odo was thrown into prison, Abbot Robert, abandoning all, went into foreign countries, and arriving at Rome, was detained by Pope Gregory VII. who paid him great respect, and he served the Roman church faithfully until his death. [5] The bishop who founded it being in confinement, and the abbot detained in Italy, the newly formed convent of monks dispersed, and each one settling himself where he could, they never returned to that monastery.

Note 2. It appears, therefore, that this chapter was written before the death of Henry I., which occurred in 1135.

Note 1. Odo was not preferred to the see of Bayeux until the death of his predecessor, which occurred while he was attending the Council of Rheims in October, 1049. Odo himself died at Palermo in February, 1097.

Note 3. All the upper part of this church was destroyed by fire by Henry I. in 1106. The crypt under the choir is, perhaps, the only part of the original church built by Bishop Odo, which now remains. It is supported on twelve pillars with rude capitals. The west end of the nave of the present edifice consists of florid Norman arches and pillars, attributed to Henry II., but which M. Le Prevost considers to be part of Bishop Odo's building. The end nearest the transept, and the choir, were built in the pointed style by Bishop Henry de Beaumont in 1205.

Note 4. This foundation was made in 1066. Odo took Robert de Tombelaine, as well as five other monks, from the abbey of Mont St. Michael, making him abbot of the new foundation. Tombelaine is a rock near the former abbey, standing in the middle of the sands, and surrounded by the sea at high tides. There are still some ruins of the houses and castle which were in existence as late as the fifteenth century.

Note 5. For the life and works of Robert de Tombelaine, see L'Histoire Litteraire de France, t. viii. p. 334, etc. It is not certain that he resided at Rome till his death, as our author states. It is believed, on the contrary (Gall. Christ. t. xi. p. 404), that having lost his patron, Gregory VII., he returned to Mont St. Michael, and there spent the rest of his days.

In the end, Bishop Odo gave it to Jarenton, abbot of Dijon, and it continues to this day to be a cell of the monks of that abbey. [1] It is thus plain that the prelate of whom I am speaking had a strong regard for the monastic order. He also sent intelligent young clerks to Liege and other places where he knew that the study of philosophy flourished most, making them liberal allowances for their maintenance, that they might, uninterruptedly and for a long period, employ themselves in the pursuit of learning. [2] Among the scholars he thus supplied with the means of education were Thomas, archbishop of York, [3] and his brother Samson, [4] bishop of Worcester, William de Roos, [5] abbot of Fecamp, and Thurstan, abbot of Glastonbury, with many others who flourished during my time in the church of God, and largely profited the flocks committed to their charge with the excellence of their teaching, and the example of their eminent virtues. In this manner, although Bishop Odo was deeply entangled in secular affairs, much that was laudable mixed itself with his evil deeds, and what he iniquitously amassed was freely bestowed on the churches and the poor. At length, by the will of God, he left all in the year of our Lord 1096, the fourth indiction, and accompanied his nephew, Duke Robert, in his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as, with God's permission, we shall more particularly relate hereafter. He died at Palermo in the presence of Gilbert, bishop of Evreux; his body was interred in the church of St. Mary, where Roger, count of Sicily, [7] caused a splendid tomb to be erected for him.

Note 1. The two charters, one of Bishop Odo and the other of Duke Robert, creating and confirming this foundation, are both dated in 1096, in the eighteenth and nineteenth years of Robert's reign. The date is curious, because it shows that Robert assumed that he was invested with the dukedom as far back as 1077, and consequently before the siege of Gerberoi.

Note 2. Here again the parallel features in the characters of Odo and Wolsey, to which we have before drawn attention, become apparent; witness the latter's foundation of Christ Church, Oxford, etc.

Note 3. See note before, p. 425.

Note 4. Samson was bishop of Worcester, June 15, 1097-May 5, 1112.

Note 5. William de Roos, abbot of Fecamp, 1079-March 24, 1108.

Note 6. Thurstan, abbot of Glastonbury in 1081, was compelled to return to Normandy in consequence of his violence to the monks in 1083. See before, p. 52, and Malmsbury, p. 308, Bohn's Antiq. Lib.

Note 7. Roger I., count of Sicily, 1072-July, 1101.

Robert, duke of Normandy, distributed his wealth among his knights with a liberal hand, attaching to his person a number of young aspirants to arms who coveted his favour and rewards. His treasury beginning to fail, he sent to his brother Henry, requesting a supply from his abundant wealth - a demand Henry was by no means disposed to grant. The duke then sent word that he was ready to sell him a part of his territories; and when Henry understood this, he was most ready to comply with his brother's proposal. Terms were therefore concluded between them, by which Henry paid the duke three thousand pounds of silver, and received in exchange the whole of the district of the Cotentin, which is a third of all Normandy. [1] In this way Henry first obtained Avranches and Coutances, Mont St. Michael-in-peril-of-the-Sea, and the entire of the lordship which Hugh, earl of Chester, held in Normandy. Prince Henry governed the Cotentin discreetly, and employed his early years in worthy pursuits. From his very childhood, his parents had devoted him to the study of letters, and he became admirably imbued with the knowledge both of moral and natural philosophy. Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, as soon as the young prince was of a fitting age, armed him for the defence of the kingdom, clothing him with a breastplate, putting a helmet on his head, and giving him the belt of knighthood, in the name of the Lord, as the king's son, and born on the steps of the throne. [2] During the twelve years of the reign of William Rufus in England, Henry had an active life with various changes of fortune, and acquired experience, both from prosperity and adversity. At length, on his brother's death, he ascended the throne, which he has now filled nearly thirty-three years. [3] It is my purpose, with God's permission, if my life is spared, to give an account of his life and actions in their proper place. I now return to the course of my narrative, and shall instruct posterity in the history of my own times.

Note 1. Avranches, being a part of the ceded territory, must be added, as well as the lordship of Vire, which belonged of right to the earl of Chester. But even with these additions, the statement that the Cotentin formed a third of Normandy is an exaggeration.

Note 2. This passage can only mean that Archbishop Lanfranc, as Prince Henry's tutor, presented him for knighthood. It was conferred upon him by the king his father, while he held his court at Westminster, in 1086 (not Winchester, 1087, as the French editor states). See Saxon Chronicle.

Note 3. This passage fixes the date at which this part of Ordericus's History was written as at the close of the year 1132, or the commencement of 1133.

William of Malmesbury Book 8 Chapter 2

The Norman lords in England league and revolt against William Rufus - Invite Robert Curthose - The insurrection breaks out in several counties - Siege of Rochester - Bishop Odo taken and banished.

IN the first year of the government of the two brothers, there was a meeting of the great men of both states, to consult among themselves on the circumstances in which they were placed by the division of the sovereignty formerly lodged in the same hands. "We are suddenly involved", they said, "in a serious difficulty, and threatened with a great diminution of our power and wealth. Hitherto we have maintained ourselves with honour, under illustrious dukes, in the possession of Normandy, which our ancestors who came with Rollo from Denmark, two hundred and twelve years ago, [1] gained with their daring valour. Afterwards we crossed the sea with Duke William, and subduing the Anglo-Saxons by the might of our arms, seized their lands and wealth, for which we freely shed our blood. Alas! we are now witnesses of a great revolution, and the sudden over-throw of our power. What are we to do? On the death of our old sovereign, he is succeeded by two young princes, and the dominion of England and Normandy is suddenly divided. How can we conveniently serve two lords so different and so remote from each other? If we do our duty to Robert, the duke of Normandy, we shall offend his brother William. It will follow that we shall forfeit our great revenues and high honours in England. On the other hand, if we keep our fealty to King William, Duke Robert will take from us our patrimonial estates in Normandy. It behoves us to avoid such a separation under these princes as occurred among the Israelites in the time of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Then one people was divided among itself between two rulers, and the law, the temple and the worship of God being neglected, fell into apostacy. At length one part of them were carried captives into Media by the Assyrians and never returned, and the rest underwent the Babylonish captivity under the Chaldeans. What happened to the Thebans under the two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices? Did not many thousands perish on both sides? At last both brothers fell in mutual encounter, and left the succession of their inheritance to strangers. It behoves us carefully to consider these and such-like instances, and to take prudent precautions that we may not be ruined by the policy of these youthful princes. Let us therefore enter into a firm and inviolable league, and having deposed King William or put him to death, as he is the youngest and most arrogant, and we owe him nothing, let us make Duke Robert, who is the elder brother, and of a more pliable temper, and to whom we have already sworn fealty during his father's life, [2] sovereign both of England and Normandy, that the union of the two states may be maintained.

Note 1. Our author adopts the opinion generally current in the middle ages of the settlement, or at least the first invasion, of Normandy by Rollo in 876.

Note 2. This fealty was probably sworn at the time from which Robert assumed his association with his father in the government of Normandy - 1077. The truth is, that although William nominated him his successor in the duchy before his invasion of England, he always resolutely withheld from him any share in the government. See his reply to the duke's demand to be invested in the duchy, pp. 171, 172 of the present volume.

This resolution was taken, with common consent, by Odo, bishop of Bayeux, Eustace, count of Boulogne, [1] Robert de Belesme, and many others, and their intentions were announced to Duke Robert. That thoughtless and inconsiderate prince was highly delighted with their empty promises, and pledged himself to second their undertaking in all points and shortly afford them effectual succour for the successful prosecution of so great an enterprise. Accordingly, after our Lord's Nativity, [2] the before mentioned lords crossed over to England, and, putting their castles into a state of defence, very soon raised insurrections against the king through great part of the country.

Note 1. This nobleman, who was an entire stranger to Normandy, joined his fortunes to those of the duke rather thsn William Rufus in consequence of his connexion with Bishop Odo, under whom he held vast possessions in the county of Kent.

Note 2. According to Florence of Worcester, this league was not entered into till Lent in 1088, and began to take its measures after Easter. The two authors may be reconciled by supposing that the first idea of the conspiracy was formed in Normandy in the course of the autumn, but that it was not fully organized in England till the following Lent. He reckons among the malcontent nobles, in addition to those named by Ordericus, Robert, earl of Morton, Geoffrey de Mowbray, with his nephew Robert, earl of Northumberland, and even William, bishop of Durham, who till that time had been the principal adviser of Lie young king.

Odo, as I have said before, was earl palatine of Kent, and several earls and powerful lords owed him fealty. Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, Hugh de Grantmesnil, who had the government of Leicestershire, with Robert de Rhuddlan his nephew, and other knights of distinguished bravery, favoured the conspirators, and fortified their castles with trenches, increasing the garrisons, and drawing in abundant supplies of food both for men and horses. Already rapacious free-booters began to pillage the peasants eagerly anticipating the arrival of Duke Robert, who had determined to follow his precursors with the returning spring, at the head of a large body of troops. At the same time Osbern, son of Richard, surnamed Scroop, [1] with Bernard du Neuf Marche [2] his son-in-law, and others in league with them, who held the frontiers of Mercia, made a savage inroad into the territory of Worcester, pillaging and slaughtering the inhabitants, in spite of the prohibition and excommunication directed against them by the man of God, Wulstan, bishop of Worcester. [3] Meanwhile King William finding that his nobles had formed desperate designs against him in his own kingdom, and that, the mischief spreading, affairs were getting worse and worse, he was far from skulking like a flighted fox in the depths of caverns, but roused himself boldly with a lion's courage, to strike a terrible blow on the rebels. He therefore summoned a great council of the archbishop with his suffragans and the earls and native English, and laid before them the attempts of his adversaries, and his own wish to give them battle. Those who were present exhorted the king to put down the disturbers of the peace, and promised to support him with the utmost zeal. Thirty thousand Englishmen [4] voluntarily enrolled themselves in the royal service, demanding that the base traitors should be punished without respect of persons. "Act", they said, "with firmness as the son of a king, and, yourself placed lawfully on the throne, command with confidence all your subjects. See you not our numbers who have already flocked to your standard, and give you willing obedience? Send your orders through all England, and crush the rebels with the weight of your lawful power. We will fight for you to death, and never shall another prince usurp your place in our affections. It would be indeed a folly and a crime to prefer a foreign enemy to a well-known king. The nation which breaks its allegiance to its prince, must be held accursed. Death to the band which exults in the ruin of its lord! Search well the histories of the English, and you will find them to have been always faithful to their kings".

Note 1. He appears by Domesday-book to have held in capite estates in Worcestershire.

Note 2. For Bernard du Neuf-Marche, see before. p. 297. Florence of Worcester adds to the list Roger de Lacy from Herefordshire, and Ralph de Mortemer, who led the men of Shrewsbury; and says that these border-lords were followed by bands of robbers, Norman, English, and even Welsh.

Note 3. St. Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, 1062-Jan. 19, 1095. The flames burst forth at several other points. Robert de Mowbray, who was with his uncle, the bishop of Coutances, at Bristol, pillaged and burnt Bath, ravaged Wiltshire, and attacked Gloucester, where he was repulsed by the inhabitants. William d'Eu overran Gloucestershire and seized Berkeley Castle. Robert Bigot at Norwich, and Hugh de Grantmesnil at Leicester, also took part in the revolt.

Note 4. There appears to be some exaggeration in this number, which does not agree with the expression mediocris, which Florence of Worcester applies to the army of the young king. That author informs us that it was not till some time after the insurrection broke out, and after the first movements in the campaign, as we shall presently see, that finding himself unable to cope with his powerful Norman barons, who had almost all declared against him, he summoned the English to his aid by a levy en masse, branding as niderings all who should not follow their sovereign's standard.

William Rufus [1] was so much encouraged by the temper of his native subjects, that he immediately took the field with the great army he had thus assembled, and marched at once against the rebels to give them battle, Upon this, Odo, bishop of Bayeux, shut himself up in the city of Rochester with five hundred men-at-arms, determining to wait the arrival of Duke Robert, with the auxiliary forces he had promised to bring; for the league, although they were very numerous, and had great resources in money and arms, and vast supplies, did not dare to meet the king in open fight within his own realm. They therefore, with great prudence, selected Rochester, because, if the king did not blockade them in the city, the position was central for making sudden eruptions and plundering London and Canterbury, and they could also take advantage of the sea, which lies very near, and the neighbouring islands, to despatch messengers to obtain assistance. The resolute king, however, anticipated their projects, and, in the month of May, invested the place with a powerful army; and, erecting two forts, shut up the enemy within the walls, so that every avenue of egress was closed. As I have said before, Bishop Odo, Count Eustace, and Robert de Belesme, [1] with many nobles, as well as persons of moderate station, held the place, expecting, in vain, succours from Duke Robert, who was detained by sloth and indulgence. However Roger, earl of Mercia, [2] and many other Normans who were in the besieging army gave secret aid to the besieged, as far as it was in their power, although they did not venture to appear openly in arms against the king. All the bishops of England joined the English people in loyally supporting the king, and laboured to restore in the country that tranquillity which good men love. Also Hugh, earl of Chester, Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, [3] William de Warenne, and Robert Fitz-Hamon, with other loyal and experienced barons, maintained their fealty to their sovereign and gave him useful aid, both with their arms and their counsels, against the common enemy.

Note 1. Ordericus, in this and other passages, calls William simply rex rufus, the red king.

Note 2. If we could be surprised at anything in so strange a character, which will be further developed hereafter, we might wonder to find Robert de Belesme among the partisans of Henry Curt-hose after the activity he had shown in expelling the duke's garrisons from his own castles of Belesme and Alencon, and in even inducing the lords of Evreux, Conches, and Breteuil to do the same. However, he had before the death of William the Conqueror been one of the partisans of the young duke, so far as to accompany him in some of his emigrations,

Note 3. Roger de Montgomery, earl of Shrewsbury, was Robert de Belesme'a father. See before, p. 194.

Note 4. We have just seen that Florence of Worcester reckons this nobleman, with his uncle Geoffrey, among the insurgents.

A plague, like the plague of the Egyptians, made its appearance in the town of Rochester, the Almighty, who, in all ages, superintends human affairs and orders them aright, having chosen to renew an ancient miracle in modern times. For as the flies tormented the Egyptians, and did not cease a moment from whizzing round them, in the same manner these flies grievously annoyed the besieged with their incessant attacks; for all egress from the castle was prevented, and many of those who were thus blockaded fell sick from their various sufferings, and, their disorders increasing, at length died. Innumerable flies were engendered in the dung of men and horses, and being nourished by the heat both of the summer, and of the atmosphere caused by the breath of so many inhabitants closely pent up, their swarms horribly infested their eyes and noses, food and drink. So severely was the insolent band of rebels afflicted with the annoyance of the swarms that they could not eat their meals, either by day or night, unless a great number of them were employed, in turn, in flapping them away from their comrades' faces. In consequence, Odo and his allies could no longer suffer the miseries of the siege; [1] they therefore sent envoys to the king, asking for peace and offering to surrender the place. The terms proposed were these: that they should be re-instated in the lands, the fiefs, and all the possessions they before had, and should, for the future, serve him loyally as their natural lord. The king was greatly incensed at these proposals, and, so far from making any concession, and accepting the terms offered by the envoys, he swore that he would seize, by force of arms, the perfidious traitors shut up in the town, and forthwith hang them on gibbets, or sweep them from the earth by other kinds of death. When, however, those who were engaged in the siege in the royal cause perceived that the king was so inflamed with passion against their relations and friends within the fortress as to threaten their execution, they came about him with deep supplications, and endeavoured to propitiate him by earnest prayers and flattering words. Thus they said: "Praise be to God who is ever the helper of those who trust in him, and grants that good parents shall succeeded by worthy children". Lo! these aspiring youths, and old men blinded by their ambition, have sufficiently learnt, that the royal authority in this land is not yet extinct; for those who flocked here out of Normandy, to prey upon us like ravenous kites, have discovered, through the interposition of God, that William the younger is not less powerful than William the elder. Already half conquered they submit to your arms; and, confessing your might, approach you as suppliants. We too, who have stood by you in the hour of your greatest peril, as we did by your father, now humbly approach you with earnest intreaties on behalf of our fellow countrymen. It befits you, who have subdued by your valour these senseless and trembling men, to extend your clemency to them now that they are humbled and penitent. Let mercy temper the king's severity, and a glorious victory satisfy the claims of your distinguished valour. The great King David pardoned Shimei who cursed him, [2] and entreated Joab and Abishai and his other generals, not to slay Absalom his adversary. [3] Examples of this sort abound in the sacred volume, and the lines of the sagacious poet, in his work on the Wonders of the World, are to the same purport.

"'Tis lion-like to spare a fallen foe,

And lion-hearted kings should thus their greatness show". [4]

King William replied to these observations; "I confess that it is through your prowess I have subdued the enemy, and, by God's help, with your valour, the victory is almost gained. But you ought to be the more cautious not to induce me by your supplications to deviate from the course of strict justice. When we spare perjurers and robbers, plunderers, and execrable traitors, we destroy the peace and security of the well-disposed, and sow the seeds of endless slaughter and pillage among the innocent and defenceless. In what have I offended these criminal men? What injury have I done them? Why have they sought to destroy me by every means in their power, and raised insurrections among the people wherever they could, to so much public loss? I confirmed them in all their rights, and have given them no cause to revolt against me; and yet they are become my determined enemies. I consider it just to follow rigidly the judgment of the great king David, whose example you set before me; thus, as Baanah and Rechab, the sons of Rimmon, the Beerothite, who beheaded Ishbosheth in his own house, were by David's sentence condemned to be hung, [5] so these seditious men shall be fearfully punished, that men of this and future ages may be deterred and restrained by the report of this terrible vengeance".

Note 1. Florence of Worcester gives a somewhat different account of these transactions. He says that Robert Curt-hose despatched the earls of Boulogne and Belesme, with a body of auxiliaries, to support Bishop Odo, promising to follow himself with a larger force. This was the first notice the king had of the danger which threatened him, and he immediately summoned such of the barons as he could rely on, and assembling a small body of troops at London, more English than Normans, marched for Rochester, taking Tunbridge in the way. He reduced that castle after two days' siege, having wounded Richard de Bienfacte, one of the conspirators, who held it, and forced him to capitulate. On the king's approach to Rochester, after this success, Odo made his escape, and took refuge in Pevensey Castle with his brother, the earl of Morton. The king, however, deferred the siege of Rochester, the garrison of which, in the meantime, ravaged the whole neighbourhood, and followed the bishop to Pevensey. It was at this period that the insurrection burst forth in several quarters, as mentioned in preceding notes. Pevensey surrendered to the king's troops after holding out six weeks, and Bishop Odo was taken, and, as Henry of Huntingdon says (p. 225, Bohn's Antiq. Library), solemnly swore to depart the realm, and to deliver up the city of Rochester. Being conducted there for that purpose, he broke or eluded his oath, and having got into the city remained there until, on its surrender, he became again a captive. It was at this period, Florence of Worcester informs us, that the king summoned the great body of his English subjects to his side, with such success that the Normans in Rochester, brave and numerous as the garrison was, could no longer resist the numbers which flocked to the king's standard; and the garrison was compelled to surrender at discretion.

Note 2. 2 Samuel xvi. 5-11.

Note 3. 2 Samuel xviii. 5.

Note 4. In the original quotation,

Parcere prostratis sit nobilis ira leonis!

Tu quoque fac simile, quisquis dominaris in orbe!

The author, whoever he was, had probably in his mind the well-known line: Parcere dejectis et debellare superbos".

Note 5. 2 Sam. iv. 2-12.

To this the nobles replied, "We admit all that you say, our lord the king, to be right and just, nor can we contradict any of your reasons. But we are compelled by our feelings of humanity humbly to implore your mightiness to consider who these persons are, on whose behalf we so earnestly implore your clemency. Odo, of Bayeux, is your uncle, and has been consecrated a bishop. He assisted your father in his conquest of England, and to his great peril stood by him in many straits. What can you do with a man of his eminence? Far be it from you to lay hands on a priest of the Lord, and shed his blood for such a cause. Recollect what Saul did at Nob, [1] and what he suffered in Mount Gilboah? [2] Who will be so wicked as to venture to advise you to condemn the Lord's bishop, and your own uncle? No one. It is therefore our unanimous request that you will extend your clemency to him, and permit him to depart without injury to his own diocese in Normandy. The count of Boulogne was also faithful to your father, and his valiant supporter and comrade in many a desperate battle. Robert de Belesme likewise, who was much esteemed by your father, and promoted by him to great honours, has now obtained mastery of great part of Normandy, and being possessed of the strongest castles, holds the first rank among his neighbours, and the Norman lords. If you temper your animosity against these great men, and treat them graciously here, or permit them to depart in safety, you may advantageously use their amity and service, on many future occasions. 'He who is your enemy now, may be your useful friend another time'. [3]

"Under their ensigns there are many young aspirants to the honours of chivalry who are ready to serve under your standard, and whose services you, O king, ought not to despise. Those, therefore, whom you have now subjugated by means of your power, your wealth, and your eminent bravery, attach to your person by generosity and clemency".

Note 1. 1 Sam. xxii. 19.

Note 2. 1 Sam. xxxi. 1, 2.

In consequence, the noble-minded king, vanquished by the prayers of his faithful followers, granted their request, and relieving the besieged from the sentence of death or mutilation, granted them leave to depart from the place with their horses and arms. But he utterly refused them all expectation of having any inheritance or lands within the realm of England, as long as he was on the throne. Then bishop Odo attempted to procure the king's command that the trumpeters should not sound a flourish while the garrison marched out, as is the custom when an enemy is conquered, and a fortresss is taken by storm. But the king fell into a great passion, and would not listen to what was asked, asserting that he would not grant it for a thousand marks of gold. The garrison therefore marched out with sorrow and dejection, while the royal trumpets sounded in notes of triumph, and the crowds of English who were on the king's side shouted aloud, "Halters, bring halters, [1] and hang this traitor-bishop with his accomplices on a gallows. Great king of England, why do you permit this author of all our woes to escape safe and sound? This perjured homicide, who has caused the death of thousands by his plots and his cruelties, ought not to be suffered to live". The crest-fallen bishop and his associates were compelled to listen to the foul reproaches which were heaped upon them, but although they were threatened with a bitter fate, permission was not granted for the populace to wreak their vengeance on them. Thus the unholy bishop was banished from England, and his vast domains were forfeited, so that the prodigious wealth which he had iniquitously amassed, was, by the just judgment of God, lost with signal disgrace. He retired in confusion to Bayeux, and never again set foot in England. [2]

Note 1. Torques, torques afferte.

Note 2. The bishop of Durham also was forced to take refuge in Flanders but, according to Henry of Huntingdon, not until the king had besieged him in Durham itself. p. 223, Bohn's Antiq. Lib.

It was thus, that in the first year of king William's reign, at the commencement of summer, the city of Rochester was surrendered to him, and the criminal enterprise of those who had taken arms to disturb the peace of the realm was defeated. For the malignants and evil-doers, when they understood the king's bold and resolute character, became alarmed on account of the pillage and slaughter, and other wickedness, of which they had been guilty in so much haste, and during the twelve years of the king's reign they did not dare to mutter a word against him. Meanwhile, William acted with great caution, watching his opportunity for taking revenge. The factious attempts of some of his enemies he punished with the utmost severity of the law, but designedly winked at the offences of others. The old barons who had shown some signs of disaffection to him, were prudently spared, both out of regard to his father's memory, to whom they had been loyally attached, and from respect to their age; for he shrewdly thought that disease and death would soon prevent their giving him any trouble. Some, however, served him the more faithfully in after times, on account of their having been deeper involved in the crime of treason, and tried to render themselves acceptable to him by their gifts, their services, and their flatteries.

William of Malmesbury Book 8 Chapter 3

History of Robert de Rhuddlan - His successes in curbing the Welsh - Is slain by Gryffith-ap-Conan, king of North Wales - Buried at St. Evroult - Elegy to his memory.

In consequence of the shock which England received from the violence of the storm we have just described, and of the wounds which were daily inflicted by its inhabitants on each other, divided as they were into two parties, one of which tried to depose the king, while the other stoutly maintained his cause, Gryffith, king of Wales, [1] at the head of an army, made an inroad on the English borders, and devastated the country about Rhuddlan with fire and sword, taking much booty and many captives. On the return of Robert, lord of Rhuddlan, from the siege of Rochester, [2] he received intelligence of these barbarities and his severe losses which filled him with grief, and drew from him in his wrath the most terrible threats. He was a brave and active knight, free of speech, a formidable enemy, but generous, and celebrated for his many deeds of valour. He had been one of king Edward's squires, and received from him the belt of knighthood. His father, Umfrid, was son of Amfrid of Danish race: his mother, Adeliza, was sister of Hugh de Grantmesnil, of the noble family of Giroie. This distinguished warrior, in the midst of his military employments, did not neglect the church, constantly treating the clergy and monks with great respect, and giving liberal alms to the poor, according to his means.

Note 1. Gryffith-ap-Conan, who after his victory over Howel-ap-Owen in 1076, reigned, it is said, at least at intervals, until 1136. Gryffith was allied to the Anglo-Saxon kings, being son-in-law of King Owen, the grandson of Grono, who married Ethefleda, widow of Edmund Ironsides.

Note 2. Robert de Rhuddlan had joined the league against William Rufus, but after the siege of Rochester, as it here appears, returned to his duties in Wales. He belonged to the great family of Grantmesnil by the father's side, and to that of Giroie, of which our author gives so much detail in the first volume, by his mother's.

The abbey of St. Evroult, where his brothers Arnold and Roger were monks, and his father and mother and other relations lay buried, was much beloved by him, and he endowed it to the best of his power. In consequence, he gave to it the church of Tilleul, [1] and his portion of the church of Damblainville, [2] with the presbytery, and all that belonged to him in the church of Corneres. [3] He added the tithe of his mills, and of all his rents, with an additional tenth from his butlery and cellar. [4] The same Robert gave to the monks of St. Evroult, of his possessions in England, Little-Cwm, [5] comprising two plough-lands, and twenty villeins; also, the tithes, and the whole vill called Kirkby, [6] with the church and presbytery, and the church of the Island, [7] and the church of St. Peter-in-the-Market, and three cottages in the city of Chester: and that St. Evroult might possess all these in perpetuity and without molestation, he came in person to a chapter at Ouche, and confirmed his grant of all that has been mentioned, before abbot Mainier, and the convent of monks. There were with him at the chapter, Raszo the dean, Hugh de Mellai, William the Butler, son of Grimold, Roger, son of Giroie, Durant, Burnell, Osbern d'Orgeres, [1] and Walter the provost. These were present when Robert proceeded to the church, and laid on the altar the charter containing the grant of these premises.

Note 1. Either Tilleul-en-Auge, in the canton of Dive, or Notre-Dame-du-Tilleul, canton of Merlerault.

Note 2. Damblainville, canton of Falaise.

Note 3. upposed to be Cormier, near Evreux.

Note 4. decimationem promptuariorum suorum. The French translator renders it "La dime de la dime de sa table".

Note 5. The parish of Cwm, which in Welsh signifies a valley, adjoins Rhuddlan. It comprises a smaller valley, which is lateral to the vale of Clwyd, and there seems no doubt but that it is the same which Ordericus designates by the diminitive Cumbi-nellam.

Note 6. Kirkby, Chircabia. It afterwards belonged to the church of St. Peter-in-the-Market, at Chester.

Note 7. This is probably "the manor surrounded by the sea", described among Robert de Rhuddlan's grants to the abbey of St. Evroult, in the charter of King William I. See before, p. 257.

I have inserted this short notice of the donations which the aforesaid lord made to the church of St. Evroult, and I think the judicious reader will not, on consideration, be disposed to ridicule me when I conform my narrative, as occasion offers, to the title of my work.

Robert, son of Umfrid, came over to England with his father while he was quite young, and was in the service of King Edward, both in his household and army, until he was knighted by that king. Then, newly invested with splendid armour, and enriched with honourable tokens of the royal favour, he formed the design of visiting his relations, and having obtained the king's licence, returned to his own country radiant with delight. After the battle of Senlac, while King William was engaged in making head against repeated insurrections, the young knight, with his cousin Hugh, [2] son of Richard d'Avranches, surnamed Goz, again came over to England, and distinguished himself in all the actions where military glory was to be obtained. After many exploits, he was attached to the service of Hugh before mentioned, who was made earl of Chester and appointed Robert commander of his troops, and governor of his whole province. At that time the Britons on the borders, who are commonly called Gael, or Welch, took arms with great fury against King William and all his adherents. A fortress was therefore built at Rhuddlan [3] by the king's command, to over-awe the Welch, and the custody of it committed to Robert that he might defend the English frontier against the inroads of those barbarians. The warlike lord-marcher had frequent encounters with that turbulent people, in which much blood was shed. The British inhabitants were, however, repulsed after some desperate engagements, and Robert enlarging his territories, erected a strong castle on mount Diganwy, close to the sea. [1] For fifteen years he severely chastised the Welsh, and seized their territory; notwithstanding that, proud of their ancient independence, they had refused all tokens of submission to the Normans. Making inroads into their country, through woods and marshes, and over mountain heights, he inflicted losses on the enemy in every shape, Some he butchered without mercy, like herds of cattle, as soon as he came up with them. Others he threw into dungeons, where they suffered a long imprisonment, or cruelly subjected them to a shameful slavery. It is not fit that Christians should so oppress their brethren who have been regenerated by holy baptism in the faith of Christ.

Note 1. Orgeres, near Gace.

Note 2. Hugh, viscount d'Avranches in Normandy, and afterwards created earl of Chester in England, where he is better known as Hugh Lupus. His young nephew held by grant under him large possessions, including two cantrefs in Flintshire or Denbighshire, of which Tegengle was one, and, in the end, the whole kingdom of Gwyned, or North Wales. He also held in farm, at forty pounds rent, the capital and royal palace of Aberfraw in the island of Anglesey.

Note 3. Rhuddlan, from which he derived his surname, was Robert's principal seat. It was one of the most important fortresses in Wales, and was often taken and re-taken in the long succession of wars from early times. It was not "built" by Robert, as our author states; he probably added to it, and strengthened the fortifications. A battle was fought here between the Saxons and Welsh as early as 795, on occasion of which a plaintive air was composed by the bards called Morfa Rhuddlan, or the Red Marsh, which is still played with enthusiasm by the national harpers. Camden says that the castle was built by Llewellyn-ap-Sylt in 1015, or 1020, and became the palace of the Welsh princes. It was burnt down by Harold during his irruption into Wales in 1063, being then, as the Saxon Chronicle says, King Gryffyth's. It having been again occupied by the Welsh, Robert re-took it, and by command of the Conqueror restored and fortified it, as we have already seen.

Ambition and avarice, those mainsprings of human action in every part of the world, were the powerful stimulants which urged Robert, the lord-marcher, to the indiscriminate pillage and slaughter which afterwards plunged him into the pit of destruction. It happened that, on the third of July, Gryffyth, king of Wales, came to land with three ships under a mountain called Horma-heva, [1] and the band of pirates presently spread itself over the country for pillage, like ravening wolves. Meanwhile, the tide ebbed, and the ships were left dry on the beach; Gryffyth and his followers scouring the coast and carrying off men and cattle, with which they made a hasty retreat to their vessels thus lying on the strand.

Note 1. The lofty promontory, conspicuous from the Menai Straits and the Irish Channel, which forms the extreme north-west of Carnarvonshire, and is now called Great Orm's head.

Under these circumstances, Robert was roused from his noon-day sleep by the people's cries, which made him aware of this hostile inroad on his territories. He sprung up quickly, unarmed as he was, and without delay despatched messengers to summon his vassals to arms through all the district. Meanwhile, he pursued the Welsh, without further preparation, at the head of a few soldiers, and reaching the top of mount Horma-heva, which is very lofty, saw, beneath, the pirates binding the captives and driving them to their ships with the cattle. Upon this, the noble lord-marcher, bold as a lion, shouted aloud to his small band of followers, few and unarmed as they were, calling on them to rush on the Welsh on the dry sands before the return of the tide. They however excused themselves on account of their scanty numbers and the difficulty of descending the precipitous face of the mountain. Upon this, Robert, who saw that the enemy was only waiting the return of the sea to make their escape, was overwhelmed with grief, and impatient of delay, scrambled down the mountain side to throw himself on the enemy without armour and with only one follower, a man-at-arms whose name was Osbern d'Orgeres. Seeing him coming to attack them, protected by his shield only and supported by a single soldier, the Welsh in a body hurled their spears at him, and, piercing the shield with the insupportable weight, mortally wounded the brave Osbern. But as long as Robert was able to stand and clasp his shield, no one ventured to come to close quarters and attack him sword in hand. At length the intrepid warrior fell on his knees, pierced with darts, and his strength failing, the shield, heavy with the weight which clung to it, dropped from his hand; and he commended his soul to the Almighty and St. Mary, mother of God. Then the whole band rushed on him, and cutting off his head in the sight of his people, fixed it at the mast-head as a trophy of their victory. Many witnessed this spectacle from the summit of the mountain with grief and rage, but they were unable to render their lord any succour. At last the country people flocked in from the whole district; but it was too late; they were unable to save their lord-marcher, who was already slain. However, they manned some ships and pursued the pirates, as they were making their course over the sea, in a tumult of grief at seeing their lord's head carried off on the mast of the enemy's ship. Gryffyth and his crew, finding that they were chased, and observing that their pursuers' rage was inflamed by the insult to their lord, took down his head from the mast and threw it into the sea. On seeing this, Robert's followers ceased the fruitless chace. His body was lifted from the sea-shore with loud lamentations both of the English and Normans, and being carried to Chester was buried in the abbey of St. Werburgh the virgin. That monastery had been lately built by Hugh, earl of Chester, who, appointing Richard, a monk of Bec, abbot there, established a body of men devoted to the service of God in the midst of the brutish bands of that border fortress. [1]

Note 1. The abbey of St. Werburgh, founded by Edgar, king of Mercia, in 858. It was restored by Hugh Lupus, earl of Chester, and his wife, Ermentrude, in 1093.

Some years afterwards, Arnold the monk, son of Umfrid, crossed over to England, and, with the licence of Robert de Limesi, bishop of Lichfield, [1] took up his brother's remains and transferred them to the abbey of St. Evroult in Normandy. They were received with due honours by Abbot Roger and the convent of monks, and interred in the monks' cloister on the south side of the church. This Arnold, with four noble companions, Guy, Roger, Dreux, and Odo, quitted the military service in his youth, and becoming a monk, laboured more abundantly than his associates in the duties of his order, which he performed zealously for almost fifty years. He devoted himself to promote the interests of his abbey, for which he several times crossed the British sea, as well as penetrated into Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, that he might procure supplies for the monastery from the gifts of his relations. In these journeys he visited his brother William, who was abbot of St. Euphemia, and William de Grantmesnil his cousin, [2] as well as other wealthy relations in Italy, and by a gentle violence carried off all he could to enrich his own abbey. In this way he procured from his kinsmens' stores ornaments and other things required for his own church, making his kindred subservient to the demands of the abbey. He had to bear many slights and rebuffs on several occasions, but he was not to be deterred from his undertaking by the obstacles which he sometimes, indeed frequently, met with. Nothing induced him to relax his zeal in the cause he espoused; and it was at his charge that the arch of stone, which is still standing, was built over his brother's tomb. Reynold the painter, who had the surname of Bartolomeo, decorated the arch and tomb with painting in a variety of colours, and Vitalis the Englishman, at the earnest entreaty of Arnold, composed an epitaph in elegiac verses, to the following purport:-


Here in the soil that gave him birth,

As mortals all return to earth,

ROBERT OF RUUDDLAN'S tomb you see;

The flower of Norman chivalry,

Old Umfrid's son, of Danish race,

While beaming yet with youthful grace,

And foremost 'mong the bold and brave,

Fated to find an early grave.

What though a stormy life he led,

The fierce lord-marcher bowed his head

To holy church, the spouse of Christ;

And gave her wealth, for well he wist

'Twas shame to turn from open door,

The priest, the pilgrim, or the poor.


Where Gwned [2] meets the western wave,

He Rhuddlan's Castle built, a name

Which gives him never-dying fame;

And fenced it well, 'mid wars' alarms,

To curb a savage race in arms.

O'er Snowdon's heights and Cefyn's stream [1]

Full oft they saw his armour gleam;

For in the fierce and wild foray

Nor stream nor mountain stopped his way.

And chief, when princely Blethyn fled [2]

Before the scanty band he led,

Successful by a bold surprise,

A glorious booty was the prize.

Prince Howell [3] groaned in Chester's towers,

And royal Gryffyth [4] counted hours

Of dark and sad captivity;

And prostrate Trahaern bowed the knee

To Robert, flushed with victory.


Alas! how short his bold career!

See reckless, without pause or fear,

Alone he rushes on the foe,

Where on the sandy beach below

Orm's beetling cliffs frown fearfully;

'Twas on the third of bright July.

Too rashly left Diganwy's walls,

Pierced by a hundred darts he falls,

And Gryffyth takes his gory head,

Sad trophy of the ruthless deed.

Fierce Owen raised triumphant song, [5]

Prince Howell's bards the notes prolong

The brave lord-marcher's country weeps,

While here his mangled body sleeps,

Resting in Evroult's cloistered shade;

The good saints' merits be his aid!


Now, reader kind, some moments spare;

To breathe for Robert's soul a prayer;

ALMIGHTY FATHER, grant him rest,

In the bright mansions of the blest!

CHRIST, who life's breath and second birth

Dost give to sinful sons of earth,

Author of immortality,

Propitious to thy servant he;

Snatch him from dreary shades below,

From fires of purgatorial woe,

And, by thy cross, his ransom's price,

Waft him to light and paradise!

And, MARY mild, the sinner's friend,

Thy powerful intercession lend;

For when his foes around him pressed,

And Gwyned's spearmen pierced his breast,

Robert to thee his prayers addressed,

Invoked thee in the hour of death,

And sighed to thee his latest breath.e lord-marcher's country we!Note 1. Robert de Limesi was consecrated as bishop of Lichfield by Archbishop Lanfranc in 1085 (December 25). He transferred the seat of his bishopric to Coventry the 18th of April, 1102, and died the 30th of August, 1117.

Note 1. William, second son of Hugh de Grantmesnil, and son-in-law of Robert Guiscard.

Note 2. Cefyn, the Welsh name of the Conway.

Note 3. BLETHYN-AP-CONWYN, prince of North Wales and Powis; at first, jointly with Rywallon (1060-1066), and afterwards solely until 1073. The expedition of which our author speaks must have taken place in 1072.

Note 4. HOWEL-AP-OWEN and his brother, Rhys-Ap-Owen, princes of South Wales, were defeated at the battle of Pwll-Getty in 1076, and having been made prisoners, were both put to death.

Note 5. GRYFFYTH-AP-CONAN, having endeavoured to dethrone Trahaern-Ap-Caradoc, seized the isle of Anglesey, and then landed on the coast of Carnarvonshire, where he fought a battle at Bron-yr-Erw in 1073, in which he was defeated, and probably sent at once prisoner to Chester. Having recovered his liberty, he attacked Trahaern again, and gained a victory on the moutains of Carno in 1079.

Note 6. Owen, son of Edwyn-Ap-Grono, afterwards made king of North Wales by the Normans.

Note 2. Howel-Ap-Grono, though originally only lord of Tegengle, from his right of suzerainty may have well been called prince or king by the Welsh.

William of Malmesbury Book 8 Chapter 4

Robert Curthose, by his feeble government, suffers Normandy to be the prey of violence and rapine - In a moment of alarm he arrests and imprisons his brother Henry, and Robert de Belesme.

While William Rufus, having established his authority through all parts of England, was employed in keeping down the insurgents by the strong hand of his princely power, the ambitious Odo, banished from England, betook himself to his diocese of Bayeux, and finding duke Robert sunk in slothful ease, set himself to acquire the mastery over the whole of Normandy. The entire province was in a state of dissolution; bands of freebooters overran the villages and country-side, and the unarmed peasantry were every where at the mercy of thieves and robbers. Duke Robert imposed no restraint upon the evil-doers, who, for eight years under that feeble-minded prince, vented their fury on the defenceless people. They harassed without remorse, even holy church, and wrung from her by force of arms, or devastated, the possessions with which she had been endowed by their worthy ancestors. The monasteries were full of grief at their desolation, and the monks and nuns were reduced to penury. [1] In the midst of these pestilent disorders, no honour was shown to persons and things dedicated to God; no respect. Fire, robbery and homicide were matters of daily occurrence, and the people were overwhelmed with calamities and trouble. Normandy gave birth to wicked sons, who abandoned themselves to every sort of crime, and cruelly devoured their mother's bowels. The Venus of Sodom stalked boldly in the midst of such scenes with her wanton enticements, defiling the effeminate, who were only fit to be burnt. The marriage bed was polluted by open adultery, and every part of the divine law was entirely neglected. The bishops excommunicated the outlaws by their divine authority, and theologians gave the warnings of God to the guilty in their discourses; but vain were all these against the irresistible influence of pride and avarice, and the vices which follow in their train. Strong places were every where constructed without lawful authority, where the sons of robbers were nourished like wolves' whelps to mangle sheep. The malignants sought causes of offence, that in their mutual quarrels they might have opportunities of resorting to places in the neighbourhood, and that burnings and plunderings might result from their enterprises. The depopulated country and crowds of widows and infirm persons, lamenting the calamities brought upon them, are witnesses to this day of the truth of my statements. Thus quickly vanished and fell into decay, confusion, and disgrace, through the sloth of the careless duke, all that had peen created by the vigour and ability of a wise prince and nis assistants, and had long flourished in Normandy. In the course of the summer, as soon as certain intelligence of the surrender of Rochester was received beyond sea, Henry, the heir-apparent, now count of the Cotentin, crossed over to England, and demanded of his brother the investiture of his mother's domains. King William received him graciously as became a brother, and granted him fraternally all that it was in his power to bestow. Having accomplished his business, in autumn he took leave of the king, and embarked on his return to Normandy, with Robert de Belesme, who, through the mediation of powerful friends, had made his peace with the king. Meanwhile, their arrival had been anticipated by certain malevolent sowers of discord who mix falsehood with truth, and who sent tidings to duke Robert that his brother Henry, and Robert de Belesme had not only made peace with the Red King, but had also bound themselves by an oath to the duke's disadvantage. In consequence, the duke knowing them to be powerful and valiant knights, and being in great fear of their enterprises, took counsel with the bishop of Bayeux, and caused them to be arrested. Before they could undertake anything, and while landing in security from their ships on the sea shore, they were seized and fettered, and committed to the custody of the tyrannical bishop, one at Bayeux, the other at Neuilly. When Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, heard that his son Robert was a prisoner, he hastened over to Normandy, having obtained the king's licence, and put all his castles in a state of defence against the duke. But Odo of Bayeux, like a dragon struck to the earth and vomiting flames, and full of rage at the haughty treatment he had received from the king, raised all sorts of commotions in Normandy, that by some means or other he might foment evil to his nephew, by whom he had been disgracefully expelled. The duke was much afraid of him, and followed his advice in some things, while he made light of it in others.

Note 1. Some idea of these devastations may be formed from the fearful account given in the Chartulary of the Holy Trinity at Caen (Bibliotheque Royale, 5650) of those which were suffered by that abbey from the neighbours of its domains. The greatest men in the country, William, count d'Evreux, Richard de Courci, Robert Bertran, Robert de Mowbray, and even Prince Henry himself did not blush to take part in these ravages.

William of Malmesbury Book 8 Chapter 5

Odo, bishop of Bayeux, counsels Robert Curthose - He takes up arms against Robert de Belesme - Belesme's extraordinary career and character.

The malcontents in Normandy being every where in arms, and threatening more mischief, the turbulent bishop Odo came to the duke at Rouen, and reviewing the state of the country at large thus addressed him:- "Whoever would worthily govern the state, and rule the people of God, among whom there is so much diversity of conduct, should be both gentle and severe, according to circumstances. He should be gentle as a lamb to the good, the submissive, and the humble; fierce as a lion to the wicked, the rebellious and the proud. Consider this well, my lord the duke, that you may well govern this noble duchy of Normandy, which, by the grace of God, you have inherited from your ancestors. Take courage, and act with firmness. You see that miscreants and outlaws are revelling throughout the land, more like Pagans than Christians in their evil courses, and, if I may be permitted to say so, equalling the former in the enormity of their crimes. The monks and the widows cry to you, and you sleep. Unutterable delinquencies are frequently reported to you, and you make light of them. It was not thus that holy David, and the great Alexander acted: not thus, Julius Caesar and Severus, [1] the African; not thus Hannibal the Carthaginian, Scipio Africanus, Cyrus the Persian, and Marius the Roman. But I waste time in mentioning barbarians, whose very names are unknown to you. Let us turn to those which are more familiar, and belong to our own race. Think of your fathers and forefathers, whose firmness of mind and courage made them formidable to the warlike race of the French. I speak of Rollo, William Long-sword, the three Richards, your grandfather Robert, and lastly, your father, William, who was more illustrious than all his predecessors, I beseech you to emulate their firmness and ability, as they inherited the vigour and industry of their ancestors, who by their prodigious exertions, became arbiters of the fate of kingdoms, put tyrants under their yoke, and subdued barbarous nations. Rouse yourself, and, assembling the invincible army of Normandy, lead it to the city of Nantes. There is a garrison of your own soldiers in the citadel which your father built, and the whole city, with the venerable noel, the bishop, render you willing homage. Summon all the leading men of Maine to attend you there, and receive graciously, and address courteously; those who obey your summons; but take arms against such as treat it with contempt, and lose no time in besieging their castles if they do not surrender them. Having secured the submission of the people of Maine, march against Earl Roger, [2] and rid yourself altogether of him and his sons, by utterly expelling them from Normandy. Fear not; trusting in the power of the Lord. Carry yourself manfully, and be guided by the counsels of the wise. Already you have in prison Robert, earl Roger's eldest son, and if you make a bold effort, such as becomes a brave prince, it is in your power utterly to expel that disloyal family of Talvas from your duchy. It is a cursed race; it breeds mischief, and contrives it as their inheritance. This is proved by their horrible ends; death coming upon none of them in the ordinary course of nature. This family of Talvas, [3] if it be not now extirpated, will, in my opinion, yet prove very troublesome to you, and even irresistible. They hold a number of the strongest fortresses, Belesme, Lurson, Essai, Alencon, Domfront, St. Ceneri, La Roche d'Ige, for which the bold Hugh assassinated Mabel, [4] and Vignas, with many more stately castles, built by William de Belesme, Robert, Ivo and Warin, and their successors, or which they wrested from their lawful owners or their neighbours, either by force or stratagem. Their whole conduct has been steeped in fraud and crime, nor have they ever kept faith with any one with whom they were connected by the ties of friendship, or alliance. They have prospered by getting rid of their unsuspecting neighbours by death or captivity, and their stately houses and strong fortifications have been built at the expense of the blood of the peasants. Now is your opportunity, most noble duke, for stripping them of these strongholds with perfect justice, if you will only resolutely follow the example of your magnanimous father and his great actions. As for him, he was master of all these fortresses as long as he lived, and committed the custody of them to those he thought fit. But this Robert, as soon as he received intelligence of the king's death, arrogantly expelled your own garrisons from your own castles, and disinherited you by getting them into his own power. Reflect wisely on what I have said, and like a good prince, exert yourself worthily for the peace of holy mother church, and the defence of the poor and defenceless, while you crush the rebellious by the force of your arms. If you break the horns of the leaders who raise their heads against you, the rest will be terrified by the ruin of their associates, and submit to your commands without opposition. Thus the people of God will rejoice in peace and security under the shield of your protection, and offer devout prayers to the Almighty for your safety. All orders in your dominions will constantly celebrate divine worship, and the law of God be duly observed in general security".

Note 1. Septimius Severus.

Note 2. Roger de Montgomery, earl of Shrewsbury, who, as Ordericus has just informed us, hastened over to Normandy as soon as he heard of his son Robert de Belesme's arrest.

Note 3. See vol. i. pp. 385-389.

Note 4. See p. 194 of the present volume.

The bishop's exhortations were cordially approved by all who were present, and they cheerfully placed themselves at the duke's disposal for the defence of the country. Duke Robert therefore, having assembled troops, led them to Mantes, where he was received with joy, both by the clergy and citizens. On hearing his messages, Geoffery de Mayenne, [1] Robert the Burgundian, [2] Elias son of John, [3] and many others came and offered their services to the Duke. The Norman troops were under the command of the bishop of Bayeux, William count of Evreux, Ralph de Conches, and his nephew, William de Breteuil, [4] and many other knights of distinguished merit. Paganus de Montdoubleau with other malcontents held possession of the castle of Ballon, and made an obstinate resistance, when the duke and his army proceeded to invest it. In that engagement, Osmund de Gaspree, a handsome and honourable knight was slain on the calends [1st] of September. His body was brought to St. Evroult by the Monk Arnold, and buried in the porch before the church door.

Note 1. Geoffrey, lord of Mayenne (1059-1099). See vol. i. p. 449. He was the most formidable of the opponents of Norman domination in Mayenne in 1063. Having been reconciled with Duke William, he accompanied him in his expedition to England. He married Hildeburge, daughter of Judicael, count of Nantes, but formed an attachment to Hersende, eldest daughter of Hugh III., and wife of Azzo.

Note 2. Robert de Nevers, surnamed the Burgundian, lord of Sable, in right of Avicia de Sable, his first wife.

Note 3. Elias de Beaugenci, lord of La Fleche son of John de Beaugenci, and grandson of Paule, daughter of Herbert Eveille-chien, count of Maine. See vol. i. p. 448.

Note 4. Son of Adeline, sister of Ralph de Conches.

After many losses on both sides, the garrison of Ballon made peace with the duke, and afterwards the united forces of the Normans and Manceaux, under the duke's command, laid siege to the castle of St. Ceneri. The family of Robert de Belesme had taken refuge there, and it was committed to the keeping of Robert Quarrel, a knight of great spirit and resolution, who was encouraged by Earl Roger to offer a determined resistance to the besiegers; but their provisions failing the castle was taken, and by order of the enraged duke, Robert Quarrel, the governor, was deprived of sight. Many others also, who had joined in the obstinate resistance to the Norman prince, suffered mutilation of their limbs by a judgment of his court.

Then Geoffrey of Mayenne, with the lords of that province, sought an audience with the duke, and presented to him Robert Giroie, son of Robert Giroie. [1] "This man, my lord duke", said Geoffrey, "is your cousin, and has long dwelt in Apulia with your kinsmen, who are very powerful in that country. He now comes, in full confidence, to you, his lord and cousin, offering you his fealty and service, and demanding this castle as his right, his father having held it all his life by inheritance, and died there". Duke Robert readily granted this claim, and restored the castle of St. Ceneri to Robert Giroie. He held it for nearly thirty-six years afterwards, and fortified it with walls, and ditches, and watch-towers. At his death he left it to his sons, William and Robert.

Note 1. See vol. i. pp. 390, etc.

The inhabitants of this place seldom enjoyed any peace or respite from the attacks of the Normans and Manceaux. The rocky hill on which it stands is surrounded on three sides by the windings of the Sarthe. St. Ceneric, the venerable confessor, [1] dwelt there in the time of Milehard, bishop of Seez. He founded there a convent of monks, becoming the Lord's soldier among the noble company, and after a well-spent life, departed in Christ happily on the nones [7th] of May. At length, in the reign of Charles the Simple, at the time Hasting the Dane, with his heathen band, was ravaging Neustria, the holy remains were translated by the faithful to Chateau-Thierri, the monks were dispersed, and the monastery ruined. In the times that followed it changed its inhabitants. Some cruel freebooters established a den of thieves where the despisers of worldly things had lived orderly under the rule of St. Ceneric, bearing the Lord's yoke according to the monastic discipline to the end. It is reported that one hundred and forty monks laboured there in the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth. Their grave-stones in the church, and all around, bear open testimony to travellers of the worth and reverence of the men who there lie buried. The miscreants who succeeded them in their habitation suffered, as they deserved, many calamities; fires, massacres, and numberless other miseries, being their frequent lot.

Note 1. St. Ceneric, who is called in Normandy St. Ceneri, and even St. Cenerin, established himself about the year 670 in the place which bears his name, and died there on the 7th of May, as our author states.

The garrisons of Alencon, Belesme, and other fortresses, hearing of the sad fate of Robert Quarrel and his comrades, were much terrified, and consulted together on the propriety of surrendering the castles on the duke's approach. But Robert's exhibition of spirit quickly failed, and his love of ease and quiet soon led him to terminate the campaign, disbanding his army, and suffering each man to depart to his own home.

Earl Roger was much delighted at the dissolution of the united forces of Normandy and Maine, and sent fair-speaking envoys to the duke demanding peace and his son's release, with many empty promises. The duke, who was imprudent and fickle, easy to be persuaded, and lax in the execution of justice, accepted unexpectedly the frivolous offers of his disloyal vassals, making peace with Earl Roger, and granting his demands, and releasing Robert de Belesme from confinement. But as soon as he had obtained his liberty he became more insolent than ever, paid little attention to the orders or threats of the duke, and, mindful of the affront he had received, took a long and multiplied vengeance for his wrongs. In fact, during the fifteen years he and the duke remained afterwards in Normandy together, [1] his rage was unbounded, and he was seldom at a loss for opportunities to raise commotions in the province. By his crafty devices he drew over to his side many of the duke's servants and adherents, and lessened the domains which his predecessors had possessed and largely augmented. Robert

Note 1. This calculation is not exact, the two Roberts were only fourteen years together in Normandy, and they were reconciled before the battle of Tinchebrai.

Belesme [1] was of a subtle genius, deceitful and wily: in person he was stout and of great strength; intrepid and formidable in war; he was a fluent speaker, but desperately cruel; his avarice and lust were insatiable; he was an able manager of important affairs, and toiled with the utmost patience through the greatest worldly trials; he displayed great skill in constructing buildings and machines and other difficult works, and inexorable cruelty in tormenting his enemies. He did not honour, cherish, and clothe holy church as a son should a mother, but dishonoured, oppressed, and stripped it as a step-son would treat his mother-in-law. After numberless offences and traitorous conspiracies, King Henry, by God's judgment, has most righteously committed him to close confinement, having thus made himself the stern avenger of the wretched under the special influence of divine revelation. But we shall speak of this in another place.

Note 1. The character of this extraordinary man, whose great talents distinguished him from most of the turbulent nobles of this age, seems to have inspired all the contemporary historians with horror. Henry of Huntingdon says, "He was a very Pluto, Megaera, Cerberus, or anything you can conceive still more horrible", and gives details of his cruelties which are omitted by Ordericus. William of Malmesbury particularly enlarges on the powers of dissimulation, by means of which his victims became his prey. Huntingdon's Letter to Warin on the Illustrious Men of his Time, p. 311. Malmesbury's History, p. 432. Bohn's Antiq. Library.

This lord, with the assistance of King William, by whom he was much beloved for his father's and mother's (Roger and Mabel) sake, obtained for wife a daughter of Guy, count of Ponthieu, Agnes by name; he had by her a son called William, who inherited their large domains scattered through Normandy and Ponthieu. By means not only of his wealth but his domineering spirit, Robert established his pre-eminence over all his brothers, and, disinheriting them, usurped the entire patrimony of their ancestors both in Normandy and the county of Maine, of which for a long period he had sole possession. He used his utmost efforts to reduce to subjection the lords of his neighbourhood, his equals in birth, and with some, actuated by his insatiable ambition, he succeeded, either by treachery and insupportable hostilities, or by insidious attacks. This was the case with Hugh de Nonant, [1] Paganus, [2] and Robert de St. Ceneri, [3] Bernard de la Ferte, [4] and several others whom he frequently troubled, terrified, and perplexed in various ways. Many he humbled by seizing their domains and burning their castles, or reduced them to the utmost poverty by ravaging their lands, or, what was worse, he made them worthless by maiming their limbs, so that they became halt and lame, or by depriving them of sight. By such tyranny of the cruel lord-marcher while he was aiming to crush all his neighbours, the wretched country was reduced to desolation; they, on the other hand, proud of their nobility, which was equal to his, defending to death their former independence. Thus immense injuries were constantly inflicted, loss beng added to loss, either through revenge or covetousness, until the people of the country were threatened with want.

Note 1. Nonant, a bourg to the north of Seez.

Note 2. The family of Paganel were lords of Hauterive, near Alencon.

Note 3. This person must be Robert Giroie, oftened mentioned by Ordericus, who was in constant hostility with Robert de Belesme.

Note 4. Paganel, as well as Robert de St. Ceneri, were probably vassals of Robert de La Ferte-Bernard, who was also of the family of Giroie.

Geoffrey, son of Rotro, count de Mortagne, took up arms against Robert, and set fire to Echaufour [1] and several other villages around, from which he swept off much booty, and made many prisoners. This count was magnanimous, handsome, and strong; he feared God, was a devout friend of the church, a staunch protector of the clergy and poor; in peace, he was gentle and courteous, and of most obliging manners; in war he was powerful and successful, and became formidable to the neighbouring princes, who were all his enemies. The nobility of his own birth, and that of his own wife Beatrice, rendered him illustrious above all his compeers; and he had among his subjects warlike barons and brave governors of castles. He gave his daughters in marriage to men of the rank of counts: Margaret, to Henry earl of Warwick, [2] and Juliana to Gilbert de Laigle, [3] from whom sprung a noble race of handsome children. The glory of Count Geoffrey was exalted by such a progeny, and be maintained it by his valour and courage, his wealth and alliances. Above all, having the fear of God, he feared no man, but marched boldly, with a lion's port. Laying claim to the strong castle of Domfront and other domains, as his right, he endeavoured to dispossess his cousin Robert of them. He was grieved to harass the unarmed and innocent, but he could not bring the public enemy with whom he had a just quarrel to a fair field for deciding it. Robert de Belesme, who was the terror of so many others, was not the less in constant apprehension of them, and did not dare to join issue with his adversary in open fight. He therefore prudently skulked within the shelter of his fortifications, and even permitted, with regret, freebooters to ravage his territories, rather than venture to march against them, brave as he was. For, in his extreme caution, he was apprehensive that if he took the field, his own vassals might leave him in the enemy's hands. In consequence, the quarrel between the two lords-marchers was long protracted, and was the cause of severe losses and much bloodshed among their dependants. There were similar germs of evil among the nobles in other parts of Normandy, which growing to a head, produced a fruitful crop of tragic occurrences.

Note 1. Echaufour, near St. Evroult. See p. 288.

Note 2. Henry was eldest son of Roger de Beaumont, earl of Warwick.

Note 3. Gilbert, lord of Laigle, on the death of his father, Richer, mentioned in book vii.

William of Malmesbury Book 8 Chapter 6

Durand, abbot of Troarn - His death, and epitaph - The sister abbies of Troarn, and St. Martin, at Seez, both founded by Roger de Montgomery - Prince Henry released.

02 Aug 1100. The day before the king (age 44) died, he dreamed that he was let blood by a surgeon; and that the stream, reaching to heaven, clouded the light, and intercepted the day. Calling on St. Mary for protection, he suddenly awoke, commanded a light to be brought, and forbade his attendants to leave him. They then watched with him several hours until daylight. Shortly after, just as the day began to dawn, a certain foreign monk told Robert Fitz Hamon, one of the principal nobility, that he had that night dreamed a strange and fearful dream about the king: "That he had come into a certain church, with menacing and insolent gesture, as was his custom, looking contemptuously on the standers by; then violently seizing the crucifix, he gnawed the arms, and almost tore away the legs: that the image endured this for a long time, but at length struck the king with its foot in such a manner that he fell backwards: from his mouth, as he lay prostrate, issued so copious a flame that the volumes of smoke touched the very stars." Robert, thinking that this dream ought not to be neglected, as he was intimate with him, immediately related it to the king. William, repeatedly laughing, exclaimed, "He is a monk, and dreams for money like a monk: give him a hundred shillings." Nevertheless, being greatly moved, he hesitated a long while whether he should go out to hunt, as he had designed: his friends persuading him not to suffer the truth of the dreams to be tried at his personal risk. In consequence, he abstained from the chase before dinner, dispelling the uneasiness of his unregulated mind by serious business. They relate, that, having plentifully regaled that day, he soothed his cares with a more than usual quantity of wine. After dinner he went into the forest, attended by few persons; of whom the most intimate with him was Walter, surnamed Tirel, who had been induced to come from France by the liberality of the king. This man alone had remained with him, while the others, employed in the chase, were dispersed as chance directed. The sun was now declining, when the king, drawing his bow and letting fly an arrow, slightly wounded a stag which passed before him; and, keenly gazing, followed it, still running, a long time with his eyes, holding up his hand to keep off the power of the sun's rays. At this instant Walter, conceiving a noble exploit, which was while the king's attention was otherwise occupied to transfix another stag which by chance came near him, unknowingly, and without power to prevent it. Oh, gracious God! pierced his breast with a fatal arrow.1 On receiving the wound, the king uttered not a word; but breaking off the shaft of the weapon where it projected from his body, fell upon the wound, by which he accelerated his death. Walter immediately ran up, but as he found him senseless and speechless, he leaped swiftly upon liis horse, and escaped by spurring him to his utmost speed. Indeed there was none to pursue him: some connived at his flight; others pitied him; and all were intent on other matters. Some began to fortify their dwellings; others to plunder; and the rest to look out for a new king. A few countrymen conveyed the body, placed on a cart, to the cathedral at Winchester; the blood dripping from it all the way. Here it was committed to the ground within the tower, attended by many of the nobility, though lamented by few.

Note 1. "The tradition of William having met his death by the hand of Sir Walter Tirel, whilst hunting in the New Forest, is generally received; but Suger, a contemporary historian, and, as it seems, a friend of Tirel, in his Life of Louis le Gros, king of France, alluding to the death of Rufus, observes, 'Imponebatur a quibusdam cuidam nobili Gualtero Tirello quod eum sagitta perfoderat: quem, cum nec timeret nec speraret, jurejurando sæpius audivimus quasi sacrosanctum asserere, quod ea die nec in eam partem silvæ, in qua rex venebatur, venerit, nec eum in silva omnino viderit. See also Edmer, Hist, Nov. p. 54, and Ord. Vit. Hist. Eccles. lib. x. p. 783."— Hardy.

Translation: It was imposed by some on a certain nobleman, Walter Tirellus, that he had pierced him with an arrow, whom he neither feared nor hoped for, we have often heard him swearing, as if it were sacrosanct, that he did not go to that part of the forest on that day, in which the king was being hunted, he came, and did not see him at all in the forest.

Next year1, the tower fell; though I forbear to mention the different opinions on this subject, lest I should seem to assent too readily to unsupported trifles, more especially as the building might have fallen, through imperfect construction, even though he had never been buried there. He died in the year of our Lord's incarnation 1100, of his reign the thirteenth, on the fourth before the nones of August, aged above forty years. He formed mighty plans, which he would have brought to effect, could he have spun out the tissue of fate, or broken through, and disengaged himself from, the violence of fortune. Such was the energy of his mind, that he was bold enough to promise himself any kingdom whatever. Indeed the day before his death, being asked where he would keep his Christmas, he answered, in Poitou; because the earl of Poitou, wishing anxiously to go to Jerusalem, was said to be about to pawn his territory to him. Thus, not content with his paternal possessions, and allured by expectation of greater glory, he grasped at honours not pertaining to him. He was a man much to be pitied by the clergy, for throwing away a soul which they could not save; to be beloved by stipendiary soldiers, for the multitude of his gifts; but not to be lamented by the people, because he suffered their substance to be plundered. I remember no council being held in his time, wherein the health of the church might be strengthened through the correction of abuses. He hesitated a long time ere he bestowed ecclesiastical honours, either for the sake of emolument, or of weighing desert. So that on the day he died, he held in his own hands three bishoprics, and twelve vacant abbeys. Besides, seeking occasion from the schism between Urban in Rome and Guibert at Ravenna, he forbade the payment of the tribute2 to the holy see: though he was more inclined to favour Guibert; because the ground and instigation of the discord between himself and Anselm was, that this man, so dear to God, had pronounced Urban to be pope, the other an apostate.

Note 1. It fell A.D. 1107. An. Winton.

Note 2. By this probably is to be understood the payment of Peter-pence. Anselm had offended the king, by acknowledging Urban without consulting him.

In his time began the Cistertian order, which is now both believed and asserted to be the surest road to heaven1. To speak of this does not seem irrelevant to the work I have undertaken, since it redounds to the glory of England to have produced the distinguished man who was the author and promoter of that rule. To us he belonged, and in our schools passed the earlier part of his life. Wherefore, if we are not envious, we shall embrace his good qualities the more kindly in proportion as we knew them more intimately. And, moreover, I am anxious to extol his praise, "because it is a mark of an ingenuous mind to approve that virtue in others, of which in yourself you regret the absence". He was named Harding, and born in England of no very illustrious parents. From his early years, he was a monk at Sherborne; but when secular desires had captivated his youth, he grew disgusted with the monastic garb, and went first to Scotland, and afterwards to France. Here, after some years' exercise in the liberal arts, he became awakened to the love of God. For, when manlier years had put away childish things, he went to Rome with a clerk who partook of his studies; neither the length and difficulty of the journey, nor the scantiness of their means of subsistence by the way, preventing them, both as they went and returned, from singing daily the whole psalter. Indeed the mind of this celebrated man was already meditating the design which soon after, by the grace of God, he attempted to put in execution. For returning into Burgundy, he was shorn at Molesmes, a new and magnificent monastery. Here he readily admitted the first elements of the order, as he had formerly seen them; but when additional matters were proposed for his observance, such as he had neither read in the rule nor seen elsewhere, he began, modestly and as became a monk, to ask the reason of them, saying: "By reason the supreme Creator has made all things; by reason he governs all things; by reason the fabric of the world revolves; by reason even the planets move; by reason the elements are directed; and by reason, and by due regulation, our nature ought to conduct itself. But since, through sloth, she too often departs from reason, many laws were, long ago, enacted for her use; and, latterly, a divine rule has been promulgated by St. Benedict, to bring back the deviations of nature to reason. In this, though some things are contained the design of which I cannot fathom, yet I deem it necessary to yield to authority. And though reason and the authority of the holy writers may seem at variance, yet still they are one and the same. For since God hath created and restored nothing without reason, how can I believe that the holy fathers, no doubt strict followers of God, could command anything but what was reasonable, as if we ought to give credit to their bare authority. See then that you bring reason, or at least authority, for what you devise; although no great credit should be given to what is merely supported by human reason, because it may be combated with arguments equally forcible. Therefore from that rule, which, equally supported by reason and authority, appears as if dictated by the spirit of all just persons, produce precedents, which if you fail to do, in vain shall you profess his rule, whose regulations you disdain to comply with".

Note 1. Juvenal, Sat. i. 37.

Sentiments of this kind, spreading as usual from one to another, justly moved the hearts of such as feared God, "lest haply they should or had run in vain". The subject, then, being canvassed in frequent chapters, ended by bringing over the abbat himself to the opinion that all superfluous matters should be passed by, and merely the essence of the rule be scrutinized. Two of the fraternity, therefore, of equal faith and learning, were elected, who, by vicarious examination, were to discover the intention of the founder's rule; and when they had discovered it, to propound it to the rest. The abbat diligently endeavoured to induce the whole convent to give their concurrence, but "as it is difficult to eradicate from men's minds, what has early taken root, since they reluctantly relinquish the first notions they have imbibed", almost the whole of them refused to accept the new regulations, because they were attached to the old. Eighteen only, among whom was Harding, otherwise called Stephen, persevering in their holy determination, together with their abbat, left the monastery, declaring that the purity of the institution could not be preserved in a place where riches and gluttony warred against even the heart that was well inclined. They came therefore to Citeaux; a situation formerly covered with woods, but now so conspicuous from the abundant piety of its monks, that it is not undeservedly esteemed conscious of the Divinity himself. Here, by the countenance of the archbishop of Vienne, who is now pope, they entered on a labour worthy to be remembered and venerated to the end of time.