BOOK VI

240 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.I.

BOOK VI.

CH. I. Introduction, containing remarks on scurrilous criticism, and the decay of piety among the prelates of the author's age.

THE human mind has continual need of being usefully exercised, so that it may be well directed in a virtuous course for the future, by its researches into the annals of the past, and its observation on what is passing around. It is every man's duty to be daily learning how he ought to live, by having the examples of ancient worthies ever present before his eyes, and profiting thereby. It sometimes happens that many events present themselves to the ignorant as unheard-of things, and new circumstances are frequently occurring in modern times on which no light can be thrown to inexperienced minds but by reference to former transactions. Studious persons therefore inquire into the obscure passages of history with anxious care, and set a high value on whatever can profit a well-disposed mind. Animated in their labours by this good design, they unfold the past to posterity with perfect impartiality, while, notwithstanding their ability, senseless men snarl at their works and tear them in pieces with their currish fangs. Smarting under such attacks, even wise men sometimes flag in their energies, abandoning their undertakings and shutting themselves up in perpetual silence. Thus it happens that from some frivolous cIrcumstance, the world suffers a lamentable loss. If this were not irreparable, and a kindly-feeling posterity could recover what it had lost, it would shake off its indifference and joyfully rouse itself to gather with eagerness the flowers and the fruit of the labours thus subjected to malicious attacks, and to study them with lively and careful attention. We often find complaints of this sort in ancient writers, and unite with our illustrious masters in their lamentations over the injuries heaped upon them by their envious contemporaries. We hear St. Jerome and Origen, and other doctors of the church complaining in their works of the cavils of scurrilous critics, and it is a cause of regret that on this account we have been deprived of many important

DECAY OF PIETY. 241

communications; able men preferring to rest in peace rather than employ their talents in skilfully treating difficult subjects, when by so doing they exposed themselves to malicious attacks. Let those, I beg and entreat, observe silence, who neither produce any thing of their own, nor accept the labours of others in a friendly spirit, nor correct with temper any thing which dissatisfies them. Let them learn what they are ignorant of, and if they are incapable of learning, at least let them suffer their fellow disciples to publish what they think right.

The primitive state and the fall of man, the revolutions of the passing age, the vicissitudes in the lives of our prelates and princes, the events of peace and war, and the never-ending chances which affect mankind, offer a vast field for any writer to expatiate on. As for miracles and wonders wrought by the saints, they are now of such rare occurrence in the world that authors have little need of bestowing much attention on stories of that kind. Time was when our ancient fathers, Martial and Taurinus, Silvester, Martin and Nicholas, and other admirable men, whose tongues were the keys of heaven, and who were full of supernatural graces and gifts, shone in the church like the light of the sun, and in the power of the Almighty gave laws to the elements of nature and the power of the air; but these now enjoy the rest of the blessed with their heavenly King, from whom they have received everlasting rewards. Their present successors, who are raised to the summit of power, and, sitting in Moses' seat are called Rabbi, while they revel in worldly riches and pomp, of which most of them are too fond, are far from being equally illustrious as their predecessors for the merits of sanctity and miraculous powers and influences. Still we may faithfully relate the revolutions of the world and the course of human events, and history can be made the vehicle for the praise of Him who is the Maker and righteous Governor of all things. The eternal Creator works without ceasing and disposes all things in a wonderful order; let every one treat devoutly of those glorious acts, according as his inclination and ability prompt him and as he shall be divinely instigated.

242 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.II.

CH. II. Some account of Hugh d'Avranches, earl of Chester - His character - His excellent chaplain Gerald.

IN the year of our Lord 1066, the fifth indiction, the race of the great king Edgar having so degenerated that none of his descendants were able to sustain the weight of the royal sceptre, William, duke of Normandy, crossed over to England with many thousand troops, and on the field of Senlac slew Harold the usurper of the English throne. Soon afterwards on Christmas day, he was crowned at Westminster by Aldred archbishop of York, with the acclamations of both Normans and English, and governed the kingdom of England with a strong hand twenty years, eight months and sixteen days. [1] Under his rule the native inhabitants were crushed, imprisoned, disinherited, banished and scattered beyond the limits of their own country; while his own vassals and adherents were exalted to wealth and honours and raised to all the offices of the state. Among these Hugh D'Avranches, son of Richard surnamed Goz, was highly distinguished among the chief nobility, and invested with the earldom of Chester by the advice of the king's counsel after Gerbod of Flanders had returned home. [2] This Hugh was fondly attached to the world and worldly pomps, in which he considered the highest portion of human happiness to consist. He was a brave soldier, lavish in his liberalities, and took great delight in riotous sports, in jesters, horses and dogs, with other vanities of that sort. He was always surrounded by a numerous household, in which a crowd of young men of all ranks both low and high continually revelled. But the earl also entertained about him many honourable men, clerks as well as knights, and was well pleased to share with them both his cares and his riches. Attached to his chapel was a clerk from Avranches, named Gerald, [3] who was eminent for piety and virtue as well as for learning. This chaplain performed daily the service of God and frequently celebrated the holy offering with great devotion. He used his best offices with the courtiers of his


[1] December 25, 1066-September 9, 1087.

[2] Our author has given some further particulars of Hugh d'Avranches, earl of Chester, in b. iv. c. 7. See before pp. 47, 48.

[3] Gerald assumed the monastic habit in the Benedictine Abbey attached to the cathedral of Winchester.

GERALD, CHAPLAIN OF HUGH D'AVRANCHES. 243

lord, by setting before them the example of those who had gone before, to move them to amendment of life. He observed in many, and justly condemned, their headstrong tendency to carnal pursuits, and mourned over the neglect of divine worship generally shown. Great barons, simple knights, and noble youths all received their share of his salutary admonitions, and he drew both from the Old Testament and the more recent Christian records copious accounts of holy warriors who were worthy of their imitation. He described with eloquence the combats of Demetrius and George, Theodore and Sebastian, of Maurice, tribune of the Theban legion, and Eustachius, the illustrious commander of the forces, with his comrades, who obtained heaven by the crown of martyrdom. [1] To these he added the history of William the noble champion, who after a long military service renounced the world and gloriously fought the fight of faith under the monastic rule. Many profited by Gerald's exhortations, and like gallant ships were towed through this world's waves and safely moored in the haven of a regular life.

CH. III. The story of St. William (Court-nez) duke of Septimania and count of Toulouse and Barcelona under Charlemagne - His wars with the Saracens - Becomes a monk - founds the abbey of St. Saviour in the Herault.

HAVING happened to mention St. William, I take the opportunity of inserting in my history a short account of his life. I am satisfied that it is very little known in this province, and there are many persons who will be gratified by being furnished with a faithful memoir of so distinguished a saint. Anthony, a monk of Winchester, brought it here not long since, and, complied with our eager desire to see it. There is indeed a story in verse concerning St. William which is commonly sung by gleemen, [2] but the preference must be


[1] An opportunity will occur in b. ix. of our author's history, for giving some account of the first three saints here mentioned, who belonged to the Greek church. St. Maurice, and his soldiers of the Theban legion, suffered martyrdom on September 22, 286, under the emperor Maximian, at a place then called Agaunum, but now well known as St. Maurice in the Valais. St. Sebastian was martyred at Rome about the year 288 (Jan. 20). St. Eustachius also suffered martyrdom at Rome under Adrian (Nov. 1).

[2] These songs on the acts of St. William, called William Court-Nez, are preserved in the Royal Library at Paris. See description of the MSS. by M. Pauslin. Paris, t. iv. p. 113 and 172.

244 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.III.

justly given to an authentic narrative, written with care by learned monks, and which is respectfully recited by studious readers in the presence of the assembled brethren. But as the bearer was in haste to depart and the severe winter's frost prevented me from writing, I made a short abridgment on my tablets, [1] which I now hasten to transfer correctly to parchment and thus spread abroad tho fame of the brave lord-marcher.

In the time of Pepin, king of the Franks, count Theodoric [2] had by his wife Aldana a son named William. The boy was taught letters from his childhood, and afterwards took arms in the service of Charlemagne. He obtained the title and office of a count and the command of the first cohort in the army. Charles afterwards made him duke of Aquitain, [3] and confided to him an expedition against king Theodebald, [4] the Spaniards and Saracens. Having lost no time in marching into Septimania, he crossed the Rhone and laid siege to the city of Orange which he reduced, defeating the invaders. He then fought many battles with the infidels from beyond sea and the Arabs of the neighbourhood, his sword, by God's help, giving safety to the faithful, enlarging the bounds of


[1] The author again speaks of his sufferings from the cold at the close of the present book. The climate of Normandy does not appear to have been much improved since he wrote, for even at a recent period Mr. St. John, in his entertaining journal of a residence near Caen, describes the winter to have been so severe as to have often incapacitated him for literary occupation, much in the same terms as Ordericus used eight hundred years before. The nature and scarcity of the fuel must, doubtless, have added to the distress. Our author seems to indicate that the frost interfered less with his tracing his extracts on tablets coated with wax, using a hard stile or pen, than with his writing on parchment with pen and ink, which is perfectly natural.

[2] Some authors have supposed that this Count Theodoric is the same person as the Theodoricus comes described by Eginhard as a relation of Charlemagne.

[3] St. William was not created duke of Aquitain by Charlemagne in 789, but count de Toulouse, in the place of Corson, with the title of duke, probably of Septimania.

[4] We find no such name as this among the Saracen kings and emirs with whom St. William was in conflict during his long military career, 789-806, in the time of Hatchem and El-Hakem, successively caliphs of Cordova.

WILLIAM, COUNT OF TOULOUSE. 245

the Christian empire, and subduing the Saracens. [1] William built a monastery in honour of St. Saviour and the twelve apostles in the territory of Lodeve in a valley called Gellone surrounded by rocks, [2] placing in it an abbot and a company of devout monks, and largely endowing it with all things necessary for them, and he had their grants confirmed by his own and royal charters. His two sisters Albana and Bertha became nuns there and continued perseveringly in the service of God.

A long time afterwards, William coming to France on the summons of Charles [3] was honourably received and disclosed to him his desire of becoming a monk. The king could not refrain from tears in granting his permission, and bid him take whatever he would from his treasury to carry to his church. However William rejected all worldly riches, but asked for and obtained a reliquary containing a portion of the wood of the holy cross. It had been sent to Charles by Zachariah, patriarch of Jerusalem, a prelate of great worth, while the king was at Rome in the first year of his reign. When William's intention to change his state of life became known, the king's court was agitated and all the city in an uproar. A crowd of nobles forced their way into his presence, and sorrowfully entreated him not to desert them. He however, inflamed with divine ardour, abandoned all, and, being brought on his way with great honour, bidding them farewell, at length left the army of the Franks amid their tears and groans. When he reached the town of Brives he offered his armour on the altar of St. Julian the martyr, [4] hanging his helmet and splendid shield over the martyr's tomb in the church, and suspending outside the door his


[1] It does not appear that the invasions of the Saracens during the government of Duke William ever reached the banks of the Rhone, and still less the territory of Orange. His most remarkable exploit was the taking of Barcelona in the year 801.

[2] The little valley of Gellone, near its junction with that of the Herault, in the canton of Lodeve.

[3] According to the original legend, the emperor did not send for the count. This intercourse took place in the year 806.

[4] The altar of the church of the celebrated chapter of St. Julian of Brives in the Limosin. The arms offered by St. William were still preserved in the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the treasury of this chapter, and attested by their weight, as well as their dimensions, the strength and size of the warrior who bore them.

246 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.III.

quiver and bow with his long lance and two-edged sword, as an offering to God. He then set forth in the guise of a pilgrim of Christ and passed through Aquitain to the monastery which he had built a short time before in the wilderness. He drew near to it with naked feet and with hair-cloth about his body. When the brethren heard of his approach, they met him at the cross roads, and forming a festive procession against his will, conducted him to the abbey. He then made his offering of the reliquary more precious than gold, with gold and silver vessels and all kinds of ornaments, and having proffered his petition gave up the world with all its pomps and enticements.

In the year of our Lord, therefore, 806, in the fifth [1] year of the reign of the Emperor Charles, on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, Count William became a monk, and was suddenly changed aud made another person in Christ Jesus. For after his profession he was taught without being offended, and corrected without being angry. He suffered blows and injuries unresistingly and without having recourse to threats. He rejoiced to be subject, and delighted in every kind of humiliation, being ready to serve, obey, and submit to all. He made daily progress in all sanctity and religion and the observance of the sacred rule, like gold made bright in the furnace. He completed, according to his design, the monastery which was in an unfinished state when he became a monk, receiving the aid of his sons Bernard and William (to whom he had resigned his counties [2]), and of other counts in the neighbourhood. He made a road to the monastery by a sharp and difficult ascent through the mountains, cutting the rocks with


[1] It should be the sixth year.

[2] M. Le Prevost remarks that "our author, following his original, here represents the pious monk as disposing of his dignities just as if he had lived several generations later". The titles of duke, count, etc., certainly were not hereditary in the time of Charlemagne, nor till long afterwards. They were merely personal, and conferred official rank and power as governors of provinces, etc., at the will of the emperor or king. Still St. William, as a favourite general of Charlemagne, may have obtained permission to resign his governments in favour of his sons. In point of fact, we find Bernard, the eldest, in possession of the duchy of Septimania and the counties of Toulouse and Barcelona, but not till the year 817 as to the first, and 820 as far as concerns the two last.

THE COUNT'S LABOURS AS A MONK. 247

hammers and pickaxes and other iron tools, and with the fragments laid the base of a causeway along the river Herault and abutting on the heights. [1]

Lewis, king of Aquitain, the son of Charlemagne, at the request of William, gave to the monastery, with great willingness, several fiefs in his territories, and confirmed the grant by a royal charter sealed with his ring. [2] Meanwhile, William caused vineyards and oliveyards, and several gardens to be laid out on the ground surrounding the monastery, and clearing the valley of the woods which naturally grew there, planted fruit trees in their place. He devoted himself with intense industry to these and similar works, labouring with his own hands, for the love of God, in rural occupations, and continually thus employed himself with true humility and religion. He often prostrated himself before the abbot and brethren, beseeching that for God's mercy, he might be allowed still greater self-renunciation and humiliation. He sought the lowest offices in the monastery; it was his desire to be considered the vilest of all, and to be held in contempt. He would be a beast of burthen, and as an ass's colt bear the burthens of the brethren in the house of the Lord. He who had been a mighty duke was not ashamed to mount a miserable ass with a load of bottles. See the Lord William from a count become a cook, from a duke become a menial, loading his shoulders with faggots, carrying vessels of water, lighting and extinguishing fires. With his own hand he washes the bowls and platters, gathers vegetables, makes the soup and mixes the pulse with it. When the hour of refection is come, without delay he spreads the table for the monks in due order, while he himself, still fasting, watches and guards the house. He


[1] The Herault, which now gives its name to a department of France, rises in the Cevennes, and runs into the gulf of Lyons between Montpelier and Narbonne. The abbey of St. Saviour being built in a rocky valley, surrounded by mountains, far up towards the source of the river, the difficulties St. William had to contend with in making the road may be easily conceived. But the old general seems to have been a good engineer as well as planter and gardener, to say nothing of the more humble offices ascribed to him in this most amusing legend, in which truth and fiction are strangely mingled.

[2] The royal charter bears date, Dec. 28, 808. The lands granted are in the district of Beziers.

248 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.III.

undertakes the baking, heats the oven, places the loaves in it and draws the bread when it is baked.

Once, when wood for baking was scarce, he was forced to gather twigs, straw, and whatever he could lay hands on, which he threw into the oven in order to heat it quickly. But as time pressed and those within sharply chid this servant of God because the usual hour for the brethren's meal was somewhat passed, and he had nothing that would serve to clear out the ashes, he invoked Christ, and making the sign of the cross, entered the oven and did all that was needful without sustaining any injury. Throwing out the hot cinders with his naked hands, he collected the ashes in his cowl without its being singed, put the oven in order and sprinkled it for putting in the loaves. Though William thus stood in the fire for some time, neither his body nor his clothes were scorched. After this, however, the abbot, by the advice of the brethren, forbad his engaging in any servile works, and, allotting him a suitable cell, enjoined him to apply his leisure to prayer and holy meditation. Thus having had a long experience of active exercises, he began to take rest in a life of reflection, and, having performed the service and busy occupations of Martha, joined with Mary in the delights of heavenly contemplation.

When, at length, William was full of perfection in virtue, he was endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and his course of life was shown him by divine revelation. He predicted the day of his death to the abbot and brethren, and even announced it in writing to many of the neighbours. He also sent a messenger to Charlemagne to inform him distinctly by what sign he should know the hour of his death. At last, after all offices had been duly performed, the blessed William departed on the fifth of the calends of June, [1] [May 28], to the joy of angels and the grief of men. There immediately followed in all the churches, great and small, throughout the neighbouring districts, a loud and strange tolling of the bells, both tenor and treble; [2] and the knell was rung and the small bell tinkled for a long space of time,


[1] In the year 812.

[2] "Il est visible que dans ce passage, signum ordinairement synonyme de cempana, a ete employe dans le sens de clochettes ou grelots, tintinnabule".- Le Prevost.

THE COUNT CANONIZED. 249

although no human hands pulled the ropes or swung the clappers, but solely by divine power acting on them from heaven. The holy body of the illustrious saint was honourably interred in the abbey of St. Saviour, and the praises of God were devoutly sung for many miracles gloriously performed, The venerable monastery remains there to the present day, in which a great company of monks, the army of the Lord God of Sabaoth triumphantly serves, and by the merits of St. William, who from an illustrious knight became a pious monk, crowds of sick people receiving health rejoice in Christ Jesus, who gives eternal glory to all who are united to him.

CH. IV. Gerald of Avranches, prior of Cranbourn - afterwards abbot of Tewksbury - Robert Fitz-Hamon, its founder - Roger Fitz-Warrene a noble monk of St. Evroult.

IT was thus that Gerald of Avranches frequently recounted the triumphs of the invincible soldiers of Christ, and stirred up the knights with whom he associated, and their well-born squires, both by persuasions and alarms, to a similar course of life. The result was, that in the first instance five men of eminence quitted the earl's household, whose names are these; Roger, son of Erneis, nephew of William Warrene, earl of Surry, Arnulf, son of Humphrey de Tilleul, nephew of Hugh de Grantmesnil, viscount of Leicester, and Guy of Mantes his squire; Dreux, son of Geoffrey de Neuf-Marche and Odo, son of Arnulf of Dol, and chaplain to the earl. At the suggestion of Arnulf, whose kinsmen had assisted in building the abbey of St. Evroult, all these went to Ouche and were gladly received into the monastery by abbot Mainier. They lived there regularly for a long time, and contributed to the prosperity of the community by their exertions and care.

Thus Gerald had by preaching the word of God stirred up to better things those who were sunk in fatal obliviousness in the gulf of the world's temptations, as the cock rouses those who are sleeping in the dead of the night. He now shook his wings, and casting off his sluggishness, with a lively effort prepared to follow his disciples, who have just been named, to St. Evroult. But God's providence

250 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IV.

compelled him to remain in England. For, having reached Winchester, he was taken very ill, and, in fear of death, devoutly assumed the monastic habit in the old monastery of St. Peter, where he long lived a regular life under the abbot Walkeline, and Godfrey the religious and learned prior. [1] Some time afterwards he was canonically advanced to ecclesiastical rule, and was appointed the first abbot of Tewksbury, when Samson of Bayeux [2] was bishop of Worcester. Robert Fitz-Hamon [3] had founded this abbey of Tewksbury, on the river Severn, in the reign of William the younger, king of England, and richly endowed it. [4] Gerald, now raised to the summit of pastoral care, diligently fulfilled the holy duty of preaching, which he had willingly performed while he was only a clerk, and by that means drawn many from the depths of debauchery and rapacity to purity and innocence of life. He gave the regular institutions of the order to his new society, admitted a number of novices


[1] Godfrey de Cambray was made prior of Winchester in 1082, when his predecessor Vauquelin was appointed abbot of Ely. He died in the odour of sanctity, Dec. 27, 1107.

[2] He was brother of Thomas, archbishop of York, and was consecrated bishop of Worcester, June 15, 1096, and died, May 5, 1112.

[3] Robert, earl of Gloucester, the natural son of Henry I., married the daughter and heiress of this Robert Fitz-Hamon, and succeeded to his great estates. Hamon-aux-Dents, lord of Creulli and Torigni, who was killed at the battle of Valesdunes (1047) left two sons, Hamon, steward of King William, and Robert, who appears to have died without children before the Domesday book was compiled. Hamon, the steward, was viscount of Kent, and one of the judges in the cause between Lanfranc and Odo, bishop of Bayeux. He had two sons, the eldest of whom was this Robert Fitz-Hamon, and the second was named Hamon, like his father and grandfather.

[4] It was originally a priory, founded as early as the year 715. Alward, or Ethelward, surnamed Mew, was its patron in the time of King Ethelred and St. Dunstan. About the year 980 he founded a small monastery on his domains at Crimbourn in Dorsetshire. Brictric Mew was his lineal descendant and heir. His estates were given to Queen Matilda, and after her death, by William Rufus to Robert Fitz-Hamon. That king, and afterwards his brother Henry in 1100, confirmed to the abbey of St. Mary at Tewksbury the endowment made by Robert Fitz-Hamon, who, at the instance of his wife Sibyl, and Gerald d'Avranches, abbot of Cranbourn, determined in 1102 to rebuild the church of Tewksbury from the foundation, and to transfer there the monks of Cranbourn, except a prior and two brethren. The union of the two establishments dates only from this period and not from the time of Alward.

AFTER A.D. 1096.] GERALD MADE ABBOT OF TEWKSBURY. 251

under the monastic rule, and gave them the best regulations for a life of strictness. He took part with those who were under his government in religious offices, and sometimes even exceeded the juniors in the labours to be undergone; while he managed the affairs of the monastery both internally and externally with diligence and prudent address. However, after some years the malice of Satan was directed against the Lord's flock, grievously afflicting the tender sheep by the trouble iniquitously caused to their shepherd. For, after Robert Fitz-Hamon's death, Robert of Brittany brought some false charges before King Henry against his abbot, by whom he had been admitted into the monastery. The abbot being summoned before the king declined to enter into long explanations, but, satisfied with the consciousness of his innocence, voluntarily resigned to the king the government of his abbey, and after submitting to Martha's toilsome services, chose with Mary the better part, by returning again to his retirement in the monastery at Winchester. To finish his history, he sometime afterwards received an invitation from the venerable Ralph, bishop of Rochester, [1] and at the request of many persons, went to the bishop for the purpose of conferring with him on sacred subjects; but while there, at the summons of God, he took to his bed, and having duly performed all that was fitting for a servant of God died in sanctity. [2]

Roger de Warrenne, who was converted, as we have already seen, by the exhortations of Gerald, escaping as it were from the destruction of Sodom, went to St. Evroult with four of his companions to become a monk, and lived there nearly forty-six years, filled with zeal for the duties of his order, and abounding in all virtues. Though his person was handsome, he chose to disfigure it by a mean dress. A respectful modesty marked his whole demeanour,


[1] He was born near St. Pierre-sur-Dive, and assumed the monastic habit at St. Martin-de-Seez, of which he became abbot in 1089. Being obliged to leave Normandy on acconnt of the tyranny of Robert de Belesme, he took refuge in England in 1103, was made bishop of Rochester in 1103, and translated to the archbishopric of Canterbury, April 26, 1114.

[2] It appears from the chronicle of Tewksbury, that Gerald (who is called Giralde) was at first abbot of Cranbourn, before the change mentioned in the preceding note. He was therefore the first abbot of the new monastery, as our author says, and the last of the old.

252 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI.CH.IV.

his voice was musical, and he had an agreeable way of speaking. His strength of body enabled him to undergo much toil, while be was at all times ready to sing psalms and hymns. He was gifted with pleasing manners and courteous towards his brother monks. He was abstemious himself but generous to others, always alive for vigils, and incredibly modest. He did not plume himself with carnal ostentation on account of his noble birth, but obeyed the rule with unhesitating humility, and chose with pleasure to perform the lowest offices required of the monks. For many years he was in the habit of cleaning the brethren's shoes, washing their stockings, and cheerfully doing other services which appear mean to stupid and conceited persons. He ornamented a book of the gospels with gold, silver, and precious stones, and procured several vestments and copes for the chanters, with carpets, and curtains, and other ornaments, for the church. He got all he could from his brothers and relations, as occasion offered, and what he wrested from their bodily gratifications he applied with joy to divine offices for the good of their souls.

Richard de Coulonces, the brother of this Roger, came to St. Evroult and gave to the abbey the church of Etouvi, which he had redeemed from one Ernest, his tenant, adding the tithe of two mills. The grant of these possessions, in which Adelaide, his wife, and the aforesaid Ernest, joined, he placed on the altar. In return for this grant, the monks gave to Richard eight livres, and to Robert de Mowbray, [1] who was the paramount lord, a hundred shillings, whereupon he forthwith, in the orchard of Turstin de Soulangi, [2] confirmed the grant of the church of Etouvi as the monks required. This Richard de Coulonces became very rich, and being a favourite with King Henry rose to eminence among his peers. His prosperity continued to an advanced age, and he had by his wife eleven sons and four daughters, whose names are here given: Hugh, Geoffrey, Richard. John, Robert, Odo, Henry, Ivo, Rodolph, William, and Henry; Rohais, Adeliza, Matilda, and Avicia. Of these, two were dedicated to God from their infancy; for John


[1] Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, nephew of Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances.

[2] Soulangi, near Falaise.

A.D. 1081.] ST. EVROULT ABBEY LANDS IN ENGLAND. 253

was admitted a monk at St. Evroult, and Adeliza became a nun in the convent of the Holy Trinity at Caen.

Richard de Coulonces died on the seventeenth of the calends of October [September 15], in the year of our Lord 1125; and the year following his son Hugh came to St. Evroult, and making an offering to God upon the altar, of a golden salver, truly confirmed the grant of all that his father had given as before-mentioned, placing also the charter on the altar. He also devoted himself to St. Evroult.

CH. V. Abbot Mainier's journey to England Obtains grants of lands and tithes for St. Evroult - The charter of William I. - Queen Matilda's visit - Abbots Roger du Sap and Warin des-Essarts.

ENCOURAGED by the serenity shed on affairs by prosperous times, Abbot Mainier crossed the sea to England in the fourteenth year of his government, [1] having in his company Roger de Warrene and Dreux de Neuf-Marche. He presented himself at the court of King William, from whom he had often received invitations, and paid friendly visits to Lanfranc the archbishop, and others, to whom he was greatly attached. He was treated with great respect by the king and his nobles, and took the opportunity of addressing prudent admonitions to the brethren of St. Evroult, who had left Normandy to better their fortunes, and obtained promotion in England. These distinguished monks were also received with favour by the great lords of the realm, whose kindness to the strangers was shown by the gifts heaped upon them out of the wealth acquired with violence in a foreign land. The king and his nobles joyfully made them gifts of farms, sums of money, and ornaments for their church, commending themselves to their prayers with confidence and devotion. At this time the possessions, churches, and tithes, which the friends and neighbours of the monks of St. Evroult had granted to them, were recorded in a charter for the better knowledge of posterity. The charter by which the illustrious William freely confirmed the grants made by himself and his liege-men to the abbey of St. Evroult, by his royal authority, is in these words

"William, by the grace of God, king of England, duke of


[1] In the year 1081.

251 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.V.

Normandy and prince of Maine, to all who profess the catholic faith and keep the peace of the church, sends full and infinite joy. Whereas the life of man is short, and all things are transitory from one generation to another, we are pleased to confirm the statutes of our time by an instrument in writing, that what we duly execute, of our own right and the power given to us by God, none of our successors may presume to violate, lest he should be found to withstand Him who disposes kingdoms according to his will. I therefore William, by the grace of God king, have determined to endow, in frank-almoign, in the kingdom committed to me by God for my eternal profit, the convent of St. Evroult; and whatever my faithful subjects lawfully dedicate to God, for the common salvation of all, out of the possessions given them by me I ratify, and by these presents, under my hand, make known the confirmation to all now living, and to all the faithful in time to come. In the first place therefore I give, out of my domains, to the abbey of Ouche, which Evroult the holy confessor of Christ built in the wilderness, the ville called Rawell, that is, Goatswell, in Gloucestershire, [1] and, in Lincolnshire, the church of Nettleham, [2] with all its appurtenances. Moreover, the lords who hold under me having given the following domains to St. Evroult, have demanded that they should be secured by the authority of a royal charter against all pretenders. Roger of Shrewsbury hath given all that he holds at Melbourne, in Cambridgeshire, [3] together with Onne and Marston [4] in Staffordshire, and one hide of land in


[1] Before the conquest this manor belonged to the Saxon Ulward. The monks of St. Evroult exchanged it, by licence from Ed. I., with those of Winchcomb for twenty pounds rent out of their manors of Drymarston and Admington.

[2] Nettleham, three miles from Lincoln. Domesday book contains no record of this grant to St. Evroult. The patronage of the church has belonged from time immemorial to the bishop of Lincoln.

[3] Melbourne and Meldreth, two parishes in the present hundred of Armingford in Cambridgeshire, are recorded in Domesday book as belonging to Roger de Montgomery.

[4] Little-On, itt the parish of Church-Eaton, Staffordshire; the church is of Norman architecture. Marston is a manor near Stafford, and gave name to a prebend in the collegiate church of St. Mary there. In Domesday book, Marston is appropriated to the abbey of St. Evroult, under Earl Roger. The manor afterwards belonged to the Giffards of Chillington.

A.D. 1081.] CHARTER OF WILLIAM I. 255

Graffham, [1] and the land of Wulfine the goldsmith, at Chichester, and the tithes of cheese and wool at Poulton, [2] and the tithes of Shengay in Cambridgeshire. Likewise Mabel, the said earl's daughter, gave out of her rents in England sixty pence sterling for the lights of the church. Warin, viscount of Shrewsbury, gave to St. Evroult Newton [3] and the church and tithes of Hales, with the tithes of Weston in Staffordshire. All these Earl Roger his lord confirmed. Moreover, Hugh de Grantmesnil, (who, with his brother Robert and his uncles William and Robert, sons of Giroie, rebuilt the abbey of St. Evroult), gave the following hereditaments in England to hold for ever: all the land he had in Little Pillerton in Warwickshire, and two parts of the tithes of all his lands, together with sixteen villeins to collect the tithes, and nine churches. He gave also three villeins at Shilton, [4] two at Ware, [5] two at Belgrave, one at Stoughton, one at Laughton, one at Tormodeston, one at Kirkby, [6] one at Merston, one at Oxhill, [7] one at Charlton, and one in the other Charlton. [8] He also gave the church of Ware, with all the tithes belonging thereto, and two plough-lands; and


[1] Graffham, a parish near Midhurst in Sussex.

[2] Poulton, in the hundred of Highworth, Wilts.

[3] Newton, a hamlet in the parish of Blithfield, Sherriff-Hales (from Warin the viscount), and Weston-under-Lizzard, all in Staffordshire. Newton and Weston were held of the king in capite at the time of making Domesday book, by Reginald de Baliol, who married the widow of Warin the viscount, and succeeded him in his office. Hales was at the same time held in capite by Earl Roger, and under him by Reginald de Baliol. It afterwards became the chief seat in England of the family of Pantoul, called also Paunton, Pantulf, or Pandulf. William Pantoul was a great benefactor to St. Evroult, and the connexion continued after the family settled in England. See b. v. c. 16.

[4] Earl-Shilton, a manor and chapel in the parish of Kirkby-Malory, in the hundred of Sparkenhoe in Leicestershire.

[5] Ware in Hertfordshire, a priory dependent upon the abbey of St. Evroult. The prior acted as general proctor for the abbey in England, not only as regarded the possessions of that house, but also for those of its priories of Noyon and Neuf-Marche.

[6] Belgrave, near Leicester; Stoughton, a hamlet in the parish of Thornby; Church-Langton, near Market-Harborough; Tormodeston (Thurmeston), a hamlet and chapel in the parish of Belgrave; Kirkby-Malory, mentioned before, in Leicestershire.

[7] Butlers-Merston; Oxhill (Ostesilve); parishes in the hundred of Kineton in Warwickshire.

[8] Charlton-Curlieu, Leicestershire, and Charlton-upon-Otmoor, Oxfordshire.

256 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.V.

the church of Turchillestone, the tithes thereto belonging, and two yard-lands; the church of Glendfield, with all the tithes, and two yard-lands; the church of Charlton with the tithes, and five yard-lands; the church of Nosley [1] with the tithes, and two yard-lands; the church of Mergrave, now called Belgrave, with the tithes and eleven yard-lands; with Wilcot, [2] and whatever Hugh the clerk of Sap held under him in England; the church of Merston [3] with the tithes and land thereto belonging; also the church of Pilardenton, with the tithes and tenements appertaining to the church; the church of the other Charlton, with the tithes and three yard-lands; the church of Cotesford, [4] with the tithes and one hide of land; and the church of Peatling, with all that Leofric held there under him. [5] These are the possessions which Hugh de Grantmesnil hath given to St. Evroult with my consent. Also Ralph de Conches hath given to the said saint two manors, Alvinton in Worcestershire and Caldecot in Norfolk; [2] and Hugh, the son of Constantius, hath given the church of Guafra and one hide of land. [7] Moreover, Hugh, earl of Chester, hath dedicated his son Robert to God, as a monk in the abbey of St. Evroult, and hath given to the same church one hide of


[1] Turchillestone (Thurcaston) Glendfield, Nosley, all in Leicestershire.

[2] Wilcot, a manor and hamlet in the parish of Quinton, Gloucestershire.

[3] Merston; Butler's-Merston, already mentioned. The patronage of the church did not rest with the abbey of St. Evroult, which possessed only the tithes. Ralph-the-Butler gave it to the abbey of Alcester.

[4] Cotesford, a parish in the hundred of Ploughley, Oxfordshire. The manor had been granted to Ralph d'Ivri, Hugh de Grantmesnil's son-in- law, when Domesday book was compiled. His wife, Adeline de Grantmesnil, gave it to the abbey of Bec, with several other manors composing her dowry, and her sister Rohais, married to Robert de Courci, gave to the same abbey a manor she held by the same title at Cotesford. The monks of St. Evroult ceded the patronage of this church to the priory of Okebourne, a cell of Bec.

[5] In Leicestershire; part of the domains of Adeliza, Hugh de Grantmesnil'a wife, when Domesday book was made, which says that Leofric held under her eight plough-lands and a half. Peatling was called a priory until about the year 1379, when it is described as a dependency on Ware.

[6] Alton, a hamlet in the parish of Rock, hundred of Doddingtree, Worcestershire; Caldecot, a hamlet, formerly a parish, in the hundred of Guenhow, Norfolk.

[7] Guafra, Wara, Over, Churchover, in the hundred of Knighton, Warwickshire. In Domesday book it is part of the fief of Robert de Stafford, brother of this Ralph de Conches, or Toni.

A.D. 1081.] CHARTER OF WILLIAM I. 257

land in Little Pilardenton, [1] and the tithes of one farmer in the vill called Birch-hill, [2] and the tithes of Shenley in Buckinghamshire. Also Robert de Rhuddlan, with the consent of his lord, the said Hugh, earl of Chester, gave Kirby, [3] with two churches, one in the village itself, and the other at the manor lying near, surrounded by the sea; together with the church of St. Peter the apostle and its appurtenances, in the city of Chester; [4] and the church of St. Lawrence at Marston, in Northamptonshire, with its appurtenances; and in the same county the church of Byfield, with two plough-lands. [5] Also other mesne-tenants of Earl Hugh gave to St. Evroult tithes in Lincolnshire, viz., Roscelin of Stainton, Osbern, son of Tezson, of Newbold, Baldric de Fairford, [6] the tythe with one villein; Roger de Millai, [7] and Brisard, and Robert Pultrel [8] in Leicestershire. All these gave their tithes to St. Evroult, and the aforesaid earl freely confirmed the grant. All the aforesaid lands which I have given to the abbey, often before mentioned, from my own demesne, and which my barons and I have confirmed to the same, I ratify by this present charter, made at the city of


[1] Little Pillerton, in the hundred of Kineton, Warwickshire.

[2] There are three adjoining parishes of this name in the hundred of Newport, Buckinghamshire. Shenley, in the same hundred, has been mentioned before.

[3] West Kirby, a parish in the hundred of Wirral, Cheshire. The church is dedicated to St. Bridget. The other church here mentioned is St. Diary's, in Hilburg-Eye (Norsk for an islet), now Hillbree, and annexed to the parish of St. Donald, belonging to the cathedral of Chester.

[4] The abbey and convent of St. Evroult afterwards gave up to the monks of St. Werburgh at Chester all their rights in this and the two preceding churches, in consideration of a yearly rent of twenty pounds issuing out of the manor of Peatling in Leicestershire.

[5] Marston-St.-Lawrence, a parish in the hundred of King-Sutton; Byfield, in that of Chipping-Warden, both in Northamptonshire. These two manors formed part of the hundred of the earl of Chester, and were held under him by Robert de Rhuddlan when Domesday-book was compiled.

[6] All in the division of Lindsey in Lincolnshire. These three places were part of the domains of Earl Hugh, and the names mentioned in the charter are included among his vassals in Domesday-book.

[7] Roger de Millai was also a mesne tenant of Earl Hugh in Teddingworth. His surname was brought with him from Normandy, very probably from the parish of Melai in Cinglais.

[8] This Robert de Pultrel gave his name to Hotton, a hamlet of the parish of Pustwold, also held of Earl Hugh. The name of Poultrel is still common in Normandy.

258 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.V

Winchester, in the year of our Lord 1081, the fourth indiction; and I deliver this instrument to be executed with the mark of the holy cross, to those my capital tenants, who have given their lands in frank almoign or their sureties, that this endowment may be for ever ratified by royal authority, and that sacrilegious invaders of sacred rights may incur the penalty of an irrevocable anathema, unless they repent of their crime".

In consequence William, the great king of England, first affixed the sign of the holy cross to this charter, and after him the following nobles also subscribed, whose names are hereunder written: viz. Robert and William, the king's sons and earls of the highest rank; Roger of Shrewsbury, Hugh of Chester, Ralph de Conches, and William de Breteuil, Hugh Grantmesnil and his nephew Robert de Rhuddlan, [1] Robert son of Murdac, [2] Goulfier de Villerai, [3] William de Molines, [4] Richer de Laigle, Eudes the steward, and Warin, Viscount of Shrewsbury. [5]

On his return from England, Abbot Mainier brought with him this charter and laid it up in the archives of the church. Then Queen Matilda, hearing a good report of the life of the monks, came to St. Evroult to pay her devotions, and being received by the brethren with due honours offered a mark of gold on the altar, and commended herself with her daughter Constance to the prayers of the brethren. [6] She also ordered


[1] Rhuddlan in Flintshire.

[2] This noble family, which has extended its branches both in Normandy and England, and a member of which was archbishop of York in the twelfth century, appears to have been originally lords of Courtonne-la-Meurdrac, near Lisieux. In Domesday-book we find Robert, son of Murdac, described as tenant in capite of two manors, one in Oxfordshire, the other in Hampshire.

[3] See b. iii. c. 19.

[4] See b. v. c. 13.

[5] Warin, the viscount, often mentioned before. See p. 196. He was not, however, the brother of Reginald de Baliot, but his first wife's husband.

[6] It appears from this passage that Queen Matilda remained in Normandy while William was in England. M. Le Prevost remarks that he was mistaken in fixing the marriage of Constance with Alan Fergan, duke of Brittany, about the year 1077, when she was quite young. See c. 13, p. 105. She may have been betrothed about that time (1076), but the marriage did not take place till 1086.

QUEEN EMMA VISITS ST. EVROULT. 259

that a refectory of stone, for their common use, should be built at her expense. She further gave to St. Evroult a chasuble enriched with gold and jewels, and an elegant cope for the chanter, with a promise to make further offerings if she lived; but she was prevented by death from fulfilling it. Likewise Adeline, wife of Roger de Beaumont, [1] gave to the monks of St. Evroult an alb fringed with gold, which the priest was used to wear when celebrating mass on solemn occasions. In like manner many persons of both sexes made offerings of various kinds to the abbey, desiring to participate in the spiritual benefits which were there conferred by the Maker of the universe.

At this time three brothers served God with merit in the monastic habit at St. Evroult; Roger, surnamed Nicholas, Roger and Odo. They were the sons of a priest named Gervase de Montreuil, who had been long ago transferred by abbot Theodoric from being curate of the parish of Les Essarts to that of Sap. The three brothers made their profession while they were youths, and becoming remarkable among the brethren for their worth, were highly esteemed both by God and man. The eldest was an unlearned man, but a devoted lover of virtue, and he skilfully superintended the work of building the new church. The two others were eminent scholars and priests, firm supporters of their superior, and his able vicars, both within and without the convent. The abbot made Odo prior of his monastery, for though he was the youngest brother he was the best speaker and most fitted for active affairs. Roger the eldest brother who had made the greatest advances in learning, was sent to England on affairs of the church. In this he promptly obeyed his superior's command; he also made by his own efforts a shrine to hold relics of the saints, which he elegantly ornamented with silver and gold. [2] His skill procured many treasures for the church, such as a variety of furniture, and copes and vestments for the chanters, sconces, silver dishes, and other


[1] She was daughter of Waleran, and sister of Hugh, count de Meulan, who became a monk at Bec in 1077, and died in 1079 or 1089. She married Roger de Beaumont, in 1036, and died in 1081.

[2] A chasse, or reliquary, of very ancient and curious workmanship, which may possibly have been that here mentioned, escaped the plunder of the revolution, and is still preserved at St. Evroult.

260 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VI.

ornaments used in divine service. He was gentle and modest, temperate in food, drink, and sleep, and beloved by all for his kind disposition. Having filled the various offices which the monastic system requires for twenty years, he was afterwards promoted, by common consent of tho brethren, to succeed Mainier and Serlo in the government of the abbey of St. Evroult. [1] He held it for thirty-three years through good and evil fortune, but finding himself broken by the infirmities of age, he committed it to one of his disciples named Warin, and for three years before his death, made him, as far as possible, his deputy and successor. [2] But of these affairs, if life be spared me, I shall, with God's help, give a full account in the sequel of this history. I now return to the enumeration of the possessions granted to the abbey of St. Evroult.

CH. VI. How the tithes of Lommoie were granted to the abbey of St. Evroult.

THE young Ralph, son of Albert de Cravent, at the commencement of his military career, fell in with Guitmond the monk [3] in the valley of Guyon, coming from Malik, attended by a servant; and unhorsing the monk, carried off the palfreys. The monk made his way to Paci on foot, and in great tribulation implored Albert's protection against his son. [4] The knight however replied superciliously, and at once refused to render him any assistance in the recovery of his horses. Upon finding this, Alberede his wife began making lamentations, tossing her hands, and tearing her hair, and mourning for her son as if he were just dead. She cried out like a distracted person, exclaiming with mingled groans and tears: "My son Ralph, you have begun your career in folly rather than in arms. Alas! you have listened to detestable teachers, and, foolish boy! have been led astray by their fatal sophisms, by which you are miserably drawn to the brink


[1] Roger du Sap was consecrated abbot of St. Evroult the 24th of August, 1099.

[2] Warin des Essarts was consecrated on Ascension day, the 24th of May, 1123. His predecessor survived till January 13, 1126 or 1127.

[3] Prior of Maule. See book v. c. 19.

[4] Paci-sur-Eure. Albert probably had a command in the garrison. The valley of Guyon must have lain between it and Maule.

PLUNDERING A MONK. 261

of perdition. What a sad message have you sent me! what bitter grief have you occasioned me! misguided young man! what shall I say to you? You have incurred fatal degradation by unjustly treating an unarmed servant of Christ. O my son Ralph! what were you doing in your folly when your first passage in arms was against the Almighty? I am persuaded full well, that I shall have small cause for joy and abundant sorrow for your exploit. Do not all the doctors of the church agree in asserting unanimously, that the Most High dwells in his saints and shares with them good and evil? And you, his father, come to the aid of your infatuated son, and use all diligence to have the stolen horses restored to the disconsolate monk, lest your only son should, for such a crime, be forthwith given over to the devil". The prudent mother thus supplicating for her son's welfare, and seriously endeavouring to console the distressed monk, Albert and all his household were moved and frightened, and his mule being returned he sent his men-at-arms with him as far as Breval, and having severely reprimanded his son insisted on his instantly giving up every thing he had taken from him. Guitmond therefore, recovering his horses, departed for Paci, having returned thanks to Albert and his wife, both of whom solicited and obtained his pardon for the offence which had been committed. Alberede was daughter of Hugh bishop of Evreux, [1] and was highly esteemed by the neighbours for her great worth, as far as things were in her power.

The same year the young man just spoken of fell sick, and repenting of his crime sought for pardon from the monks of St. Evroult, and devoted himself and all he posessed to the saint. At his death his sorrowing father caused his corpse to be conveyed to the abbey, and gave one moiety of the tithes of Lommoie to St. Evroult, free as he himself possessed it. The other moiety was held of him by the monks of Coulombs, [2] under the agreement that they should pay and perform on his behalf all episcopal dues and all services which were reserved. This grant was made to St. Evroult in the year of our lord 1070, when Philip was king of France and Geoffrey (nephew of Reginald, bishop of Paris) was bishop


[1] Hugh, bishop of Lisieux, who died at the council of Rheims, held in October, 1049, was eldest son of Ralph, count d'Ivri, uncle of Richard II.

[2] An abbey on the right bank of the Eure, near Nogent-le-roi.

262 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VII.

of Chartres. [1] Ralph Malvoisin, who was the lord of the fee, freely granted at Medan, on the request of abbot Mainier, the tithes of Lommoie, which as before related belonged to the church.

Not long afterwards Albert himself died, and his body was carried to St. Evroult, and the gift of the tithes was confirmed by his heirs, Guy his son-in-law, Everard de Rai his son, and Ralph de La Cunelle, and others who have succeeded to the present time; and the monks of St. Evroult, by God's mercy, have quietly possessed them for nearly sixty years under three bishops, Geoffrey, Ivo, and Geoffrey. [2]

CH. VII. Foundation of the priory of Aufay near Dieppe, a cell to St. Evroult - Possessions belonging to it in Normandy and England.

I WISH now to commit to writing for the benefit of posterity how and at what time the cell of Aufay, in the county of Talon, [3] was erected, and subjected to the monks of St. Evroult, in the time of King William and Archbishop John, and to record in this work the charter of donation and confirmation which was authorized by King Henry.

As human life is constantly fleeting, and mortal man must irrecoverably part with the possessions which he has used the greatest exertions to acquire, every one ought faithfully to obey the commandments of God while he lives and has it in his power, that, holding transitory things in contempt, he may by God's grace obtain those that are eternal. Taking this into his serious consideration, a noble Norman knight, named Gilbert, son of Richard de Heugleville, [4] at the instance


[1] From July 30, 1077-1089. The date given in the text is incorrect, though it is written at full length in the MS. of St. Evroult. It should probably have been 1080. This Geoffrey, bishop of Chartres, has been mentioned before, book v. c. 16.

[2] Geoffrey I., 1077-1089; Ives, 1090-1115; Geoffrey II., 1116-1149. This paragraph must have been written some time about the year 1140.

[3] The priory of Aufay, in the county of Talon, on the Sie, a rivulet which discharges itself into the sea a little to the west of Dieppe. Aufay is the second station on the railroad to Rouen, as Longueville, presently mentioned, the original seat of the Giffards, earls and dukes of Buckingham, is the first.

[4] Heugleville-sur-Sie.

PRIORY OF AUFAY, NEAR DIEPPE. 263

of his wife Beatrice, determined to establish monks on his patrimonial domains at Aufay, by whose intercessions and merits he might be aided in the day of account. His nephew Dreux had lately retired from his worldly service, and become a monk in the monastary of St. Evroult the confessor, for which reason Gilbert had become much attached to abbot Mainier and the monks, and gave them the church of St. Mary d'Aufay, with all his prebends; in such wise that six monks should be appointed instead of the six canons who then served the church, and should succeed to their prebends when the canons died or gave up their secular calling for a stricter rule of life. The aforesaid lord gave also to the same monks all the vill of Parc, [1] with the church and entire tithes of the same vill, as free and discharged from all burdensome services, as he held it himself. He released the men of Parc from all compulsory service, except they were summoned by the duke of Normandy in a general levy. He gave for yearly tithes from his mill at Aufay two bushels of wheat, and half a bushel of any sort of grain from another mill on the Sie. He also granted liberty for the monks to receive daily two ass-loads of fire-wood from his forest of Herichards. The aforesaid knight had the fee of two waggon loads of wine yearly from the duke of Normandy, out of which he granted for ever to the monks one muid for use in celebrating the mass. He further gave two churches, with all the tithes and land belonging to them, one at Parc which was built in honour of St. Mary, mother of God, and the other at Beaunai, dedicated to St. Peter, prince of the apostles. These being prebends of the church of Aufay were then held by two of the canons. Ralph served the church of Parc, but some time afterwards he was overtaken by a tempest as he was returning from England, and the ship being wrecked, perished in the sea with all on board. Walter had the church of Beaunai, but he soon afterwards became a monk of St. Evroult.

All these Gilbert, with his wife Beatrice, freely gave to the church of God for the good of his soul, and he often used his best efforts to persuade his tenants and friends to augment his endowment. Geoffrey therefore, one of his knights, gave to St. Mary the church of St. Denys [2] with all


[1] Notre-Dame-du-Parc.

[2] St. Denys-sur-Sie.

261 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VII.

the tithes, recovering for the church by entreaties and purchase the portions thereof which three knights, Osbern Capes, and two sons of Aszo, Bernard and Ralph, held of him. He also gave a farm, with the villeins and all the services due from them, in La Rue-Sauvage. Robert, a knight of Heugleville, gave to the monks the church of St. Aubin with the tithes, receiving a gratuity of sixteen livres of Rouen. Bernard, son of Geoffrey de Neuf Marche, granted to St. Mary the church of Speen [1] with the land belonging to it, and all the tithes which Everard the priest held, and gave for exchange of the churches of Burghill and Brinsop [2] twenty-pence of the rents of Newbury, at the feast of St. Michael. Baldric son of Nicholas, gave one burgess at Dieppe, [3] and Ralph son of Ansered one cottier at Hotot. [4]

In the year of our Lord 1079, the second indiction, in the fourteenth year of William the Great, [5] king of England and duke of Normandy, the aforesaid Gilbert and Beatrice his wife deposited the donation of the possessions before mentioned on the altar of St. Mary, in the presence of the following witnesses: Gilbert, Ralph, Walter, and John, the four canons of that church; Bernard de Neuf-Marche, Geoffrey de St. Denys, Osbern Capes, and Osbern Buflo, Eustace de Carcuit, and Eustace de Torci, Robert de Heugleville, Roger de Parc, and many others.

At last, Gilbert dying on the eighteenth of the calends of September [the 15th August], and having been honourably interred by the monks he had established on his domains, his son Walter succeeded to the fief; and confirmed the grant of all that his father and his vassals had


[1] Speen, near Newbury, Berkshire.

[2] Burghill and Brinsop, two parishes in Herefordshire.

[3] Dieppe had been recently built. It appears not to have been in existence as a town when William first embarked there on his return to England in 1067. (See book iv. c. 4.) There might have been a few scattered huts near the mouth of the river Arques from an early period, as Roger de Toni, who was contemporary with Duke Richard I., gave his vill of Dieppe to the abbey of Conches; but the place really owed its foundation to the intercourse with England which sprung up after the conquest.

[4] Hotot-sur-Dieppe.

[5] As the donation here referred to was made before the 16th of August, 1079, it must have been in the thirteenth year of William I., reckoning his reign from Christmas, 1066.

ENDOWMENTS OF AUFAY. 265

given to St. Mary. Again also, in the time of Robert duke of Normandy, having married Avicia, daughter of Herbrand de Sackville, at her instance he ratified the endowment made by his father and mother by his own act. He also added the tenth of the tolls of Aufay, and six burgesses, with all their services, entirely releasing them from all obligation to himself, except in respect of the general service due to the duke of Normandy. He also granted to the monks liberty to fish at their pleasure in all his waters.

Moreover, his wife Avicia, in her zealous love of God, gave to the monks sixty pence out of her rents payable on the calends [1st] of October to buy, yearly, oil and wax for lights in the church, together with incense; and she offered the deed of gift with her husband on the altar of St. Mary. The witnesses to these grants were Adam and William, sons of Tedfred, Osbern Buflo, and Eustace de Torci, Robert de Cropus, [1] and Robert, son of Godmond, John-Catus, and many others. Some years afterwards the same Walter and Avicia his wife, making progress in devotion to God, demanded from Roger, abbot of St. Evroult, twelve monks, and assigned for their necessary sustenance the mill of Parc, which paid eleven bushels, and five acres of land at Heugleville, with three cottiers paying fifteen pence of yearly rent and the church of the Holy Trinity, with the whole tithe, at the ville called "The Hundred Acres".

All these grants to the monks of St. Evroult by Gilbert and his mesne-tenants, were ratified by the confirmation of William, king of England, and John and William, archbishops of Rouen. Afterwards Robert II., duke of Normandy, granted to the monks of St. Evroult all that Walter, [2] son of Gilbert, added to his father's endowment; and also granted them licence to hold a fair at Parc on the nativity of St. Mary, and, by Walter the elder, surnamed Giffard, entirely prohibited every one from having any toll or priviledge in it except the monks. Moreover, his brothers William Rufus and Henry, kings of England, and Geoffrey the archbishop, granted to the monks of St. Evroult all the


[1] Cropus, to the N.E. of Aufay. Walter de Cropus settled in Brecknockshire after the conquest.

[2] Walter Giffard, second of that name, earl of Buckingham and lord of Longueville.

266 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VIII.

premises before mentioned, which they have now peaceably possessed for many years. The canons gave place to monks, perceiving that the latter excelled them in virtues to which they were unable to attain. Guinimar, Benedict, and John his son, associated themselves with the monks for many years, and their infirmities increasing, at last departed. But Gilbert, who was far the most intelligent of the canons, and Walter, voluntarily embraced the monastic rule, and, engaging in a stricter course of life, died worn out with age.

CH. VIII. Account ofthe lords of Aufay and their connections - Bernard de Neuf-Marche, lord of Brecknock and others - The author advocates the practice of endowing monasteries.

IT is now my intention to give some account of the origin of the lords of Aufay, and their acts. Gilbert, surnamed the Advocate of St. Valeri, [1] married a daughter of Duke Richard, by whom he had Bernard, father of Walter de St. Valery and Richard Heugleville. Richard was long employed in the military service of his uncle, Richard, duke of Normandy, from whom he received in marriage the noble Ada, widow of the elder Herluin of Heugleville, with all her inheritance. The duke also made him many presents, and promised him more; which promises he would have liberably performed if Richard had taken pains to please him. He built a town at the place formerly called Isnelville, on the river Sie, and called it from the hill above it overspread with beech-trees, Aufay [Alfagium], introducing among his colonists the customs of Corneilles. This Richard was distinguished for his military conduct and great liberality, whereby he was formidable to his enemies, and faithful to his friends.


[1] Advocatus. It is meant that the lords of St. Valery (sur Somme) did not hold the fief in their own right. They were tributaries to the abbey founded there by Clothaire in 613, to which the lordship belonged. It was not likely, that as this was the port from which the Norman fleet sailed for the conquest of England, its lords would be forgotten in the division of the spoil. We find accordingly, Walter de St. Valery possessed, among other domains, of the extensive manor of Isleworth, Middlesex, which continued to be part of the English barony of St. Valery. It was still held by Robert, count de Dreux, in 1220, in right of his wife Annora, daughter and heiress of Thomas, lord of St. Valery-sur-Somme.

A.D. 1066-1091.] BERNARD DE NEUF-MARCHE. 267

During the non-age of William, Duke Robert's son, when William d'Arques revolted against the duke, [1] and almost all the lords of Talou likewise deserted the cause of the bastard prince, Richard alone held his castle near the church of St. Aubin against the rebels, and endeavoured to defend the country round in its allegiance to the duke against the irruptions of the garrison of Arques. He was seconded in this enterprise by his sons-in-law Geoffrey and Hugh de Morimont, both sons of Turketil de Neuf-Marche; [2] but Hugh having been suddenly surrounded, with his followers, by the people of Arques near Morimont, they were cut to pieces, defending themselves bravely. As for Geoffrey, he had two sons by Ada, daughter of Richard, Bernard and Dreux, whose lots were very different. Dreux relinquished military service and devoted himself to a religious life at St. Evroult; becoming a monk, he learnt letters, and rose through the different gradations of holy orders to the priesthood. On the contrary, Bernard continued in the career of arms till an advanced age, and served in the wars under three kings of England with great bravery. [3] In the time of William Rufus, he fought a battle with Rhys, king of Wales, and having slain him, built the castle of Brecknock, and possessed the kingdom of the Welsh, of which Talgarth was the capital for many years. [4] He also built a church in honour of St. John the Evangelist in his town of Brecknock,


[1] This rebellion broke out in 1053.

[2] As to Geoffrey de Neuf-Marche, see book iii. c. 10, and book v. c. 12.

[3] For Bernard de Neuf-Marche, lord of Brecknock, and his wife Naga or Agnes, daughter of Trahaern-ap-Caradoc, king of North Wales, and their posterity, see Dugdale's Monast. Anglic. vol. i. p. 319.

At the time Domesday-book was compiled, Bernard did not possess any estates in England. The manor of Speen belonged to Humphrey Vis-de-Lew; Burghill and Brinsop to a Saxon named Alfred de Marlborough, and Newbury was not yet built on the territory of Speen. Bernard's signature appears on the charter of William the Conqueror to Battle Abbey, but it is probable that he did not acquire the domains here mentioned till the time of William Rufus.

[4] Rhys-ap-Tewdor, king of South Wales, was slain in 1091, at the age of ninety-eight, gallantly defending his conntry and throne, in the battle fought near Brecknock with Robert Fitz-Hamon and his confederates. His tomb is seen in the cathedral of St. David's. Talgarth is situated ten miles N.E. from Brecknock.

268 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VIII.

and settling monks there, endowed them with the tithes of all his possessions. [1]

Gilbert, Richard's son, married Beatrice, daughter of Christian de Valenciennes, [2] an illustrious captain, who bore to her husband Walter, Hugh and Beatrice. This lord, the duke's kinsman, fought by his side at the head of his vassals in all the principal actions during the English war. But when William became king and peace was restored, Gilbert returned to Normandy, notwithstanding William offered him ample domains in England; for with innate honesty of character, he refused to participate in the fruits of rapine. Content with his patrimonial estates, he declined those of others, and piously devoted his son Hugh to a monastic life under abbot Mainier in the monastery of St. Evroult. He lived long with his religious wife, who was a cousin of Queen Matilda, and continued to the end in the practice of almsgiving, prayers, and other good works. The venerable Beatrice survived her husband three years, and died in a holy confession on the second of the nones [4th of January].

Walter was a young man of elegance but little wisdom; in consequence of which he paid a ready submission to Edmund and other false teachers. Frequenting the society of spendthrifts, he wasted his inheritance by their pernicious advice, and troubled the monks and clergy and tenants with frequent and unjust attacks. Having been knighted, he married Avicia, the accomplished and beautiful daughter of Herbrand, [3] by whose counsels and wise influence he was in a measure withdrawn from his evil ways. She was prudent, fluent in speech, and devoted to God from her youth, exercising herself in good works to the utmost of her power. She had three brothers, Jordan, William, and Robert, distinguished knights, by whose assistance their brother-in-law prevailed against his crafty advisers, and recovered much which he had dissipated and lost by fraud and robbery. Avicia bore her husband twelve sons and daughters, most of whom died prematurely in their infancy. She herself, after


[1] Bernard made the priory of Brecon a dependency on Battle Abbey.

[2] This lady probably came into Normandy with the Duchess Matilda, being her cousin, as we are told towards the close of the paragraph.

[3] De Sackville.

HAVISE AND WALTER D'AUFAY. 269

living fifteen years with her husband, died on the eighth of the calends of March [22nd February], and was buried in the cloisters of the monks she so much loved, near the church door. Prior Warin caused an arch of stone to be built over her grave, and Vitalis the Englishman composed her epitaph, as follows

HAVISE, a noble lady, lies below,
May Christ on her eternal rest bestow!
Her life to excellence in virtue's ways
She framed with earnest zeal - her highest praise.
Still she was fair, and to her beaming face,
Wisdom gave eloquence, and talent grace.
To God her earliest years she willing lent,
Her steps to mass and vespers daily bent;
Then WALTER D'AUFAY'S honoured wife became,
Bore him twelve scions of his ancient name,
And fifteen years maintained her spotless fame.
For sacred rites this priory she endowed,
With her own ornaments the altars glowed;
Nor cost nor care for priests and monks she spared,
And widows, sick, and poor, her bounty shared.
When February's latter days gave promise fair,
And holy church kept feast of "Peter's chair", [1]
High festival, o'ershadowed then with gloom,
Saw pious Havise summoned to the tomb.
Ye men of Aufay, mourn your lady lost;
Christ, number her among the heavenly host! Amen.

Walter survived his wife's funeral nearly three years, and suffering under a lingering disease, assumed the habit of a monk, and soon afterwards, having made his confession and received absolution, he died on the sixth of the calends of June [26th May]. Prior Hildegard buried him at the feet of his wife, and Vitalis made the following verses upon him:-

SIR WALTER, LORD OF AUFAY, here finds rest;
Peace be his endless portion with the blest!
A cloistered monk, he went from hence to heaven,
When May's bright suns had numbered twenty-seven.
His sins confessed, his lingering tortures ceased,
Christ's mercy shield him, from his guilt released! Amen.


[1] The 22nd of February, the day on which the church celebrates the anniversary of the installation of St. Peter as patriarch of Antioch, which is supposed to have taken place on the 22nd of February, 37. His installation at Rome has the date assigned it of January 18, 44. These two feasts, which are of very high antiquity, bear the name of "St. Peter's Chairs".

270 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VIII.

Walter left at his death four orphan children; Richard, Jordan, Walter, and Elias; who fell to the guardianship of King Henry, and he entrusted the government of the lordship of Aufay to Robert the viscount, for two years. Meanwhile, Jordan de Sackville obtained the whole fief by his services and presents to the king, and had the custody of his nephews to bring them up out of their own patrimony, which for four years he managed well and improved. Richard, however, died when he was only twelve years old, and was buried in the church of St. Mary, mother of God. Jordan then succeeded his brother; he was a handsome youth, and his conduct was excellent. Having learnt his military exercises in the court of Henry, that king gave him a prudent and handsome wife, Juliana, the daughter of Godescalch, who had followed Queen Adelaide to England from the country of Louvaine. [1]

Thus far I have frequently spoken of the affairs of St. Evroult, which fill the greatest part of my book. I entreat my reader not to be displeased, if, mindful of benefits conferred, I make mention of our benefactors. It is indeed my desire to fix firmly in the memory of postery the history of our founders and their benevolent fellow labourers, that the children of the church may be mindful before God, in the presence of angels, of those by whose endowments subsistence is provided for them while they perform the services of the Creator of all things. Thus when Abram returned victorious from the slaughter of the four kings, and recovered his nephew Lot, with his fellow captives of both sexes and all his substance, he commanded his confederates to take their share of the spoils of Sodom. By Abram, which signifies the supreme father, are to be understood those men of perfection who contend daily with evil spirits and the sins of the flesh, overcoming the world and the prince of this world, and treading under foot and esteeming as dung worldly vanities and the temptations of the flesh. By Lot led into captivity by the barbarians, but nobly delivered


[1] Adelaide, Adeliza, or Alice, de Louvain, daughter of Godfrey I., count of Brabant and Louvain, and Ida of Namur, was married to Henry I. in 1121, his first queen, Matilda, daughter of Malcolm, king of Scotland, having died in 1118. Adeliza was remarkable for her great beauty, See Huntingdon's History, p. 249 (Bohn's edition).

BENEFITS OF MONASTIC ENDOWMENTS. 271

by the active valour of his spiritual uncle (Lot signifying one bound or led aside), is meant the carnal mind or brutal people, enchained in Sodom, that is in sinful delights, and which fast bound in the embraces of sin, is led astray from God and made captive by evil spirits. By the confederates of Abram who, as we read, fought in his company, are justly signified those faithful laymen who at his command are said to have received a share of the spoils. For thus it is written in the book of Genesis: "And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons and take the goods to thyself. And Abram replied to him, I will not receive anything that is thine, save only that which the young men have eaten and the portion of the men which came with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre: let them take their portion". [1] Many of the laity are distinguished by their courteous and decorous manners, are united in faith and good-will to the regular soldiers of Christ, and kindly cheer them in their manful conflicts with the demons. But they do not give up the fleeting world, nor entirely relinquish its advantages, they are bound to it by a legal servitude, and they offend God by repeated transgressions of his law; but they expiate their sins by alms, as Daniel counsels. They found monasteries for the service of God, from the portions they receive of the spoils of the enemy, and from the mammon of iniquity they piously erect hospitals for the sick and poor, and provide food and clothing for the votaries of heaven out of their substance. Moreover, the king of Sodom, when congratulating Abram on his victory, represents the devil who daily tempts the saints with a thousand artifices, assailing them night and day with blandishments and terrors, and craftily employing all the delights of the world, its wealth and its honours, to the sole purpose of drawing souls into his own pit of perdition. We find, however, that Abram despised the king's smooth flatteries, and disdained to accept either his praises or his gifts, only suffering his companions in arms to receive their portions, and what was necessary for their subsistence. So it is that holy men while they spend the time of their warfare in this present life despise all worldly things in their


[1] Genesis xiv. 21-24. Our author, as usual, is not very exact in his quotations from the sacred writings.

272 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VIII.

desire after heavenly, and desire no reward for their sanctity. Still they warn the great men of the world, who are their fellow heirs of the catholic faith and the hope of everlasting bliss, that they ought to endow the monasteries with some portion of their domains and fortunes, and thus support by their gifts the poor and the despisers of the world, that they may claim eternal glory from Christ who saith, that he dwells with the poor. It may be proved by many authorities and examples that men are the gainers towards their eternal salvation to the full extent of all they mercifully distribute in alms, according to our Saviour's precept; for what they lavishly spend in carnal delights, or throw away to no purpose on the empty splendour of worldly felicity, passes away like flowing water never to return. Those also who amass great wealth to leave it to their heirs often, alas! lay up for themselves an increase of perversity and wretchedness, and only take pains to bring up their children to many misfortunes, while they themselves, abandoned to robbery, rapine, and all kinds of wickedness, deservedly perish, undergoing the vengeance merited by their crimes. Thus it happens that they are neither fit for heaven or earth, and while their ungrateful heirs succeed to their ample possessions, those who have gathered enormous riches for unworthy successors are subject to the maledictions of many.

Wise and provident men make themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, who, while they receive their carnal things for the sustenance of life, repay their benefactors by their merits and prayers with spiritual and eternal benefits. Evroult of Bayeux took great pains to obtain such debtors. I have already related many things concerning him in the present work; I shall now enter into further particulars of this father, shortly abridging his acts as they have been handed down to us from old times, either in writing or by tradition, and endeavouring to insert his life in these pages for the edification of my readers. [1]


[1] This legend of St. Evroult is very inferior, both in point of antiquity and as a composition, to that published by Mabillon in the Acta SS ord. S. Benedicti, saec. I., from the the two MSS. of Bec and Conches. But both literally agree in all the details.

A.D. 517-560.] LIFE OF ST. EVROULT. 273

CH. IX. The life of St. Evroult, the founder of the abbey of that name in the forest of Ouche, in the sixth century.

THE venerable father Evroult was descended from a noble family, and born at Bayeux. [1] His parents educated him with great care, and entrusted him to teachers of the catholic faith. Such was the facility with which he pursued his studies both in divinity and human learning that he is said to have excelled his masters while he was yet a boy. For divine grace, which foresaw that he would become a doctor of religion, efficaciously rendered him docile in all things. Nor did he, by the pride or self-conceit natural to his age, spoil the dignity of his exalted character. His person was graceful and his discourse agreeable, and no fickleness of temper ever led him to be severe to any one. Illustrious, as we have just remarked, by birth, and already marked out by the prescience of Almighty God, he presently became known to King Clothaire, son of Clovis, who was the first of the Frank kings who became Christian, and was baptized by St. Remigius, bishop of Rheims, with three thousand of his nobles. Clothaire, discovering who Evroult was and his high nobility, ordered that he should be forthwith presented to him, judging that one so gifted with brilliant talents should serve in the offices of the state. Notwithstanding his humility, the Supreme Ruler gave him such favour with the earthly sovereign that he was preferred before others, and obtained the highest appointment in the palace. Endowed with great eloquence, he took his seat among the most learned officers of the court who had the administration of affairs. But while thus applying himself to secular affairs he never diverted his mind from the contemplation of heavenly love.

As on him rested the hope of continuing the line of his father's family, he was induced by the frequent well-intended instances of his friends to choose a wife of fitting birth. Marrying for the sake of offspring and not for carnal pleasure, he frequently meditated on the divine precepts,


[1] Mabillon places the birth of St. Evroult in the year 517. The flourishing state of the church of Bayeux during the first half of the sixth century is very remarkable. It then produced the two first heads of monastic establishments in Normandy, St. Marcellus and St. Evroult.

274 ORDERICUS VITALIS. (B.VI. CH.IX.

which he devoutly fulfilled. The man of God thus fully enjoyed temporal blessings, while using great care not to displease his Maker in the use of his benefits; and becoming very wealthy, delighted more in good works than in the abundance of his possessions. It was his anxious study to transfer to himself the virtues of the old fathers of whom he read accounts in many volumes. Multiplying his alms, and prayers, and vigils, he induced his wife to join him in the same holy course, so that, herself pious, her piety was increased by that of her husband. Thus living, though as yet a layman, he seemed scarcely to differ from those who were under the restraints of monastic discipline.

While this blessed man was thus worthily living under a certain rule of his own, and zealously submitting to the evangelical precepts, he happened to be struck with what was said by our Lord to his disciples in the gospel: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me". [1] The man of God had deeply stored in his mind, as the sum of perfection, that which truth itself promises to the contemners of this world: "Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have forsaken all things for my name's sake shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life". [2] Inflamed by these divine promises Evroult no longer confined himself within the boundary of his former discretion, but sold all that he had, and gave whatever was in his power to the poor. The wife he had married in order to become a father, he caused to take the veil, espoused to a heavenly husband, whilst he himself hastened to a monastery, like one escaped from shipwreck, and becoming a monk remained there for some time serving God in all humility; and the love of that holy state of life increased in him more and more.

The author of his life has not told us the name of the monastery to which the holy man retired. I think it, therefore, worth while shortly to note for the information of posterity what I have learnt from the reports of old persons respecting it. The venerable Martin, abbot of Vertou, [3] had


[1] Luke ix. 23.

[2] Matthew xix. 29.

[3] The history of this saint may be found in the Acta SS. ord. Benedicti, saec. i. p. 371. He was a native of Nantes, and founded the abbey of Vertou, near that city, about the 24th of October, 600.

A.D. 560-590.] ST. EVROULT BECOMES A MONK. 275

founded a monastery in a place which from ancient times was commonly called Deux Jumeaux, [1] from the restoration to life of the twins which old accounts represent to have taken place there. For the twin children of a powerful lord had died prematurely and without baptism, which occasioned excessive sorrow to both their parents. But the blessed Martin, on his return from England, found his friends plunged in grief, and, imploring Heaven to give them relief, restored the twins to life by his prayers and merits, and dedicated them to God as monks on their own property. The village preserves to the present day the ancient name it derived from this occurrence, and great masses of stones, which formed the foundations of buildings, and ruined walls, prove that the territory of Bayeux was formerly the residence of men of great dignity. It is reported that Evroult, while yet a layman possessed of great wealth and honours, was a liberal contributor to the erection of this monastery. He aided with his counsel those who undertook it, encouraged the hesitating, and forwarded the new work by supplying funds, and in various other ways. At length he stripped himself of every thing, and retiring there became truly one of the poor in Christ, embracing the monastic rule, and engaging in the Christian warfare with the arms of obedience, so that he was a bright example to all observers.

When, however, the glorious confessor Evroult began to be honoured by the brethren on account of the grace of sanctity, he felt the danger he incurred of self-elation, and determined without delay to plunge into the wilderness and devote himself altogether to the contemplation of God, taking with him three monks who were attached to him by a familiar intercourse, and were as he knew well fitted for the struggle after the highest perfection. Passing therefore through the district of Exmes, they came to a place called Montfort, [2] and resting there, because the spot was pleasant and abounded with woods and springs, they led for awhile a solitary life according to the rules of holiness. But as there


[1] In the canton of Isigni. It is possible that a monastery may have existed in this place in the sixth century, and even that St. Evroult may have assumed the habit there. But it could not have been under St. Martin de Vertou, whose foundation was not anterior to that of St. Evroult.

[2] St. Evroult de Montfort, half a league north of Gace.

276 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

were two castles in the neighbourhood, Exmes and Gace [1] to which a number of people were attracted by judicial proceedings, the servants of God were often exposed to interruptions by the resort of so many strangers. It is reported that these towns existed in the time of Cesar [2] and stoutly resisted him, and that they were the seats of princes for many ages. It now happened that numbers of persons of all ranks, both high and low, to whom the noble lord was known when he was in an exalted station, came to visit him while be was fervently devoting himself to heavenly contemplations, and by their multiplied conversations on affairs in which they were interested, disturbed his mind when he was meditating on divine things. The venerable men therefore quitted the spot; on which a church was afterwards built in honour of St. Evroult, which is standing at this day.

In their ardour for a hermit's life, the monks then struck into a forest which the people of the neighbourhood call Ouche. It was fearfully gloomy from its depth of shade, the frequent resort of robbers after their predatory excursions, and the abode of ferocious animals. [3] However, they traversed its vast solitudes with fearless steps, without being able to find a spot suited to their devotional purposes, when at length St. Evroult, in the fervour of his pure spirit, prayed to the Lord, saying: "O Lord Jesus Christ, who shewedst thyself to thy people Israel as their faithful guide in their journey through the wilderness by a column of cloud and of fire, vouchsafe mercifully to show us, who desire to


[1] Roger de Montgomery was viscount D'Exmes. Gace is a little bourg on the post road from Lisseux to Alencon. Gace stands on the skirts of the forest, through which it is a pleasant walk to St. Evroult.

[2] Our author evidently obtained the references he makes to the Roman antiquities of Normandy from a fabulous composition which was popular in the eleventh century under the title of Gesta Romanorum, but is now lost. There is no foundation for the accounts of Julius Caesar's proceedings in this part of Gaul. See a preceding note respecting Lillebonne, p. 130.

[3] This forest still overspreads the country in a circuit of fifty or sixty English miles. Like most of the French forests, it is for the most part denuded of timber, but while traversing its dense thickets on a gloomy evening for three leagues in one direction, the scene struck us as even now possessing many of the features ascribed to it by our author. The forest abounds with wild animals, including wolves, numbers of which are killed every winter.

A.D. 560-596.] CELL IN THE FOREST OF OUCHE. 277

escape the condemnation of Egyptian servitude, a place of liberty and an asylum for our weakness". Scarcely had he finished his prayer when an angel of the Lord appeared to the holy man, commissioned to point out what he desired. Following his guidance, the solitaries came to springs well suited for drinking, which, issuing from several sources shortly collected in one large pond. Kneeling down on this spot they offered fervent praises to God their conductor, who never forgets his servants who trust in him. After this thanksgiving, they invoked the name of the Lord, and built a hut with boughs and leaves, just large enough to shelter its intended inhabitants; and having made an inclosure round it by a slight fence of the same materials, settled themselves in it, having obtained the quiet resting place they had long coveted. The freer their service now was, the more acceptable it proved to be to God. Trampling under their feet all the turmoils of the world, they gave their thoughts entirely to heavenly contemplations, and having abandoned all earthly things, had nothing left but God only. They might well therefore say with the Psalmist: "Thou art my portion, O Lord; I have promised to keep thy law". Obedient to the law of the most high God, they sought him as their only portion.

While, however, their whole attention was directed to their spiritual progress, and neither the wildness of the place nor fears of savage beasts diverted them from their object, it happened that one of the robbers who made their resort in the woods paid them a visit. Admiring their resolution and perseverance in the service of Christ, he said to them: "O monks, what disturbances have driven you to take shelter in these thickets? How can you venture to make your abode in such a desert? You have not chosen a fitting spot. Do you not know that this is a place for robbers, and not for hermits? The inhabitants of this forest live by plunder, and will not suffer among them those who live by the labour of their hands. Here you cannot long be safe. Besides, you will meet with nothing but a barren and unproductive soil, on which your labour would be spent to no purpose". To this the venerable father Evroult, as he was a man of eloquence, replied with reference to each


[1] Psalm cxix. 57.

278 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

proposition: "In truth, brother, it is no swelling tumult, but the providence of Almighty God which has conducted us here; nor do we come to usurp this place, but to have more liberty to bewail our sins. And as the Lord is with us, having him for our defence, we fear not the threats of men, since he himself hath said: 'Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul'. [1] As to what you said last concerning our labours, you should know that the Lord is able to prepare a table for the sustenance of his servants in the wilderness. You also, my son, may be partaker of his abundance, if you turn from your evil courses and promise devoutly to serve the living and true God. For saith the prophet: 'In the day that the sinner turneth away from his wickedness, our God shall deliver to oblivion all the evil that he hath done'. [2] Do not despair therefore, my brother, of the goodness of God on account of the enormity of your sins, but follow the admonition of the Psalmist: 'Flee from evil and do good', [3] understanding of a surety that 'the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers'. But I would not have you ignorant that the same passage contains a terrible threat: 'The countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth'. [4] If the regards of divine mercy are present with the just, it is doubtless plain that they must be turned away from the unjust, that their wickedness may be some time severely punished". The robber, touched to tha heart by grace from above as he listened to this discourse, presently departed. When however morning was come, he left all that he had, and, taking with him only three cakes, baked on the embers, and a honey-comb, returned with hasty steps to the servants of God, and throwing himself at the feet of St. Evroult made a holy offering, and shortly afterwards, inspired by the Holy Ghost, promised to amend his life and there first assumed the profession of a monk. Following his example many robbers, who infested the same forest, either became monks through the preaching of the holy man, or abandoning their life of rapine became cultivators of the soil. His fame and merits being noised abroad, some came to him also from the


[1] Matthew x. 28.

[2] Ezek. xviii. 21.

[3] Psalm xxxiv. 14.

[4] Psalm xxxiv. 17.

A.D. 560-596.] ABBEY OF ST. EVROULT FOUNDED. 279

neighbouring districts desiring to see his angelical countenance and hear his delightful discourse. They supplied him with things necessary for his bodily wants and returned home with joyful hearts refreshed with his spiritual gifts. Some of them also entreated him to admit them into his holy company that they might have the advantage of constant intercourse with him, so that from the numbers who frequented it, the forest soon lost its character for solitude.

As the number of the brethren increased, so also grace and virtue increased in the blessed Evroult. His patience was singular, his abstinence remarkable, his prayers incessant, his exhortations fervent. He did not permit himself to be elated by prosperity nor cast down by adversity. What was brought to him by pious people who flocked about him he ordered to be distributed to the poor, saying that monks ought not to be anxious for the morrow.

One day when there was not sufficient bread, a poor man came to the gate and asked for alms. As the minister to whom he applied informed him that they had nothing to give him, the venerable father said: "Brother, why do you disregard the cries of the needy? give alms, I pray you, to this poor man". Upon which he answered; "My father, I have only half a loaf which I have kept for our poor children, all the rest I have distributed according to your orders". But he said; "Son, you ought not to hesitate, have you not read what the prophet saith: 'Blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy; the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble'? [1] Never, indeed, will the faithful Creator of all things fail to nourish those for whom he condescended to shed his precious blood, nailed to the cross". The minister on hearing these words of the venerable father gave the half loaf which he had reserved for the children to one of the servants, saying: "Run quickly, and give this to the poor man, but do not call him back". The servant, in obedience to his commands, ran after the poor man until he overtook him at the distance of almost a stadium from the monastery, and addressed him saying: "Take, master, the alms which the abbot sends you", whereupon he stuck in the ground the staff which he carried, and received the offering of charity in both hands. But when he withdrew the staff which


[1] Psalm xli. 1.

280 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

he had planted in the ground, before the bearer of the alms had left the spot a plentiful spring of water suddenly burst forth on the spot following the point of the staff, and it continues flowing there to the present day. [1] Many diseases have been cured at that place, and persons afflicted with fevers are attracted from distant quarters in the hope of obtaining relief. Many also received visions commanding them to seek out the forest of Ouche, and, for the recovery of their health, drink of the spring which flows there. Several came from Burgundy, Aquitaine, and other parts of France, and made inquiries for Ouche under great difficulties, for the place was desert and unknown, so that it was scarcely possible to find it out. When at length they had discovered the fountain, and drawn the water and drunk it in faith, invoking the holy name, or bathed the head or limbs, they had the happiness to recover their health, and giving thanks to God, returned joyfully home.

Miracles were wrought at this place for many ages, until the times of Henry, king of France, [2] when, in consequence of the ravages during the Danish invasions, the district of Ouche had become thinly populated, and was thrown out of cultivation. At that time a certain peasant named Beranger succeeded by inheritance to that farm, and inclosed the spring with a hedge to prevent the sick people who resorted to it from treading down his crops; for the farmer was often incensed and grieved because his meadows, gardens, and all his land round about were trampled upon by strangers who flocked there for the benefit of their health. Thenceforth miracles of healing ceased to be performed as long as Beranger and his heirs, Lethier, William, and Gervase, possessed the farm.


[1] About a league from the abbey there is a hollow in the wood covered with green sward, and shaded by scattered forest trees, beneath which the spring mentioned in the legend bursts forth, still bearing the name of the fountain of St. Evroult. Its cool and pellucid waters collected in a large tank of solid masonry, are still resorted to by pilgrims and sick persons in reliance on their virtues. On the bank above stands a little chapel, with a statue of the saint in a niche over the door. The building had fallen to decay, but was under repair in the autumn of 1853, the bishop of Seez being expected to re-open it with solemn services in the ensuing summer.

[2] July 20, 1031-August 29, 1060.

MIRACLES AT THE ABBEY OF ST. EVROULT. 281

St. Evroult, having caused the bread to be given to the poor man, lo! before sunset a beast of burden was seen to stop before the door of the cell with a full load of bread and wine. The conductor called the minister; and, saying that he was a borrower at usury, delivered to him what he had brought, adding, "Go, brother, and give it to your abbot: "so saying, he mounted the horse, as if to hasten his journey, and quickly departed; so that, when the holy father wished to see him, he was told with what despatch he had taken his leave. He therefore understood that the provisions were sent by God; and, rejoicing in spirit, gave thanks to His unbounded loving kindness, who magnifies his mercy to his servants, and makes a rich return for small offerings. From that day there never failed to be a sufficient supply of what human wants required.

The temporal goods of the new society, through the merciful providence of the Lord, beginning to increase, two fierce robbers from another province, hearing that their substance was multiplied, directed their steps towards the cell of the holy man, and seizing a herd of swine, hastened to make their escape from the forest; but, instead of doing so, found themselves repeatedly following the same track in a circuit round the inclosure. Being unable to discover any free way of exit, they were astonished at what happened; when, just as they were worn out with wandering, they heard the bell which summoned the brethren to assemble to their usual office of prayer. [1] The sound struck them with excessive terror, and leaving the swine, they came with all haste to the man of God, and, confessing the crime of which they had been guilty, became monks on the spot.

To render the glory of the master more conspicuous, we must not omit what the sevenfold grace of the Spirit performed by means of one of the disciples of so illustrious a saint. A crow which had built its nest near the monastery, secretly stole eggs, and getting into the refectory by one of the windows, put everything in disorder, and carried off to its nest all that it found. Then one of the brethren, whose


[1] This circumstance concurs with others of the same kind mentioned by Gregory of Tours, to prove that the use of bells in the western church was far anterior to the time of Pope Sabinian to which its introduction is frequently attributed.

282 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

duty it was to look after the refectory, praying with simplicity, said: "O Lord, avenge us of the enemy who carries off what thy mercy has bestowed on us". And the bird was forthwith found dead under the tree where she had made her nest. Thus whoever attempted to injure the monks, either quickly perished, or, repenting of it, engaged in a better course of life.

God, who beholds all things, regarding with favour the glorious conflict of his beloved servant Evroult, strengthened his heart with all the firmness of faith, that, persevering in his good work, he might become a model of regular discipline to others. He, indeed, longed to retire to the deepest recesses of the wilderness, and free himself entirely from human companionship; but wiser counsels led him to consider how best his presence might profit the band of combatants, whose leader and master be had become. Fearing, therefore, that if he, the founder of the establishment, withdrew, the work, in its infant state, would receive a shock, he took precautions that he might not cause injury to others, while he was providing a quiet retreat for himself.

In consequence, as the general of this militant body, he remained at his post, fighting in the ranks as a private soldier, and also exalting himself by his eminent virtues as a brave commander in front of the ranks. His great reputation for sanctity, being spread abroad through many provinces, attracted numbers of wealthy, resolute, and God-fearing persons, to enrol themselves for the same conflict. They surrendered to the holy man, their houses, farms, possessions, and families, entreating him to cause monasteries to be built for them; and that, as their wise pastor, he would give them a rule under which to live. The saint granted their petitions, and founded fifteen monasteries for men and women, with regular institutions, appointing a person of approved conduct to govern each. He himself continued to preside over the convent which he first built, exhorting the brethren to make a loftier progress, and to shun the multiform snares of the devil. At length the fame of the sanctity of so eminent a father reached the ears of the princes who then held the reins of government among the Franks, recently brought into subjection to the light yoke of Christianity.

A.D. 561-613.] THE KINGS OF THE FRANKS. 283

Clotaire the elder reigned fifty-one years, [1] and at his death divided his kingdom into tetrarchies among his sons. Caribert fixed the seat of his government at Paris, Chilperic at Soissons, Gontran at Orleans, and Sigebert at Metz. Sigebert, the youngest, was the first to marry, taking for his wife Brunehaut, daughter of the king of Galicia, [2] who bore him Childebert, who became king, Ingonde, wife of Herminigilde, king of the Goths and martyr, [3] Bertha, wife of Ethelbert king of Kent, [4] and Beuve, who became a nun. [5] Eight years afterwards [6] Sigebert was slain by the treachery of his brother Chilperic, and Childebert, who was yet a child, mounted the throne, with his mother Brunehaut as regent. He maintained himself in it resolutely twenty-five years, as it is related in his acts; but, after many difficulties, was taken off by poison. [7] He left the two portions which belonged to his father and his uncle Gontran to his sons Theodebert and Theodoric, [8] with whom Clotaire the Great, son of Chilperic, was at variance for nearly twenty years. At length he slew King Theodebert in battle, and caused Brunehaut, who was now advanced in age, to be cruelly bound to the tails of wild horses, and this powerful queen, whose favour had been humbly implored by Pope


[1] 511-after November 10, 561.

[2] Youngest daughter of Athanagilde, king of the Visigoths, 554-567. We do not understand why our author makes him king of Galicia, as he made Toledo the capital of his kingdom of the Visigoths.

[3] Ingonde was married in 580, and died in 585. Herminigilde suffered martyrdom the 13th of April, 586.

[4] Bertha married Ethelbert, king of Kent, in 566, and he was converted in 597. She was not the sister of Ingonde, but her cousin-german, and daughter of Caribert, king of Paris.

[5] St. Beuve, abbess of Rheims, was not a daughter of Sigebert I. Frodoard supposed her to be daughter of Sigebert II., but she was probably his niece.

[6] It does not appear from what event our author reckons these eight years, unless from Brunehaut's marriage in 566, or 568. We know, however, that Sigebert, king of Metz in 561, was assassinated in 575 by Fredegonde's emissaries.

[7] Childebert, king of Austrasia, was poisoned in 596, his reign having then lasted only twenty years, in the twenty-sixth year of his age. His government did not merit the epithet applied to it by our author.

[8] Theodebert II., king of Austrasia, 596-612. Theodoric II., king of Orleans and Burgundy, 596-613. Theodebert II. was killed at Chalons-sur-Saone by Theodoric and Brunehaut.

284 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

Gregory (as it is stated in the Pontifical Acts and the Register), was torn to pieces. [1] Thus Clotaire, having got rid of all his rivals, reigned sole king of France, and at his death left the kingdom to his son Dagobert, whose history is very well known to the French.

At that time, while these princes governed the Franks, Justinian and Justin the younger, Tiberius, Maurice, Phocas, and Heraclius were emperors of Rome; [2] and the apostolical see was filled by Hormisdas, John, Felix, Boniface, John, Agapete, Silverius, Vigilius, Pelagius, Gregory the great doctor, Sabinian, Boniface, Deusdedit, and Boniface, famous for the dedication of the church of All-Saints. [3] In those times Flavius, Pretestatus, Melantius, Hildulfus, and Romanus, the celebrated son of Benedict, were metropolitans of Rouen. [4]

I have collected these particulars from the Chronicles, and shortly noted them for the reader's benefit, in order that it may clearly appear in what times the holy father St. Evroult, whose life was prolonged for eighty years, [5] flourished in the world. I must now endeavour to retrace my steps for the purpose of relating some circumstances which I have not found in books, but have learned from stories told me by old persons. The writings of the ancients, as well as the churches and monasteries, were destroyed in the furious storms which devastated Normandy in the time of the Danes; and with whatever ardour posterity thirsts for them, the most zealous students of our day have failed to recover them. Some, which were adroitly saved from the hands of the barbarians by the care of our predecessors, have since perished, shame to say, by the culpable negligence of their successors, who took no pains to preserve the profound wisdom contained in the works of their spiritual fathers. With the loss of the books, the actions of the men of former ages sunk into oblivion, and all the efforts of


[1] In 613, at Reneve, in Burgundy, five miles from Dijon. The Register was the name given to a collection of St. Gregory's Epistles.

[2] The reigns of these emperors embraced the period from 527 to Feb. 11, 641. See vol. i. pp. 114-119.

[3] These popes filled the papal chair from the month of July, 514, to the 21st of October, 625. See vol. i. pp. 338-349.

[4] For these archbishops, see before, pp. 145-147.

[5] St. Evroult lived from A.D. 517-December 29, 596.

ABOUT A.D. 593.] VISIT OF KING CHILDEBERT. 285

modern times to retrace them are fruitless, these ancient monuments having disappeared with the revolutions of the world from the memory of men, like hail or snow lost in the waters of some rapid river, and flowing onward, past recovery, in its mingled current. [1]

The names of the places at which father Evroult founded the fifteen monasteries, and of the fathers he set over the religious societies, as vicars of Christ, have been lost in the various revolutions of four hundred years, during the reigns of the numerous kings who have governed France from Lothaire the Great and Childebert to Philip and his son Lewis. [2] Nevertheless, some old men, bowed down with years, have related to their sons with natural garrulity what they saw and heard, which these again retained by strong efforts of a tenacious memory, and handed down to the succeding age. These traditions of things worthy of remembrance they make known to their brethren, thereby stirring up the hard hearts of men to the love of their Creator, and not hiding their talent in the earth with the useless servant, and incurring his condemnation. Listen, then, to what I heard myself, when a boy, from our old fathers, and magnify with me the wonderful works of God in his saints.

The fame of the holy father Evroult being noised abroad far and near, reached the ears of Childebert king of France, who, impelled by a strong desire to see him, undertook a journey to Ouche with his wife and some of his family. [3] Approaching the monastery of the man of God, at the place where the church dedicated to St. Mary, mother of God, now stands, [4] he dismounted from his horse, and


[1] This noble image recalls to memory a passage in the bible which contains the same idea: "Let them fall away like water that runneth apace". Ps. lviii. 6.

[2] This passage was written in the reign of Lewis-le-Gros, and consequently before the month of August, 1137, the date of that king's death.

[3] See note to book iv. c. 16 (p. 101). This visit of Childebert and his queen to St. Evroult probably took place shortly after the 28th of March, 893, when Gontran left to his nephew vast possessions in the west of France, of which Childebert might wish to take possession in person.

[4] Probably the church now called Notre-Dame-du-Bois, built on the site of the oratory, under the same invocation, acquired by Abbot Theodoric. See vol. i. p. 399. The church stands on the right bank of the Charenton, overlooking the valley in which the abbey of St. Evroult stood on the other side of the river. The French editor of Ordericus here corrects a note which is inserted in vol. i. p. 399, describing this church as having been originally the mother-church of the parish in which the abbey was built. However that may be, it is the parish church at the present day.

286 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

commanded all to prepare themselves duly for meeting the saint. Then the clerks who were in his train stood ready in their vestments, laying their hands on the crosses and relics which they had spread on palls; but when they attempted to remove them, they could by no means do so. All, therefore, in great tribulution, threw themselves on the ground, and humbly prayed for God's mercy. The queen, also, bound herself by a vow, saying: "If Almighty God shall give us the power of safely removing the holy things which we have here deposited, I will cause a venerable church to be built on this spot in honour of his mother". After she had said this, the clerks again laid their bands on the sacred things, but to no purpose. Then the queen was very sorrowful, and said with tears: "I know that I deserve for my sins not to see the servant of God; but if God the Creator of all things shall, by the intercession of the saint himself, take pity on us, and permit us to remove the holy relics, I will have a marble altar made at my own expense, and cause it to be brought to the holy man". When she had uttered these words, all the relics moved of themselves, and they took them up, and went in joyful procession to meet the man of God. Already the blessed man was on his way, attended by a body of the monks; and a crowd of people of both sexes hastened with him in great triumph towards the king. Being received into the monastery, the king remained there three days. On the third day he signed a charter granting ninety-nine vills to St. Evroult, and then returned homewards rejoicing.

The queen, remembering her vow, caused a church to be built in honour of Mary, mother of God, always a virgin, on the hill which stands between the rivulet of Charenton and the wood, [1] and also sent the marble altar which she promised to the venerable man, which remained for many years in the


[1] The church of Notre-Dame-du-Bois stands on the side of the hill above the Charenton, and must formerly have been surrounded by the forest, the verge of which in the course of time has receded to some little distance.

A.D. 582-596.] CHURCH OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-BOIS. 287

same place. Long afterwards, in the course of years, a worthless fellow attempted to transfer part of the marble to another place; but it happened to break in the middle. It was plain to all that this act was displeasing to God, and he did not suffer it to remain long unpunished, for before the year was past the man lost his life.

In the church built by the queen, as I have just stated, two altars were consecrated; one of them dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity the other to the pure virgin mother of God. It is reported that there was there a convent of monks, and a cemetery for the monks and men of distinction. Their bodies were carried thither for interment, because the ground in the valley was marshy, and in the winter wherever it was dug, the water forthwith sprung up, and, overflowing, filled the graves. Traces of a building of importance are discovered near the church of the Virgin Mother, and to this day stately tombs are preserved there, which are believed to have certainly belonged to eminent persons. After this description, I proceed to relate what further remains.

The man of God, seeing that he could not bear the crowds of people who flocked to him, set his convent in order, and withdrawing from it privately, concealed himself for three years in a crypt, so that none of the monks knew where he was, except one whose name was Malchus, a godson of the saint, who knew his secrets better than the rest. The crypt stood by the side of a rivulet under a wooded hill, and was almost half a league distant from the monastery. [1] Meanwhile, the devil, that enemy of all that is excellent, perceiving that the brethren were growing in good works, sought to fill them with the gall of bitterness, and to cause lamentable disturbances among them. He therefore raised a tumult, which was carried so far that two were killed and the rest were plunged in unutterable grief. When the godson of the holy man perceived this incurable wound in the body of the brethren, he ran with all haste to the abbot. The man of God, seeing him from a distance thus running, concluded that it was not without reason he made such haste, and going to meet him inquired the cause of his


[1] This crypt was probably in the neighbourhood of the fountain of St. Evroult, described in a former note.

288 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

coming. Upon this, Malthus related at length how the monks had been stirred up to insurrection by the instigation of the devil. Hearing this, the holy man, inflamed with zeal for God, shuddered, and hastened to accompany the messenger on his return. When he drew near to the convent, and had reached the spot where the church founded in honour of him now stands, all the bells of the monastery began to ring of their own accord. So also did the bells in the church of St. Mary, and in that of St. Martin, called The Elegant, at a place commonly called La Bercoterie.

Then the devil, perceiving that the saint was come, assumed a human form, and began to flee. The holy man seeing this, said to his godson: "My brother, do you see that man running"? He replied, "My lord, I see no one". Then said the saint, "Lo, the devil flees, transfigured into the form of a man, and fearing to remain any longer in this place". As he said this, he pursued Belial as he fled; but when he was come to the village now called by the inhabitants, Echaufour, Satan, not having permission to flee any further, stood still. Upon which the blessed Evroult boldly went up to aim, and threw him into a fiery oven which was heated in readiness for baking bread, and immediately closed its mouth with an iron stopper which he chanced to find. From this circumstance the place took its name of Echaufour. [1] The women who had brought their loaves to he baked, seeing with astonishment what was done, said to the man of God, "What, sir, shall we do with our loaves"? To which he replied, "God is able to bake your loaves without corporeal fire; clear well the hearth before the oven, and lay your loaves in order upon it, and when they are thoroughly baked, depart to your homes", which was done accordingly; all who saw it giving glory to God. Then the blessed Evroult returned to his monastery and having commanded the two monks who had been killed to be brought before him, laid himself prostrate on the


[1] From echauffer, to heat; four, an oven. Echaufour is a small bourg, with a fine old church, on the verge of the forest, about three leagues from St. Evroult, the monks of which had large possessions in the parish. There was a castle here, probably on the site of the present chateau, about a mile from the village, which was the scene of a surprise described in vol. i. p. 433.

A.D. 582-596.] ACTS OF ST. EVROULT. 289

ground, and continued praying until such time as the brethren were roused from the sleep of death. Having confessed and communicated with the Lord's body, they again gave up the ghost, to the joy and astonishment of all who saw it. The venerable father ordered them to have honourable burial, and being assured of their salvation, gave devout thanks to God.

Old men report these and many such miracles performed by Evroult, adding that they had seen at Ouche a very aged monk named Natalis, who had a large volume filled with accounts of the miracles and actions of this servant of the Lord. One day, mass being ended, a lighted candle was carelessly left on the altar, and while the attendants were busy about other matters, the wick burnt down till it set fire to a napkin, and the flame caught the altar- cloth, which was utterly destroyed, as well as the book, of which we have never been able to discover another copy; and every thing on and about the altar which was of a combustible nature was burnt. All joined in lamenting this irreparable loss of the record of past events: but as the monks were illiterate, they did not supply it by writing, but transmitted verbally to the younger members of the society the particulars of what they had seen and heard. When they were removed by death, the thick clouds of ignorance overspread their successors, and hid under an impenetrable veil the knowledge of past events, except only what some erudite man made, a short abstract of the life of St. Evroult to be read in the church. Having already inserted in my work the first part of this recital, I will now proceed to relate from it the end of the holy father's life and labours in a profitable manner without any false colouring. Twenty-two years having passed since the monks began their settlement in the depth of the wilderness, the monastery was subjected to the ravages of a plague producing sudden death, by the assaults of the great deceiver of mankind. [1] The blessed Evroult did not act as a mercenary who


[1] The same plague appears to have ravaged at this time the rising convent of Glanfeuil, now St. Maur-sur-Loire. It is also mentioned by Gregory of Tours as having prevailed in 580. The date here given by our author enabled Mabillon to calculate the time of the establishment of St. Evroult in the forest of Ouche, which he fixed in 580.

290 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

took to flight and left the sheep in the midst of the wolves, but like a true shepherd, engaged with them in the conflict, and, fulfilling the apostle's admonition, "rejoiced with them that did rejoice, and wept with them that did weep". [1] Addressing them in words of exhortation, he said, "Brethren, strengthen your hearts, and be prepared. Be courageous and comforted in the Lord, knowing that tribulation worketh patience. [2] Be renewed in the spirit of your minds and fight against the old serpent. Be of one heart and one mind in the Lord. Behold the day of our vocation is near, when our works shall be made manifest, and the righteous Judge will give to every man according to his merits. Watch, then, and pray, for ye know neither the day nor the hour. Blessed is that servant who, when the Lord cometh, shall be found watching". By these and such like evangelical discourses, the wise preacher addressed himself to the consciences of the brethren, enlarging on the joys prepared for the good, and the torments which awaited evil doers.

Sudden deaths becoming frequent, it happened, in order to exhibit in a clearer light the powers of the saint, that one of the monks named Ansbert died without receiving the viaticum. The brother who had the care of him immediately came to the abbot, saying: "Father, pray for your son who has just departed out of this life most unhappily. Let your intercessions prevail to bring him safely on the way, seeing that he was not strengthened for it by the communion of the blessed sacrament". St. Evroult severely blamed himself for this occurrence, as if it happened from his own negligence, and hastening to the bed of the deceased, shed tears, and threw himself in the dust, using the arms of prayer, on which he relied. When however he felt within himself the presence of the divine power, he arose from the earth, and called on the dead man. At the sound of that voice, he who had lost his sight raised his head and opened his eyes, and perceiving the restorer of his freedom, said, "Welcome, my liberator, welcome! your prayers have saved me, having unravelled the devices of the enemy, who had claimed me as his own, because he found me without communion. Shut out from the feast of the blessed, I was condemned, as not having received the viaticum to the torments of cruel hunger.


[1] Rom. xii. 15.

[2] Rom. vii. 3.

A.D. 1582-596.] ACTS OF ST. EVROULT. 291

Wherefore, kind father, I pray you not to delay allowing me to partake of the life-giving host". Need I say more? The sacrament was ordered to be brought, and as soon as he had received it, while all were wondering at his revival, he again gave up the ghost by the wise dispensation of God. The glorious saint exults in the certainty of the brother's salvation; the monks exult, praising God for this new miracle. Evroult rejoiced because he had restored to life, by the accepted way, a brother snatched from death; the monks rejoiced that they had a father at whose prayers hell trembled. Great as they felt the perils of the pestilence which threatened them with destruction, with such a leader and guide they were encouraged to be less fearful of being cut off unprepared. However, the mortality was so great, that eighty-eight of the monks died of the pestilence, and the loss among the domestics was not less.

I must not pass over in silence what happened to one of the number, a most useful officer of the abbey, who breathed his last on the very day of our Lord's nativity. Everything having been properly arranged for his funeral, he was borne forth from the monastery to the spot where the place of burial lay. There the corpse was deposited until the mass was finished preparatory to its being committed to the grave. The whole society grieved for the loss of so worthy a servant. He was a most active steward, and managed the affairs of the monks with great industry, so that he was held in high esteem by them all. While they were thus plunged in general grief, St. Evroult felt the Holy Spirit conceived within him, and trembling with awe, while he compassionated the sorrow of the brethren, had recourse to his familiar remedies. His prayers were fervent, he smote his breast, and he shed tears, and continued his intercessions until such time as the domestic for whom they were offered rose to life and threw himself at the holy father's feet, giving thanks for his restoration. Then shouts rose to heaven; the name of the Holy Trinity was blessed by all, and Evroult was acknowledged to be illustrious and apostolical, because he raised the dead. The servant restored to life resumed his duties, and lived for many years afterwards. At length, through divine mercy, this fatal pestilence terminated.

Notwithstanding, however, the mortality ceased, the

292 OBDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

good shepherd continued to pray for the departed, believing that true charity is more concerned about the soul than about the body. Although his head was become grey with venerable age, he was far from being bowed down by the burden of years, but prolonged his labours of reading and praying into the night, according to what the psalmist says amongst other descriptions of the man who is blessed: "He meditates in the law of the Lord both day and night". [1] Inflamed with ardent charity, he devoted himself more zealously to the exercise of all virtues. Though he was compassionate to sinners, he carefully guarded his own discourse. Neglecting the care of his person, his hair was cut only three times in a year. He was never known to return evil for evil. When any loss of transitory things was reported to him, his constant reply was: "The Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord". [2] He had such a happy art of reconciling differences that, however much at variance persons came to him, they returned at peace, soothed by his honeyed words. Indeed, all who approached him, high and low, poor and pilgrims, met with a cheerful reception. He made himself pleasant to all, and seldom any one was permitted to retire from his presence without receiving some little present. The sick, who regained their health by his benediction, departed, joyfully giving thanks to God. It was restored to all who resorted to the holy man in the hope of recovering it. Many, also, who were so prostrated by the violence of fever that they could not come into the presence of the saint, sent messengers to entreat that, of his goodness, he would send them some token, such as a girdle which he had made himself from rope, or some fragment of his clothing; and those who handled these things with faith regained their former health.

A certain mother of a family, who could not obtain a cure from any physician, hearing a report of the virtues of the blessed man, sent to beg the fringe of his garment, and having received it, she was relieved from her disorder, as were many others. Behold this admirable physician, who not only granted the gift of health to those who hastened to his presence, but failed not when absent to impart it to those


[1] Psalm i. 2.

[2] Job i. 21.

A.D. 596.] ST.EVROULT'S DEATH. 293

who were at a distance. Those felt his influence who never saw his face.

While all flocked to him in their several necessities, one poor wretch among the rest came from a strange country. Perceiving that his whole frame was wasted by severe disease, and that he was bent to the knees as he walked, the most compassionate saint said to him: "Brother, how could you bear the fatigue of such a journey, seeing under what debility you labour"? He replied: "My lord, it was under compulsion by a double necessity that I determined to come to your holiness; first, I was hungry and wanted employment, and secondly, I was infirm and depended upon you for a cure". The holy man told him to remain there, and immediately restoring his health, made him a monk, and set him to work in the garden. So he who came with two requests, rejoiced at obtaining three benefits, for he escaped the danger of famine, found a remedy for his infirmity, and was admitted to the profession of a better course of life.

Another pauper presented himself who, though he was in sound health, pretended to be sick and somewhat palsied, in order to obtain something more than the others. Presently, however, when he had received alms from the man of God, he was struck with fever, what he had feigned becoming a reality; and he breathed his last a few days afterwards in the monastery, having confessed his wicked fraud.

In the midst of so many striking proofs of his miraculous powers, the aged soldier of Christ, having attained the age of eighty years, fervently desired to see the face of him he had so long served; regarding him as an unbelieving servant who would wish to avoid the presence of his master. For forty-seven days, during which he was afflicted with a fever, he was never seen to take food, except occasionally the sacrament of the body of the Lord Jesus, and was incessantly engaged in imparting the mysteries of the divine word to the brethren, as if he suffered no inconvenience. And when pious persons of the neighbourhood came to see him, and begged of him to accept something, as an offering of their love, which might serve to sustain his feeble body, he said to them: "Cease, brethren, cease from persuading me to receive what I altogether loathe". Truly he was in no need of earthly food who was nourished within by the Holy

294 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.IX.

Spirit. He was fed by the sweet hope of eternal delights, and assured of enjoying a blessed immortality as the reward of his labours. At length the day approaching on which it was his desire to be dissolved and to obtain the wished-for vision of his Maker, he called together the brethren, and as they were sorrowing at his departure, and considering what they should do when their shepherd was dead, he thus addressed them: "My children, continue to be of one mind, united by the bond of charity! Let there be divine love among you, one toward the other! Be not betrayed into the deceitful snares of the devil, and study to fulfil your vows to God! Be lovers of temperance; observe strict continence; cultivate humility; eschew pride, and let each strive to excel the others in good works! Receive with benevolence pilgrims and strangers for the sake of Him who said, 'I was a stranger and ye took me in'". [1]

The glorious Evroult uttering these and other his last words to the same purpose, and having given his blessing to the brethren, his most holy soul departed from the body, and immediately his face shone with so much brightness, that no one doubted that his free spirit was already triumphing among the angels in heaven. He left the world on the fourth of the calends of January [December 29], in the time of Robert bishop of Seez, and in the twelfth year of the reign of King Childebert. [2] The brethren carried the corpse into the church with great reverence, and chanted hymns and praises to God for three days and nights, while they carefully watched the holy body, waiting for the assembling of the servants of God. When it was known at Seez that the benefactor of the whole country was removed from the world, all the inhabitants flocked together to the monastery to have the happiHess of being present at his solemn funerals The poor lamented him who was indeed one of


[1] Matt. xxv. 43.

[2] It should be Clotaire, which is the ancient reading of the MS. of St. Evroult. In fact, St. Evroult died the 29th of December, 596, in the eightieth year of his age, which was the twelfth of the reign of Clotaire, and the twentieth of that of Childebert, king of Austrasia, 575-596. The notice here taken of Robert, bishop of Seez, 584-628? is the only trace of that prelate to be found in history.

[3] Seez, the smallest city in France, is about thirty miles distant from St. Evroult, which belonged to the diocese. The cathedral is a fine edifice, with one of those deep porches for which the French churches are remarkable, flanked by two spires, and a nave of the early pointed style.

A.D. 596-7.] ST. EVROULT'S MIRACLES. 295

Christ's poor; the rich, him who was rich in spiritual blessings; children, a father; the aged, one stricken in years. All had found him a common friend, and all lamented their common loss.

I think I ought not to omit mentioning that remarkable proof of his goodness which, amongst others, the holy man gave, when he was now in the enjoyment of eternal light. One of the brethren, distinguished for his piety and the grace of obedience, had served in the monastery, and was raised to the rank of deacon. Evroult loved him much on account of his merit of sanctity. When this deacon found that he was deprived of so great a father, he became overwhelmed with grief, and said: "Alas! wretched man that I am, what shall I do? Why, my father, have you left him whom you confessed you loved? Why have you suffered him who was in your entire confidence to be separated from you? Do you treat as an enemy him you called your son? Assuredly I never deserved that you should wish to descend into the tomb before me".

"In sighs and tears thus vented he his grief": [1]

And behold, on the very night of the circumcision of our Lord, the deacon, by God's will, gave up the ghost. This plainly appears to have been accomplished through the intercession of the holy father Evroult, that he whom he loved might not become the sport of the world, and that he himself might exhibit his readiness to hear the petitions of those who invoked his aid. Thus the monk, according to his wishes, was carried out for burial on the morrow, at the same time with his abbot. Oh, glorious death, more precious than life! It secured him in heaven what he lost on earth. As far as I can conjecture, it was better thus to die than to be restored from death to life. For now, assured of his salvation, he has not to fear being defiled by sin. If he were raised up again, he would have to struggle with uncertain hope against


[1] "Talia perstabat memorans, lacrymasque ciebat".

The first part of this verse is taken from Virgil, AEn. ii. 650; the second from AEn. vi. 468.

296 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

a double danger. This miracle is therefore not to be considered less than that of the resurrection of dead persons before related.

The venerable father Evroult was interred in a marble tomb of admirable workmanship in the church of St Peter, prince of the apostles, which he had built himself of stone. To this day many persons are there healed of their infirmities, and by the goodness of our merciful Redeemer the sorrowful find consolation. To Him be honour and power, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, throughout all ages! Amen.

CH. X.- Materials for history destroyed by the Northmen - Relics of saints dispersed - Those of St. Evroult translated to Orleans - The abbey deserted - Its restoration - Notices of public events - Letter of Abbot Warin, in the name of Hervey, bishop of Ely.

I have thus faithfully described the life of the holy father Evroult, inserting it in this work, as it was compiled by our predecessors, that the knowledge of so exalted a patron may profit the reader, and my labour and regard be pleasing to the Lord God, while I have endeavoured to publish the glorious actions of my nursing father to the praise of Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being. But, from the time that this illustrious man was taken from the world, who and what his successors were in the convent of Ouche for four hundred years, or what were the fortunes of the monks or the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, I am entirely ignorant. In the times which succeeded, as I have already distinctly stated on several occasions, bands of pirates issued from Denmark, first with Hasting for their leader, and afterwards Rollo, invaded Neustria, and ignorant of Christianity and of the pure worship of God, inflicted the most cruel disasters on the believing natives. They burnt Noyon and Rouen, and many other cities, towns, and villages, destroyed a number of monasteries of venerable sanctity, devastated a vast extent of country with their incessant ravages, and having either exterminated or driven out the inhabitants, reduced the towns and villages to utter solitude. In the midst of so much desolation, the defenceless monks, not knowing what to do, were often in the greatest terror;

A.D. 841-876.] ABBEYS SAVAGED BY THE NORTHMEN. 297

and in their tribulation gave vent to their distress in continual lamentations, and waited their end in caverns and thickets, absorbed in grief. Some indeed in terror at the savage cruelty of the barbarians, fled to foreign lands which had hitherto escaped the hostile attacks of the pagans. Some also bore with them the remains of their fathers, whose souls reign with the Lord of Sabaoth, whom they devoutly served while on earth. The fugitives also carried abroad with them the writings which contained the acts of these same fathers in the Lord, and accounts of the possessions of the churches, their nature and extent, and by whom they were given; but great part of these documents was swept away in the storms of the times, and alas! irrecoverably lost amidst such fearful commotions.

This is what the monks of Jumieges and Fontenelles did; [1] overtaken by a terrible disaster they never brought back what they carried away. The monks of Jumieges translated to Haspres [2] the relics of St. Hugh the archbishop and abbot Aicadre, which the inhabitants of Cambray and Arras preserve in precious shrines, and venerate to this day. The monks of Fontenelles carried to Ghent the relics of the holy confessors Wandrille the abbot, and Ansbert and Wulfran, archbishops, [3] which are in the possession of the Flemings to


[1] Both these abbeys stood in the valley of the Seine, and were therefore particularly exposed to the devastations of the Northmen. For some account of Jumieges, see a note towards the close of the present chapter, under date of the year 1050. The abbey of St. Wandrille, originally Fontenelles, was founded in 648. Its ruins are now seen embosomed by woods in a glen which issues on the road from Rouen to Havre, about three miles from Caudebec. The refectory exhibits the only relics of the Norman structure, and with some pointed arches of the church destroyed at the revolution, is the principal remains of this once stately abbey.

[2] Haspres, between Cambray and Valenciennes. It appears that Pepin d'Herinstal, towards the end of the sixth century, founded a priory in this place, which he attached to Jumieges. The remains of St. Aicadre and St. Hugh, archbishop of Rouen, were translated there to secure them from the outrages of the Northmen, but it must have been after their first devastation of Jumieges, which took place the 24th of May, 841.

[3] The relics of St. Wandrille and St. Ansbert, after several migrations from Fontenelles to Boulogne-sur-Mer, and from thence to Chartres and back again to Boulogne, between the years 858 and 944, found their final resting place on the 3rd of September of the latter year in the abbey of St. Peter at Blankenberg, near Ghent. The account of the translation of the relics of St. Wulfran is not so clear, but there are formal records of their having also been carried to Blankenberg, with the others already mentioned. On the other hand, the monks of St. Wandrille (Fontenelles) maintained that the body of St. Wulfran, discovered in their monastery in 1027, had never been removed from it; while the inhabitants of Abbeville also claim the possession of these remains on respectable authority, as having been conveyed there direct from Fontenelles. See Mabillon, Acta S. Benedict saec. iii. part i. pp. 365, 366.

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the present time, and are held by them in high veneration. The monks of several other abbeys did the same thing, whose names I omit partly from want of information (as I have not discovered them all), and partly that I may avoid a wearisome prolixity on matters of small importance.

Dudo, dean of St. Quintin, wrote with care concerning the arrival of the Normans and their barbarous cruelty, and dedicated his work to Richard II., son of Gonnor, duke of Normandy. William, surnamed Calculus, a monk of Jumieges made a skilful use of the materials furnished by Dudo cleverly abridging them, and adding the history of Richard's successors to the conquest of England, finished his narrative with the battle of Senlac. [1] He addressed his work to King William, the greatest of his native princes. As others have published magnificent accounts of sublime actions dedicated to exalted personages, and have voluntarily offered themselves to describe important events in fitting colours, I too, moved by their example have undertaken a similar enterprise, and have already written an account at some length, of the monastery in the forest of Ouche which was honourably restored in the time of William, who was first, duke of Normandy, and afterwards king of England. However, I have been able to find no written records of ancient times after the decease of father Evroult, and I shall therefore more especially endeavour to commit to writing the traditions I have collected from old persons respecting the translation of the remains of the holy confessor from his own abbey of Evroult. A short account is to be found at Rebais, which I do not altogether approve, and it seems to have been drawn up by an ignorant writer, not fully informed with any certainty, as it appears to me, of dates and circumstances. As therefore I cannot rely on the narrative of another writer, I propose


[1] Some account of these two Norman historians is given in the notes to pp. 375 and 376 of vol. i. of the present work.

A.D. 943.] LEWIS D'OUTRE-MER INVADES NORMANDY. 299

to commit to writing a clear account of what I have myself gathered from old inhabitants of Ouche respecting the time and manner of the French obtaining possession of the precious remains of the venerable Evroult.

In the year of our Lord 943, after Arnulph count of Flanders had slain William Long-sword, duke of Normandy, and Richard son of Sprote, his son then aged only ten years, had succeeded to the dukedom and received at Rouen before his father's funeral the homage and fealty of all the barons, Lewis D'Outre-Mer, king of France entered Normandy with an army and succeeded by fraud in carrying off the young duke to Laon, promising the Normans on oath that he would bring him up as his own son, and have him fitly educated in his royal court for governing the state. But things turned out otherwise; for king Lewis, at the instigation of the traitor Arnulph, resolved to put the boy to death, or at least to deprive him of the power of bearing arms by amputating some of his limbs. Osmund, the youth's tutor, learning this from Ives de Creil, [2] grand master of the royal ordnance, he secretly persuaded Richard to feign sickness, that he might thereby induce his guards to be less vigilant.

One day, while the king was at supper, and every one was engaged in his own concerns or those of others, Osmond bought a truss of green forage, and ascending the castle rolled it round the young duke. Then descending the tower he made all haste to his quarters with the truss of grass and spreading it before his horse, concealed the lad. When the sun was set, he got out of the town, cautiously taking the prince with him, and made for Couci where he gave him in charge to Bernard, count de Senlis, his uncle. [2]

Meanwhile, Bernard the Dane, who was governor of Normandy, sent envoys to Harold, king of Denmark, announcing to him the death of Duke William, and that his son was deprived of his inheritance. Harold, in consequence, sailed to Normandy with a powerful fleet, and, being received in the Cotentin by order of Bernard, waited two years for a


[1] Near Senlis.

[2] Bernard, count de Senlis and Valois, son of Pepin II., a descendant of Charlemagne. He was not Richard's uncle, bnt cousin-german of tho Duchess de Leutegarde, William Long-sword's queen.

300 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

favourable opportunity of falling on the French, but at length took a bloody revenge for the murder of his cousin William and the banishment of that duke's son. For, hostilities breaking out during a conference between the Danes and French, he seized king Lewis, and put to the sword Herluin and Lambert, with sixteen barons and numbers of inferior rank.

While however, Richard, the young duke, was detained for nearly three years in exile, and the king of France supposed that Normandy was entirely his own, he had some apprehension of Hugh the Great, duke of Orleans, rendering aid to the Normans, and he therefore ceded to him Exmes, Bayeux and all the district of the Cotentin as far as Mont St. Michel-in-peril-of-the-sea, giving him strict orders to reduce the rebellious Normans with a strong force, and get possession of their fortified places. The ambitious marquis received these commands with great satisfaction, and, at once breaking the treaties which he had previously entered into, invaded Normandy with a powerful army. Hugh himself established himself with his household at Gace, while his troops overspread the whole province. Herluin, the duke's chancellor, and Ralph de Tracy, were quartered at Ouche, and lodged in the convent of St Evroult the confessor. Both were men of piety and lived in the fear of God. The simple monks rejoiced to entertain such distinguished men, and rendered them all hospitable attentions in their power with the utmost kindness. Conducting them without reserve through their chapels, oratories, and secret recesses, they showed them, to their loss, the shrines and relics of the saints which they contained. The strangers examined with great reverence these objects preserved with so much secrecy, and on their departure offered their prayers and gifts; but they returned shortly afterwards, like the Chaldeans to Jerusalem, and cruelly carried off the holy vessels of the church, and all its valuable treasures.

Hugh the Great sat down before Exmes with his army, but the garrison made a brave resistance and prevented his further advance. At the same time, the king of France entering the country of Evreux with a strong force spread fire and rapine through all Normandy. Bernard the Dane

944.] PART OF NORMANDY CEDED TO HUGH THE GREAT. 301

being apprized of these incursions and receiving sure accounts of the devastation of the country, was in great dismay at his inability to withstand the attacks of such powerful princes, with only his Norman levies. In consequence, having keenly surveyed the state of affairs, his crafty genius devised the means of extricating himself and the people he governed from the difficulties in which they were placed. He therefore met the king with the air of a suppliant and thus addressed him: "What are you doing, my lord the king? Your undertaking is impious and unbefitting your rank. All this Normandy, which you are ravaging, is your own. Rouen and the other cities, with the villages and strong places, throw open their gates at your command, and the whole population, both rich and poor, submits to you, and having no other lord respect and love you. Who can have given you the disastrous counsel to ravage your own property with the sword of the destroyer, and to butcher a people devoted to you? He must be a wicked traitor who has persuaded you to devastate your own states with fire and sword". The king's heart was softened by this specious language, so that he dismissed his army and entered Rouen with Bernard. Bernard gave him a brilliant reception, surrounded with the citizens full of joy, and having prepared for him a magnificent banquet entertained him for several days with great respect. However, as the king was sitting one day after dinner in the great ball, conversing cheerfully with those about him on affairs of state, the crafty Barnard addressed them in ambiguous terms: "We have", he said, "O Norman lords, great cause for joy, and let us render thanks to God for it, as we ought. Hitherto we have obeyed a duke of the race of Rollo; now, by God's will, we are the subjects of a great king of the race of the emperor Charlemagne. To this time we have been ducal, now we are royal, and, what is more, imperial". All the company applauding this discourse, and deceiving the French by flattering words, Bernard again entreated silence, and thus proceeded while there was general attention: " I acknowledge the shrewdness of the French in many affairs, but there is one thing my lord the king has I done which I cannot approve, for I perceive in it his own disadvantage and great dishonour. We all know that Hugh the Great is a traitor, and the son of a traitor; and yet the

302 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

king has aggrandized him, as I think, to his own great injury, by giving him the districts of Exmes and the Cotentin, with many thousand men bearing arms. Some pestilent adviser has taken advantage of his master's simplicity, and, to speak the truth, has plunged a dagger into his heart by persuading his lord to strengthen his enemy against himself. I wonder much, my lord the king, that you have so entirely forgotten the past. It is plain to all the world, for such crimes cannot be committed in private, that Robert, [1] Hugh's father, was a traitor, and having rebelled against your father Charles, and breaking his oath of allegiance usurped the crown and deservedly fell battle. Hugh was a party to these designs, and disturbed France for seven years while you were an exile with your uncle Athelstan in England. [2] Is it not clear as the light to any sensible person that he is guilty of high treason who wickedly suggests to the king that stripping himself of his own estates, he should lessen his own dominions to augment the strength of an enemy who will turn it against yourself. Let no one have a share in the duchy of Normandy, but the king of France be the sole ruler of the Normans who pay him their willing obedience".

On hearing this, the king became anxious about the gift he had voluntarily made to Hugh, without any application on his part, and asked to be advised what he should do in the affair. The crafty Dane replied that the king ought without hesitation to annul his engagements, and give a positive command to Hugh to raise the siege of Exmes; and if he should rebelliously resist the order, they should fall upon him with their united forces. Bernard selected two knights for this embassy, and the king dictated to them the imperious orders they were to carry to Hugh. Thereupon, the envoys made all haste to the camp of Hugh, and reported to him faithfully the king's message: "Your presumption", they said, "is intolerable in invading the dominions of your lord the king of France, and besieging the castle of Exmes,


[1] Robert, duke of France, second of the name, was son of Robert the Strong, king of France, June 24, 922-June 15, 923.

[2] Louis d'Outre-Mer, who was born in 920, resided at the court of his uncle Athelstan nearly thirteen years, from the captivity of King Charles, his father, in 923 to 936, when he was crowned at Laon.

A.D. 944.] HUGH EVACUATES THE PROVINCE. 303

which has been a royal seat from ancient times. [1] Hear now his commands in this matter; and on the fealty you owe him, obey them without delay. Raise the siege before sunset, and give account of your rash enterprise to the king at Laon, with the advice and judgment of his peers, when he shall appoint a time. Otherwise, prepare yourself and your people for battle, for the king your lord, if he finds you here, will attack you with the forces of France and Normandy before the week is passed".

This message violently enraged Hugh the Great, and rousing him to the highest pitch of resentment, he exclaimed to his attendants: "This weak king must be demented to send me such a message while I am supporting him with all my power. I never coveted the possession of Normandy, or demanded any part of it from him; but he made me the voluntary offer of the whole country on this side of the Seine, as far as the sea, and required my assistance to subdue these indomitable pirates. Does he not manifest his folly to all the world when he threatens to fight me at the very time I am obeying his orders. The man who serves an unjust master is much to be pitied, and he who submits to one who is at once faithless and weak is a fool himself. Let us make a hasty retreat; but see that you devastate the whole country, ruin the churches, burn the houses, level the ovens and mills, drive off the flocks and herds of cattle, and carry away with you, never to return, every sort of plunder, and, loaded with booty, leave those miscreants to themselves".

Receiving such orders, the troops dispersed themselves like bands of robbers throughout the province, and taking the country-people by surprise, while they thought themselves safe under the duke's protection, executed his orders without mercy. Then Herluin, the chancellor, and Ralph de Tracy did not trouble themselves about the cattle or the goods of the peasantry, but recollecting their sojourn at Ouche, returned thither, and unexpectedly entered the convent with their followers. While the monks who suspected no evil, stood aghast, the armed band burst into the church with violence, and penetrated into its secret recesses, and


[1] M. Le Prevost remarks that Exmes had never any pretensions to be a royal residence.

304 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

even broke open the tombs. Taking the bodies of the three saints Evroult, Evremond, [1] and Ansbert [2] out of their coffins and wrapping the bones in deer-skins, they carried them off with the relics of other saints. The armed retainers penetrated into every corner of the abbey and irreverently laid hands on all that was serviceable to human existence, in spite of the lamentations of the weeping monks. Setting no bounds to their rapacity, and respecting no one, they pillaged the books, vestments, and various articles of furniture belonging to the monks and their servants, and ransacking every place which the brethren themselves had opened to them on a former occasion, as already related, they swept every thing away. They then joined the rest of the invaders, and the whole, united in one body, marched out of Normandy, and hastened back to their own country with the booty they had collected. The monks of Ouche were overwhelmed with grief at their sad desolation, and were at a loss to determine what they should do or where they should go now that they had been stripped of all. After considering, however, all circumstances, they resolved to leave the country, and follow the relics of their sainted founder.

A venerable old man, whose name was Ascelin, filled at that time the office of prior of Ouche, diligently performing its functions according to the circumstances of the times. Seeing the monks and their servitors plunged in excessive grief, and all preparing to leave together their now desolate abode and follow their blessed patron among hostile bands, after much careful reflection he determined to wait the time of his dissolution in that place in the fear of the Lord. He, therefore, called the brethren together, and when they were all assembled, thus spoke: "For our sins, and those of our fathers,


[1] St. Evremond was a native of Bayeux, as well as St. Evroult, and their legends are very similar. St. Evremond quitted the world to retire into a solitude in another part of the diocese of Seez, Fontenay-les-Louvets, after previously founding a monastery half a league from thence. Annobert, bishop of Seez, drew him from his retreat to take the government of another convent, called Mons Major, supposed to be Montmere, between Argentan and Seez, where he died in the odour of sanctity about the year 720.

[2] This saint is the monk restored to life by St. Evroult, in order that he might receive the viaticum, and not St. Ansbert, archbishop of Rouen, mentioned before, p. 290.

A.D. 941.] ABBEY OF ST. EVROULT DESERTED. 305

the scourge of God has fallen upon us, and its terrible stroke has levelled us and ours, and brought us to irreparable ruin. Behold the Judge Almighty, as he destroyed Jerusalem by the hands of Nebuchodnosor and the Chaldees, justly humbling his own sanctuary, so he has punished this house by the hands of Hugh and the French with afflictions of various kinds, but principally (which is most to be lamented) by depriving us of the bones of the blessed father Evroult and other saints. As for you who propose to follow the relics of your founder, for various reasons, I do not venture to prohibit your enterprise, as this whole neighbourhood is now a desert, and defenceless monks would starve while princes are in arms. Go, with God's blessing, and be faithful servants to the kind father who has hitherto sustained you in his own country, becoming now pilgrims with him in a strange land. For myself I shall not desert Ouche, but shall still serve my Creator in this place where I have enjoyed so many blessings, and never quit it while life remains. I know that the bodies of many saints repose here, and the spot was pointed out to our holy father by an angelic vision, for the exercise of his spiritual warfare to the profit of numbers. A great company of tho faithful have here offered to the King Most High the acceptable incense of a devout life, of which they are now receiving the crown and the rewards in paradise. Here, then, I shall remain after your departure, and in imitation of our founder, become the guardian of these solitudes in the name of the Lord, until, through his mercy who is King of kings, better times shall dawn upon us".

At these words, the afflicted brethren parted. Thereupon, the monks of St. Evroult and their attendants abandoned their home, and joining their enemies, followed weeping the relics Of their patron. Their number, including their domestics, was about thirty, and they all marched on foot in company with the [duke's] chaplains. The latter knew the monks well enough, but showed them no courtesy, as they suspected and feared that their object was privately to rob the French of their precious treasure. But the merciful Lord, who chastises the erring to bring them back to the right way, treats those who are converted with fatherly

306 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

kindness, and gives his aid in a wonderful manner to those who need it.

The troop encamped the first night after leaving Normandy at a place called Champs, [1] and after supper some of the duke's boon companions fell into bantering and unseemly talk. One of these jesters said jocosely to the duke: "Have you heard, my lord duke, what your chancellor Herluin and your chamberlain Ralph have done? They have dug up the bodies of some Norman peasants, and deluding themselves with the notion that they are holy relics, they have deposited them in your chapel, and are reverently conveying them into France". The duke asking the names of those whose bodies they were carrying, the jester said: "Evroult, Evremond, and Ansbert"; whereat the French, to whom these names were not familiar, and who were ignorant of the glory to which the blessed saints were exalted in heaven, indulged in much idle banter about the relics. But in the first night-watch, when all were asleep, the Almighty thundered awfully out of heaven, and shooting forth his lightning in bright flashes, struck the buffoon and his companions who had made light of the holy relics. Their sudden death caused no small alarm to the duke and his whole army; whereupon he assembled the troops very early in the morning, and commanding the chancellor to bring the relics reverently into his presence, he made every one offer their devotions to them before they began their march. He also summoned before him the weeping monks and their attendants, and requiring from them some account of Evroult and his companions, listened with pleasure to the history they gave of the venerable men, and called on the Belgian noblest to hear the marvels. He was also touched by the worth and simplicity of the monks of Ouche, and being moved to compassion towards them by the inspiration of God, who shows mercy to his faithful servants on all occasions, he said to them: "I esteem above gold and silver the relics of your founder which you voluntarily follow. For his sake, too, I will


[1] Champs, in the canton of Torouvre, the church of which is dedicated to St. Evroult, probably in memory of this circumstance.

[2] Our author is mistaken in his references to the Roman topography of Gaul. The nobles who followed Hugh in his expedition did not belong to the Belgian provinces.

A.D. 944.] RELICS OF ST. EVROULT DISPERSED. 307

show you favour and take you under my protection, ordering my chancellor to take charge of you and treat you well, and to permit you to receive all the offerings made to the holy relics, until you shall reach Orleans, the capital of my duchy, [1] when I will provide for your sufficient maintenance".

The prospects of the monks of Ouche in a strange country now began to brighten, and they daily received large offerings from the faithful, and, through God's mercy, were comforted by the abundant gifts which flowed from the necessities of the sick or the benevolence of the devout. When they arrived at Orleans, the troops of soldiers with their squires and horses, filled all the houses and buildings in the city, so that the monks with the holy relics took refuge in a bakehouse, where they rested the first night. The citizens afterwards built a church on the spot, dedicated to St. Evroult, and through tho merits of the saints many miracles of healing were performed there. Herluin the chancellor was abbot of St. Peter-en-Point, where he deposited the holy relics by command of Hugh the Great. [2] Then Ralph de Tracy claimed his part of the spoil, and would not relinquish it at any price. He was an eminent citizen of Soissons and the duke's first chamberlain, possessed large domains, honours, and wealth, and was distinguished by his piety and other virtues. No one dared to wrong so powerful a lord, and by a general order the relics were brought into court and divided in the presence of the judges. Herluin being a priest, and abbot of the canons of St. Peter, as well as first chaplain to the duke, retained for his share the head and the greatest part of the bones of St. Evroult, also a book and a portable altar plated with silver, the gown and girdle of St. Evroult, and the charters of donation; the rest of the body he yielded to Ralph. There was no difficulty about the division of the other relics, for the Orleannois chose the bones of St. Evremond the abbot for their share,


[1] Orleans was not Hugh's capital as duke of France, but as count of Orleans.

[2] This monastery became afterwards a collegiate and parochial church, and the anniversary of the translation of the relics of St. Evroult was annually celebrated in it till the revolution. Its site is now occupied by a Rotunda lately built for Protestant worship.

308 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

and left those of St. Ansbert, the monk, to Ralph. He hastened with this precious treasure to Rebais, [1] and devoutly offered it to that abbey of which he was a brother and friend. The monks of Rebais, in white and silken vestments, came forth in procession with lighted tapers and censers fuming with incense to receive the relics in great triumph, and they preserve them with reverence to this day. Then Ralph, wishing to augment the property of the church out of his own domains, gave them Port d'Aunois and Bonneil, [2] and that there might be abundant means for supplying shrines for the relics he added large sums of gold and silver. In return for these offerings, this lord at his death was buried in the church.

In such changes foreign worshippers are sometimes deceived, but as their object is good, they easily obtain pardon for unintentional error. They venerate, indeed, the relics which chance gave them, to the utmost of their power; being mistaken, however, in their notions respecting Ansbert, a stranger to them, and exalting him beyond his due by making him to have been archbishop of Rouen. But I boldly assert what I have learnt from careful inquiries, that this Ansbert was the young monk who, having died suddenly without the viaticum, was soon afterwards restored to life by St. Evroult, and having received the communion departed in the Lord, and was admitted to partake in the feast of the saints. As for Ansbert of Rouen, his remains are preserved at Fontenelles with those of abbot Wandrille and Wulfran, archbishop of Sens, and are daily honoured by the devotions of the faithful. [3] Thus I have given a faithful account of the division of the relics of St. Evroult, as I received it myself long ago from truthful and religious old persons.

On the death of Hugh the Great, his son, also called


[1] The abbey of Rebais in Brie was founded by St. Ouen in 634. It was at first called Jerusalem, but afterwards took the name of the stream on which it was built. St. Agile was the first abbot, and it was under him that St. Philibert, the founder of Jumieges, embraced the monastic profession.

[2] Probably the hamlet of Aunois, on the bank of the Marne, between Chateau-Thierre and Bonneil.

[3] See what our author says of the translation of these relics, and the notes, p. 297.

AFTER 956.] RELICS BROUGHT TO ANGERS. 309

Hugh the Great, [1] succeeded him in the duchy, and disturbances breaking out between Charles and the nobles of the realm, Hugh usurped the crown, which has descended to his heirs to the present day. Geoffrey, [2] son of the count of Anjou, was this Hugh's godson, and having been brought up by him until he arrived at man's estate, received at his hands the honour of knighthood. Having learnt with sorrow at court that his father was dead, he demanded of the king to be invested in his hereditary domains, at the same time earnestly beseeching him to give him some part of the bones of St. Evroult, whose miracles he had often witnessed while residing at Orleans. Hugh had a great regard for the young man, and he therefore granted him his father's estates, and gave him some of the relics of St. Evroult. It was therefore through him that the relics of St. Evroult were obtained, which still receive the veneration of the faithful in the church of St. Main-beuf at Angers. [3] The monks of Ouche, who expatriated themselves with the holy body found, by God's providence, a welcome home among their foreign hosts, and receiving abundance of bread and wine, and also of fish, which the Loire supplies, ended their days in France, after experiencing the many changes of unstable fortune.

Meanwhile the aged Ascelin remained in the wilderness at Ouche with a few poor inhabitants, bringing up his nephew Ascelin, with Guisbert de Gace and Harmond de la Tillaie, and some other youths whom he taught reading, [4] that they might perform the daily service of God in that place. One day he assembled all the scattered dwellers in


[1] It does not appear that Hugh Capet ever bore the surname of Hugh the Great as well as his father. The author has committed the same error before. See vol. i. p. 141, where the dates of the events here referred to are given.

[2] Geoffrey, first count of Anjou of that name, who succeeded his father in 958, could not have been the godson of Hugh Capet, nor received knighthood or the investment of his county from him, as he was much his junior. But as Geoffrey lived till the 21st of July, 987, it is very probable that he was on friendly terms with Hugh Capet, and received from him some relics of St. Evroult.

[3] The collegiate church of St. Mainbeuf at Angers. It would appear from what follows that all the relics of St. Evroult which were deposited at Orleans, were afterwards translated to Angers.

[4] "Communes literas edocuit". Taught them their letters.

310 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

those solitudes, and announced to them his intention to hold a festival, which at the appointed time he celebrated to the best of his power, and after a solemn mass delivered this discourse to the people who were present:- "We ought to fear the divine threatenings, but our hearts are so hardened that we take no account of the warnings addressed to us, until, like the wicked servant, we feel the rod with which we are scourged, and its sharp strokes cause us to wail and lament. When formerly the Danes, who were then pagans, ravaged Neustria under Hasting, and returned with new fury under the command of Rollo, they ruined numberless churches and monasteries, cities, and fortified places, but we, living in a wild and barren country, escaped, under God's protection, the swords of the invaders, although we were subject to great alarm and severe penury. [1] Now, alas! the day of the Lord's wrath is come unexpectedly upon us, and we have been robbed of the sacred relics which we valued above all precious things by those we trusted on the score of the hospitality we had shown them. We read in the holy Scriptures that God forsook the tabernacle in Silo and delivered his tent that he had pitched among men to the uncircumcised, that is the falsely accusing, Philistines. [2] A like judgment has now fallen upon us; we have lost the bodies of the saints, in which we placed our main dependence, and our brethren having followed the coffins of our fathers into a foreign country, we are left alone, few and weak in this wild solitude. But although the French have translated the sacred bones, and carried off our books, vestments, and other precious articles, they have still left us the tombs and the most sacred ashes of the saints' bodies, through God's mercy, to our great consolation, with other holy things which they could not remove. It is our duty to use diligence, in carefully concealing and preserving with reverence, what our enemies have left us. We still have, by


[1] M. Le Prevost considers that our author is perfectly correct in stating that St. Evroult and the country round escaped the devastations of the Northmen. He remarks that it was too poor and too remote to attract the pirates from the neighbourhood of the navigable rivers. Ordericus falls into the error, common to the Norman historians, of perpetually introducing the name of Hasting into a province in which, as far as is known, he never set foot.

[2] Psalm lxxviii. 61.

A.D. 994-996.] RELICS CONCEALED AT ST. EVROULT. 311

God's mercy, a hair of the apostle St. Peter's beard, which Pope Romanus sent to St. Evroult at the dedication of this church. We also know of other precious relics which have been hidden in this church by the old fathers. I now propose, if it is agreeable to you, to examine and inspect all these memorials, and conceal them in a place of safety, to preserve them from sacrilege, until they shall be discovered by a revelation of God to future worshippers". All who were present approving his design, the old monk finished the mass, and when the service was ended gave the benediction and dismissed the people, retaining however the young scholars to carry the candles and censer of incense. He then proceeded, accompanied by a mason, to the grave of St. Evroult, and causing the stone which covered it to be removed with reverence, collected some nodules of the sacred dust. He also took out several cases and reliquaries inscribed with the names of the relics they contained. Then desiring the youths to go to dinner, he caused the mason, with the assistants required, all of whom were of mature age, to build up the relics in a place of concealment, having dismissed the youths that they might not learn the secret. [1] I received this account from themselves many years afterwards, but the exact spot where the relics were deposited I was unable to discover, because, as I have already said, my informants were excluded at the time of their concealment. These events happened in the time of Duke Richard I., who governed Normandy fifty-two years, and, as it has been before related, was at first driven into exile and endured many tribulations, but afterwards, by God's help, subdued his enemies and became powerful. In the midst of furious storms, the good old Ascelin continued to live under the monastic rule until he was bowed down with age, and at his death committed the guardianship of Ouche to his nephew


[1] It is very difficult to reconcile this statement with the dates furnished by our author. He says, just afterwards, that the circumstances took place in the time of Duke Richard I., who died in 995, and Asceline may have lived till about the same period, and probably did not conceal the relics till his end was approaching. But supposing the choristers to have been ten years old at that time, they would have been one hundred in 1085, when Ordericus, at the age of eleven, was admitted a novice at St. Evroult. The account has an air of great probability, but a link in the chain of traditions appears to be wanting.

312 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

Ascelin, who was a clerk. This young man, in the ardour of youth, became disgusted with his rude and solitary life, and longed after the enjoyments of a town; and betaking himself to France for the purpose of gaining instruction, he was so captivated by all sorts of pleasures, that he lived there almost fifty years, rising by the regular steps to the rank of priest. Enslaved by carnal delights, and inflated by growing prosperity during his residence in France, he lost all recollection during his long life, even to old age, of what his predecessors had entrusted to him in Normandy.

Meanwhile, by the death and departure of its inhabitants, Ouche returned to its original solitude, and all vestiges of human life having disappeared, the oratories and houses became overgrown with thick wood, and for a long period were the resort of wild animals. Then it was said in a vision to a certain priest named Restold, who lived in the province of the Beauvaisis; "Go to St. Evroult in Normandy, and you will enjoy there length of days, and a life full of joy and pleasure". The priest therefore left his native country, and journeying through Normandy searched for the house of St. Evroult, but although he continued his inquiries for many days, he could find no one to point it out. At last he found the old church of St. Evroult at Montfort, [1] and sojourned there for some time, in the belief that it was the spot assigned by his heavenly oracle to him and his posterity.

A peasant of the name of Fala, in the territory of Bauquence, had a bull which, frequently separating from the herd, ran into the forest, and though the owner sought for it a long time with his servants and dogs, he never could find it, but at the end of five or seven days, when it was supposed to be irrecoverably lost, it made its appearance in good condition. This happened so repeatedly that it became a customary thing. It became a joke among the neighbours who observed it, and the bull had free leave to go and come when be pleased. After a time, however, the curiosity of the herdsmen was roused, and attempts were made to trace the bull's wanderings in the forest, and it was followed through the thickest brakes. Fala obtained the assistance of an experienced hunter, whose name was Duilett, and he tracked the bull with the sagacity of a hound,


[1] Near Gace.

ABOUT 1030.] THE ABBEY CHURCH REBUILT. 313

until it was discovered lying before the altar of St. Peter the apostle as if it were at prayers. The walls of the church were shattered and held together by roots of ivy, and the ruins of ancient buildings could be traced by the observers. A dense wood had sprung up both within and without, no one having lived there for fifty years. Upon this discovery grey-headed old men recollected, that according to what their fathers had told them, St. Evroult and many others, who held the world in contempt, had dwelt there.

Restold also had a new vision, which rebuked him for not having justly obeyed the former command; and upon the priest's anxiously inquiring by what means he could better fulfil the injunctions laid on him, he was told to go to Ouche, and there serve God as the follower of St. Evroult. Restold therefore left his first habitation at Montfort, and going to Ouche with his wife and his son Ilbert, was the first who now took up his abode there.

There was at that time a noble knight, named Gaston de Montfort, who, inspired by the fear of the Lord, formed the design of restoring all the churches in his neighbourhood which had fallen to decay from age and neglect during the many troubles I have before mentioned; and to this good work he devoted his whole attention, and consecrated all the means in his power. In consequence, he repaired the old church of St. Peter at his own expense, endeavouring to propitiate Almighty God by this undertaking. One morning, as his herdsman was keeping his oxen on a hill, washed at its base by the rivulet of Charenton, [1] and was resting among the ruins where the herbage was most luxuriant, all of a sudden, one in the guise of a pilgrim stood before him, and appearing wearied by his journey, sat down and began to converse with him: "Go", said he, "quickly to Gaston, and tell him to come to me without delay". The herdsman


[1] The Charenton is only a rivulet in this part of its course, but has worked for itself a deep channel in the soft bed of the valley. After its confluence with the Risle, their united waters discharge themselves into the estuary of the Seine, between Honfleur and Quilleboeuf. The Orne, also, and the Dive, the Touques and the Iton, all take their rise in the elevated forest district about St. Evroult which is the water-shed between the rivers which discharge themselves into the Manche, and the Sarthe, the Huine, and other rivers and streams flowing into the Loire.

314 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

hastened to his master and gave him the pilgrim's message, but Gaston was idly disposed and would not obey the summons, but desired the pilgrim, through his servant, to come to him. The pilgrim repeated his message to Gaston a second and a third time, but being occupied by I know not what affairs, he obstinately refused to come. When therefore the herdsman returned the third time and told this to the pilgrim, the old man said, "Come with me and mark carefully what I say: this place was sanctified in ancient times by the divine benediction, and is rich in most sacred relics". Thus saying, the hoary speaker rose and pointed out, in the middle of the area, the site of the altar of the holy Mary, Mother of God, [1] and to the east that of the holy and undivided Trinity. He then said further to the astonished herdsman: "If your master had come to me as I required him by you, I would have discovered to him hidden treasures, by means of which he might have repaired this old church, and I would have made known to him another secret, which would have caused great joy throughout all Normandy". Upon hearing these last words, the servant retraced his steps and repeated them to Gaston, who immediately mounted his horse and came with all speed to the place pointed out, but the pilgrim had disappeared. He was now extremely sorry for the indifference he had manifested, and eagerly questioned the herdsman as to all he had heard about the holiness of the place and the two altars. He then had a conference with Ralph Fresnel, [2] son of Thorold, who was then lord of the soil, and with God's help undertook the restoration of the church of St. Mary-always-a-virgin. The labourers cleared out the old ruins, in which they found a prodigious quantity of stones, enabling them to carry on the work with great dispatch. They found the tombs of many noble persons, in which old men declare, from certain marks they discovered, the bodies of kings and bishops were laid.


[1] The church here spoken of is that built by Queen Faileube in hoaour of the Virgin, and on the site of which Notre-Dame-du-Bois now stands.

[2] A person of this name is related in the sequel to have built the castle of La Ferti-Fresnil. His sons William and Robert are mentioned before, vol. 1. p. 399.

A.D. 1050.] ABBEY OF ST. EVROULT RESTORED. 315

Some miracles were also wrought there. A knight named Harduin, having observed a large block of stone among the ruins of the church, desired to appropriate it to his own use, and caused it to be transported to his house and converted into a cistern for himself and his cattle; but when they began to hollow it out, he fell ill. During his illness, Gunfold de Touquette, [1] a knight of that country, had a vision; instructed by which he visited Harduin, who was lying sick, and admonished him to restore the block of stone to its original site, otherwise he would inevitably die. On hearing this, the sick man immediately called his servants, ordered them to harness four yoke of oxen to a waggon, and earnestly begged them to carry back the stone to the church of the holy Virgin Mother. The block of stone being loaded on the waggon, he caused himself to be lifted on it, and thus conveying it back to the holy building from which he had purloined it he confessed his sin, and invoking the mercy of the Almighty Lord, was immediately cured.

Many other miracles were wrought in this place which have fallen into oblivion by the death of the neighbours then living, not having been committed to writing, from the great dearth of penmen at that time in Normandy. When, at last, the church was erected on a wooded hill, all the inhabitants of the district were full of joy, and the cure of it with the government of the parish was committed to Restold of the Beauvaisis, as well by Gaston and Ralph, as by the bishop of Evreux, in whose diocese it stood.

At that time William, son of Giroie, [2] was lord of Echaufour, and heard of the existence in the forest of the fountain of St. Evroult and the old church of St. Peter the apostle on the rivulet called Charenton. Led by curiosity, he surveyed this spot, and, perceiving it to be a fitting place for the worshippers of God, honoured it with respect, and settled there the priests Restold and Ingeran, providing them a sufficient maintenance out of the revenues of Echaufour. In process of time, as is fully related in the third book of the present work, the abbey of St. Evroult was restored by this William Giroie and his brothers and nephews, and received


[1] Touquette, a commune to the west of St. Evroult.

[2] A full account of William Giroie is given in vol. i. p. 384, etc. The abbey church of St. Evroult was dedicated to St. Peter.

316 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

regular institutions by the labours and means of the monks of Jumieges.

In the year of our Lord 1051 Theodoric, a monk of Jumieges, undertook the administration of the abbey, educating the young flock with piety and prudence for eight years, [1] and instructing them to work worthily in the law of the Lord according to the rule of St. Benedict. Afterwards, as I have already related, he shrank from the burden of the government, and resigning it, to the great grief of the prelates Mauritius of Rouen, and Hugh of Lisieux, he became a pilgrim in foreign lands, treading under foot worldly things, and, longing for the heavenly Jerusalem, laboured to reach the terrestrial. But he died in the island of Cyprus, in the church of St. Nicholas, before the altar, on the calends [1st] of August, and was interred with respect by the convent of monks in that place, which he made illustrious by frequent miracles in healing the sick. I composed the following epitaph in heroic verse, to his memory:-

Trained in Jumieges' holy school,
Thence called St. Evroult's monks to rule,


[1] Our author states in b. iii. p. 387, that Theodoric was appointed in 1050. There is a further mistake here respecting the period of his administration. It lasted from October 3, 1050, to August 29, 1057. Jumieges, founded by St. Philibert in 654, was one of the most magnificent of those Benedictine abbeys which were celebrated for their learning in the dark ages. A short notice of William Calculus, one of the monks who wrote the histories of the dukes of Normandy, and who died in 1090, is given in a note, p. 376, of vol. i. The situation of the abbey on a peninsula round which the Seine makes a bold sweep, almost encircling it with its stream and high wooded banks, was well calculated for a studious and contemplative life. The remains are among the most considerable and the best preserved of the monastic buildings of Normandy. The west front of the abbey church is still surmounted by two lofty octagonal towers, but one side only of the great central tower is standing. The nave, with its massive pillars and columns supporting circular Norman arches, remains entire. These parts of the building are of the date 1067. The choir has been razed to the ground, except part of the apsis, and some arches exhibiting the pointed style of the thirteenth century. The site is strewed with interesting fragments of the building and monumental slabs and effigies, which are carefully preserved though the ruins have repeatedly changed owners. Many portions of the conventual buildings may still be traced. The gate-house has been converted into a residence, and a lofty wall surrounds the large enclosure formerly the convent gardens, and now a well planted park, over the trees and shrubberies of which the grey ruins tower with a most picturesque effect.

A.D. 1058.] EPITAPH OF ABBOT THEODORIC. 317

THEODORIC taught the discipline
Which thirty years his task had been,
While Satan's malice he defied,
And triumphed o'er his hellish pride.
The flock he reared in forest glade
Eight years his gentle sway obeyed;
Religion in the wilderness
He nurtured in her humblest dress,
And, pattern of wise industry,
The scribe's art practised skilfully.
At length inspired with ardent zeal,
Before the Saviour's tomb to kneel,
The pilgrim found a hallowed grave,
Where Cyprus fronts the eastern wave;
The last of July saw him die,
Christ give him endless life on high!

The monks of St. Evroult, profoundly grieved at not possessing the body of their patron, have made various efforts to obtain its restoration, but hitherto without success. Having been unable to fulfil their wishes in this respect, they have procured several relics by various ways, and, by God's favour, recovered some at different times.

Fulk, prior of St. Evroult, who was afterwards abbot of Dive, was sent by William the Bastard, king of England, to the countess Bertha, at Brie, on particular business. While there he obtained from a chaplain of the countess, a Norman who belonged to the church of Rebais, a tooth of St. Evroult, which on his return he restored to the abbey at Ouche to the joy of all.

During the reign of King Lewis, [1] there was a canon at Paris named Fulbert, who possessed one of the vertebral bones of St. Evroult, which a chaplain had purloined from the chapel of Henry king of France, and had presented to him long before as a pledge of his regard. Fearing however, on various accounts, to keep it in his possession, Fulbert, through the intervention of Fulk, a priest of Maule, sought an interview with William de Montreuil, prior of Maule, [2] and delivered the relic to him for transmission to the church of St. Evroult. The prior received the present with great delight, and speedily fulfilled the errand. While


[1] Lewis le Gros, August 3, 1108-August 1, 1137.

[2] According to b. v. c. 19 (p. 236), this William was third prior of Maule.

318 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

he was still speeding on his way, he experienced the holy father's aid; for without being aware of it he partook of poison in his food, which the exercise of riding diffused through his limbs and entrails. Finding that death was approaching his vitals, he cried to God in great anguish of mind praying that, for the merits of St. Evroult, he would have mercy on him. His prayers and invocations being ended, he vomited the poison, and was soon cured; so that, having returned thanks to God, he arrived safely at St. Evroult, where he deposited the relic with great joy, enclosing it decently in a silver shrine.

In the year of our Lord 1130, Warin seventh abbot, of St. Evroult, paid a visit to Rebais, where he understood one half of the saint's body was deposited. He was attended by two monks, Ode of Montreuil, and Warin of Seez, in this search after their holy father's remains, in which they met with considerable difficulties. Natalis, the abbot of Rebais, [1] was absent at that time, and it was the pleasure of the convent to receive them not with hospitality, but with hostility. They found the neighbours equally averse to them, and they were warned to depart with threatening language. However, their good resolution was only strengthened, and pushed them forward to the object they had in view. Abbot Warin therefore, leaving his two companions at Rebais, and laying aside his state as abbot, undertook a toilsome journey, and riding as a poor monk, was not ashamed of being met on the road. Determined to find Abbot Natalis, he went first to the court of Count Theobald at Rugni; [2] and on the second day he was introduced to the abbot, but did not tell him who he was or what he wanted. Natalis told him that it was his intention to go to Clairvaux, and offered to conduct him there. In consequence, they went in company to Clairvaux, with their attendants, and were kindly received by the brethren of that monastery, who endeavour to practise the rule of St. Benedict to a letter. They presented themselves to the Lord Bernard, [3] abbot of


[1] Natalis; abbot of Rebais in 1133, was chancelor of France in 1140. He retired to end his days at Cluny, and died there in 1145.

[2] Rugni, near Tonnere. Theobald the Great, count of Champagne.

[3] St. Bernard, first abbot of Clairvaux, which he founded in 1115. The two abbots were fortunate in meeting him in his monastery this year, for he was twice absent on remarkable occasions; first in April, to attend the council of Etampes at which he presided, and secondly, to have an interview with Henry I., king of England, and induce him to embrace the cause of Innocent II. in the schism which then divided Christendom.

A.D. 1130 ] RELICS OF ST. EVROULT RESTORED. 319

that monastery, and, conversing with him, made many inquiries, and were struck with his profound wisdom. He commented with clearness on the sacred scriptures, satisfying all their questions and demands. On hearing the claims of the monks of St. Evroult, he kindly supported Abbot Warin, and gave letters of exhortation to the convent at Rebais. The abbots Warin and Natalis now returning thither, found the monks Odo and Warin in good spirits and on most friendly terms with the monks of Rebais; for they were both of mature age, courteous and modest and well founded in both sacred and profound learning. But though they were equally distinguished for their eloquence and erudition, Odo, in his loving zeal, did all in his power to have Warin preferred to himself. Indeed, Warin had much grace and wisdom in discoursing on religion, and during the eight days they staid there he gave, at the request of Amaury the prior, exhortations to all who were in the cloister; so that be obtained the good opinion of the whole convent, and was no longer regarded as an enemy, but as a faithful friend. Abbot Warin delivered the letter of the venerable Abbot Bernard, which was well received by the chapter of Rebais, and when it was read they determined to comply with the request. By God's will, Stephen [1] bishop of Paris, and Burchard [2] bishop of Meaux, were present, and earnestly exhorted the monks of Rebais that they should comfort those of St. Evroult with a sweet charity. A day was therefore appointed by the bishops when, by common consent, the relics of the saints reserved there should be exhibited together, and the people of the neighbourhood be assembled to see them and made joyful with a multiplied benediction; whereupon the monks of St. Evroult should receive what they desired and return home. But now Abbot Natalis changed his mind, and gave uneasiness to the monks of St. Evroult by his caution and


[1] Stephen, bishop of Paris in 1124, had been chancellor of France in 1106-1119, and died May 6, 1142. He was son of Guy de Seulis, lord of Chantilly and Ermenonville.

[2] Burchard, bishop of Meaux, 1120-1134.

320 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

inconsistency; for he said, that without Count Theobald's consent he would never part with what he had given to the convent. It was, therefore, agreed that Odo of St. Evroult should proceed to Normandy and see the count, who had gone there to confer with his uncle, King Henry. The monk, obedient to his orders, undertook this toilsome journey, and following the count, arrived at Vernon, [1] where, in the first instance, he made known his secret object to the king himself, begging him to further it. The king promised his assistance, and interfered with his nephew on behalf of the monks. The count acceded to his uncle's request, and transmitted his consent to the monks of Rebais by his steward Andrew, who, however, did not appear on the day when the relics were exhibited, but remained at Coulommiers, the duke's castle. In consequence, the abbot of St. Evroult, with Warin of Seez, and Andrew of Coulommiers, [2] proceeded to the steward, who received them graciously, and commending himself to their prayers, informed them of the count's consent, and declared himself his master's envoy and commissioner in the affair. Abbot Warin and his companions now returned to Rebais with great joy, and Abbot Natalis, that hearing the count's licence was obtained, and repenting of the vexation he had caused the monks of St. Evroult, granted their petition. The prior, Amaury, therefore, assembled the chapter the following morning, and led the way to the church with the monks of St. Evroult; the whole assemblage forming a procession to the sacristy. The silver coffer, which contained the memorials of St. Evroult [3] was then opened, and the relics reverently taken out, consisting of the right arm, and a casket full of fragments of bones. The monks of St. Evroult now returned to Normandy, arriving at Ouche on the seventh of the calends of June [May 26th]. They were met by a vast multitude of both sexes to the number of four thousand, who assembled to partake of the blessings of their great patron, and to obtain by their prayers his intercession with God. Those who were labouring under various disorders hastened to


[1] Vernon-sur-Seine.

[2] Coulommiers in Brie, two leagues from Rebais, and on the same river.

[3] An ancient chasse, or reliquary, supposed to have contained the relics of the saint, is still preserved at St. Evroult.

A.D. 1133.] A MIRACULOUS ESCAPE. 321

implore the Most High to relieve them of their pains, for the merits of the good father Evroult, of whom numbers having their petitions granted, triumphantly confided in the merits of the holy saint.

There was a man named Geoffrey, a native of Brittany, but living in the Corbonnais, [1] who, as he related himself, was in his youth addicted to rapine and theft, but after a time, by God's grace, changed his course of life for the better. He took a wife in lawful marriage whose name was Hildeburge, and listening to her good advice, dismissed his fierce and bloody followers, and laboured with his own hands for the means of existence. He even gave alms of what he procured by the sweat of his brow, distributing among the poor, the clergy, hermits, and monks all the superfluity he thus earned, beyond what was absolutely necessary for the subsistence of himself and his family. He frequented the society of the monks of St. Evroult, and becoming their brother in Christ, maintained well the bond of fraternity. He was always present in the abbey at the principal festivals of the saints, and remembering the precepts of the law, did not come empty handed.

A singular occurrence happened two years before the death of King Henry. On the night of the Nativity of the Holy Innocents, [2] a snow storm came on suddenly with such violence that the like had not been seen in the memory of any man living, or of those who were their teachers. All entrance to the houses was blocked up, the surface of the roads was covered, valleys were filled to the level of hills, birds and animals were suffocated, and even men were buried in the drifts, and numbers of the faithful were prevented from attending the service in the churches on that day. Geoffrey, however, got up while the storm was raging, and, disregarding the depth of snow, loaded a pack-horse with bread made of wheaten flour, [3] took his son with him and set forth to attend the feast of the holy father, St. Evroult.


[1] Also called La Perche, lying to the south of Normandy, and the east of Maine.

[2] The night of Thursday, December 28, 1133. The feast of St. Evroult was held on the morrow, December 29.

[3] Bread made of the flour of wheat was at that period esteemed a great luxury. Several centuries afterwards the meal used in making bread was composed of one part of wheat, one of barley, and one of oats.

322 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

But when he reached the water called the Risle, [1] over which there was no bridge, he found that it was not fordable as the waters were in flood, and in great terror and dismay he cried to the Lord of mercy, and implored his aid. He immediately became sensible of the divine support in the pious undertaking in which he was engaged, and found himself carried over the river without any visible conductor. But he stood there alone, discovering that his son and the beast, with its burden, were still on the other side of the stream. At last the son, whose faith and merits were perhaps less than his father's, trembling, entered the water, up to the middle, and dragged the horse with its load of bread after him, getting safe through with some difficulty. Although the loaves intended for God's servants were plunged in the stream, they remained dry and uninjured, so that they were in a fit state for the use of Christ's household, being miraculously preserved in the midst of the waters. Father and son then proceeded in company to their place of destination, and triumphantly described the perils they had escaped, both on the roads and in the waters, attributing their safety to the merits of St. Evroult, for whose feast they were bound. The crowds collected at this solemnity, having heard their account, glorified the Lord God of Sabaoth, who is for ever the Saviour of his people.

At that time Warin was abbot of St. Evroult, [2] and he had a great regard for Geoffrey, and respected him much for his fervent devotion to God. The abbot himself was zealous in the performance of divine worship, and set an example by his constant attendance. He highly esteemed religious men, giving place to them with the greatest marks of respect; and he also applied himself diligently to useful studies. Deeply learned as he was, he readily divested himself of his magisterial authority, and putting himself on a level with his juniors, joined as one of themselves in the pursuits suited to their age with an alacrity which afforded


[1] To reach St. Evroult from the south-east, this rivulet, not the Charenton, would have to be crossed. They afterwards form a junction. See note, p. 313.

[2] This paragraph was written, as it appears, after the death of Abbot Warin des Essarts, which happened on June 21, 1137. He was then of the age of sixty-six years, forty-six of which he had spent in the abbey.

A.D. 1115-1116.] WARIN, ABBOT OF ST. EVROULT. 323

an excellent example to all who were under his government. Geoffrey was of middle stature, tall and thin, so that not being burdened with flesh, his activity was remarkable. In his humility he heard with attention the words of instruction and doctrine which fell from the lips of others, and frequently made diligent inquiries from his equals and inferiors on subjects with which he was very well acquainted, listening to them with the deference of a disciple. He handled the lessons of the divine law with overflowing eloquence, and skilfully explained the most profound doctrines by his lucid dissertations. Having assumed the profession of a monk when he was a young man of the age of twenty-three years, he was a soldier of the most high King forty-six years, and gave to the world the fruits of his penetrating genius and deep meditations in metrical poems, eloquent epistles, and other works. I will extract from them, and insert in this book of mine, an account of one miracle which he learnt when he was at Thorney Abbey in England with Abbot Robert, [1] and committed to writing, at the request of the bishop of Ely [2] and the convent of monks. The following is the text of the letter: [3]-

"To all the faithful sons of holy church, and especially to those who are subject to the rule of the excellent father Benedict, Hervey, the humblest servant of the servants of God and the unworthy minister of the church of Ely, sendeth greeting, and trusts that what is well begun may be happily ended. It is our wish to publish for the praise and honour of St. Benedict, the patron of monks, a circumstance worthy to be recorded as most agreeable to those who hear it, most useful to those who retain it in their memories, and perhaps very profitable to those who are at present ignorant of it.

"In the time of Henry, king of England and duke of Normandy, in the sixteenth year of his reign over England and the tenth of his government of the duchy, [4] there was on the


[1] Robert was abbot of Thorney (in Cambridgeshire), 1113-1151.

[2] Hervey, first bishop of Ely, 1108-1130, Henry I. having erected the bishopric in October; 1108.

[3] This letter, though bearing the name of the bishop of Ely, was in fact written by Warin des Essarts, as our author tells us.

[4] Henry I., crowned king of England, August 5, 1100, obtained possession of the duchy of Normandy, September 28, 1100. The circumstance here related occurred, therefore, between September, 1115, and August, 1116.

324 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

possessions of our church a certain free-tenant called Bricstan, who lived at Chatteris. [1] This man, according to the testimony of his neighbours, never injured any one, and, content with what he had, meddled not with what belonged to others. Neither very rich nor very poor, he conducted his affairs and brought up his family, in moderate independence, according to the habits of laymen. He lent money to his neighbours who wanted it, but not at usury, while, on account of the dishonesty of some of his debtors, he required security. Thus holding a middle course, he was considered not better than other good men, nor worse than the ill-disposed. Being thus at peace with all mankind, and believing that he had not a single enemy, he was inspired by divine influence (as it appeared in the sequel) to entertain the desire of submitting himself to the rule of St. Benedict, and assuming the habit. In short, he came to our convent dedicated to St. Peter the apostle and St. Etheldrida, [2] implored the favour of the monks, and engaged to put himself and all he had under their rule. But, alas! the evil spirit, through whose malice Adam fell in paradise, will never cease from persecuting his posterity to the last man who shall exist. God, however, whose providence ordereth all things in mercy and goodness, in his omnipotence bringeth good out of evil, and out of good what is still better. When, therefore, the news was spread abroad (for Bricstan, though his acquaintance was not extensive, was sufficiently well known), a certain man who was in King Henry's employment, but more especially a servant of the devil, interfered with malicious spite.

"We must make a short digression that you may understand what sort of man this was. His name was Robert Malart (which signifies in Latin malum artificem) and not without reason. He had little else to do but to make mischief against all sorts of persons, monks, clerks, soldiers, and country folk; in short, men of all ranks, whether


[1] Chatteris, in the fens, ten miles from Ely. At the time when Domesday-book was compiled, it was divided between the abbeys of Ely and Ramsey.

[2] See vol. i. p. 121, for an account of this saint.

A.D. 1115-1116.] THE STORY OF BRICSTAN. 325

they lived piously, or the contrary. That I may not be accused of calumny, this was his constant practice, wherever he was able to vent his malice. He slandered every one alike to the best of his ability, and exerted himself to the utmost for the injury of others. Thus mischievous to one and another, he may be counted among those of whom it is said that 'they rejoice to do evil and delight in the frowardness of the wicked'. [1] When he failed of truth for his accusations he became a liar, inventing falsehoods by help of the devil, the father of lies. It would be impossible for any one, even if he had been his constant companion from childhood, to recount, much more to commit to writing, all the evil doings of this man, who was truly called Thousand-craft; [2] let us, therefore, proceed with our story.

"When Robert heard the news that Bricstan wished to assume the habit of a monk, he lost no time, in accordance with the teaching of his master the devil, who is always lying and deceiving, in presenting himself at the convent. Having a false account to give, he began with a falsehood, saying: 'This Bricstan is a thief; he has fradulently appropriated the king's money in secret, and wishes to become a monk, not to save his soul, but to save himself from the sentence and punishment which his crimes merit. In short, he has found a hidden treasure, and has turned usurer with sums clandestinely subtracted from what is the king's by right. Being therefore guilty of the grave offences of theft and usury, he is afraid to appear before the king or the judges. In consequence, I have the royal authority to forbid your receiving him into your convent'. Whereupon, having heard the king's prohibition, and dreading his anger, we refused to admit the man into our society. What shall I say more? He gave bail and was brought to trial. Ralph Basset was judge, [3] and all the principal men of the county were assembled at Huntingdon, according to the custom in England: I,


[1] Prov. ii. 14.

[2] Mille-Artifex; a name commonly given to the devil in the middle ages. Our author has made use of it in the legend of St. Martial, vol. i. p. 304.

[3] Ralph Basset was one of the minions of Henry I., whom he raised from a low origin, to the highest offices in the state, in preference to his nobles.

326 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

Hervey, was, also there with Reginald, abbot of Ramsey, [1] and Robert abbot of Thorney, and many clerks and monks. Not to make the story long, the accused appeared with his wife, the charges falsely made against him were recapitulated. He pleaded not guilty, he could not confess what he had not done; the other party charged him with falsehoods, and made sport of him; he was indeed rather corpulent, and was short in stature, but he had, so to speak, an honest countenance. After having unjustly loaded him with reproaches, they pre-judged him, as in the case of Susannah, and sentenced him and all his substance to be at the king's mercy. After this judgment, being compelled to surrender all that he possessed, he gave up what he had in hand, and owned where his effects were, and who were his debtors. Being however pressed to give up and discover more, he replied in the English tongue: Wet min Laert Godel Mihtin that ic sege soth, which means 'My Lord God Almighty knows that I speak the truth'. He often repeated this, but said nothing else. Having delivered up all that he had, the holy relics were brought into court, but when he was called upon to swear, he said to his wife: 'My sister, I adjure you by the love there is between us, not to suffer me to commit perjury; for I have more fear of perilling my soul than of suffering bodily torments. If therefore there is any reservation which affects your conscience, do not hesitate to make it known. Our spiritual enemy covets more keenly the damnation of our souls, than the torture of our bodies'. To this she replied: 'Sir, besides what you have declared, I have only sixteen pence and two rings weighing four drachms'. These being exhibited, the woman added: 'Dearest husband, you may now take the oath in safety, and I will afterwards confirm, on the testimony of my conscience, the truth you have sworn by the ordeal of carrying hot iron in my naked hand, in the presence of all who desire to witness it, if you so command'. In short, Bricstan was sworn, he was then bound and carried in custody to London, where he was thrown into a gloomy dungeon. There, heavily ironed with chains of unusual weight, in a most cruel and outrageous manner, be suffered for some time the horrors of cold and hunger. In this extremity


[1] Reginald, abbot of Ramsay (in Huntingdonshire), from 1114-May 20, 1133.

APPARITION OF SS. BENEDICT AND ETHELDHIDA. 327

of distress, be implored divine assistance according to the best of his ability, inspired by his urgent necessity. But as he felt that his own merits were but very small, or to speak the truth, of no account whatever, having no confidence in them he incessantly invoked, with sorrowful heart and such words as he could command, St. Benedict, to whose rule, as we have seen before, he had unfeignedly proposed to devote himself, and the holy virgin St. Etheldrida in whose monastery he intended to make his profession. In this dark dungeon, loaded with chains, tortured with cold, and wasted with hunger, he wore out five wretched months, and would rather, in my opinion, have chosen to die at once than live thus miserably. But still, seeing no hopes of human help, he continued to call on SS. Benedict and Etheldrida with sighs and groans and tears, and with heart and mouth. To proceed; one night when the bells in the city were ringing for lauds, and Bricstan, in his dungeon, besides his other sufferings, had received no food for three days, so that he was quite exhausted and entirely despaired of his recovery, he repeated the names of the saints with a sorrowful voice. Then at last, the clement and merciful God, the never-failing fountain of all goodness, who never despises those that are in adversity, and chooses none for their wealth or power, at last vouchsafed to show his loving-kindness to the supplicant. It had been long indeed implored, but it was deferred, that the earnestness of his supplications might be more intense and the mercy shown be more ardently loved. For now St. Benedict and St. Etheldrida, with her sister Sexburga, [1] stood before the sorrowful prisoner. The light which preceded their appearance was so extraordinary that he screened his eyes with his hands; and when the saints were seen surrounded by it, Etheldrida spoke first: 'Bricstan', she said, 'why do you so often pour out your griefs before us. What do you implore us, with such earnest prayers, to grant'? But he, spent with fasting, and being now thrown into a sort of trance by excessive joy and the supernatural visitation, could say nothing in reply. Then the holy virgin


[1] Sexburga, eldest sister of St. Etheldrida, was married to Ercombert, king of Kent. She founded a monastery in the isle of Sheppy, and afterwards succeeded her sister as abbess of Ely. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 205, of Bohn's Antiquarian Library.

328 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

said: I am Etheldrida, whom you have so often invoked, and this is St. Benedict under whose rule you devoted yourself to the service of God, and whose aid you have continually implored. Do you wish to be set free'? On hearing this his spirit revived, and waking, as it were, from a dream, he said: 'My lady, if life can by any means be granted me, I should wish to escape from this horrible dungeon, but I find myself so worn out by sufferings of every description, that my bodily powers are exhausted and I have no longer any hope of obtaining my liberty'. Then the holy virgin turning to St. Benedict, said: 'Holy Benedict, why do you hesitate to do what the Lord has commanded you'. At this, the venerable Benedict laid his hand on the fetters, and they fell in pieces, so that the prisoner's feet were released without his being sensible of any act, the saint appearing to have shattered his chains by his word alone. Having detached them, he threw them indignantly against the beam which supported the floor of the prison, making a great opening, and waking the guards, who lay in the gallery, in great alarm at the crash which took place. They supposed that the prisoners had made their escape, and lighting torches hastened to the dungeon, and finding the doors fast closed, they opened them with the keys and went in. Upon seeing the prisoner they had left in fetters freed from his chains, their astonishment increased, and upon their demanding an account of the noise they had heard, and who had caused it, and how his fetters were struck off, Bricstan said nothing, but a fellow prisoner replied: 'Some persons, I know not who, entered the prison with a great light, and talked with this man my companion, but what they said or did I know not; ask him who knows best'. Then the guards turning to Bricstan, said: 'Tell us what you saw and heard'. He replied: 'St. Benedict, with St. Etheldrida and her sister Sexburga appeared to me and struck the fetters off my feet: if you will not believe me, at least believe your own eyes'. As they did not doubt the miracle they saw, the gaolers sent in the morning to queen Matilda, [1] who happened to be in the city at the time, to tell her of it.


[1] Matilda, a princess of great piety and excellence, daughter of Malcolm, king of Scotland, and Margaret, sister of Edgar Atheling, was married to Henry I. in December, 1100, and died May, 1, 1118.

A.D. 1115-1116.] BRICSTAN'S RELEASE. 329

The queen sent Ralph Basset to the prison, the same who had before doomed Bricstan, who said that magical art was now employed. Ralph entering the dungeon addressed the prisoners derisively, as he had done on the former occasion: 'What has happened Bricstan? Has God spoken to you by his angels? Has he visited you in your prison? Tell me what witchcraft you have been practising'. But Bricstan made no more reply than if he had been dead.

"Then Ralph Basset, perceiving that his fetters were broken, and hearing from his fellow prisoners of the three persons who entered the dungeon surrounded by light, the words they had spoken, and the crash they had made, and perceiving the hand of God in these events, began to weep bitterly; and, turning to Bricstan, he said: 'My brother, I am a servant of St. Benedict and the holy virgin Etheldrida; for the love of them speak to me'. He replied: 'If you are a servant of those saints, you are welcome. Be assured that what you see and hear about me is the truth, and not the effect of magic'. Ralph, then, taking charge of the prisoner, conducted him with tears of joy into the presence of the queen, where many nobles were present. Meanwhile the report flew swifter than a bird throughout London, and coming to the ears of almost all the citizens, they raised shouts to heaven, and people of both sexes and every age praised together the name of the Lord, and flocked to the court where it was reported Bricstan was taken; some shedding tears of joy, and others wondering at what they saw and heard. The queen, rejoicing in so great a miracle (for she was a good Christian), ordered the bells to be rung in all the monasteries throughout the city, and thanksgivings to be offered by the convents belonging to every ecclesiastical order. Bricstan went to many of the churches to return thanks to God in the fulness of his joy for his liberation, great crowds preceding and following him through the suburbs, and every one being anxious to see him, as if be were some new man. When he reached the church of St. Peter, called in English Westminster, Gilbert, [1] the abbot of that place, a man of great eminence


[1] Gilbert Crespin, abbot of Westminster, son of William Crespin, governor of Neaufle, one of the greatest benefactors to the abbey of Bec. Gilbert was one of the most able and voluminous writers the age. It appears that he was still living in 1123. For his life and writings, see the Histoire Literaire de France, t. x. p. 192-201.

330 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.X.

in sacred and profane literature, came forth to meet him outside the abbey in a procession formed of the whole body of monks, with all the pomp of the church; for he said: 'If the relics of a dead man are to be received with ceremony in a church, we have much more reason for giving an honourable reception to living relics, namely such a man as this: for as to the dead, we who are still in this mortal life are uncertain where their spirits are, but for this man, we cannot be ignorant that he has been visited and delivered by God before our eyes, because he has not acted unjustly'.

"When thanksgivings had been offered to God, to the best of their ability, according to what in their estimation was due for Bricstan's deliverance, the queen sent him with great honour to the abbey of St. Etheldrida in the isle of Ely. I went myself, attended by the whole convent of monks, to meet him, with candles and crosses, chanting Te Deum laudamus. Having conducted him into the church with befitting ceremony, and offered thanksgivings to God, we delivered to him, in honour of the blessed Benedict his liberator, the monastic habit he had so long desired. We also hung up in the church, in view of the people, the fetters with which he was bound, that they might be a memorial of this great miracle, to the honour of St. Benedict, who broke them, and of St. Etheldrida, who was his colleague and assistant; and they long continued to be suspended there to keep alive the remembrance of these events.

"I have been desirous of making known to the sons of holy church these acts of the venerable father Benedict, not because he had not performed greater wonders, but because they are more recent, and such miracles appear in our days to be infrequent in England. Nor, as regards our blessed father Benedict, let any one be surprised that he wrought great and inconceivable wonders; for, according to Pope Gregory, he may be equalled to Moses for having brought water out of the rock; to Elijah for receiving the ministry of a raven; to Elisha for raising iron from the bottom of a pit and to Peter for having caused a disciple to walk on the water

EULOGY OF ST. BENEDICT. 331

at his command. [1] St. Benedict likewise, as is well known, showed himself to be a prophet by predicting events to come, and an apostle by the miracles he wrought; and to sum up all in few words, he was full of the spirit of all the just. Since, therefore, we know with certainty that he obtains from the Lord all that he desires, let us continue joyfully in his service, knowing that through his intercession we shall not lose our reward: and if St. Benedict did not refuse his aid to one who had engaged to become a monk, what must be the protection he will afford to those who are actually bound by their voluntary engagements to the rules of his discipline? It is clearly manifested by many evident tokens that our kind patron, who is now glorified by God in heaven, unceasingly intercedes for his suppliant disciples, and daily renders them effective aid in their necessities. We then, who have submitted to the light yoke of Christ, and labouring in his vineyard, bear the burden of the day with constancy and perseverance, may, through the divine goodness, be assured that Almighty God will save and protect us for the merits and prayers of our wonder-working master. Let us, therefore, earnestly supplicate the Creator of the universe that he will bring us out of Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans, and conduct us to Jerusalem by the observance of his laws, and that He who is the Almighty and merciful God will give us a place in the company of the citizens above, to praise him who liveth and reigneth for all ages. Amen".

Having thus far discoursed on various subjects, I am weary of my task of writing, and bring to an end this sixth book of the Ecclesiastical History. In another volume, [2] by


[1] The four special miracles of St. Benedict here alluded to are described in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th chapters of his history by St. Gregory.

[2] That this is the volume which was saved by M. Du Bois from the wreck of the library of the abbey of St. Evroult, and deposited at Alencon, as related in the introduction to this work, p. xiii. appears from its exact coincidence with the description here given by our author. The two volumes of the Colbert library, mentioned in the introduction comprising the first six books, are evidently of the same age, and written by the same hands, for the author dictated to scribes and in the commencement of the ninth book complains of the want of them. They are, therefore, considered to have formed part of the MS. of St. Evroult, and there is little doubt that we thus possess the original manuscript dictated by, and in some places the autograph of, the learned and pious author.

332 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VI. CH.VI.

God's help, I have already completed seven books, in which I have, in addition, given accounts of the death of King William, of his three sons, of the crusade to Jerusalem, and of various events which have occurred in my own times. The Omnipotent Creator, as he did from the beginning, still wonderfully directs the course of time, and instructs the docile minds of the inhabitants of the earth, calling them off from the dangerous pursuit of worthless objects, and rousing them to better desires, by the display of memorable deeds. For mankind receives continual lessons from the fall of the proud and the exaltation of the humble, the damnation of the reprobate and the salvation of the just, that it may not lapse into impiety by an execrable warfare against God, but may constantly fear his judgments and love his commands, avoIding the limit of disobedience and offering perpetually faithful service to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, One God, the King of ages, and Lord of the universe, who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.

Guide us, O Virgin Mother, gate of heaven,
Whose gentle aid in every storm is given! [1]

Monks, knights, priests, nobles, crowd the busy stage,
Vitalis notes them in his lively page;
Courts, abbeys, camps, in varying shades he blends,
And here the fourth book of his story ends. [2]


[1] Although these verses appear in the manuscript of St. Evroult, they are evidently a subsequent addition, and it appears plain that they are not the author's composition.

[2] Instead of these verses, the MS. of St. Evroult has the following words in a hand of the thirteenth century: Explicit quarta pars Vitalis, "here ends the fourth part of Vitalis". Although now the sixth, it was the fourth book in the author's first arrangement.

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