BOOK VII

333

BOOK VII. [1]

CH. I. Annals of the Carlovingian kings of the Franks - and of the succeeding kings of France from Hugh Capet to Philip I.

IN the year of our Lord's incarnation 688, Pepin the Austrasian, mayor of the royal palace, assumed the government of the Franks. [2]

In the year of our Lord 711, Childebert king of the Franks departed this life. [3]

In the year of our Lord 712, Pepin the elder died, and his son, who was called Charles Martel, usurped the throne. [4]

In the year of our Lord 715, on the 14th of the calends of February [19th January] died Dagobert the younger, after having reigned in France five years. [5] In the second year after his death, the prince Charles Martel fought his first battle with Radbod, near Cologne, under the reign of Theodoric, son of the before-named Dagobert the younger. [6] At this time the heathen nation of the Vandals began to ravage France, when churches were destroyed, monasteries ruined, cities taken, habitations made desolate, castles demolished, innumerable numbers slaughtered, and there was a vast effusion of human blood in every quarter. During this period the furious tempest of the Vandal invasion raged


[1] In Duchesne's edition of Ordericus, which divides the History into three parts, the third, commencing with this seventh book, and including the remaining six, has this notice of the contents prefixed: ... "In which many things are related concerning the death of King William and his three sons, as well as the expedition to Jerusalem, and other contemporary events".

[2] This date is correct. It was in 687 or 688 that, after a struggle from the year 680, the power of Pepin d'Heristal was firmly established throughout the whole of France.

[3] Childebert III. died April 14, 71I, and was buried in the church of St. Stephen, at Choisi-sur-Aisne.

[4] Pepin died Dec. 16, 714, but it was not till the following year that Charles Martel escaped from the prison in which his mother-in-law Plectrude had immured him, and seized the reins of power in Austrasia.

[5] Dagobert III. died June 24, 715, after a reign of four years.

[6] This battle was fought in 715. Our author might have added that Charles Martel sustained a defeat.

331 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.I

through the whole of France, which was laid waste with fire and sword. Sitting down before the city of Sens they assaulted the place with all the force of projectiles and engines of war. Perceiving which, the bishop, whose name was Eboba, [1] made a sally at the head of the citizens, trusting in divine aid, and repulsed the besiegers, pursuing the fugitives until they were driven out of their territories.

In the year of our Lord 741, the prince Charles Martel died, and was buried in the church of St. Denys at Paris. [2] The exigencies of continual wars caused him to make over the possessions of the churches to laics. At his death, his sons Carloman and Pepin succeeded to the government.

In the year of our Lord 750, Pepin was elected king, and Childeric, the last representative of the royal race of Clovis, received the tonsure. [3] With him the line of that king became extinct.

In the year of our Lord 768, King Pepin died, [4] and his sons Charles, the emperor, surnamed the Great, and Carloman, were elected kings

In the year of our Lord 771, Carloman died. [5]

In the year of our Lord 809, died Alcuin the philospher who was abbot of St. Martin at Tours. [6]

In the year of our Lord 814, the emperor Charles the Great died, [7] and his son Lewis, surnamed the Pious, became king of the Franks and emperor of the Romans. In his time the


[1] For Eboba read Ebbo, and for Vandals in this paragraph, substitute Saracens. Their siege of the city of Sens appears to have been laid in the year 732.

[2] Charles Martel died at Quierzi-sur-Oise, October 22, 741, and was interred at St. Denys, as our author states.

[3] Pepin was proclaimed king in the general assembly of the nation at Soissons in March, 752, and crowned a few days afterwards by St. Boniface, archbishop of Mayence. Childeric was sent into confinement at St. Bertin, and his son Theodoric to Fontenelles, now called St. Wandrille. See note, p. 297.

[4] Pepin died of dropsy at St. Denys, Sept. 24, 768.

[5] Carloman died at at Samouci, near Laon, Dec. 4, 771.

[6] Alcuin, abbot of Tours in 796, died May 19, 804.

[7] Charlemagne died, as every one knows, at Aix-la-Chapelle, Jan. 28, 814. It will also be understood, that by Pagans the author means the Northmen; but their ravages in Ponthieu were much later. They endeavoured, indeed, to land on the coast of Flanders, but were vigorously repulsed. The invasion of the valley of the Somme did not take place until after that of the valleys of the Seine and the Loire.

A.D. 840.] LEWIS-THE-PIOUS. 335

pagans overran the province called Ponthieu. In the twentieth year of the reIgn of the emperor Lewis the Pious, his son Lothaire rebelled against him and wrested from him the kingdom of the Franks; but the same year his father Lewis collecting a great army recovered his kingdom which his son had deprived him of. [1]

In the year of our Lord 840, the twelfth of the calends of July [20th June], the emperor Lewis the Pious died. [2] The same year there was an eclipse of the sun on the fourth day before the feast of our Lord's Ascension, being the second of the nones [5th] of May, at the ninth hour of the day. The year following, on Ascension-day, a battle was fought at Fontenai [3] in Burgundy, between the four sons of Lewis the Pious, namely, Charles Lothaire, Lewis, and Pepin, in which there was a great effusion of human blood. Of these, Charles, surnamed the Bald, was acknowledged king of the Franks and emperor of the Romans: [4] Lothaire obtained that part of France which to the present day is called from him the kingdom of Lorraine; and Lewis secured Burgundy, and was anointed king. [5]


[1] The first deposition and restoration of Lewis le Debonnaire (or Pius, as the Italians called him), belongs to the year 830. The second deposition took place in the Champ Rouge, or Champ du Mensonge, near Colmar, in the beginning of July, 833. It was confirmed in the month of October at Compiegne, and Lewis recovered his authority the spring following. It is of the first of these depositions our author speaks.

[2] Lewis le Debonnaire died June 20, 840. The eclipse here mentioned occurred on Wednesday, May 5, the eve of Ascension day. Our author is mistaken in fixing it at nine o'clock instead of mid-day.

[3] Near Auxerre. This battle of Fontenal was fought on Saturday, June 25, 840. Its issue, with the partition treaty of Verdun made shortly afterwards, completed the dismemberment of the empire of Charlemagne. Pepin was not the son, but grandson, of Lewis le Debonnaire.

[4] Charles the Bald was not elected emperor till Dec. 25, 875, many years alter his accession to the throne of the Franks, which took place June 20, 840.

[5] Lorraine formed but a small part of the states of Lothaire, and it took its name, not from the emperor Lothaire, but from his second son of the same name, who reigned from Sept. 22, 853-Aug. 8, 867. By the treaty of Verdun, the Carlovingian empire was thus divided: Lothaire, the emperor, had Italy and all the country comprised within the Alps, the Rhine, and the Scheid, together with the ancient kingdom of Burgundy, comprising the territories from the source of the Saone to its confluence with the Rhone, and along the left bank of the Rhone to the sea. To Lewis, of Bavaria, was allotted all Germany beyond the Rhine, with the three cities of Worms, Spire, and Mayence, on its left bank. Charles the Bald retained the countries situated between the Scheld, the Meuse, the Rhone, the Ebro, and the two seas.

336 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.I.

In the year of our Lord 867, Charles the emperor, surnamed the Bald, son of the most pious emperor Lewis, as he was on a journey to Rome for the second time, died on the road on the third of the calends of October, at the city of Vercelli, and was buried in the church of St. Eusebius the martyr. [1] After resting there seven years, the body was brought to France in compliance with a vision, and honourably interred in the church of St. Denys the Martyr at Paris. [2] His son Lewis succeeded him in the kingdom of the Franks. The year following, John, the pope of Rome, came into France with Formosus bishop of Porto, bringing with him very precious relics, and disembarking at Arles, passed through Lyons and other cities till he reached Troyes, where he had a conference with King Lewis, son of Charles the


[1] Charles the Bald died in a poor cottage on this side of the Mont-Cenis, on the 6th of October, 877, in returning from Rome, and not on his journey there. The contemporary chronicles call the place where the violence of his disorder compelled him to stop, Brios. It is certain that it must have been between the summit of the pass, which he had just crossed, and the town of St. Jean-de-Maurienne, where the Empress Richilde, at his instance, came to attend him. The principal places on the route are St. Michel, Modane, and Lanslebourg, but these are considerable bourgs, and would have afforded better accommodation to the dying emperor than the "miserable cottage" spoken of by the chronicles. Besides, the road did not then run by Modane. Every one who has crossed the Mont-Cenis must have observed the succession of secluded villages in the beautiful valley leading down to St. Jean-Maurienne, on the right bank of the Arc, which the road followed till the year 1688. One of these is named Avrieus, which appears to be the Brieux or Brios mentioned in the chronicles. It is about eighteen English miles from St. Jean-Maurienne. Ordericus deserves commendation for having rejected the imputations cast by the ecclesiastical historians on Sedecias, the Jewish physician of Charles the Bald, of having ended his days by administering poison; the more improbable, as although his health was already undermined, he survived his seizure eleven days.

[2] It was proposed to carry the corpse of Charles to St. Denys at once, but it so infected the air, that they were compelled to deposit it at the abbey of Nantua, where, under the care of Helmodeus, the eighth abbot, it was interred near the high altar; and an epitaph, which has been preserved in the obituary of the abbey, engraved on the wall. Seven years afterwards the remains were removed to the royal resting place of the Frank kings at St. Denys.

A.D. 878-898.] INVASIONS OF THE NORTHMEN. 337

Bald, and then returned to Italy. [1] After this, Lewis king of the Franks, the son of Charles the Bald, died, leaving a son a tender years named Charles the Simple, whom he entrusted with his kingdom to the guardianship of the Prince Eudes. [2]

At that time the pagan Northmen overran all France, venting their fury in rapine, slaughter, and every kind of barbarity. Thereupon the chiefs of the Franks, the Burgundians, and the Aquitani, assembling together, unanimously elected Eudes king. [3] But he dying on the calends [1st] of January, Charles the Simple, the son of Lewis, recovered his throne. [4] At this same time the Normans advanced into Burgundy as far as St. Florentin, but Richard duke of Burgundy met them with his army at Tonnerre, and attacking them on the nones [8th] of June; numbers of them fell by the edge of the sword, and the rest were put to flight. [5] The same year there was an earthquake near the monastery of St. Columb the Virgin, on the fifth of the ides [9th] of January. [6] About the same period the pagans besieged the city of Chartres, whereupon Richard, duke of Burgundy, and the prince Robert, collecting an army, attacked them on Saturday the thirteenth of the calends of August [20th July], put to the sword six thousand eight hundred, and took hostages of the few that were left, the Divine mercy assisting through the intercession of St. Mary, mother of God. After this, in the middle of the month of March, a star appeared in the north-west for nearly fourteen days emitting very luminous rays. [7]


[1] Pope John VIII. arrived at Arles the 11th of May, 878. There must have been more than a single conference at Troyes between the king and the pope, for the pope crowned Lewis on Sunday, the 7th of September of that year.

[2] Lewis-le-Begue died at Compiegne on Holy Thursday, April 10, 879. The Norman chronicles are wrong in stating that this prince left Charles the Simple under the guardianship of Eudes, the count of Paris.

[3] Eudes was not elected king until after the death of Lewis III. and Carloman.

[4] The 3rd of January, 898. Charles had been crowned on the 28th of January, 893, in opposition to Eudes.

[5] The battle was fought at Argenteuil, three leagues and a half from Tonnerre, in 848.

[6] The monastery of St. Columb was an abbey of Benedictines in the suburbs of Sens.

[7] A.D. 912. The comet was named at Constantinople Xippias, because it presented somewhat the appearance of a sword.

338 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.I.

The year following, there was a great famine throughout France. About five years afterwards, on the calends [1st] of February, fiery armies were seen in the heavens of various colours pursuing each other in a wonderful manner. The same year there was a sharp quarrel between the king and his barons, which caused much slaughter of Christian people, but through the mercy of God that controversy was brought to an end.

In the third year after this calamity, Rodolph, duke of Burgandy, died on the day before the calends [1st] of September, and was buried in the church of St. Columb in the oratory of St. Symphorian [1] the martyr. The second year after his death, Robert the prince revolted against Charles the Simple, and received the royal unction on the third of the calends of July [29th June]. Before a year was expired, Charles the Simple gave battle to Robert at the city of Soissons, in which battle Robert the pretender to the throne of the Franks was slain. [2] While, however, Charles was retiring victorious from the carnage of the battle, [3] Herbert, the most abandoned of traitors, met him and, under cover of pretended amity, induced him to accept his proffered hospitality in the castle of Peronne, where having thus deceitfully inveigled him, he detained him prisoner: for Robert had married Herbert's sister, [4] from which union sprung Hugh the Great. In this strait Charles, with the advice and consent of Hugh the Great, son of the said Robert, and his nobles of France, raised to the throne Rodolph, the illustrious son of Richard, duke of Burgundy, whom he had held at the baptismal font. [5] Charles the


[1] It was not Rodolph, but his father Richard, who died at the end of August, 921, and was buried the 1st of September, in the church of St. Columb.

[2] Robert was crowned the 20th of June, 922. The battle of Soissons was fought the 15th of June, 923.

[3] Charles did not assume an air of trinmph after the battle: "He retired to Belgium without any spoils". It was on his return from thence, and not from Soissons, that Herbert seized his person, and conducted him as a prisoner to Soissons.

[4] Beatrix, second daughter of Herbert, count de Vermandois.

[5] Charles took no part in the election of Rodolph, and it does not elsewhere appear that he was his godfather. Charles died in prison at Peronne, the 7th of October, 929. Rodolph was crowned at Soissons, with his wife Emma, on the 13th of July, 923.

A.D. 936-954.] LEWIS D'OUTRE-MER. 339

Simple himself, after undergoing the sufferings of a long captivity, died in confinement, and was buried in the church of St. Fursey the confessor, within the castle of Peronne. Rodolph was consecrated king in the city of Soissons on the fourth of the ides [13th] of July.

At this time the pagans again devastated Burgundy, and there was a battle between them and the Christians at Mont Chalaux [1] on the eighth of the ides [6th] of December, in which many thousands of the Christians were slain by the pagans.

King Rodolph dying on the eighteenth of the calends of February [2] [15th January], he was buried in the church of St. Columb the Virgin. On his death, Hugh the Great with the Franks applied to Duke William, surnamed Long-sword, [3] to undertake a mission to Ogive, wife of Charles the Simple, and bring back his son Lewis, who had taken refuge with his uncle the king of England for fear of Herbert and Hugh. William, therefore, proceeding to England, and having given hostages, under the sanction of an oath, to the mother of the young prince, returned with him to France.

Thereupon, Lewis, son of Charles the Simple, was anointed king at Laon on the eighteenth of the calends of July [10th June]. [4] Two years afterwards, on the sixteenth of the calends of March [14th February], at the time of cock-crowing till the dawn of day, there was the appearance of armies dyed in blood over all the face of the heavens. The month following, on the ninth of the calends of April [25th March], the Huns, who were still pagans, began to ravage France, Burgundy, and Aquitain with fire and sword. After this, the Frank nobles, and especially Hugh the Great, revolted against King Lewis. [5] The same year a


[1] Near Clameei, in the Nidvre.

[2] Rodolph died at Auxerre of the morbus pedicularis, on the 15th of January, 936, and was buried iu the abbey at Sens.

[3] Ordericus, following the error or misrepresentation of his predecessor, Dudon, substitutes here Duke William Long-sword for William, archbishop of Sens.

[4] First at Laon, as here stated, by William, archbishop of Sens, who brought him back from England, and a second time at Rheims, by archbishop Arnold.

[5] This league, formed in 930, seized Rheims in 940, and compelled Lewis d'Outre-Mer to take refuge with Charles Constantine, prince of Vienne. He returned by Aquitaiis, and reached Poitiers the 5th of January, 942.

340 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B. VII. CH.I.

severe famine prevailed throughout all the kingdom of the Franks, so that a muid of wheat was sold for twenty-four pence. Not long afterwards King Lewis, son of Charles the Simple, was, by contrivance of Hugh the Great, treacherously made a prisoner by the Normans in the city of Bayeux, where many of the Franks were massacred by the people. After this, on Tuesday in the month of May, [1] it rained blood upon the labourers at work in the fields. The same year, in the month of September, King Lewis having spent his whole life in straits and mortifications, came to his end and was buried at Rheims, in the cathedral of St. Remi. [2]

The month following, the second of the ides [12th] of November, his son Lothaire, then a boy, was crowned at Rheims, and Hugh the Great was made duke of France. [3] Two years afterwards, in the month of August, Hugh the Great laid siege to the city of Poitiers, but without success; for while he was engaged in the siege, on a certain day the thunder of the Lord crashed terribly, and the duke's tent was rent by a whirlwind from top to bottom, so that both he and his army were struck with horror, and being in fear for their lives, took to flight, and abandoned the siege. The Almighty did this through the intercession of St. Hilary, the constant guardian and protector of the city of Poitiers. [4]

The same year died Gilbert, duke of Burgundy, leaving the Duchy to Otho, son of Hugh the Great, who had married Gilbert's daughter: [5] two years afterwards Hugh himself, duke of France, died on the sixteenth of the calends of July [June 16], at Dourdan, and was buried in the


[1] A.D. 954.

[2] Lewis d'Outre-Mer terminated his miserable existence at Rheims the 10th of September, 954, from the effects of a fall from his horse.

[3] Hugh the Great had been confirmed as long before as 943 in the dignity of duke of France. If there was a fresh confirmation after the coronation of Lothaire, it was a mere form. Ho died at Dourdan the 16th of June, 956, and his son, Hugh Capet, was invested in 960 with the duchy of France, the counties of Paris and Orleans, and the abbeys held by his father.

[4] See vol. i. p. 139.

[5] Gilbert died on the 8th of April, 956, and his son-in-law Otho, son of Hugh the Great, the 23rd of February, in 965, according to Frodoard.

A.D. 956-965.] BATTLE NEAR SENS. 341

church of St. Denys the martyr, at Paris. He was succeeded by his sons, Hugh, Otho, and Henry, born of the daughter of Otho, king of the Saxons. Hugh became duke of the Franks, and Otho of the Burgundians, and on Otho's death, his brother Henry succeeded him as duke of Burgundy. [1]

About the same time there was a quarrel between Ansegise, bishop of Troyes, and Count Robert. Whereupon bishop Ansegise, being expelled from his see by the count, went into Saxony to the Emperor Otho, and returning with an army of Saxons, sat down before the city of Troyes in the month of October, and besieged it for a long time. The Saxons having made an attack on Sens, with the intention of pillaging the city, Archembold the archbishop, and the aged Count Rainard, encountered them with a large body of troops at a place called Villiers, [2] and the men of Sens were victorious in the battle, the Saxons, with Helpo their general, being put to the sword. Helpo had threatened to burn the churches and villages on the river Vanne, [3] as far as the city of Sens, and to drive his spear into the gate of St. Leo. But he was slain, as we have said, with his followers, by the men of Sens, and his corpse was carried back by his servants to his own country in the Ardennes, as pursuant to the commands of his mother Warna. Count Rainard and Archbishop Archembold deplored his death in deep affliction, for he was their kinsman. His fellow leader, Bruno, who conducted the siege of Troyes, on the loss of Helpo and his troops, returned home. [4] Not many days afterwards King Lothaire, assembling a large force, recovered possession of the kingdom of Lorraine, and obtaining an entrance, without resistance just at


[1] The dates of the succession of Hugh Capet and Otho are alrendy given. Hudwide, or Hadwidge, their mother, second wife of Hugh the Great, was sister, not daughter, of the Emperor Otho I., and consequently daughter of Henry I. of Saxony, surnamed the Fowler, king of Germany. Henry, duke of Burgundy, called the Great, succeeded his brother Otto in 965, and died about 1002.

[2] Villiers-Louis, about eight leagues east of Sens.

[3] The Vanne takes its rise in the department of the Aube, passes a league and a half to the south of Villiers, and joins the Yonne near, and to the south, of the city of Sens.

[4] See vol. i. p. 139.

342 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.I.

the hour of dining, into the palace at Aix-la-Chapelle, where the Emperor Otho and his wife were residing, Lothaire and his followers feasted on what was provided for the emperor's table, who, with his wife and attendants, made their escape from the palace. It was pillaged by King Lothaire, as well as the whole province, and he then returned into France without molestation, no one opposing him. [1]

After that the Emperor Otho, having assembled his army, marched on Paris, where his nephew Otho and many others were slain before the city gate, having set fire to the suburb, and insolently boasted that he would fix his lance in the gate. King Lothaire summoned Hugh duke of France, and Henry duke of Burgundy, to his aid, and joined by their forces attacked the Lorrainers, whom they defeated and pursued as far as the city of Sens. Retreating across the river Aisne they missed the ford, and numbers perished. More indeed were drowned than fell by the sword, and the channel was choked with the corpses of the dead, the river being then in flood. King Lothaire pursued the survivors for three days and three nights, until they reached a river, which takes its course near the Ardennes or Argonne, putting multitudes of the enemy to the sword. [2] He then drew off his troops and returned into France in great triumph, while the Emperor Otho, with the remnant of his army, retired into his own states. After this defeat neither the Emperor Otho nor his army again invaded France. The same year King Lothaire concluded a peace with Otho at Rheims, contrary to the wishes of his brothers Hugh and Henry and of his own army. King Lothaire ceded to Otho the kingdom of Lorraine, to be held as a fief of his own crown, and this cession caused great dissatisfaction in the minds of the principal Frank nobles. [3]

In the year of our Lord 976 King Lothaire departed this life, far advanced in years; [4] he was buried in the church of


[1] This surprise, which our author has also before related (vol. i. p. 140), took place towards the end of June, 977.

[2] This invasion was made in the month of October, 977.

[3] The treaty by which Lothaire ceded Lorraine to Otho II., reserving that suzerainty, was made at Rheims in 980.

[4] The second figure in the text is incorrect in all the editions; this prince died the 2nd of March, 986, at the age of only forty-five years.

A.D. 987.] HUGH CAPET KING OF FRANCE. 343

St. Remi at Rheims, and his son Lewis, then a youth, suc- ceeded to the throne of France.

In the year of our Lord 977, the young King Lewis died, having reigned over the Franks six years. [1] He was interred in the church of St. Cornelius at Compiegne. He was succeeded by his brother Charles, son of King Lothaire. The same year Hugh, duke of France, revolted against him, because he had married the daughter of Herbert count of Troyes. Hugh assembled a very large army and laid siege to Laon, where Charles had taken up his residence with his queen. The king marched out of the city, and routing Hugh and his army, burnt the huts in which they had been quartered. Duke Hugh, finding that he could not conquer Charles by open force made a league with Ascelin, an old traitor, who had intruded himself into the bishopric of Laon, and was counsellor of King Charles. In consequence, Ascelin betrayed the city to Hugh, duke of the Franks, in the night-time, while the citizens were asleep, and Charles and his wife were thrown into chains and conducted to Orleans. He had not yet been anointed as king by reason of Duke Hugh's opposition. While he was detained prisoner in the Tower at Orleans, his wife bore him two sons, Lewis and Charles. The same year Duke Hugh was crowned at Rheims as king of the Franks, and in the course of the same year his son Robert was also consecrated king. Thus ended the dynasty of Charlemagne. [2]

At that time Arnulph, a mild and excellent prelate, who was brother of King Lothaire by a concubine of his father, held the archbishopric of Rheims. He was hated by King Hugh, who wished to exterminate the family of King Lothaire. He therefore assembled a synod at Rheims, to which he invited Sewin, archbishop of Sens, with his suffragans. In this council he caused the Lord Arnulph, the archbishop of Rheims, to be degraded to the annoyance of his nephew, [3] whom he detained in prison, declaring that the


[1] Louis V. died the 21st of May, 987, at the age of about twenty years. He suffered more from misfortune and treason than from indolence or incapacity. His reign lasted less than two years after the death of his father, and seven years after his coronation.

[2] On these events, see vol. i. p. 141.

[3] Charles was not the nephew, but just the contrary - the uncle of Arnulph.

344 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.I.

son of a concubine was unfit to be a bishop. In his place he procured the consecration of the Lord Gerbert, the monk and philosopher, who had been the tutor of his son King Robert and of Leotheric, the archbishop who succeeded the venerable Sewin. Arnulph was committed to prison in the city of Orleans. But the worthy archbishop Sewin was no party to the degradation of Arnulph and the consecration of Gerbert. Some other bishops, with great reluctance, were induced, by the king's threats, to degrade the one and consecrate the other; but Sewin, fearing God more than an earthly sovereign, refused his consent to the iniquitous transaction, and, not only so, but he opposed to the utmost of his power the royal wish, in consequence of which the king's wrath was inflamed against him. The king having caused Arnulph to be shamefully expelled from the church of St. Mary, mother of God, at Rheims, thrust him bound into prison, and then removed him in chains to a dungeon at Orleans, where his nephew was a prisoner; and he was confined there three years. These transactions were reported to the pope of Rome, who, in great indignation, suspended all the bishops who had degraded Arnulph and consecrated Gerbert. He also sent the abbot Leo as legate of the apostolic see to the Lord Sewin, archbishop of Sens, with instructions to summon a synod at Rheims as the pope's vicar, and commanding him, without delay, to recall Arnulph from his confinement and degrade Gerbert. The synod therefore being assembled, Arnulph was released from his imprisonment by the apostolical command, and restored with great honour to his own see. Gerbert being sensible that he had illegally usurped the archiepiscopal authority submitted to penance. The instructive controversy between him and the abbot Leo may be found at length in the archives of the archbishop of Rheims. After this the Lord Gerbert was elected bishop of Ravenna by the Emperor Otho and the people of that city, and having held the see many years, was, on the death of the pope of Rome, called by acclamation of the whole Roman people to succeed him. He was therefore removed from Ravenna and consecrated pope in the city of Rome. [1]


[1] See the account of these transactions and the notes, vol. i. pp. 144, 145.

A.D. 999.] ROBERT I. KING OF FRANCE. 345

In the year of our Lord 918, the king Hugh departed this life, [1] and was interred in the church of St. Denys at Paris. He was succeeded by his son Robert, the most pious and temperate of kings.

In the year of our Lord 999, the venerable Archbishop Sewin began to restore the abbey of St. Peter at Melun from the foundations, and establishing there a fraternity of monks, appointed Walter their abbot. The same year, the knight Walter and his wife betrayed the castle of Melun to Count Eudes. Upon this, King Robert assembled a strong force with Count Bouchard, and calling in the Normans under their Duke Richard, laid siege to Melun. The castle being taken, Walter and his wife were hung on a gallows, and Melun was restored to Count Bouchard its former lord. [2]

Now, Rainard, the old count of Sens, came to his end after many evil practices, and was buried in the church of St. Columb the virgin. He was succeeded by his son Fromond who had married the daughter of Reynold, count of Rheims.

In the year of our Lord 1000, the thirteenth indiction, on the sixteenth of the calends of November [17th October], the venerable Sewin, metropolitan bishop, departed in Christ. After his death the church of Sens was deprived of the episcopal benediction for a whole year. All the people demanded with acclamation that the Lord Leotheric, of a noble family, who was then archdeacon and eminent for his virtues, should be ordained. But opposition was made by some of the clergy who aspired themselves to the archiepiscopal throne. More especially Count Fromond, son of the old Rainard, and thus sprung from a bad stock, forbade the appointment, because be had a son named Bruno in holy orders, and he desired to make him bishop. However, by God's providence, the suffragan bishops of the diocese of Sens, having the authority and consent of the apostolical see and regardless of the fear of man, solemnly consecrated the lord Leotheric, and installed him in the episcopal throne to govern the diocese of Sens. [3]


[1] October 24, 996.

[2] Bouchard, count of Vendome, eldest son of Fulk the Good, count of Anjou, received from Hugh Capet the county and castle of Melun, with the hand of Elizabeth, wife of Aimon, count of Corbeil.

[3] Sewin died October 27, 999. Bruno his competitor with Leotheric, was second son of Fromond II., count of Sens. It required two journeys by Leotheric to Rome and an express order of Silvester II. (Gerbert), his former tutor, to determine them to consecrate him in opposition to the count. The ceremony was performed, in 1001, in the church of St. Fare.

346 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.I.

In the year of our Lord 1001, Henry duke of Burgundy died without issue, and the Burgundians rebelled against King Robert, whom they refused to acknowledge as their sovereign. In consequence, Landri, Comte de Nevers, occupied the city of Auxerre. [1]

In the year of our Lord 1003, King Robert having called in the Normans with their Duke Richard, and assembled a very large army, ravaged Burgundy and besieged Auxerre for a long time. The Burgundians, being by no means disposed to submit to him, were unanimous in their resistance; but he besieged the castle of Avalon for nearly three months, and at length it was compelled by famine to surrender to King Robert, who then returned to France. [2]

On the death of Fromont, count of Sens, he was succeeded by his son Rainard, a most worthless infidel. His persecution of the churches of Christ and his faithful servants was such as has not been heard of from heathen times to the present day. Archbishop Leotheric was consequently plunged into such difficulties that he knew not which way to turn. Committing himself, however, entirely to the Lord, he implored Christ in prayers and vigils that of his heavenly mercy he would vouchsafe to afford relief.

Thereupon, in the year of our Lord 1016, the thirteenth indiction, on the tenth of the calends of May [22nd April], the city of Sens was taken possession of by Leotheric, by the advice of Reynold bishop of Paris, and was given up to King Robert. Rainard was forced to betake himself to flight and escaped naked. His brother Fromond and some other knights took refuge in a tower which stood within the city. The king, however, reduced it, after an assault of


[1] Henry the Great died in 1002.- Mabillon. Otho-William, his son-in-law, and also his adopted heir, took possession of the duchy. King Robert seized the province in 1003, with the aid of thirty thousand Normans. commanded by their duke, Richard II.; but he was compelled to retire without taking Auxerre, which was defended by Landri, count de Nevers, and son-in-law of Otho-William.

[2] The siege and taking of Avalon belong to the campaign of 1005, in the course of which the king also took Sens, and besieged Dijon in vain. It was defended by Otho-William in person, and his most gallant knights.

A.D. 1031.] ISSUE OF ROBERT, KING OF FRANCE. 347

many days' duration, and taking Fromond captive, sent him to Orleans, where he died in prison. [1]

Robert, king of the Franks, reigned thirty-seven years. [2] He married Constance, a princess celebrated for her wisdom and virtue. She bore him a noble offspring, Henry, Robert, and Adele. King Robert died in the year of our Lord 1031, the fourteenth indiction, and Henry his son reigned nearly thirty years. Robert had the duchy of Burgundy, and was the father of three sons, Henry, Robert, and Simon. Henry, the eldest, had two sons, Hugh and Eudes, but he died before his father. Hugh therefore succeeded his grandfather in the duchy, which he governed for three years with distinguished merit. He then abdicated in favour of his brother Eudes, and inflamed by divine love, became a monk of Cluni, where he piously served God fifteen years. Adele, the daughter of King Robert, was given in marriage to Baldwin count of Flanders, to whom she bore a numerous offspring, Robert the Frisian, Arnulph, and Baldwin, counts; Eudes, archbishop of Treves, and Henry, a clerk; also Matilda queen of England, and Judith the wife of Earl Tostig.

During this period, while Robert and Henry were kings of


[1] The archbishop made the engagement to deliver the city to the king on April 22, 1015; but it required a regular siege to triumph over the resistance of Rainard and his eldest brother Fromond, whom he had called to his aid. Fromont finished his days in prison in the castle of Orleans, but Rainard, having taken refuge with Eudes II., count de Champagne, built with his assistance the castle of Montreuil-sur-Seine, which he afterwards ceded to him, and, forcibly re-establishing himself in Sens, lived afterwards in peace with the king and the archbishop until the death of Leotheric (June 26, 1031).

[2] October 24, 996-July 20, 1031. Robert and Constance had four sons, Hugh, Henry, Robert, and Hugh, and two daughters, Adelaide, or Havise, and Adele. Henry I. died August 29, 1060, after a reign of twenty-nine years. Robert I., duke of Burgundy, called the Elder, received that province of his brother Henry in full sovereignty in the year 1032. This prince had four sons and two daughters. Hugh I., who succeeded in 1075, was son of Henry his second son. He resigned the duchy in 1078 to his brother Eudes Borel, in order to retire to Cluni, where he died in 1093, after having been ordained priest. Adele de France, first married to Richard III., duke of Normandy, and afterwards to Baldwin, count of Flanders, died in 1071. The archbishop of Treves must be excluded from this genealogy. His parentage is otherwise given elsewhere.

343 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.II.

France, ten popes filled successively the apostolic see; that is, Gerbert the Philosopher, who assumed the name of Silvester, John, Benedict, and John his brother, Benedict their nephew, Clemens, Damasus, eminent for his nobility and love of justice, Leo, Victor, Stephen and Nicholas. [1] Henry, king of the Franks, married Bertrade, daughter of Julius Claudius king of Russia, [2] by whom he had Philip, and Hugh the Great, Count de Crepi. Philip reigned after his father's death forty-seven years, and espoused Bertha, daughter of Florence duke of Frisia, who bore him Lewis-Theobald and Constance. [3]

CH. II. Short notices of the battle of Val-des-Dunes - Of King William's marriage and children - Of the invasion of Normandy by King Henry of France - And the battle of Mortemer.

IN the year of our Lord 1047, the fifteenth indiction, William the Bastard, duke of Normandy, invited King Henry into Neustria, [4] and with his assistance fought a battle against his kinsfolk at Val-des-Dunes, in which he defeated Guy of Burgundy and other rebels, forcing some to submit, and putting others to flight. After this, his power being established, he married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin marquis of Flanders, who bore him four sons and five daughters; [5] Robert, Richard, William, and Henry, Agatha,


[1] Silvester II.; John XVII. (John XVIII.; Sergius IV.); Benedict VIII.; John XIX.; Benedict IX. (Gregory VI.); Clement XI.; Damasus II.; Leo IX.; Victor II.; Stephen IX.; and Nicholas II.

[2] Henry I. married in 1061 Anne, daughter of Jaroslaw, duke of Russia, by whom he had two sons, king Philip, and Hugh, count of Vermandois in 1102.

[3] Philip I. reigned nearly forty-eight years (August 29, 1060-August 3, 1108). It was in 1071 that he married Bertha, daughter of Florence, count of Holland, by whom he had Lewis-le-Gros, and Constance, married first to Hugh, count de Champagne, and afterwards to Bohemond, prince of Antioch.

[4] William threw himself at the feet of King Henry at Poissi to implore succour against the league, at the head of which was Guy of Burgundy, his uncle according to the customs of Brittany (son of Reynold, count of Burgundy, and Adeliza, daughter of Duke Richard II). Guy was defeated in 1047 at the battle of Val-des-Dunes, three leagues to the south-east of Caen. See the dying discourse of King William in the fifteenth chapter of this book.

[5] The marriage of William and Matilda probably soon followed the successful issue of this contest, which established the young duke's power. For the children who were the issue of this marriage, see before, pp. 22, 23.

A.D. 1054.] HENRY I. INVADES NORMANDY. 349

Adeliza, Constance, Adele, and Cecilia. A variety of fortunes was the lot of this illustrious progeny, and each in their day was subject to mischance, as my pen has elsewhere sufficiently noted. In course of time seditions burst forth, and the seeds of dissension were sown among these princes, which gave rise to great wars between the French and Normans, wherein much blood was shed.

At length, in the year of our Lord 1054, King Henry invaded the territory of Evreux, and made great devastations, both by pillage and fire; at the same time causing his brother Eudes to cross the Seine with many thousand troops by the Beauvaisis. Meanwhile Duke William hung with his force on the flank of King Henry's army watching for a favourable opportunity of bringing him to an engagement. Moreover, he ordered Roger de Mortemer and the Cauchois to throw themselves on the royal troops [commanded by Eudes]. Obeying his orders without delay, they encountered the French at Mortemer, and having gained the victory, took prisoner Guy count of Ponthieu, and put to flight Eudes and Ralph count de Mont-Didier, many of their followers falling by the sword. [1] Then Pope Leo died in the sixth year of his pontificate, [2] in the second year of which the abbey of St. Evroult was restored, and Theodoric, the first abbot, was consecrated on the nones [the 7th] of October. Eight years afterwards he went on a pilgrimage, and died in the island of Cyprus, on the calends [the 1st] of August, many miracles being wrought on his tomb. [3]

CH. III. A fragment, containing part of the genealogy of Edward the Confessor.

EDWARD, king of England, after a reign of twenty-three


[1] More full details of this double invasion of Normandy by King Henry are given in the discourse supposed to have been made by William I. on his death-bed, for which see the fourth chapter of the preset book.

[2] Leo IX. Feb. 1049-April 19, 1054.

[3] The abbey of St. Evroult was restored and the blessed Theodoric consecrated abbot Oct. 5, 1050; he went in pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the beginning of September, 1057, and died in the church of St. Nicholas, in the island of Cyprus, August 1, 1050, as already related. See b. iii. iv, vol. i. pp. 402-422.

350 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.IV.

years [1] departed this life in the sixth year of Philip king of France. His genealogy from Shem, the son of Noah, may be thus traced. Shem begat Arphaxad and Beadung; Beadung begat Wala; Wala begat Hatra; Hatra begat Itermod: Itermod begat Heremod; Heremod begat Sceldunea; Sceldunea begat Beaw; Beaw begat Cetuna; Cetuna begat Geata; whom the heathen long since worshipped as a god. Geata begat Findggoldwulf, the father of Fidhulput; of whom came Fealap, the father of Frithowald. From him sprung Woden, from whom the English call the sixth day, Woden's day. [2] He was highly exalted among his people and attained great power.

CH. IV. The Emperor Henry IV. supports the Anti-pope Guibert (Clement III.) - besieges and takes Rome - Gregory VIII. (Hildebrand) retires into Apulia.

IN the year of our Lord 1084, Henry king of the Germans, having assembled a great multitude of Saxons, Germans, Lorrainers, and other people, made a violent inroad into Italy which he overran and besieged and assaulted Rome. The Romans surrendering, being tempted by the rewards


[1] Edward the Confessor succeeded to the throne of England June 8, 1042, but was not crowned till Easter in the following year. For this reason our author counts only twenty-three years in his reign, which ended Jan. 5, 1066. The genealogy here ascribed to this king is found in most of the English chronicles.

[2] It was not the sixth but the fourth day which was consecrated to Odin in the primitive religion of our Saxon ancestors, and which still bears his name.

[3] The conclusion of this chapter appears to be lost. Duehesne appends the following note to the fragment preserved: "Some things are wanting here which seem to have been a recapitulation of those events which the author had related more at large in former books, viz., from the expedition of Duke William to England until the year of Christ, 1083". M. Le Prevost observes, that it cannot escape the reader's observation that the preceding chapter (the third) consists of detached paragraphs strung together without order. Some persons, he says, have supposed that it belonged originally to b. iii., others to b. iv. He applies to chap. iii. what Duchesne says of the recapitulation, which consists of events already related in books iv. and v. M. Le Prevost, while acknowledging the evident existence of a chasm in the history, is unable to offer any conjecture on its extent, its contents, or the place it filled in the author's original plan.

1081.] THE EMPEROR HENRY IV. AND POPE GREGORY VII. 351

promised them, he took possession of the city. Having expelled Gregory VII. from the apostolic see, he shamefully intruded in his place Guibert metropolitan of Ravenna. Thereupon Gregory retired to Beneventum, and a great schism was created throughout the world, which caused much evil to the sons of the church, and long continued to the injury of many persons. [1] Pope Gregory, whose name in baptism was Hildebrand, had been a monk from his childhood, and his whole life was a pattern of wisdom and religion, maintaining a perpetual conflict against sin. He rose through the several degrees of the ecclesiastical orders to the popedom the summit of all, in which for sixteen years he applied himself diligently to the observance of the divine law. Inflamed with zeal for truth and justice he denounced every kind of wickedness, sparing no offenders, either through fear or favour. He therefore suffered persecution and exile from the stubborn and insubordinate, who refused to submit to the Lord's yoke; yet no device of theirs provailed against him to the hour of his death.

Pope Gregory repeatedly admonished and corrected, and at length excommunicated Henry, king of the Germans, as an incorrigible transgressor of the divine law. For that prince deserted his wife, the daughter of the illustrious count Eustace do Bouillon, and like a swine wallowing in the mire abandoned himself to foul and adulterous pleasures, disregarding the commandments of God and the admonitions of good men. However, Godfrey duke of Lorraine, incensed at the shameful repudiation of his sister, declared war against Henry, and, collecting together a force of several thousand troops, gave him battle, and forcing him to quit the field in a shameful flight, thus revenged his sister's wrongs. [2]


[1] The emperor Henry IV., called by our author king of the Germans, and the anti-pope Guibert, made their solemn entry into Rome on Tuesday, March 21, 1084, by the Lateran gate; and on Palm Sunday, the 24th of the same month, Guibert was consecrated at St. Peter's under the name of Clement III. After Henry's departure, and the raising of the siege of the castle of St. Angelo, to which Gregory VII. had retired, and the sack of Rome by Robert Guiscard, the pope retired to Monte Cassino and Salernum.

[2] All this paragraph is incorrect. The emperor did not marry the sister of Godfrey de Bouillon, and so far from their being at war, Godfrey received from the emperor's hands the investiture of the duchy of the Lower-Lorraine in 1093.

352 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.IV.

Henry often treacherously invited to his court the nobles whose wives or daughters or estates he coveted, and, causing them to be privately way-laid by his emissaries, had them despatched on the road when they expected no evil. This abandoned king disgraced himself by these and many such enormities, dragging with him the numerous accomplices of his crimes to a common ruin. Pope Gregory, receiving complaints of these iniquities, frequently implored Henry to amend his life, but he wickedly laughed to scorn his physician and doctor, and disregarded his remonstrances. Gregory therefore held frequent councils with a great number of prelates, consulting on the means of affording relief to the Christian empire which Henry so foully and infamously polluted. At last, finding that notwithstanding his frequent admonitions Henry obstinately persisted in his crimes, the pope excommunicated him according to the sentence of a synod, deprived the obdurate prince of the imperial power which he had damnably usurped, and by his apostolical authority caused Count Conrad to be anointed king by the hands of an assembly of bishops. In consequence Henry, deprived of his sceptre, remained quiet a whole year in his own abode, shutting himself up in the county which was his own by right of inheritance. Meanwhile, he lavishly employed the treasures he had amassed to secure himself allies. Having thus collected a force of many thousand accomplices, this public enemy, in contempt of the decree of excommunication, broke into rebellion, engaged in battle with King Conrad, and overthrew and killed him, routing his army with losses of all kinds. [1]

Elated with this victory, Henry re-assumed his imperial


[1] This paragraph is not more correct than the preceding one. It was not till 1093, and, consequently, eight years after the death of Gregory VII., that Conrad, son of Henry IV., revolted against his father at the instigation of the Countess Matilda, his aunt, and caused himself to be crowned king of the Normans. Our author has confounded Conrad with Rodolph, duke of Swabia, elected king of Germany in the place of his brother-in-law Henry, in March, 1077, by the influence of Gregory VII. It was Rodolph who was slain fighting with Henry at the battle of Marsbourg (Oct. 15, 1080). We are informed that he received his mortal wound from the lance of Godfrey de Bouillon, who is represented by our author as the determined enemy of the emperor.

1081-1085.] GREGORY VII. EXPELLED PROM ROME. 353

authority, coerced his rebellious subjects, and, having strongly reinforced his army, laid siege to Rome, directing all his efforts against Pope Gregory. [1] It had, I consider, entirely escaped his memory how Absalom, having gathered a large force against his father David, had by the advice of Ahithophel the Gilonite levied arms against him, attacking his own father and his followers as they were departing from Jerusalem, and caused at length the death of many thousand warriors, but miserably perished when he had accomplished his impious project to the loss of many. Thus Henry took up arms against his father, and justly merited in return to be cruelly persecuted by his own offspring. When he was asked how he presumed to engage in such fearful enterprises against the head of the church, he replied, laughing, that the cause of this great quarrel between himself and the pope was that the physician had recourse to remedies too violent for an unruly patient.

The lawless monarch therefore vigorously urged the siege of Rome, alarmed the citizens with assaults and menaces, seduced them with bribes and promises, and by such means won over the people and got possession of the city. The Romans thus deserting his cause, Pope Gregory took refuge in Apulia, and, being received by the Normans with distinguished honours, dwelt there four years and, having given rules of life to the sons of the church, ended his labours. [2] Thereupon the emperor Henry uncanonically intruded into the Lord's fold, Guibert, metropolitan of Ravenna, whom they called Clement; on account of which a long and grievous


[1] The emperor arrived under the walls of Rome with the anti-pope Guibert, a few days before Whitsuntide, 1081. The siege was not interrupted from that period until the city was taken in 1084.

[2] The pope retired from Rome in 1084, and died at Salernum, May 25, 1085, long before the four years of which Ordericus speaks. The anti-pope Guibert continued the struggle long after the death of Gregory VII., maintaining his position at Rome. There is a well known epigraph in which he rallied his rival, Urban II., on the unsuitableness of the name he assumed to his condition as an exile from the city.

Diceris Urbanus, cum sis projectus ab urbe;
Vel muta nomen; vel regrediaris ad urbem.

How can you call yourself Urban when you are banished from the city (ab urbe)? You would do well to change your name if you cannot return to Rome (ad urbem).

354 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.V.

schism throughout the Christian world caused the ruin of numbers of persons by a twofold death. The people of Milan and Mayence, and many others who espoused the party of Guibert, not only excommunicated the friends of Gregory but cruelly rose in arms against them. On the other hand Gregory and his supporters invited the erring partisans of Guibert to return to the unity of the church, and upon their refusing to obey the summons excommunicated them according to ecclesiastical right.

Eudes, count of Sutri, who was nephew of the intruder Guibert, used every exertion, by violent measures and entreaties, to bring over all he could, whether foreigners or natives, to his criminal faction, either tormenting or putting to death those who opposed him, and refused to submit to the unfounded claims of a heretic. [1] The Catholic church, involved in these dark clouds, and full of grief, sent up her prayers to the Lord, the source of true light and of justice, beseeching him to humble and remove out of the way the fomentors of discord, and to restore peace and truth on earth among the men of good-will.

CH. V. The Emperor Alexius Commenus ascends the throne of Constantinople - Expedition of Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemond to the coast of Greece - Durazzo besieged and taken - Robert Guiscard recalled by the affairs of Italy.

AT this time, Greece, the mother of eloquence, was shaken by the storms of war; and, afflicted with grievous calamities, was overwhelmed with grief and alarm. For the Greek Bitinacius, impelled by his overweening ambition and arrogant temper, usurped the government, expelling Michael, the emperor of Constantinople; and, putting out the eyes of his son who ought to have succeeded him on the throne, threw him into a dungeon, imprisoning also the two daughters of Robert Guiscard, one of whom was betrothed


[1] Sutri is an episcopal city belonging to the patrimony of St. Peter. Although its lord joined the party opposed to the pope, and persevered in his hostility to the pontificate of Urban II. as we shall find in the succeeding book, its bishop acted quite differently. That prelate, who was eminent for his piety and learning, was taken prisoner by the emperor in the campaign of 1083.

A.D. 1078-1081.] THE EMPEROR ALEXIUS COMMENUS. 355

to the young prince. The discomfited Michael sought refuge in Italy, humbly imploring the aid of the Normans on behalf of himself and his famIly. The illustrious Duke Guiscard received the imperial exile with due honours, soothed his mistfortunes by attentions and good offices, and readily promised him his powerful aid. Nor did he delay in taking determined measures for accomplishing the revenge he had promised. [1] But such not being the will of God, all his vast preparations ended in vain threats, and it was not permitted him to carry out the designs which he anxiously entertained.

Alexius, the general of the army, had by Michael's order gone into Paphlagonia at the head of the Greek troops to oppose the Turks, who claimed Nice, a city of Bithynia, as a pledge of peace. Having received intelligence of the expulsion of the lawful emperor, and the mad tyranny of the traitorous usurper, he harangued his troops, and demanded of them what was to be done. Alexius was prudent and virtuous, brave, liberal, and a general favourite. He was therefore received with universal acclamations, and the whole army declared itself ready to obey his commands. He therefore exhorted the troops to join unanimously in besieging Byzantium, and manfully wrest it from the reckless usurper of the imperial throne. Constantinople was consequently closely invested for some days; but it was opened to the besiegers by Raimond of Flanders, in concert with the citizens, he being the chief warder of the gates, and having the custody of the place entrusted to him. Alexius took possession of the imperial palace, hurled Bitinacius [2] from the throne, and, causing his long beard to


[1] Nicephorus Botaniates, after having dethroned Michael Parapinaces, made his solemn entry into Constantinople, March 25, 1078. All that Ordericus here says on the cruelties inflicted on prince Constantine, and of the emperor Michael having taken refuge with Robert Guiscard is controverted. It is certain, however, that the marriage of Constantine with his daughter was broken off in consequence of the revolution which had just taken place.

[2] Botaniates. "The life of the emperor Alexius Commenus has been delineated with laudable though partial zeal by his learned daughter Anna Commena". Ordericus, in describing him as engaged in the siege of Nice, has confounded the movement which placed him on the throne with that of Nicephorus Melissens, which, in point of fact, was simultaneous with it, or with that of Botaniates himself which occurred three years before.

356 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.V.

be shaved, threw him into a dungeon, without further injury. Assuming the imperial sceptre and diadem, amidst general rejoicings, he reigned thirty years with firmness and dignity, both in prosperous and adverse circumstances. He was a prince of great sagacity, compassionate to the poor, a brave and magnanimous soldier, affable to his army, to which he made liberal largesses, and a devout observer of the Divine law. At the beginning of his reign, he released from prison the son of Michael, who, as before mentioned, had been deprived of sight, and placed him under the care of the abbot of St. Cyrus. The young prince, whose worldly career was ended, became a monk in that monastery, and spent the rest of his life with the servants of God. Alexius affectionately regarded and kindly treated the daughters of Guiscard, as if they had been his own, and nurtured them for almost twenty years with the utmost indulgence. Their office was, every morning, when the emperor had risen from his bed and was washing his hands, to present him with a towel, and holding an ivory comb, to dress the emperor's beard. Such was the light and easy service assigned to these noble females by a generous prince; and in the course of years they were sent back to Roger, count of Sicily; by the kind offices of their imperial friend. [1]

The changes of the reeling world afford
Proof of the wisdom of the Sacred Word.

"With the same measure that ye mete, it shall be measured to you again". [2] Thus, as Michael had driven his


[1] M. Le Prevost considers the office assigned to these ladies about the person of the emperor as indelicate and improbable. But such light services about the person of the sovereign, partaking of the nature of grand-serjeanty, were considered honourable, and are characteristic of the age. Every one must remember that of loosing the royal sandals after battle, assigned by our great novelist to the baron of Bradwardine, and which he has so humorously travestied. Our author says nothing about the isolation of these ladies at the court of Alexius, as M. Le Prevost appears to intimate. Not only their cousin Constantine Humbertopoule, son of Humbert de Hauteville, who assisted in the emperors elevation, was to he found there, but the crusade drew to Constantinople all the flower of the Norman chivalry. It is questioned whether more than one of the daughters of Robert Guiscard was sent there - the eldest, called by the Greeks Helena, who, after Robert's death, was sent back to his brother Roger.

[2] Luke vi. 38.

A.D. 1081.] THE EMPEROR ALEXIUS COMMENUS. 357

father-in-law from the imperial throne, he himself was hurled from it by Bitinacius, who, in his turn, was dethroned by Alexius.

In concert with the patriarch of the royal city, and the wise men and senators of the Greek state, Alexius resolved that the holy empire should not be restored to Michael, who had sought refuge with the public enemy, [1] and had entrusted himself and his fortunes to the faithless Normans, whose practice it was not to replace their allies in their dominions, but to usurp their states, and to subject to their own rule, and strip of their honours, by a refinement of cruelty, those whom it should have been their duty to liberate, and to aid in the recovery of their lawful authority. Alexius therefore formed a close connection with the English, who, with their chiefs, quitted England after the death of King Harold, and, flying from the face of King William, embarked on the Black Sea, and landed in Thrace. He committed to their custody his principal palace, and the royal treasures, and even made them the guards of his own person and household. [2] From the four quarters of the globe bands of warriors assembled for the prize, which their efforts to deprive him of his life and his throne might secure. But all their efforts were fruitless; for under God's protection he escaped the many plots of his enemies, and living to a good old age associated with himself his son John in the imperial title. [3] Thus it is evident to all judicious observers, that no human power can overthrow and ruin those who have God for their supporter and protector.


[1] Michael, "whose character", as described by Gibbon, "was degraded rather than ennobled by the virtue of a monk and the learning of a sophist", does not appear to have made any further pretensions to the throne; but having been decorated with the title of archbishop of Ephesus, found so much charm in a monastic life and manual labour that he returned to his convent to devote himself to them without interruption.

[2] M. Le Prevost considers that our author has exaggerated the services of the English Varangian guards; we may, however, be permitted to remark, with great respect, that no facts are better authenticated. See the note in vol. i. pp. 9, 10.

[3] John Commenus took possession of the throne on August 15, 1118, rather with the tacit consent of the dying emperor, than by any formal act of association. The opposition of the empress Irene, up to the last moment, to this transmission of the imperial authority is well known.

358 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.V.

While the storms of the revolution of which we have now spoken were raging in Illyricum, and Michael [1] was imploring the aid of the Italians with lamentations and tears, Robert Guiscard assembled a powerful force of Normans and Lombards from all parts of his duchies of Apulia and Calabria, and, having equipped a powerful fleet, entered the port of Otranto. He then sailed with a favourable wind for Durazzo, [2] the citizens of which offering a formidable resistance, towards the end of June he laid siege to the place. His army did not consist of more than ten thousand troops, but he relied more on the valour than on the numbers of his soldiers to strike the enemy with terror, in his invasion of Greece renowned for its warlike character since the times of Adrastus and Agamemnon. Robert Giffard and William de Grantmesnil, [3] with other gallant young soldiers, who had recently arrived from Normandy, took part in this expedition. Mark Bohemond, the son of Guiscard by a Norman lady, seconded his father in his absence, led a division of the army with great prudence, and, exhibiting much discretion in the conduct of affairs, gave promise of his future worth. His brother Robert, surnamed Bursa, remained in Apulia by his father's orders, and took charge of the duchy, the succession of which belonged to him in right of his mother.

The emperor Alexius, roused by the complaints of the


[1] The false Michael, who was only a monk named Rector, the puppet of Robert Guiscard, was paraded by that prince through the whole of Southern Italy. Gregory VII seems to have been really the dupe of this imposture, and recomended the pretended Michael with all his influence to the support of the friends of the church.

[2] On the opposite shore of the Adriatic, near Jannina, the modern capital of Albania. Robert Guiscard sailed from the port of Brundusium about the end of June, 1081, and while he was engaged in the conquest of Corfu detached his brother Bohemond to the continent with fifteen vessels. Both arrived together before Durazzo on July 14, the fleet of Bohemond having been dispersed by a violent storm. The Norman army was reduced to 15,000, not 10,000 men.

[3] Robert Gifford belonged to the family of Giffard of Longueville, being probably brother of Walter Giffard, the second of that name, who was earl of Buckingham, and not a younger son of the family of Tillieres, or Fougeres, according to an erroneous statement of the continuator of William de Jumieges, to be found in Duchesne, Hist. Norm. Script. p. 312. Of William, second son of Hugh de Grantmesnil, there will be many opportunities to speak in the sequel.

A.D. 1081.] BATTLE OF DURAZZO. 359

inhabitants of Durazzo, assembled a powerful army, and prepared to defeat the besiegers of his city in engagements both by sea and land. While, however, the imperial messengers were despatched in every direction, and bands of soldiers were being collected from the islands and adjacent provinces, it happened that one day Mark Bohemond going out to forage at the head of fifty men-at-arms, found himself unexpectedly in face of five hundred light-armed troops, who were in advance of the enemy's army, to carry succours to the besieged. As soon as they perceived each other a sharp encounter ensued, in which the Greeks, not being able to sustain the charge of the Normans gave way and abandoned a considerable booty. In this engagement they left the brazen cross which the emperor Constantine, when he was about to give battle to Maxentius, made in imitation of the cross he had seen in the sky. The Normans, returning from the conflict, spread the greatest joy and hope of victory among their comrades; while the Greeks were in the greatest tribulation and despair at the loss of our Lord's cross, which they strove hard to redeem for very large sum of gold. [1] But Guiscard disdained any such barter, esteeming for Christ's merits the brazen cross more precious than all the gold in the world. He therefore carried it with him through many dangers, and since his death the convent of the Holy Trinity at Venosa reverently preserves it to this day, honouring it with many other relics of the saints.

In the month of October the emperor Alexius approached Durazzo at the head of his legions, composed of different nations. Battle was joined, with great effusion of blood and vast loss on both sides in the severe encounter. At Iength, however, the Almighty had regard to the small, but faithful and resolute, band of the pilgrims from the West, and giving them the victory, terrified and scattered


[1] Alexius began his march for the relief of Durazzo at the end of August, after two successful naval engagements with Bohemond, one by the Venetians, the other by the Greeks, which had not discouraged Robert Guiscard. The emperor did not arrive before the besieged city until October 15, when the skirmish between Bohemond and his advanced guard here related occurred. The Labarum was not lost on this occasion, but at the battle of Durazzo.

360 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.V.

with disgrace the forces of the East, who trusted in their own might. Then Duke Robert, encouraged by so signal a triumph, departed from Durazzo, and, after a long march, wintered his army in Bulgaria; for the country about Durazzo had been so devastated during the three months' siege, that no subsistence was left there either for men or horses. [1]

At this time Duke Robert received envoys from Rome, who were the bearers of apostolical letters, and humbly saluting him, said, "Most valiant duke, Pope Gregory earnestly and suppliantly entreats you, as a father his son, to come to the aid of the apostolical see with your invincible courage, and not to suffer, for the love of God, any excuse whatever to interfere with this succour: for Henry, king of Germany, has laid siege to Rome, and closely invested the pope and the clergy who adhere to him in the castle of Crescens. [2] Shut up in that fortress, with a crowd of the faithful people, he is apprehensive of being betrayed by the defection of the Roman populace, who are greedy and versatile, and of being shamefully delivered into the hands of his enemies. He has therefore sent us to you to demand your speedy assistance in his urgent need. By God's favour your might is established over all your foes, nor can mortal power resist it while you are in arms for the cause of God and are obedient to the vicar of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles".

On receiving this message the mighty lord was deeply troubled, for he had a great desire to hasten to the succour of the venerable pope, worried by fierce lions like Peter in Herod's prison; while he strongly hesitated at leaving his army, which he reckoned to be weak in numbers, among hosts of crafty and cruel enemies, in a foreign land, without a leader, like sheep among wolves. At length, having


[1] The battle was fought on October 18, three days after the arrival of Alexius. Robert distributed his troops in winter quarters in the territory of the besieged city, particularly at Glabinniza and Jannina. Durazzo surrendered on February 18.

[2] Originally the tomb of Adrian, converted into a fortress in the middle ages, and now called the Castle of St. Angelo. The pope did not shut himself up in it until 1083. The emperor broke up his army from their winter quarters at Ravenna in the spring of 1082, and again sat down before Rome with a powerful force; but the siege made little progress.

1081-1082.] ROBERT GUISCARD RECALLED TO ITALY. 361

mentally raised his eyes to the Lord, from whom all good proceeds, he assembled his troops with his son Bohemond and thus addressed them: "It is our duty to obey God who speaks to us by the common pastor of the catholic church. [1] By his help I shall comply with the pope's injunctions, endeavouring to return to you as quickly as I can. Meanwhile remain quiet in this province, and be very circumspect, surrounded as you are by enemies on every side. If any one should venture to give you battle, in God's name make a stout resistance. Take care however not to commence hostilities, nor to give the enemy an opportunity of fighting, nor provoke the natives until I shall return. I will undertake the service enjoined me by the Lord, and if life is spared will soon be with you. I swear by the soul of Tancred my father, and give you my solemn oath, that until I return to you I will neither use the bath, nor have my beard shaved, or my hair cut".

After this speech the brave warrior set sail with a small number of companions in arms, and by God's guidance landed in Apulia, from whence, having assembled troops, he marched to Rome. Meanwhile the Emperor Henry, having received a true report of the victory which Duke Robert had gained over the emperor of Constantinople, and learning that he was unexpectedly hurrying, with the speed of lightning; to the pope's assistance, and taking these various circumstances into mature consideration, he became greatly alarmed, and having concluded a peace with certain of the Roman nobles, and obtained possession of some part of the city, he withdrew to the western provinces of his empire. For he chose rather to take his departure freely in honour and safety, than to wait for the arrival of his furious adversary, and involve himself in a whirlwind of war for which he was unprepared.


[1] Notwithstanding all the fine words which our author has put into the mouth of Robert Guiscard, his ardent zeal for the defence of the church and its head, did not prevent his directing his first efforts exclusively to the safety of his own states, which were threatened by local revolts and the hostile demonstrations of the emperor. It was not until 1084, after Rome was taken by the emperor, and the close investment of the castle of St. Angelo that be determined, at the earnest entreaty of the pope, to march to his aid.

362 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VII.

CH. VI. Death of Robert de Grantmesnil, at first abbot of St. Evroult, and afterwards of St. Euphemia.

WHILE the world was agitated by these severe commotions, and wars were raging in every quarter, so that the kingdoms of the world reeled like a ship tossed by the waves, the venerable Robert, abbot of St. Euphemia, after his return from the battle at Durazzo, fell sick, it is said of poison taken in his food, on the eleventh of the calends of December [21st November]. [1] It appears that a certain Saracen was employed as a baker in the convent at Brescia. This man had married the sister of the prior William, son of Ingram, and for some unknown and trifling cause, nurtured a secret hatred of the abbot. In consequence, at the instigation of the devil, he mixed poison with his food, following the example of his father Ishmael, who, by a criminal artifice, endeavoured to delude the unsuspecting Isaac. The man of God languished for thirteen days, surrounded by the weeping monks, and having made his confession and received the holy communion, expired on the second of the ides [12th] of December. He was interred in the church of St. Mary, Mother of God, which he himself had built from the foundations, and the anniversary of his death was appointed to be reverently kept every year to his memory. This is willingly done by the monks whom he carefully brought up in the house of God, as a father does his children. It is also the custom to distribute liberal alms to the poor on that day, on behalf of their deceased pastor.

CH. VII. Restoration of Gregory VII and the sack of Rome by Robert Guiscard - Battle of Durazzo - Death of Bohemond - And of Robert Guiscard.

AT the approach of Guiscard, the proud Romans gathered in great indignation that the capital of the world should be exposed to the attack of foreign assailants. Encouraging themselves therefore with mutual exhortations, they flew to arms, and marched out to meet the enemy. But they were


[1] Robert de Grantmesnil was at first abbot of St. Evroult, and afterwards of St. Euphemia. See vol. 1. pp. 422, 438. Our author continues in this paragraph his former error of placing the latter in the neighbourhood of Brescia. Robert died on November 21, probably in the year 1082.

A.D. 1084.] GUISCARD SACKS ROME. 363

instantly repulsed by a charge of the veteran and disciplined Norman troops, who entered the city mingled with the retreating citizens, and by order of their furious duke, set flames to the houses. [1] Guiscard thus forced an entrance into Rome by fire and sword; nor did any of the citizens afterwards venture to mutter a word against him. As he drew near to the castle of Crescens, the pope with his clergy came out to meet him, and returned him thanks for the toil he had undergone in coming to his aid, absolved him from his sins as a reward for his obedience, and implored for him the eternal benediction of Almighty God.

After a conference had taken place between these illustrious men, and the pope had given an account of his vexations, the incensed duke gave vent to his anger in threatening language to this effect: "The citizens of Rome are worthless traitors; they are, and always will be, ungrateful to God and his saints for the innumerable benefits conferred upon them. Rome, which was formerly called the capital of the world, and the fountain of health for sinful souls, is now become the habitation of dragons and the foul pit of all iniquity. I shall therefore destroy this den of thieves with the sword or with fire, and root out its vile and impious inhabitants. The persecution of their bishops, of which the Jews set them the example, the Romans have obstinately persisted in accomplishing. As the Jews crucified Christ, have not the Romans crucified his members? Did they not martyr Peter and Paul? Need I speak of Linus and Cletus, Clemens and Alexander, Seitus and Telesphorus, Calixtus and Urban, Cornelius and Fabian? All these laboured, as bishops, for the cure of the diseased souls of their flock, and were cruelly butchered by their


[1] Robert Guiscard disgraced his entry into the capital of the Christian world by the most fearful devastations of a city which had preserved till that time the greatest part of the monuments of its ancient splendour. The Romans did not march out to encounter him, but contented themselves with manning the walls. Towards evening he forced an entry by the Flaminian gate. His occupation of the city only lasted three days, during which it was abandoned to pillage, fire, and rape. To excuse the Normans, the main barbarities are attributed to the Saracens, of whom, it is said, there were great numbers in the army. The pope, restored to the palace of the Lateran, had great difficulty in preventing the destruction of some of the churches.

364 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VII

fellow citizens whom they strove to save. Shall I mention Sebastian, pierced by them with arrows in a sewer and hung in chains? [1] What shall I say of Lawrence, who was placed on a gridiron over burning coals and broiled like a fish? What of Hippolytus, bound to wild horses and torn asunder? What of Hermes, Tiburtius, Zeno, Valentine, and other saints whose numbers are beyond the power of memory to recount? It is commonly reported, and affirmed by the assertions of many persons, that entire Rome reeks with the precious blood of martyrs, and unnumbered bodies of the saints lie concealed in the Roman catacombs. The same ferocity which formerly actuated the pagans, now animates the fury of pseudo-Christians, who inflamed with covetousness ally themselves with the excommunicated, and lend their aid to senseless heretics against the catholic church. They merit not that any pity should be extended to them. I will punish the impious with the avenging sword; I will give the bloody city to the flames; and, by God's help, I will restore it to a better condition, and fill it with inhabitants from the Transalpine nations".

Then the pope threw hmself at the duke's feet, [2] and bathed in tears, exclaimed, "Far be it from me that Rome should be destroyed on my account! I was not elected its pastor for the destruction of the city, but for the salvation of the people. I would rather follow the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ to death than cruelly avenge my injuries by the punishment of sinners. They are the enemies of our Creator who despise his statutes, maliciously trouble the order of the church, and scatter the Lord's flock like ravening wolves. The injury and the vengeance are alike his, the service and the reward. He knows his faithful servants, and abhors his furious enemies. I therefore commit myself and my concerns to his Almighty disposal, and implore him with a full heart to cut off with the sword of discipline all that is opposed to his holy law, and to guide me according to his good pleasure".


[1] Gumfo, which signifies a chain, is a word used in the Acts of St. Sebastian.

[2] Pope Hildebrand was not in the habit of throwing himself at the feet of any man. Robert himself did so the first time he met the pope, at Aquino, in the month of June, 1080.

A.D. 1084.] BATTLE OF LARISSA. 365

In this manner the pope calmed the incensed duke, and, having prevailed with him to accept his counsel, came forth from the tower of Crescens, and, followed by his clergy, and attended by the duke and a strong band of troops, repaired to Albano. [1] That city was founded by Ascanius Julius, the son of AEneas, and was given by the emperor Constantine to Pope Silvester; thereupon, the duke having received the apostolical benediction, marched in haste to the coast, and crossing the sea without delay, rejoined his army as he had sworn.

Meanwhile, the crafty Greek emperor, when he learnt that Robert was gone to Italy, thought that it would be in his power to reduce the power of the Normans while their leader was absent: he therefore, collecting a large body of troops, marched against them, and compelled them to fight a battle which they would have willingly avoided. In the beginning of the conflict, the Normans betrayed some weakness, and at the first onset being under alarm on many accounts were nearly worsted; for disheartened by their inferiority of numbers, and the absence of their successful leader, they had scarcely commenced the battle, when they began to think of flight. While, however, Bohemond and his troops were in this state of hesitation and dismay, and in his anxiety he fervently called upon God, he suddenly experienced the divine aid, and a voice from heaven sounded in his ears: "Bohemond, why do you shrink from the conflict? Fight it out bravely; for he who was your father's support will be yours also, if you trust in him and faithfully maintain his cause". The courage of the Normans was restored by these words, and pressing onwards they charged the Greeks with energy, so that they were repulsed by this sudden attack, and taking to flight, left an immense booty to the foreigners, who were in great need of supplies. [2]


[1] The duke did not conduct the pope to Albano, having left him at the palace of the Lateran. He did not depart himself for Illyria till the month of September. Gregory VII. did indeed sojourn at Albano, but it was in the year 1074, when he was on his way to Monte Cassino aad Capua. He arrived at Monte Cassino in the month of August, and did not leave Capua on his return to Rome till the middle of November.

[2] Several statements in this paragraph are contrary to the facts. Bohemond, who was victorious at Jannina, and afterwards at Arta, ended by being nearly beaten at the battle of Larissa, and was obliged to cross into Italy in consequence of the mutiny of his troops.

366 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VII.

On his return from Tuscany, Guiscard found his troops highly rejoicing at their success, and he also exulting at so signal a triumph returned thanks to God. Bohemond, who had been wounded in the battle, was sent for his cure to the surgeons of Salerno, whose reputation for skill in medicine was established throughout the world. [1]

Meanwhile, the citizens of Durazzo, taking into account that the Normans had penetrated far into Bulgaria, and had detached by force of arms several provinces from the Byzantine empire, as well as that they were entirely cut off from receiving succours from the Thracians, Macedonians, and all their neighbours, began to lose their confidence, and consulted among themselves how they might best escape from their difficult position. At length, the most resolute among them determined on their course; they secretly despatched a messenger to the duke, asking for peace, and faithfully promising to deliver up the defence of the city to his troops. The duke granted their demands, and detached three hundred soldiers to take possession of the place. The Normans arriving before it at night, were admitted within the walls, and having established themselves securely, peace was made between them and the citizens. [2]

Sichelgade, wife of Robert Guiscard, was daughter of Gaimard duke of Salerno, [3] and sister of Gisulf who was deprived of his duchy by the ambitious usurpation of his brother-in-law. [4] This princess conceived a violent hatred of Bohemond her step-son, apprehending that as he was much braver and superior in sense and worth, her son Roger would forfeit in his favour the duchy of Apulia and Calabria to which he was heir. In consequence, she prepared a deadly potion and sent it to the physicians of Salerno, among whom she had been brought up and by whom she had been


[1] It was towards the close of the year 1084, after a naval victory over the Greeks and Venetians, that Bohemond was compelled to seek medical assistance in Italy.

[2] Durazzo capitulated as early as February 18, 1082.

[3] Gaimard IV., prince of Salerno, 1027-1052.

[4] Gisulf II., youngest son of Gaimard IV., 1052-1077. This prince appears to have retained the sovereignty of Amalfi as long as the year 1088, and not to have died till 1092.

A.D. 1084-1085.] BOHEMOND POISONED. 367

instructed in the use of poisons. The physicians lent themselves to the wishes of their lady and scholar, and gave the deadly poison to Bohemond whom it was their duty to heal. Having taken it, he was reduced to death's door, and instantly despatched a messenger to his father informing him of his danger. The shrewd duke became immediately aware of his wife's treachery, and calling her to him in great distress thus interrogated her. "Is my lord Bohemond still alive"? To which she replied: "I know not, my lord". Upon which he said: "Bring me a copy of the holy gospels and a sword". On their being brought, he took the sword and swore as follows upon the sacred writings: "Listen to me, Sichelgade, I swear by this holy gospel that if my son Bohemond dies of the malady under which he labours, I will plunge this sword into your bosom". Alarmed at this menace, she prepared a sure antidote and forthwith sent a messenger with it to the physicians at Salerno who had been her instruments for poisoning Bohemond, urging them with prayers and promises to extricate her from the peril to which she was exposed. The physicians learning that the treachery was detected and the embarrassment of their lady, prayed that the duke's terrible threats might not be put in execution, and used every effort which their skill in the art of medicine suggested to restore the young prince to health. Through God's blessing, who designed him for the scourge of the Turks and Saracens, the enemies of the faith, Bohemond recovered; but such had been the virulence of the poison that his countenance was pallid all the rest of his lie.

Meanwhile, the treacherous and wily woman reflected within herself, in a state of great alarm, that if her messenger should meet with any delay in crossing the sea, and the sick prince should die before he arrived, there would be no escaping the death which her husband had sworn to inflict on her. She therefore devised another murderous and execrable scheme. Sad to say, she gave poison to her husband. And as soon as he began to sicken, having no doubt of the inevitable result, she assembled her attendants and the rest of the Lombards in the middle of the night, and hurrying to the sea shore embarked with her partisans in the swiftest ships, burning the rest that she might not be

368 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VII.

pursued by the Normans. Having reached the coast of Apulia, one of the knights who attended her landed privately and hastening to Salerno by night suddenly appeared before Bohemond, saying: "Rise quickly and fly and save yourself". On his inquiring the reason, the bearer of the tidings replied: "Your father has perished, and your mother has landed in Apulia. She is hurrying here to seek your death". Bohemond, on hearing this alarming intelligence, was greatly agitated, and mounting an ass, clandestinely withdrew from the city and fled to Jordan, prince of Capua, his cousin, [1] by whom he was kindly received, and thus escaped from the machinations and threats of his stepmother. She was much mortified on arriving at Salerno, that she had been outwitted by the object of her persecutions. Her son Roger, surnamed Crumena, secured the succession to the rich duchy of his ancestors lying on this side of the sea. [2]

The Normans who found themselves in a foreign country with their great and brave leader in the utmost peril from a woman's wiles were overwhelmed with anxieties. They felt also that the strength of their army was diminished by the defection of the Lombards who had secretly departed in attendance on their mistress, and that they could not return to Italy without great difficulty and delay, as their ships were burnt. The noble duke therefore summoned to his side Robert count de Loritello, [3] and Geoffrey de Conversana, his nephews, Hugh Le Borgne of Clermont, [4] and William de Grantmesnil, with Hugh the good marquis, [5] his brother- in-law, and others his kinsmen and chief counsellors, and inquired of them what they proposed to do. But as they all whispered together and were unable to propose any certain plan, he thus addressed them: "The divine vengeance


[1] Jordan, prince of Capua, April 5, 1078-December 19 or 20, 1091; he was cousin-german of Bohemond by his mother Fredeline, sister of Robert Guiscard.

[2] The only truth in this paragraph is the death of Robert Guiscard, which took place July 17, 1085, in the island of Cephalonia (where Bohemond and Sichelgade went to receive his last breath), and the favouritism shown to Roger in the division of his territories.

[3] See vol. i. p. 453.

[4] Hugh, the first of that name, count de Clermont in the Beanvoisis, was then living, but does not appear to be the person here spoken of.

[5] Odo, the good marquis, was father of the celebrated Tancred.

A.D. 1085.] LAST SPEECH OF ROBERT GUISCARD. 369

scourges us for our sins, and punishes us for our ambition. The Lord justly chastises his servants and plainly teaches us that worldly glory is not to be coveted. Let us give him thanks for all the favours which he has vouchsafed to confer upon us, and implore him with our whole hearts that he will always show mercy to us. We were sprung from poor and obscure parents, and leaving the barren fields of the Cotentin and homes ill supplied with the means of existence, we set out for Rome, and it was not without great difficulty and much alarm that we passed beyond that place. Afterwards, by God's aid, we got possession of many great cities. But we ought to attribute our success not to our own valour or merits, but to divine Providence. Now at length, for the sins of the natives, we have wrested from the empire of Constantinople as much country as it has taken us fifteen days to penetrate. You know well, that I was invited to undertake the protection of the emperor Michael who was unjustly driven from his throne by his subjects, my daughter having been lawfully betrothed to his son. I had determined, if it pleased God, that Constantinople, which is in possession of an unwarlike people abandoned to pleasure and lasciviousness, should be subjugated to Catholic warriors, who would deliver Jerusalem, God's holy city, from the Turks, and expelling the infidels by their victorious arms enlarge the bounds of Christendom. It was for this purpose that I undertook so vast an enterprise, so perilous a conflict. The mysterious will of Almighty God has otherwise ordered. David formed the design of building the temple at Jerusalem to God's honour, but God decreed that this should be accomplished with great triumph by his son Solomon. So I conceive that my enterprise will be completed in future years, and the fruit of my labours will one day appear, and they will be profitably cited to posterity as an incitement to the like virtues. Receive then, brave men, prudent counsel, and do not lose your former courage which I have often proved in difficulties and dangers. I am but a single warrior, and mortal, as others; but ye are many, and by the goodness of God in the possession of many advantages. You have performed great actions which are published far and near; ancient history affords no examples of greater achievements wrought by a small number of obscure men, than those

370 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VII.

which, by God's help, you have accomplished. Choose among yourselves the bravest and wisest of your number, and appoint him your leader. Do not evacuate this rich country which you have made your own by such exertions and in so short a time. My son Bohemond, if life and health are spared him, will soon fly to your succour".

The duke having said this and more to the same purpose, Peter, a Frenchman, and others his friends, after keenly canvassing the duke's proposals, thus replied; "There is much danger and great difficulty in the injunctions you lay on us. Our enemies are countless, while we are few in number, and we have opposed to us a powerful and sagacious emperor, to whom at your instance we have often given grave offence. We are unable to resist his prowess and wide-spread power, for his rule extends over many kingdoms and nations. Would to God we could return in peace and safety to the homes from which we departed".

The duke groaned deeply on hearing these sentiments, and began calling upon God, with tears, and lamenting his son with bitter grief: "Alas! what sorrows surround me in my misfortunes! In times past I have done much injury, and many of my actions have been unjust; now the punishments which I deserved long since have accumulated upon me. Most High God, spare me! merciful God, have pity upon me a sinner! Almighty God, succour thy people whom I have led hither! O my son Bohemond, the equal of Epaminondas the Theban in valour and wisdom, where shall I find thee? Bohemond, thou noble warrior, who may be compared in arms to the Thessalian Achilles or Roland the Frank, do you yet live, or are you detained for your destruction? What has happened to thee? What has become of your proved courage? If you were in health as I left you when I parted for Italy, you would quickly be here and take possession of this rich region of Bulgaria conquered by our arms. For I feel assured that, if you live, such is your resolution that if divine providence allowed you to be present at my death, you would by God's help never cede the rights I have gained by arms. Courage, my valiant comrades! consider carefully among yourselves, and weigh well that you are far away from your own homes. Recollect what great deeds the Normans have wrought, and how often our fathers have

A.D. 1085.] ROBERT GUISCARD'S DEATH. 371

resisted the French, the Bretons, and the people of Maine, and bravely conquered them. Recall to your minds the great exploits you have performed, with me for your leader, in Italy and Sicily, when you reduced Salerno and Bari, Brundisium and Tarento, Bismano [1] and Reggio, Syracuse and Palermo, Cosenza and Castro-Giovanni, and many other cities and towns. By God's assistance, you subdued under my command Gisulf duke of Salerno, Waszo, count of Naples, [2] and many other powerful princes. Strive therefore not to lower your position by the loss of your former magnanimity. Choose one of yourselves, as I said before, by mutual agreement, and retain with honour the fertile provinces which you have now gained".

Of all those who were present at this council, no one dared to assume the command, all preferring to provide for their safety by flight. At length, in the year of our Lord 1085, Robert Guiscard, the illustrious duke of Apulia, a man whose equal can scarcely be found in our times, having confessed and been absolved from his sins, and fortified by receiving the holy communion, as the hour of death approached, was taken from the world, not struck down by a warrior's arm, but infected by a woman's crime as at first Adam was driven out of paradise, not the victim of war but of poison. As soon as he was dead, the Normans preserved his body in salt, and demanded permission to depart in peace to their own country. Though the emperor rejoiced at being freed from his formidable enemy, yet he wept with much feeling over the deceased duke who had never turned back in battle. [3]


[1] Bismanus, Bismantus, Bismantum, Bismantoa, a village and mountain in the Modenese, in the neighbourhood of Reggio, which our author transposes into Calabria, misled, probably, by both having a town with the common name of Reggio. Bismano is now called Pictra Bismantova, and is a mountain which bounds on the north-west the valley of the Seechia, between that river and the village of Castelnuovo ne' Monte, to the south-west of Carpineti, about eighteen miles from Reggio, and twenty-two from Modena.

[2] It is not known with certainty of whom our author speaks. Sergius VI. was prince of Naples when Richard, prince of Capua, made a fruitless siege of it in 1077-1078; but it does not appear that Robert Guiscard, who was then engaged in the siege of Beneventum, took any active part in that of Naples.

[3] The tears of Alexius Commenus, on hearing of the death of his most formidable enemy, do him honour. Durazzo was speedily restored to his dominion, either retaken by the Venetians or by Bodin, king of Servia. A remnant of the Normans in the isle of Cephalonia entered his service, among whom was Peter d'Aulps, the founder of the powerful Byzantine house of the Petraliphes, and who is supposed to be one of the ancestors of the family of Blacas, of which there will be occasion to speak in the next book.

372 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VIII.

He therefore gave his willing consent to those who desired it, that all his household might return to Italy with the corpse of their prince, while he offered high pay to others who were willing to remain and enter his service. Thus those who had vigorously attacked the Byzantine monarch afterwards faithfully served him. The rest, returning to Apulia, carried the body of Guiscard to Venosa, [1] and there buried it with great lamentations in the monastery of the Holy Trinity. That convent was presided over by the venerable abbot Berenger, the son of Arnold, the son of Helgo; he had been brought up by the pious abbot Theodoric at St. Evroult, and abbot Robert had brought him in his company from thence to Calabria. [2] Pope Alexander [3] consecrated him abbot of the monastery of Venosa, and some years afterwards, for his virtuous life and sound doctrine he was promoted by pope Urban to the bishopric of that city.

CH. VIII. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, takes measures for succeeding Hildebrand in the papacy - He is arrested by King William for abusing his authority, and imprisoned at Rouen.

WHILE the storms which we have just described were agitating the world, certain sorcerers at Rome applied their art to discover who would succeed Hildebrand in the papacy, [4] and found that after the death of Gregory, [5] a prelate


[1] Some disasters were experienced in fulfilling Robert Guiscard's directions that his body should be interred at Venosa. The ship which was freighted with the corpse encountered a violent storm off Otranto, and the coffin was washed overboard. It was, indeed, recovered, but notwithstanding the rude embalmment mentioned by our author, the body was in such a state of decomposition that it was necessary to deposit the heart and entrails at Otranto. William of Malmesbury has preserved Robert Guiscard's epitaph. See his account of this celebrated Norman chief, b, iii, p. 294-296.- Bohn's Antiq. Lib.

[2] See vol. i. p. 439.

[3] Alexander II., Sept. 30, 1061-April 21, 1073.

[4] Urban II., March 12, 1088-July 29, 1099.

[5] Gregory VII., April 22, 1073-May 25, 1085. The last words of this pope, pronounced at the point of death, are well known: "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile". But the magnificent reply of one of the prelates who attended him is not so commonly known: "You, my lord, cannot die in exile, for as the vicar of Christ and his apostles, you have received the nations for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession".

A.D. 1082.] BISHOP ODO ASPIRES TO THE PAPACY. 373

of the name of Odo would be pope of Rome. When Odo, bishop of Bayeux, who, under his brother King William had the chief rule over the Normans and English, heard this, he made light of the authority and wealth which the government of a western kingdom conferred, and aspired to the papal power which would give him wider sway and raise him above all earthly princes. He therefore despatched his emissaries to Rome, where he purchased a palace, and conciliating the senators by magnificent gifts, he ornamented his residence with lavish expense and costly superfluities. Attaching to his person Hugh, earl of Chester, and a goodly company of distinguished knights, he engaged them to attend him to Italy, by prodigal promises added to his entreaties. The Normans are ever given to change and desirous of visiting foreign lands, and they therefore readily joined themselves to the aspiring prelate whose ambition was not satisfied by the dominion of England and Normandy. In consequence they resolved on abandoning the vast estates which they possessed in the west of Europe, and pledged themselves to attend the bishop beyond the Po. [1]


[1] M. Le Prevost remarks that, notwithstanding the vanity and ambition of Odo were equal to his avarice, there is difficulty in believing that the bishop ever seriously contemplated obtaining the papacy, or even fixing his residence near a pontiff of such rigid morals and resolute character as Gregory VII., in the midst also of all the difficulties and dangers which arose out of the contest between the chief of the church and the emperor, seconded by the anti-pope Guibert, which was then at its highest pitch of violence. Our brother editor conjectures that Odo, ill-informed of the obstacles which these two personages raised to free communication with the legitimate pope, only proposed to exhibit his pomp at the council convoked for the autumn of the following year. It is, however, scarcely to be supposed that the bishop of Bayeux would have taken the steps related by our author for a merely temporary purpose. History is not without an example of English wealth spent for a more chimerical purpose in the case of Richard's (earl of Cornwall) ambition for the empty title of king of the Romans. Wolsey, too, whose character in many respects was singularly identical with that of Odo, made pretensions to the papacy. On the whole we are led to conclude that the bishop's real intentions had transpired, and that our historian's statements are at least founded on what he thought credible authority. The accurate Malmesbury says that Odo, "by stuffing the scrips of the pilgrims with letters and money, had nearly purchased the Roman papacy from the citizens".- B. iii. p. 307, Bohn's Antiq. Lib.

374 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.VIII.

The wise king William speedily heard of these preparations, but the scheme did not meet his approbation, for he considered that it was fraught with injury to his own kingdom as well as to others. He therefore lost no time in crossing the sea, and at the isle of Wight presented himself unexpectedly to bishop Odo, when he was on the point of sailing for Normandy with a pompous retinue. Having assembled the great nobles of the realm in his royal court, the king thus addressed them:-

"Illustrious lords, listen attentively to what I shall say, and give me, I pray you, salutary counsel. Before I went over to Normandy, I entrusted the government of England to my brother the bishop of Bayeux. There were in Normandy many who revolted against my authority, and, if I may so say, both friends and foes set themselves against me. Even my own son Robert, and the young nobles whom I had brought up and invested with the ensigns of knighthood rebelled against me, while some traitorous vassals and my border foes eagerly joined the ranks of the malcontents. But by God's help, whose servant I am, they failed of success, and got nothing from me but the sword which pierced them with wounds. By the terror of my arms I restrained the people of Anjou, who were leagued for war against me, and I also curbed the rebellious inhabitants of Maine. Thus occupied, I found myself embarrassed by affairs beyond sea, and was long detained labouring earnestly for the public good. Meanwhile, my brother grievously oppressed the English, robbing the churches of their lands and revenues, and stripping them of the ornaments with which our forefathers enriched them; while he seduced my knights, whose duty it was to defend England against the Danes and Irish, and other enemies who threatened hostilities, and has made preparations, in contempt of me, for transporting them into foreign regions beyond the Alps. My heart is overwhelmed with grief, especially on account of the injury he has done to the churches of God. The Christian kings who reigned before me were devoted to the church, on which they heaped

A.D. 1082.] BISHOP ODO ARRESTED. 375

honours and gifts of every kind, and hence, as we believe, they now repose in the seats of bliss, rejoicing in their glorious rewards. Ethelbert, Edwin and St. Oswald, Ethelwulfa and Alfred, Edward the elder and Edgar, with Edward my cousin and most dear lord, richly endowed our holy church, which is the spouse of Christ. And now, my brother, to whom I entrusted the care of my entire kingdom, has laid violent hands on her substance, has cruelly oppressed the poor, has seduced my knights on frivolous pretences, and has spread disorder through the whole of England by his unjust exactions. Consider then prudently what is to be done, and let me know, I pray you, what you advise".

All the council, however, being restrained by fear of the powerful prelate, and hesitating to make a decision against him, the stout-hearted king said: "A dangerous ambition must always be curbed, and an individual must not be spared, for favour or affection, to the public detriment. Let this man therefore who disturbs the state be arrested, and closely confined, that he may not do further mischief". No one however daring to lay hands on a bishop, the king was the first to seize him, upon which Odo cried out, "I am a clerk, and the Lord's minister; it is not lawful to condemn a bishop without the judgment of the pope". To which the prudent king replied: "I do not condemn a clerk or a bishop, but I arrest an earl I have myself created, [1] and to whom, as my vicegerent, I entrusted the government of my realm, it being my will that he should render an account of the stewardship I have committed to him".

In this manner the royal authority was exerted to arrest the bishop, who was conducted to Normandy, and being imprisoned in the castle of Rouen, was kept there in close custody four years, that is, as long as the king lived. [2] The chief disturber of the peace being thus laid low, the knights returned to their duty, and, by the king's wisdom, his throne was fortified against all attacks from within or without. In this prelate we see clearly exemplified what Fulgentius


[1] William had created his brother earl of Kent.

[2] The Saxon Chronicle, followed by Roger de Hoveden and others, places the arrest of Bishop Odo in the year 1087 (in the autumn), consequently his captivity must have continued for five, or nearly five, years.

376 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.IX.

says, in his book on Mythology: [1] "The man who makes pretensions to which he is not entitled, will sink lower than he is". The bishopric of Bayeux, and the rich earldom of Kent, and the exercise of royal power in common with his own through England and Normandy, was not enough for one clerk, who aspired to the government of the whole world, moved neither by Divine inspiration nor a canonical election, but by the impulses of his own insatiable ambition. He lost therefore what he already possessed, was left to pine in captivity, and has left a warning to posterity not to be too eager in the pursuit of honours.

CH. IX. Death of Queen Matilda - Her epitaph - She is buried in the abbey of the Holy Trinity, at Caen - Succession of the abbesses.

AT this time, the seventh indiction, Matilda, queen of England, fell sick, and, her illness being prolonged and becoming serious, she confessed her sins with bitter tears, and having duly performed all the offices which the Christian profession requires, and been fortified by the life-giving sacrament, she died on the third of the nones [the 3rd] of November. [2] Her body was carried to the convent of the Holy Trinity, which she had founded at Caen for nuns, and interred with great respect by many bishops and abbots, between the choir and the altar. The monks and clergy celebrated her obsequies with a great concourse of the poor, to whom she had been a generous benefactress, in the name of Christ. A tomb was erected to her memory, admirably ornamented With gold and jewels, and the following epitaph was elegantly engraved on it in letters of gold

This stately monument Matilda's name
In gold and marble gives to endless fame.
High was her birth, sprung from a royal race,
To which her virtues lent a nobler grace.
Her fair Adele to Flemish Baldwin bore,
The crown of France whose sire and brother wore.


[1] Planciates Fulgentius, supposed to have been bishop of Carthage in the sixth century. His work on mythology in three books, addressed to a priest named Catus, has been printed at Augsburg in 1507, at Bale in 1543, and at Geneva in 1599.

[2] Queen Matilda died on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1083.

A.D. 1083.] QUEEN MATILDA'S EPITAPH. 377

When conquering William made her England's queen,
'Twas here her noblest, holiest work was seen,
This fane, this house, where cloistered sisters dwell,
And with their notes of praise the anthem swell,
Endowed and beautified, her earnest care.
Nor others failed her liberal alms to share;
The sick, the indigent partook her store,
She laid up wealth by giving to the poor.
To heaven by pious deeds she won the way,
Departing on November's second day. [1]

The Abbess Matilda carefully governed the convent at Caen, dedicated to the holy and undivided Trinity, for forty-seven years, ably educating and instructing in the service of God, according to the monastic rule, Cecilia, the king's daughter, and many other noble ladies. [2] On her death, she was succeeded by the illustrious Cecilia, who filled the office of mother of the nuns for several years, in the time of her brother, King Henry. After her, the daughter of Count William, who was son of Stephen of Blois, undertook the government of the convent, but she held it only for a short time, being cut off by a premature death.

CH. X. Disturbances in Maine - Protracted siege by King William's troops of the castle of Sainte Suzanne.

AFTER the death of the glorious Queen Matilda, King William, who survived her almost four years, was deeply involved in severe troubles, which closed around him like stormy clouds. First, some of his subjects in Maine, a people of naturally unsettled temper, and ever ready to


[1] The slab of black marble on which this epitaph was engraved is still in existence. After the tomb was first demolished by the protestants in 1562, and a second time by the revolutionists in 1793, when it was placed in a lateral chapel of the church of St. Stephen, it was brought back to the choir of the convent of nuns, and a third tomb was erected for the royal foundress by the care of M. le Comte de Montlivault in 1819. The original epitaph which it bears, presents very few changes in orthography from the copy our author gives of it.

[2] The administration of the Abbess Matilda appears, by an authentic document, to have lasted fifty-four years, and not forty-seven only, as our author states. She died July 6, 1120, and the princess Cecilia, who succeeded her, July 13, 1127. Isabelle, or Elizabeth, whose government lasted only one year, was the eldest daughter of Stephen, count de Blois, and consequently great niece of Cecilia.

378 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.X.

disturb the peace of others, and disquiet themselves by their love of change, flew to arms against the king, and occasioned great expenditure and damage in their own state, as well as to many others. Hubert, the viscount, son-in-law of William, Comte de Nevers, [1] gave umbrage to the king at first on some trivial occasions, but his delinquencies afterwards increasing, he retired from his castles of Beaumont and Fresnai, [2] and established himself, as a public enemy, with his wife and all his followers, at the castle of St. Suzanne. [3] The fortress in which he took refuge stands on a high rock above the river Erve, on the borders of Maine and Anjou. He assembled there a band of soldiers, and lost no time in inflicting loss on the Normans, who were employed in guarding the country of Maine, and keeping them in constant alarm. The viscount was a man of illustrious lineage, distinguished for his talent and conduct, and full of courage and enterprising boldness, qualities which established his reputation far and wide. The garrisons of the city of Mans, and the neighbouring castles, were kept in constant alarm by Hubert's incursions, in consequence of which they laid their complaints before King William, and implored his aid.

Upon this the king assembled troops in Normandy without delay, and, summoning such of the people of Maine as were friendly to him, entered the enemy's country with a powerful force. He did not however venture to lay siege to the castle of S. Suzanne, it being rendered impregnable by its position on rocks, and the dense thickets of vineyards which surrounded it, nor could he closely confine the enemy within the fortress as he desired, as he was strong enough to command supplies, and was master of the communications. The king therefore constructed a fortified camp in the valley of Bonjen, [4] and placed in it a strong body of troops to


[1] Hubert de St. Suzanne, viscount of Maine, married, Dec. 6, 1067, Ermengarde, daughter of William I., count de Nevers.

[2] Beaumonte-le-Vicomte, and Fresnai-sur-Sarte.

[3] St. Suzanne, on the river Erve, in the arrondissement of Laval. This place consisted of a castle with a detached keep, and a walled town about 1000 feet in circumference.

[4] The remains of this fortification may still be traced. It was divided into two enclosures separated by a ditch, each being about eighty feet long by forty wide. The walls appear to have been about six feet high, and the trenches four feet broad.

A.D. 1083-1035.] SIEGE OF SAINTE SUZANNE. 379

check the enemy's incursions, being obliged to return into Normandy himself on weighty affairs. The royal troops, under the command of Alan-the-Red, count of Brittany, [1] made a brilliant display of wealth, feasting, and military array, but the garrison of the castle was superior in valour and numbers. For knights of established fame hastened to Hubert's standard from Aquitain, Burgundy, and other provinces of France, anxious for an opportunity of rendering him earnest aid and displaying their own intrepidity. Hence it happened that the castle of S. Suzanne was supplied at the expense of those who were encamped at Bonjen, and their means of resistance were continually increased. Many wealthy nobles of Normandy and England were taken prisoners, and their ransoms honourably enriched the viscount, and Robert of Burgundy, whose niece he had married, with his other comrades. In this manner Hubert resisted the Normans for three years, and, growing rich by his enemies' wealth, foiled all their assaults. In this war, Robert de Vieux-Pont, Robert d'Ussi, and other gallant Norman knights were slain. On the fourteenth of the calends of December [18th November], while the Norman troops were on the march to attack the enemy, a beardless youth, concealed in the bushes by the road-side, shot an arrow, which mortally wounded Richer de Laigle, son of Engenulf, [2] piercing his eye. His followers rode up, burning with rage, and, seizing the youth, would have avenged the noble Richer by putting him to death on the spot, but the dying baron saved his life. For when they were on the point of cutting the youth's throat, the wounded man with a violent effort cried out: "Spare him, for the love of God; it is for my sins that I am called thus to die". His assassin being dismissed, the lamented lord confessed his sins to his companions in arms, and expired before they could convey him to the city. The corpse was borne to the convent of monks which his father


[1] Alan the Red, earl of Richmond in England, was fourth son of Eudes, count de Panthievre.

[2] Richer de Laigle, second son of Engenulf, who was killed at the battle of Hastings.

380 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.X.

Richer had founded on his domains in honour of St. Sulpitius, bishop of Bourges; [1] and he was buried there, with great lamentations of his kinsfolk and connexions, by Gilbert, the venerable bishop of Evreux.

This lord was deservedly regretted by his acquaintance for the many virtues with which he was endowed. In person he was strong, handsome, and active; a faithful observer of the divine law, courteous and humble with men of religion, prudent and eloquent in worldly affairs, and gentle and liberal in all his conduct. He married Judith, daughter of Richard of Avranches, [2] surnamed Goz, and sister of Hugh, earl of Chester, by whom he had Gilbert de Laigle, Engenulf, Matilda, and several other sons and daughters. They all died except Gilbert, who became the heir to his father's virtues, estates, and honours. He married Juliana, daughter of Geoffrey, the brave count de Mortagne, who bore him Richer, Engenulf, Geoffrey, and Albert; the second and third of whom perished by shipwreck with William the Etheling, [3] King Henry's son, and many other nobles, on the eighth of the calends [25th] of November. [4] His sister Matilda, [5] married Robert de Mowbray, the powerful earl of Northumberland, [6] who rebelled the same year against William Rufus, king of England. But, being taken prisoner shortly afterwards, he was detained in captivity for nearly thirty-four years by that king and his brother Henry, living to an advanced age without having any children. I now return to the events from which I have somewhat digressed.

In the month of January, William de Warrene, Baudri de Guitri, son of Nicholas, and Gilbert de Laigle, who sought to avenge the death of his brother Richer, made a desperate assault on the garrison of S. Suzanne, with a strong band of Normans, but they gained nothing but the steel in their wounds. In this attack William, count


[1] St. Sulpice-sur-Risle, near Laigle.

[2] On this family of Avranches, see before, p. 47.

[3] Our author gives King Henry's son the title generally appropriated to the heir apparent to the crown in the Anglo-Saxon times.

[4] In the shipwreck of the Blanche-Nef.

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

[6] Richer's younger brother.

A.D. 1083-1085.] SIEGE OF SAINTE SUZANNE. 381

d'Evreux, [1] was made prisoner, and Matthew de Vitot, [2] son of Godfrey the Little, mortally wounded. Being carried to his quarters by his sorrowing squires and comrades, a priest was sent forth, and having confessed his sins and received the comfort of the holy viaticum, he was then prepared for the approach of death.

The Normans who held the entrenched camp in the valley of Bonjen, having suffered serious losses, and had their numbers thinned by the swords of the bravest knights, were apprehensive of still greater discomfiture. Finding that they were no match for Hubert, either by their valour or good fortune, they changed their plan, and tried to bring him to an agreement with the king. The viscount, although in the present contest he had greatly advanced his power and wealth, was so sensible of the value of peace and security, that he prudently fell in with the plans of the mediators. No time was lost in despatching envoys to the king, who was now in England; and William, finding that Hervey the Breton, whom he had appointed to the command of the troops, [3] with Richer and other brave knights, had fallen in battle, and that his adversary, in the enjoyment of his good fortune, found his position become daily stronger, was careful not to make matters worse by an obstinate persistance in hostilities. He, therefore, prudently pardoned the viscount for all his past offences, and having grunted him a safe conduct, Hubert crossed the sea, and, coming to court on terms of amity, was honourably restored to all his father's rights. The people of Normandy and Maine, who had deeply suffered for four years [4] in the prolonged conflict, made great rejoicings.


[1] William, count d'Evreux, Dec. 13, 1067-April 18, 1118.

[2] Matthew de Vitot, near Neubourg. For this person and his uncle, see vol. i. pp. 449, 450.

[3] He must have been second in command, under Alan the Red, earl of Brittany and Richmond.

[4] It is thought that Ordericus has greatly exaggerated the duration of the siege of the castle of Ste. Suzanne. While it is agreed on all hands that it commenced in the year 1083, it is considered impossible that it could have been prolonged beyond 1085, a period when the alarm of a Danish invasion induced the king to return to England with all the troops he could muster, even including the volunteers and stipendiaries he levied on the continent, as afterwards appears. The Saxon Chronicle, however, tells us that William disbanded part of these forces in the course of the same year. As to his having returned to England, our author tells us that it was there the viscount came to terms with him.

382 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XI.

Hubert continued faithful to the king during the remainder of William's life, rejoicing in his independence, and happy in the possession of his domains, which at his death he bequeathed to his sons Ralph and Hubert.

CH. XI. Threatened invasion of England by Canute, king of Denmark - The armament dispersed - Canute (St.) is mnrdered in a church at Odensee.

AT this period King William caused a record to be made of all the knights' fees in his realm of England, which were found to amount to sixty thousand; [1] and he commanded all who were subject to him by military tenure to he prepared for service in case of need; for at this time Canute the younger, king of Denmark, [2] was fitting out a powerful fleet, and making preparations for the invasion of England, to assert his claims in right of his ancestors Sweyn and Canute, who had formerly subjugated it. This king was distinguished for his piety to God, his great worldly power, and his many virtues. By his threats and preparations he occasioned much alarm to the Normans who were in possession of England, but he was prevented by various circumstances from carrying them into effect during the life of the Bastard king. In the reign, however, of William the younger, [3] a large fleet was fitted out, and being moored


[1] This is a reference to Domesday-book, the survey for which was commenced in 1080, and the record presented to William at Winchester, where it was deposited, at Easter, 1086. It is mentioned in nearly the same terms in b. iv. c. 7. See before, p. 51.

[2] Canute (St.) IV., king of Denmark in 1080, assassinated, Friday, July 10, 1086, canonized in 1101. The project of the invasion of England seems to have been suggested to this prince by Robert the Frisian, earl of Flanders, his father-in-law, and brother-in-law of William. Our author is mistaken in representing that the census taken of the tenants of the crown subject to military service had reference to this threatened invasion. As just observed, the survey was commenced long before; and the precaution which William took consisted in drawing forces from the continent, who were quartered on the the convents and barons. When the alarm of invasion had blown over, part of these mercenary troops were dismissed, and the rest followed the king to Gloucester where he spent Christmas (1085).

[3] These occurrences did not take place in the reign of William Rufus as our author supposes, but more than a year before the Conqueror's death.

A.D. 1086.] MARTYRDOM OF KING (ST.) CANUTE. 383

to the shore, the crews were employed in embarking the troops destined for the invasion of England, for which the wind was then favourable. Meanwhile King Canute, desirous of learning the will of God, entered a church, and humbly kneeling before the altar, besought him with tears to direct his course according to his goodwill. His brother, coming to the church at this moment, and seeing the king unattended and prostrate before the altar, the thought struck him what vast difficulties and serious perils impended over thousands on account of one man, and what a sudden and decided change would be made if he were removed out of the way. Without reflection he drew his sword, and cutting off the head of the prostrate king, forthwith fled into exile. On receiving the melancholy intelligence, the army quickly dispersed, each one returning to his own affairs. [1] The elders of the nation raised to the throne Calomanoth, the king's brother, the assassin being banished. The body of King Canute was honourably interred in the church, where many miracles were performed at his tomb. A great convent for monks was afterwards built, and the monastic discipline there established, after the same order as that of Evesham in England. [2] For from thence it was


[1] Ordericus has given an entirely erroneous account of the circumstances connected with the tragic end of the Danish king. After the assemblage of the armament intended for the invasion of England in the gulf of Lymfiord, in Finland, some delays occurred which created impatience among the troops, and they deputed the prince Olaf to remonstrate with the king his brother. Canute, however, was greatly irritated at this insubordination, and suspecting Olaf of having fomented it, sent him prisoner under arrest to the earl of Flanders. The armament then dispersed, and Canute treated the malcontents with excessive rigour, and imposed a tax in the shape of tithes most odious to the Scandinavian nations. At last the people broke into open rebellion, and the king took refuge in Zealand. There a traitor named Black invited him to Odensee, representing that his presence would appease the people; but he had scarcely entered the church of St. Alban, accompanied by his two brothers, Benedict and Eric, when Black introduced the conspirators. Canute was slain after a short resistance in which Benedict and some of the officers of his suite fell. Olaf, whom he had shortly before invested with the duchy of Sleswig, and who was still in Flanders, succeeded him, and reigned till 1095.

[2] The monastery at Odensee was at first a priory attached to the abbey of Evesham in Worcestershire. It was dedicated to St. Alban the proto-martyr of England, whose relics by some unaccountable means are said to have found their way to Denmark, and have been deposited in this church. One account says that they were carried off from the abbey at St. Albans in 914, at a time when the invaders were still (for the most part at least) heathens; another that they were purloined from Canterbury, and translated to Odensee in 1085, the monk Elnoth, the biographer of Canute, accompanying them, and the transaction escaping the cognizance of King William. They were deposited in a wooden church at first dedicated to the Virgin, but which speedily assumed the name of its new patron.

384 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XII.

that the first monks sent missionaries among the Danes, and carefully instructed them in conventual rule to the admiration of the barbarous natives. This King Canute was held in deserved honour by the monks and others devoted to a religious life. For he was the first to correct the manners of his people, who were new converts and lived disorderly. He also founded metropolitan and episcopal sees according to the canons, and introduced monks, who were before unknown to and disliked by the Danes, liberally providing them with fitting sites for their establishment in his kingdom. [1]

CH. XII. Legend of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas, bishop and confessor, from Myra, in Asia Minor, to Bari, in Italy.

IN the year of our Lord 1087, the tenth indiction, on the nones [9th] of May, the body of St. Nicholas, archbishop and confessor, was translated from Myra to Bari. John, archdeacon of Bari, has eloquently related in what manner and by whom this translation was effected. [2] I propose to make some extracts from his narrative, and insert in my present work a short notice of this remarkable event, for


[1] The relics of St. Canute, which had been inclosed in a magnificent shrine after his canonization, were ejected from it at the era of the Reformation, but were visited in the years 1582 and 1696, and again discovered, Jan. 24, 1833, in a cavity in the east wall of of the stone church which had been substituted for the wooden edifice just mentioned.

[2] It bears this title: "Translatio S. Nicolai episcopi ex Myra Lyciae urbe ad Apuliae oppidum Barium vel Barim, scripta ab Johanne archidiacono Barensi jubente Ursone Barensi et Canusino archiepiscopo, circa annum Domini 1088, apud Surium die nono Maii". There is another cotemporary account of this translation by Nicephorus, a monk of the convent of St. Benedict at Bari, published by Falconius in his Acta primigenia S. Nicolai, of which the substance is given by Father Beatillo of Bari, in his history of St. Nicholas.

A.D. 1087.] RELICS OF ST. NICHOLAS AT MIRA. 385

the information of students who have not seen the arch-deacon's book, if they condescend to cast an eye on what I write.

In the time of the emperor Alexius, the Turks and other infidel nations vented their fury by making an irruption beyond their frontiers, and, by God's permission, devastated Lycia and other Christian countries, destroyed the churches for the sins of the faithful, profaned the crosses, and images, and sanctuaries of Christ, and gave to the flames a number of cities with their inhabitants. Their ravages continued for many years, and multitudes of Christians fell a sacrifice to their cruelty.

During this time Myra, the capital of Lycia, [1] fell into the hands of the Turks, being evacuated by its own citizens, for the punishment of their sins. Meanwhile, some people of Bari, who were on their way to Antioch, in three ships, [2] for the purpose of trade, approaching joyfully to the huts which some of the Myrians occupied, sent forward a certain pilgrim to the church of St. Nicholas, which stands in the town, [3] to make observations. On his return he reported that a great number of Turks were assembled to perform the obsequies of the head man of the town, who then lay dead. On hearing this, the Barians forthwith set sail, and turning the prows of their vessels towards Antioch, having a favourable wind, they reached Myra in the course of a few


[1] This conquest of Lycia by Solyman must have occurred at the time when he overran Caramania, that is, in 1084 and 1085. It appears that Myra was not taken till 1086.

[2] Sixty persons were embarked in the three ships, viz. forty-seven inhabitants of Bari (among whom were two priests and a clerk, the others being merchants and armed mariners), a pilgrim, and twelve foreign passengers. The ships were on their voyage to Antioch with cargoes of wheat, for which they were to receive in return the products of the East for the merchants of Bari. On the voyage they fell in with eleven other vessels engaged in the same trade, whose crews, like their own, had resolved on carrying off the relics of St. Nicholas.

[3] This church, which is now deserted and used only as a burying place, with the adjoining convent inhabited by a few caloyers, are all that remains of the town of the middle ages. Plans and drawings of them are given in the Atlas of M. Charles Texier's Travels. The caloyers pretend that they are in possession of the remains of their patron saint.

[4] This reading should clearly be Antioch. Having found there the Venetian ship, the Barians, as soon as they discovered the intentions of the crew, hurried their own departure in order to reach Myra before them.

386 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XII.

days. Finding there a ship from Venice, the crews began, as people are wont, to inquire of each other for news. It happened that among the men from Bari, there were some friends and acquaintances of the Venetians, and they began talking together about the body of the saint. The Venetians made no reserve in disclosing their intentions, acknowledging that they were furnished with iron crowbars and hammers; and they hastened to take their dinner in order that there might be no delay in carrying their purpose into execution. The Barians, on learning this, were the more resolved to engage in and complete the enterprise which they likewise had determined on, not so much for their own glory and honour, nor for the advantage of their country, as for the love they bore to so eminent a confessor. They therefore hastened to complete the business which had drawn them to Antioch, and then, under God's guidance, set sail on their return. But when they drew near the coast of Myra with a favourable wind, their zeal flagged and they would have sailed onward, had it not changed to the north and become contrary by God's providence. The south wind failing, the mariners of Bari were forced to come to anchor. Learning from thence the Divine will, they immediately seized their arms, and leaving a small party to guard the ships in their absence, the rest, [2] being well armed, and using the same precautions as if they had to encounter an enemy, proceeded in a body to the church, which stood about three miles from the shore. At length they reached the enclosure surrounding the church, and, laying down their arms, entered the sacred building with deep humility, and began to address their prayers to the holy bishop. Having finished their devotions, they demanded of the sacristan where the body of St. Nicholas was deposited. [3] Accordingly he pointed out the spot, and drawing out a portion of the


[1] The wind being, at first, favourable for their homeward voyage to Bari, they were unwilling to lose the opportunity of prosecuting it, but changing to the north, it drove them to the coast of Myra, and they were induced to resume their original design.

[2] To the number of forty-seven, it may be supposed all the crew who belonged to Bari.

[3] It appears that the convent stood apart, but not far distant, from the houses; un pezzetto, as the Italian author says. There were four monks, not three, as Ordericus states.

A.D. 1087.] THE BARIANS PIRLOIN THE RELICS. 387

holy liquor, gave it to them. Thereupon, Lupus, a priest of Bari, received the holy unguent in a glass bottle, and deposited it on a high shelf for its safe preservation; but it chanced that while they were conversing, the bottle fell on the marble pavement, but was not broken, remaining uninjured, to the wonder of all present. Meanwhile, the Barians began to confer with three monks who remained there to guard the relics, trying to seduce them from their duty: "We wish", they said, "to bear off this holy body, and transport it to our own country. We are come here in three ships, commissioned by the pope of Rome to effect this. If you will consent to our doing it, we will give you a hundred pieces of gold from each ship".

On hearing this the monks were struck with surprise and alarm, and replied: "How shall we dare to engage in an enterprise which no human being has yet attempted with impunity? Who is there so audacious as to venture to be either the buyer or seller in such a traffic? What is there so precious and so admirable as to be put in comparison with so vast a treasure? [1] If the rulers of the earth have never attempted such an enterprise rashly, however they may have urged it with prayer and supplications, how can you succeed? Relinquish the further prosecution of this impious design, for it is odious to the Divine Majesty. But you may make the trial; behold the place"! They said this, believing that it was impossible for the Barians to effect their purpose; for it was newly two hundred Olympiads since the death of St. Nicholas, who is said to have departed during the Nicene council held under Pope Silvester and the emperor Constantine, and hitherto no person had been able either to purloin by stealth, or obtain by open violence or by prayers to the Lord, any portion of his relics. The men of Bari now began to be alarmed, for they were in a strange place, they were few among many, the


[1] Our author's narrative abounds with accounts not only of the extreme value attached to the relics of saints in the middle ages, but of the unscrupulous means constantly resorted to for obtaining possession of things esteemed so holy.

[2] The exact date of the death of St. Nicholas cannot be ascertained. Since the council of Nice, there had now been one hundred and ninety Olympiads and a half, which, consisting each of four years, makes 762 years.

388 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XII.

sun was near setting, and their return to the ships was attended with danger. But, divinely supported, they first seized the monks and kept them closely guarded, and also sent out videttes with great caution, to observe all who might approach the spot, while they stationed themselves in arms at regular distances to guard the avenues. Thus, forty-four [1] young men, full of courage, were ready to make a determined resistance without, while two priests, Lupus and Grimoald, with a few others, were doing what was necessary in the church, and began the prayers called litanies; but they were in such a state of alarm that their voices faltered in the service they had commenced.

Meanwhile Matthew, one of the mariners, [2] manfully seized an iron mallet, and striking violently the marble pavement, shattered it, and discovered masonry under it, which being broken up and thrown out, the face of a marble urn quickly appeared. This discovery filled them with joy and inspired them with ardour to dig still deeper, so that, having rent asunder and reduced to fragments the joints of the ancient masonry with a small pickaxe, they threw out the rubbish in great haste. When this had been cleared out and the urn [3] was uncovered, one side of it being broken an exquisite odour exuded which intoxicated all who were present with its delicious fragrance. The young man then inserting his hand only at first, the urn, which was of considerable size, appeared to be full of liquor as far as the middle. He then thrust in his right arm, and, feeling the invaluable treasure which it was the object of his most ardent wishes to secure, began fearlessly to extract it without loss of time. At last in searching for the head, he plunged bodily into the full urn, and groping about with his hands and feet while endeavouring to find it, he came out with his whole person and his garments dripping with the sacred liquid.


[1] The whole number of the armed crew mustered only forty-seven, and from these must be deducted the two priests and the clerk, with the "few others" who entered the church with them, so that forty-four is too high a figure for the guard left without.

[2] In the original legend this Matthew is described as a very young man, and is said to have drawn his sword and threatened to kill the monks if they did not comply with the demands of his comrades.

[3] Pila. It is afterwards called an urn. It appears to have been a sarcophagus of white marble.

1087.] THE RELICS OF ST. NICHOLAS BROUGHT TO BARI. 389

This took place on the twelfth of the calends of May [April 20th], [1] nearly eight hundred years after the death of St. Nicholas.

And now, as they were not prepared with any receptacle for the relics, so sudden and unexpected was their success, the Barians wrapped them as well as they could in the vestment of Lupus, [2] and followed him in procession as he carried the holy burden. Thus they hastened to the sea-side, giving thanks to God for the inestimable prize which they had snatched, not from an enemy's hands, but from the treasury of the Lord. Some of them also carried away the fragments of the broken urn, from which many altars and tables were consecrated by the bishops in several parts of Italy. When they reached the port, a contention arose among the sailors as to which of the ships should bear the precious freight, for all were desirous of securing the companionship of so powerful a patron. At last it was settled, with general concurrence, that Matthew's ship should carry the treasure, he first taking a solemn oath that he would faithfully keep company with the rest; which was the case.

Upon this, they embarked full of joy, and wrapping the relics in an additional covering of new white cloth, they enclosed them in a wooden vessel, such as sailors use for a wine-cask. [3] It is needless to describe the grief of the people of Myra for the loss they had sustained, when they were informed of what had happened. As soon as the report reached their ears in the town, which stands on a hill not more than a mile from the church, [4] they flocked together in


[1] April 20, 1087.

[2] The relics were wrapped in a white vestment belonging to Grimoald, not Lupus; probably his alb or surplice. According to the narrative of Nicephorus, the sailors attempted to carry off a picture of the saint which stood upon the altar, but were unable to detach it. The white vestment with which the relics were covered during the voyage was afterwards parted among several cathedral churches in Italy, as well as all the fragments of the lid of the sarcophagus on which the party could lay their hands.

[3] Beatillo calls it "una piccola botta a porta acqua".

[4] This does not agree with the previous statement, that the church was in the town or its suburbs; but in that case it would have been hardly possible that such an outrage could have been committed without the inhabitants being alarmed, and running to rescue the relics of their patron from the violence offered to them.

390 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XII.

crowds, and hastened to the shore full of rage and grief, tearing their hair and beards, and, wailing for the loss of their pastor and patron, joined with one accord in a mournful chant:

Ah wretched day! Ah foul disgrace!
Ah sad dishonour to our race!
The gift of God, the glorious prize,
Has vanished from our longing eyes.
Not lost upon the battle-field,
By thronging numbers forced to yield,
But ravished by a skulking crew,
(Alas! the deed was done by few).
We wail our country's treasure gone,
Too easily by pirates won.
Where now our Lycia's proudest boast,
Her fame renowned o'er every coast,
The strength her sainted patron gave,
The glory shed around his grave?
Mourn, Myrians, mourn, this day of gloom,
The offerings lost, the rifled tomb!
O FATHER, NICHOLAS, halt thou left
Thy country and thy home bereft
Of the fond care and sheltering aid
Thou gav'st her, for her homage paid,
When raging foes around her prest,
And storms of trouble her distrest.
For this, thy home, thy native soil,
Beheld thee through life's lengthened coil,
In youth, in age, her fortunes share;
She thy beloved, thy flock, thy care,
Hanging upon thy every word.
And thou her pastor, patron, lord.
Here pilgrims flocked from every shore
Thy intercession to implore;
Before thy tomb their offerings laid,
And sought in faith thy healing aid.
But when the sad report is spread,
Of rifled shrine and spirit fled,
Who then our hallowed courts will throng,
With votive gifts, and prayer, and song?
The wonders wrought, the ancient glory,
Will only fill the page of story.
And now, O shepherd, who shall keep
From ravening wolves thy faithful sheep?
Deprived of thee, our guardian, guide,
Our hope, our comfort, and our pride,
Where shall we turn to find relief
From shame and suffering, fear and grief?

A.D. 1087.] THE LAMENT OF THE MYRIANS. 391

Woe to the base marauding band,
Who dared with sacrilegious hand
To violate the sacred soil,
And bear away the holy spoil!
Alas! alas! a glorious prize
Rewarded their bold enterprise;
But we, forlorn and desolate,
Are left to mourn our hapless fate. [1]

While the Myrians, unable to avenge their grief, were giving utterance to it in loud lamentations, the exulting Barians quickly unmoored, and setting sail reached the island of Cacabus [2] the same night, from whence they continued their course to the Magestran islands. [3] Here the crew took to their oars in urgent haste, and reaching the shores of Makry, [4] were detained there three days by contrary north winds. This caused them great uneasiness, and they began to doubt their really having on board the relics of St. Nicholas, or whether it was the saint's pleasure to be transported further by them. Then one of them, whose name was Eustace, [5] had his doubts removed by a dream, but was terrified by seeing in the vision his tongue bloody with the bites of leeches.

In consequence all the crews, with general consent, brought into the common stock the minute fragments of the


[1] The pains bestowed in illustration of our author's account of the translation of the relics of St. Nicholas may appear misspent But it must be recollected how characteristic it is of the feelings and habits of the middle ages; and that, considering it only as a religious romance, the popular literature of those times was, as M. Guizot remarks in his Histoire de la Civilisation, principally composed of such legends. The present narrative, however, has an intrinsic value from the vividness with which the details of a bold enterprise are presented to the reader.

[2] The isle of Kakava, the Dolichistos of the ancients, not far from Myra, to the south-west.

[3] Probably the island of Megista, to the west of Kakava, with the numerous islets surrounding it. This island, which was also named Cisthenes, is now called Castelorizo or Caslelrossa The ships of Bari sought anchorage there, the island of Kakava not offering it. From thence they made Patara, the country of St. Nicholas. "come se avesse voluto egli", says Father Beatillo, "prima di Venire in Italia, visitar la sua partria, e prenderne, come si dice, grata licenza". Patara is near the mouth of the Xanthus, to the W.N.W. of Castelorizo.

[4] The Gulf of Makry (the Glaucus Sinus of the ancients), to the N.N.W., is very near Patara. Makry is the Telmissus of the ancients.

[5] Stafio (Eustace) Stannaria of a distinguished family in Bari.

392 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XII.

relics they had individually purloined, making solemn asseverations that they retained no portion of what they had thus appropriated. Romoald produced two teeth and some small bones which he had concealed, and in like manner all the rest surrendered the various particles they had secretly taken, that they might be re-united with the other parts of the saint's remains. After this, the adventurers were favoured with a fair wind, and while their keels were ploughing the wide sea, St. Nicholas appeared in a dream to one of the sailors, Disigio by name, and gave him the encouraging promise that they should enter the port of Bari on the twentieth day after that on which they had borne off his relics. The report of this vision to his shipmates filled them with entire confidence.

A little bird also was suddenly seen by the sailors flitting about the ship, and inspired them with hope by its repeated visits. [1] They were also frequently sensible of a most fragrant odour, and encouraged by other delightful indications of the saint's presence, so that as they drew near to the shores of their own country their spirits were raised to a high pitch of joy and exultation.

At length piloted by the providence of God, the mariners moored their vessels in the port of St. George, distant some five miles from the walls of Bari. [2] Announcing their arrival to the clergy and people of the place, the unexpected news threw the whole city into a tumult of delight, and the entire population of every age and both sexes flocked to the port. Meanwhile the mariners had entrusted the coffers


[1] The sailors considered this bird an apparition of St. Nicholas.

[2] The port of St. George, about four miles to the E.S.E. of Bari, affords now only anchorage to vessels of small burden. It is the nearest place of anchorage, after Bari, in this direction. We need not be surprised at finding a place which is now only a roadstead, described as a port in the middle ages. It is the natural consequence of the deposits made by the sea, and the gradual increase of the land, on all this part of the coast. Porto San Giorgio must not be mistaken for another anchorage, called Torre di San Giorgio, on the same coast, two miles east of Monopoli. The three ships arrived in the port of St. George on the evening of Saturday, the 8th of May.

[3] During the voyage the relics were transferred from the cask which had served at first to hold them, into a wooden chest made expressly for that purpose, and the remains of which were preserved with great care to the close of the seventeenth century,- probably to the present day.

RECEPTION OF THE RELICS OF ST. NICHOLAS AT BARI. 393

containing the relics to Elias, the devout abbot of the monastery of St. Benedict which stands near the harbour, and receiving with respect the sacred deposit, he and his monks placed it in their church on the ninth of the month of May and there carefully guarded it three days. [1]

At that time Urso, archbishop of Bari, [2] a pious prelate, acceptable to God, and the intimate acquaintance and friend of the Italian princes, was absent from his see. A ship had been equipped and was ready for sea at Trani, [3] and the archbishop had determined to embark on the morrow with the intention of undertaking a voyage to offer his devotions at Jerusalen. He was, however, met at Trani by a messenger with letters from the citizens of Bari informing him of the intelligence which had filled them with joy. In consequence Urso deferred his pilgrimage without hesitation, and lost no time in returning to Bari, highly rejoicing. The body was then transported by the townsmen to that city, the solemnity of the translation being fixed for the seventh of the ides [the 9th] of May. It was carried at first to the palace of the Catapan, [4] and there deposited, with great reverence, at the request of the mariners and all the citizens in the church of St. Stephen the proto-martyr, which had been erected by the archbishop three years before. [5]


[1] Here our author's narrative is very incomplete. The ships were moored in the port of Bari in the morning of Sunday, the 9th of May, which was in the octave of the Ascension. Violent disputes then arose as to the disposal of the relics, which were terminated, for the present, by the offer of abbot Elias to take charge of them provisionally, and they were accordingly deposited in the church of St. Benedict, before the close of the same day, and rested there till the Thursday following.

[2] Urso, archbishop of Bari and Canosa, June, 1078-Feb. 14, 1089.

[3] Trani, an archiepiscopal city in the kingdom of Naples, on the Adriatic, nine leagues to the north-west of Bari.

[4] "Curia Catapana". Beatillo calls this residence Curia del Capitano, the palace of the Catapan, as the governor, who resided at Bari, in the last days of the Greek empire in Italy, was called. It stood on the sea-shore.

[5] The archbishop, who arrived from Trani on the Sunday evening, was zealous in his endeavours to have the relics of St. Nicholas deposited in his cathedral; but the mariners and their friends, after a struggle which cost the lives of two youths, carried off their precious deposit about ten o'clock on Thursday morning by a private door, and lodged it in the palace of the Catapan. The oxen which drew the carriage, frightened by the tumult, turned out of the road, and made towards the sea. The spot on the shore where they stopped was afterwards selected as the site of the high altar in the new church, and to commemorate this circumstance two oxen and a car of white marble were sculptured over the door. From this place the coffer was borne on the shoulders of priests to the palace, and placed in a church built three years before, and dedicated to St. Stephen. Here they were again entrusted to the care of abbot Elias, as well as the rich offerings which devotion and gratitude soon poured in from all quarters.

394 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XII.

The foundations of a church dedicated expressly to St. Nicholas were immediately laid, and the holy relics, with the offerings of the faithful, and the carrying on of the work were entrusted to the venerable abbot Elias, who was appointed overseer of the whole undertaking by general consent, with the approbation of the archbishop. Multitudes speedily flocked to the spot from all parts of Italy, and innumerable signs and miracles were daily wrought by the power of God. The very first day, while the holy relics were deposited, as it has been just related, in the church of St. Benedict, more than thirty sick persons of both sexes and every age were freed from various infirmities, and having recovered perfect health returned with hearts full of joy and uttering thanksgivings, to their own homes. As for the succeeding times, we shall not attempt to give a particular account, or to reckon the numbers, of the demoniacs, the deaf, lame, dumb, and blind, with others suffering from a variety of disorders, who were effectually relieved and cured. In short, as we have before clearly intimated, the number is infinite and beyond our knowledge.

John, archdeacon of Bari, of whom I have already spoken


[1] The superintendence of the building a new church was also confided to abbot Elias, and he pushed forward the work with such activity, that as early as the 30th of September, 1089, Pope Urban II. was able to come and consecrate the lower church and altar, where the relics of St. Nicholas were deposited. Two days afterwards he ordained the pious abbot, who had been his fellow scholar in the monastery of La Cava, as archbishop of Bari. It was in this church that the same pope opened, on the 1st of October, 1099, the celebrated council in which were discussed the controverted points between the Latin and Greek churches, and especially the procession of the Holy Ghost. The distisguished part which Anselm, the Norman archbishop of Canterbury, took in these weighty theological discussions, is well known. It appears that the zeal with which the building the upper church had been carried on was afterwards relaxed, for it was not until the 22nd of June, 1199, a century afterwards, that by delegation of Pope Pascal II., it was consecrated by Conrad, bishop of Heldesheim and chancellor of the Aulic Council of the emperor Henry IV.

ABOUT 1090.] RELIC OF ST. NICHOLAS AT VENOSA. 395

and from whose book I have made this brief extract, enumerates distinctly twelve signal miracles. But it was not in his power, or that of any other writer, to hand down to posterity all the cures and other benefits which Almighty God has conferred in his mercy on his servants faithfully imploring it for the merits of the most holy bishop St. Nicholas from that time to the present. Afterwards, by God's permission, several churches obtained portions of the sacred relics of St. Nicholas, and not only Italians and Greeks, but other nations also give thanks to God for the precious deposit. One Christopher, a knight, who had assisted at the translation of the illustrious Nicholas, concealed one of the ribs in his sleeve, and not long afterwards falling sick retired to the monastery of Venosa, imploring the abbot Berenger to admit him as a monk. Having obtained his request, he presented the rib of St. Nicholas which he had in his possession to the abbey of the Holy Trinity, and was cured of his malady.

CH. XIII. Some relics of St. Nicholas carried from Bari to Venosa - Also, by William Pantoul, a Norman knight, to Noron.

ABOUT the same time, Stephen, the chanter of the monastery which the elder Count Fulk erected to the honour of of St. Nicholas in the city of Angers, [1] went to Apulia, and by express permission of the lord Natalis, his abbot, divested himself of the monastic habit and lived as a clerk at Bari, where he established familiarity, and afterwards influence, with the sacristans of the church dedicated to the holy bishop. At length, watching his opportunity, he secretly purloined an arm of St. Nicholas, which, set in silver, was kept outside the shrine, for the purpose of giving the benediction to the people. [2] He then attempted to withdraw into France, that he might enrich his own


[1] This abbey had been founded by Fulk Nerra in 1020.

[2] The custom of removing an arm from the skeleton of a saint, to place it in a special reliquary, existed also in Normandy. The arm of St. Aubert at Mont St. Michael was not only used in giving the benediction, but also to sanction oaths taken upon it. The magnificent chartulary of this abbey contains many acts in which this formality is mentioned, and on some of its beautiful illuminations there are drawings of the reliquary so used.

396 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XIII.

monastery with the precious treasure. The people of Bari, however, speedily discovering the loss they had sustained, despatched messengers to their neighbours, their friends and patrons, and had all the avenues on the road to France carefully guarded to prevent the thief's escape. Notwithstanding, Stephen reached Venosa safely, where he passed the winter in great alarm, trying to conceal himself; but while waiting for the spring to bring fair weather he fell sick, and his means of subsistence failing he was compelled to detach the silver from the holy relic and apply it for his support. Meanwhile the report that the arm of St. Nicholas was stolen by the French spread through the whole of Italy and Sicily, and the robbery becoming the subject of frequent conversation, and being much canvassed among the people, the silver covering was seen and recognized by some of the inhabitants of Venosa and servants of the convent. The tidings thus reached the ears of the monks, whereupon Erembert, an active brother, suddenly presented himself with the servants before the ex-monk, who was lying sick, and with great vehemence, demanded the arm of St. Nicholas as if it had been expressly committed to his charge. The sick, man, perceiving that he was detected, and not knowing where to turn in his emergency, all pale and trembling, produced the precious relic to the resolute monk, who joyfully seizing it, carried it to the abbey of the Holy Trinity, the monks and citizens returning thanks to God. To this day, St. Nicholas there miraculously succours in their several necessities those who faithfully implore his aid in virtue of the sacred relic. This Erembert, a Norman by birth, was before his conversion a brave soldier, and afterwards becoming a monk was a zealous member of his order.

In these times a certain Norman knight, named William Pantoul, [1] betook himself to Apulia, and having a great respect for St. Nicholas, made diligent inquiries after his relics. By God's blessing on his endeavours he obtained from those who had translated the body one tooth and two fragments of the marble urn. William Pantoul was a gallant soldier, endowed with great talents, and well known


[1] A further accunt of William Pantoul, or Pantulf, will he found in book v. c. 16. It appears that he undertook this (his second) journey to Apulia after the death of King William. See before, pp. 206-211.

A.D. 1092.] RELICS OF ST. NICHOLAS IN NORMANDY. 397

among the nobles of England and Italy as one of the wisest and richest among his neighbours. Having obtained the tooth of so great a man, he returned to Normandy, and on an appointed day called together a number of persons at his own domain called Noron to receive the relics in a worthy manner.

Accordingly, in the year of our Lord 1092, the tooth of the blessed confessor Nicholas, with other relics of the saints brought by William Pantulf from Apulia, was deposited with great reverence in the church of Noron erected in ancient times in honour of St. Peter. He invited Roger, abbot of St. Evroult and Ralph, who was at that time abbot of Seez but who afterwards became archbishop of Canterbury, [1] to be present at the ceremony, and in the month of June they received the holy relics amid great devotion of the monks and rejoicings of the laity, carefully placing them in a silver coffer liberally provided by the before mentioned knight. The deposit so often spoken of became in frequent request by persons suffering from fevers and other maladies, whose devout prayers aided, by the merits of the good bishop Nicholas obtained what they desired in the recovery of their health.

Soon afterwards, this knight laid the foundation of a new church, and having given twenty marks of silver for the work, completed a considerable part of the building. Unfortunately its progress was stopped by unfavourable events, and in consequence of the founder's death it was not finished. He died on the sixteenth of the calends of May [16th April], and his wife Lesceline on the eleventh of the calends of October [21st September]; both were interred in the monk's cloister. Their sons Philip, Robert, Ivo, and Arnulph have not hitherto made any efforts to carry into execution their parent's designs in matters of religion. [2]

Having thus introduced a faithful account of the


[1] For an account of Ralph d'Ecures, archbishop of Canterbury, see before, p. 251.

[2] Nearly the same details are given in book v. c. 16. One of these personages, Robert Pantoul, figures among the robbers of the abbey of nuns at Caen after the death of King William, and the losses it sustained by his devastations are valued in the chartulary at six pounds of silver. From this conduct, it may be easily conceived that he was in no hurry to complete the religious establishments commenced by his parents.

398 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XIV.

translation of the relics of St. Nicholas in this my work I devoutly implore him who worked so many miracles, that mindful of those who have had him in remembrance, his pity may be bestowed upon us while he continually intercedes with God on our behalf. Let us now return to the course of our history, from which I have somewhat digressed.

CH. XIV. Disturbances on the banks of the Eure in the Vexin - Account of the cession of that district by Henry I. of France to Robert, duke of Normandy - King William's expedition to recover it - He burns the town of Mantes - and falls mortally sick.

[1087.] The old funds between the Normans and French being renewed, hostilities again burst forth, and the flames of war occasioned the most serious losses both to the clergy and laity. For Hugh, surnamed Stavel, and Ralph Malvoisin, [1] and other inhabitants of the fortified town of Mantes took up arms against King William, and collecting a large band of freebooters made frequent predatory excursions into Normandy. Crossing in the night, at the head of their troops, the river Eure which divides Normandy from France, [2] they threw themselves unexpectedly on the diocese of Evreux determined on committing the most cruel devastations. The brunt of the inroad fell on the domains of William de Breteuil iu the neighbourhood of Paci, and those of Roger de Ivri, [3] from which they drove off herds of cattle, and carried away many prisoners, so that deriding the Normans, they were beyond measure elated at their success. This induced the warlike King William, who was excessively enraged, to lay claim to the whole province of the Vexin, roquiring Philip, king of France, to surrender Pontoise, Chaumont, [4] and Mantes, and making terrible threats against his enemies if he was not


[1] See book v. c. 19.

[2] It is very probable that at a remote period the Eure, during a great part of its course, formed the boundary between Evreux and that portion of the territory of the Carnutes which is near to Mantes, but in the eleventh century, as in the eighteenth, such was not the case, except between St. Georges-sur-Eure and Garennes.

[3] Paci, Ivri, both places on the left bank of the Eure. Roger d'Ivri was butler to William the Conqueror. See before, pp. 109, 213.

[4] Chaumont in the Vexin.

A.D. 1032.] THE VEXIN CEDED TO DUKE ROBERT. 399

restored to his lawful rights. The grounds of his claim were as follows.

King Henry, son of Robert king of France, after the death of his father, was heir to the crown as his eldest son, but he was opposed with a step-mother's hatred by Queen Constance who used every effort to elevate his brother, Robert duke of Burgundy, to the throne of France in his place. Henry therefore, by the advice of Amauri, lord of Montfort, son of William de Hainault, came with twelve attendants to Fecamp, [1] and humbly besought the assistance of Robert duke of Normandy, in the state of misery and exile to which his mother's perfidy had reduced him. The duke gave him an honourable reception befitting his lawful right as suzerain of the duchy, and liberally entertained him during the celebration of the feast of Easter. He then assembled the forces of Normandy from every quarter, and making a hasty irruption into France, assaulted Orleans with Norman impetuosity and set fire to and burnt the place. Having lowered the pride of the French by inflicting on them immense losses, Robert restored the young king to his throne. Thus reinstated, King Henry returned thanks to the duke, and for his service ceded to him the whole of the Vexin from the river Oise to the Epte. Dreux, the count of that province, [2] assented willingly to this arrangement, and doing homage to the duke served him faithfully as long as he lived. [3] Both the duke and the count were distinguished for their merits, their regard was mutual, and each delighted to honour the other and advance his friend's interests.

Dreux, as I have before remarked, was descended from Charlemagne, king of the Franks. [4] Duke Robert had given him in marriage his cousin Goda, [5] sister of Edward, king of England, by whom he had the Counts Ralph and Walter, and the venerable Fulk, bishop of Amiens. [6] The young princess


[1] This journey of Henry I. to Fecamp was undertaken in the month of March, 1032. Easter fell that year on the 2nd. of April.

[2] Dreux, count of the Vexin, about 1027-1035.

[3] 1032-June, 1035.

[4] By his mother Alice, or Adele, daughter of Herbert, comte de Senlis.

[5] Edith, or Goda, sister of Edward the Confessor.

[6] Walter, only, was count after his father; there is no trace in history of Ralph, who must have been the second son. Our author omits Amauri de Pontoise, called the Delicate.

400 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XIV.

had become an exile in Normandy with her brother, at the time when Canute, king of Denmark had taken forcible possession of England, having expelled the two heirs to the crown, Alfred and Edward, and cut off by the treason of Edric Prince Edmund, and Edwin, the presumptive heir. [1]

After some years, on the death of Duke Robert at Nice, a city of Bithynia, the Norman barons revolted against William, who was then a boy; for when his father set out on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in company with Count Dreux, William was only eight years old, [2] and was entrusted to the guardianship of his cousin Alan, count of Brittany. [3] Robert and Dreux dying on their journey, and Alan being carried off by poison treacherously administered by the Normans while he was besieging Montgomery, their heirs became iniquitously deprived of their natural protector, so that King Henry, by the advice of the French who are always at variance with the Normans, was able to take advantage of it, and re-annex the country of the Vexin, which he afterwards retained in his own power. William was at that time prevented from asserting his rights, on account of his youth; and afterwards being occupied with more important affairs in Maine and England, he suffered the matter to drop, and deferred; taking up arms for the recovery of the Vexin against Philip, his liege-lord, or his son Philip.

At length, twenty-one years after he had ascended the throne of England, William addressed his claims to the county of the Vexin to Philip, king of France. That prince however adopted the frivolous subterfuges suggested by the insurgents, and treated with contempt, and altogether disregarded, the demands of the English king. Upon this, William made his appearance suddenly before Mantes, at the head of an army, in the last week of the month of July, [4] and his troops entered the city mixed with the garrison. For the townsmen had stolen out of the place to observe the


[1] "Edwinum Clitonem". See vol. i. p. 147.

[2] He was between seven and eight years of age at his father's death, for William was not sixty when he died, the 9th of September, 1087. He was, therefore, born at the latter part of 1027, or the beginning of 1028.

[3] Alan III., duke of Brittany, died of poison at Vimoutiers the lst of October, 1040.

[4] This week began on Sunday, the 25th of July.

A.D. 1087.] WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR'S LAST ILLNESS. 401

devastations which Ascelin Goel [1] had made with the Norman troops the day before the king's arrival, by burning the standing corn, and rooting up the vines. The royal army thus rushing in pell-mell with the garrison, passed the gates, and in their fury set fire to the castle, which was burnt, with the churches and houses. [2] It was there that King William, who was very corpulent, fell sick from the excessive heat and his great fatigues, [3] languishing six weeks with severe sufferings. There were some who rejoiced at this calamity, hoping to have free scope for pillage and robbing their neighbours' substance, others, who looked for security in peace, greatly feared the death of their lord, on whom it depended. The king, who during his whole life had followed the advice of wise counsellors, had feared God as became his faithful servant, and had been the unwearied protector of holy mother church, maintained his exalted reputation to the end. His death was worthy of his life. To the very last, through all his illness, his intellect was clear and his conversation lively; repenting of his sins he confessed them to the priests of God, and humbly strove to appease his wrath according to the rites of the Christian church. The bishops, abbots, and men of religion never left him, and were indefatigable in opening to the dying prince the salutary doctrines of eternal life. The noise of Rouen, which is a populous place, becoming insupportable to the sufferer, the king gave orders that he should be conveyed out of the city to the church of St. Gervase, standing on a hill to the west, [4]


[1] For Ascelin Goel, lord of Breve], see before, p. 237.

[2] The Conqueror was severely reproached for having set fire to this place, and even burnt the churches, and it appears to have weighed on his conscience in his last hours. But the circumstance which most roused the public indignation, was the cruel death of two nuns (Malmsbury says one only), "who did not think it justifiable to quit their cells even under such an emergency". We know how profound was the sympathy inspired by such recluses in the pious generations of the middle ages.

[3] Ordericus speaks very vaguely of the accident which caused the death of William, but we know from other authorities that the king, who was very corpulent, was seriously injured in the bowels by the pommel of the saddle as his horse was leaping a ditch.

[4] That is to say, in the priory attached to this church. St. Gervase was originally only an oratory raised by the piety of the faithful over the tombs of the first two bishops of Rouen, St. Mellon and St. Avicien, whose tombs are still shown under two low arches in the crypt. St. Victrix, it is believed, having obtained some relics of St. Gervase and St. Proteus (discovered by St. Ambrose in 386), placed this church under their invocation. It is at least certain that the crypt is the most ancient Christian monument in Normandy. Roman bricks are built into the wall. Duke Richard II. gave this church to the abbey of Fecamp. The priory erected by the monks, and in which King William breathed his last, stood to the south of the church.

402 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XIV.

which his grandfather, Duke Richard, had given to the monastery of Fecamp. There, Gilbert, bishop of Lisieux, [1] and Guntard, abbot of Jumieges, [2] with some others, well skilled in medicine, carefully watched over him, devoting themselves zealously to their master's welfare, both spiritual and temporal.

At length, his disorder continually increasing, and perceiving that inevitable death was becoming imminent, he became anxious about the future, which was veiled from his sight, reflecting on which with deep concern, he was frequently moved to sighs and groans. He summoned to his side his sons William Rufus and Henry, who were in attendance on him with some of his friends, and gave them many wise and prudent directions for the regulation of his states. Robert, his eldest son, had long since entered on a course of repeated quarrels with his father, and had recently taken umbrage in consequence of some new follies, and retired to the court of the king of France.

The wise king hastened to make provision for the future welfare of himself and others, ordering all his treasures to be distributed among the churches, the poor, and the ministers of God. He exactly specified the amount to be given to each, and gave directions to the notaries to reduce it to writing in his own presence. He also contritely sent large donations to the clergy of Mantes, to be applied to the restoration of the churches he had burnt. He gave admonitions to all who were present relative to the maintenance of justice and good faith, keeping the law of God and peace, the privileges of the churches, and observing the rules of the fathers. His eloquent discourse, worthy to be held in everlasting remembrance, and at times interrupted by tears, was to the following effect.


[1] Gilbert Maminot, bishop of Lisieux, 1077-August, 1101. See an excellent account of this prelate in book v. p. 117, etc., of the present volume.

[2] Goutard, abbot of Jumieges, 1078-November 26, 1095.

A.D. 1087.] THE CONQUEROR'S DYING WORDS. 403

CH. XV. Discourse of King William the Conqueror on his death-bed, in which he recapitulates the principal events of his life - His disposition of his treasure and states.

"I tremble", he said, "my friends, when I reflect on the grievous sins which burden my conscience, and now about to be summoned before the awful tribunal of God, I know not what I ought to do. I was bred to arms from my child- hood, and am stained with the rivers of blood I have shed. It is out of my power to enumerate all the injuries which I have caused during the sixty-four [1] years of my troublesome life, for which I am now called to render account without delay to the most righteous Judge. At the time my father went into voluntary exile, entrusting to me the duchy of Normandy, I was a mere youth of the age of eight years, and from that time to this I have always borne the weight of arms. I have now ruled this duchy fifty-six years, [2] amidst the difficulties of incessant wars. My own subjects have often conspired against me, and shamefully exposed me to serious losses and great injuries. They have perfidiously put to death Turketil my guardian, [3] Osberne, son of Hirfast, [4] steward of Normandy; Count Gilbert, the father of his country, [5] and many others, who were the pillars of the state. In these trials I had proof of the fidelity of my people: often by night I was secretly taken from the chamber of my palace by my uncle Walter, [6] through fear of my own


[1] This reckoning is inexact, as is shown in a former note, p. 400. Indeed, William just afterwards corrects it himself, saying that he was only eight years old in 1035.

[2] For 56 read 52.

[3] Turketil du Neuf-Marche, son of Geoffry du Neuf-Marchd. See before, vol. i, p. 455, and vol. ii. p. 185. For Hugh de Morimont, who was killed at the same time, see ib. p. 267.

[4] Osberne de Crepon, surnamed the Pacific, son of Hirfast, and brother of the Duchess Gonnor, was assassinated at Vaudreuil when sleeping in the chamber of William, who was yet a child, by William de Montgomery, eldest son of Roger I. de Montgomery. Barnon de Glos, Osborne's steward, avenged his lord's death by surrounding and setting on fire the house in which the assassin and his accomplices were.

[5] William speaks too favourably of Count Gilbert, for notwithstanding the odious circumstances which attended his death, he received only the just punishment of his rapacity towards the orphans he had unjustly robbed of their inheritance. See vol. i. p. 391.

[6] This person, of whom history furnishes no other notice, appears to have been a brother of Harlotta, William's mother.

401 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XV.

relations, and conducted to the dwellings and retreats of the poor, that I might escape from discovery by the traitors who sought my death.

"The Normans, when under the rule of a kind but firm master, are a most valiant people, excelling all others in the invincible courage with which they meet difficulties, and strive to conquer every enemy. But under other circumstances they rend in pieces and ruin each other. They are eager for rebellion, ripe for tumults, and ready for every sort of crime. They must therefore be restrained by the strong hand of justice, and compelled to walk in the right way by the reins of discipline. But if they are allowed to take their own course without any yoke and like an untamed colt, they and their princes will be overwhelmed with poverty, shame, and confusion. I have learnt this by much experience. My nearest friends, my own kindred, who ought to have defended me at all hazards against the whole world, have formed conspiracies, and rebelling against me, nearly stripped me of the inheritance of my fathers.

"Guy, son of Reynold, duke of Burgundy, [1] by my aunt Adeliza, returned me evil for good. I had kindly received him on his arrival from a foreign country, and treated him with the regard due to an only brother, giving him Vernon, Brionne, [2] and an important part of my Norman territories. Notwithstanding this, he did all in his power to injure me, both by word and deed, calling me bastard, degenerate and unworthy to reign, and defaming me as if I had been his enemy. Need I add more? Breaking his fealty, he rebelled against me, seduced from my service Ranulf de Bayeux, [3] Haymon-aux-Dents, [4] Nigel du Cotentin, [5] and many others, forcing them by his nefarious counsels to be partakers of his perjury. Regardless therefore of the homage and fealty which he had sworn to me, he strove to strip me of the whole of Normandy. Thus, while I was yet a beardless


[1] Guy, second son of Reynold, count (not duke) of Burgundy, 1027-September 3, 1057, and Adeliza, daughter of Richard II. See vol. i. p. 150.

[2] Vernon-sur-Seine, and Brionne.

[3] Ranulf de Briquessart, viscount of Bayeux, father of Ranulf, earl of Chester.

[4] Haimon-aux-Dents, lord of Torigni, Creuilli, etc.

[5] Nigel, or Neel de St. Sauveur, vicomte du Cotentin.

A.D. 1087.] THE CONQUEROR'S DYING WORDS. 405

youth, I found myself compelled to take up arms against him, and to fight on the plain of Val-des-Dunes [1] against my cousin and liege man. Then, by the help of God, [2] the righteous judge, I conquered my foes between Caen and Argences, [3] and having by His permission utterly defeated them, I obtained entire possession of my paternal rights. I then laid siege to the fortress of Brionne, in which Guy, who fled wounded from the field of battle, had shut himself up, and I did not depart until I had driven the public enemy out of Normandy, and obtained possession of all his strong holds. [4]

"Shortly afterwards a still more grievous calamity befell m. My uncles, Mauger, [5] archbishop of Rouen, and his brother William, [6] to whom I had gratuitously given Arques and the county of Talou, treated me with contempt as a bastard, and induced King Henry and Engelran, count of Penthieu, to take up arms against me. I received this


[1] The battle of Val-es-Dunes, fought in 1047. This name, of which the most active researches have failed to discover any trace in the district, appears to mark a part of the elevated plateau on which stands the church of Bellengreville, in the neighbourhood of Caen. See also the note, vol. i. p. 151.

[2] William appears to have forgotten that he obtained this victory not only by God's help, but by the powerful assistence of Henry, king of France, which he implored on his knees at Poissy. Vol. i. p 150.

[3] Argences, not Argentan, is incontestibly the right reading. See, on the details of this battle, Wace (t. ii. pp. 27-43), who gives them with great care and knowledge of the localities. The king of France, who marched by way of Valmerai, made a circuit round the valley of the river Semillon, instead of traversing it as William did. The Val-es-Dunes, surrounded by the river to the south and south-west, is situated in the parishes of Chichebovelle and Bellengreville.

[4] We shall see presently that Guy was blockaded in his castle of Brionne three years before he capitulated. It was not, therefore, till 1050 that this rebellion was extinguished. The ruins of the keep of the strong castle of Brionne, surrounded by the Risle, are yet to be seen.

[5] Mauger, archbishop of Rouen, 1037-May, 1055. He was son of Richard II. and Papia, and must have been very young when he succeeded his uncle Archbishop Robert. See before, p. 162.

[6] William Comte de Talou. Arques, near Dieppe, was part of they appanage given him by his nephew, and was an important military post from the time of the arrival of the Normans. But this count must be considered as the founder of the castle, and he was the first who substituted the title of Arques for that of Talou. Engelran, count of Ponthieu, was his brother-in-law.

406 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XV.

intelligence in the Cotentin, [1] and lost no time in beginning my march contrary to the opinions of most of my advisers. Sending forward to Arques some light troops who were eager for the fray, I followed myself [2] with the main body, which was far from considerable, to lay siege to the castle. But before I reached the country between the two rivers, the Sie and the Garenne, the advanced guard fell in with Count Engelran pushing forward to occupy the fortress, and killed him, fighting bravely, for he was a valiant knight, and routed his squadrons. Pressing the siege closely, I compelled the perjured count to go into banishment, and did not permit him to return to the domains he lost during all the days of his life. [3] I also, by virtue of a papal decree, deposed the insolent archbishop, who neither observed his fealty to me, nor his duty to God, and raised to the see the venerable monk Maurilius who was providentially sent from Florence, an Italian city. [4]

"Henry, in all the plenitude of his royal power and the fervour of his chivalrous spirit, has been often seen at the instigation of my enemies, to trample me under his feet as a defenceless man, endeavouring to crush me and impose upon me unjust conditions. He has made frequent irruptions into my territories at the head of large armies, but he has never been able to triumph in the spoils and booty he has gained, or the captives he has made among my subjects. He has often crossed the frontiers with great military pomp, and terrible menaces, but he has never returned to his own kingdom without sorrow and shame. He has brought in his train numbers of most valiant men, who, alas! never saw their own country again, having fallen by my sword and the arms of my followers.


[1] The Cotentin was the name given to a district in the extreme north-west of Normandy, nearly surrounded by the sea, in which was situated Valognes, one of the residences most frequented by the duke in his early years.

[2] Wace has preserved the names of most of the places through which the duke passed. He rode so hard that six only of the men-at-arms who formed his escort when he left Valognes were with him when he arrived before Arques.

[3] This revolt occurred in the year 1053. Further details will be found in the narratives of William of Jumieges and Wace.

[4] For Maurilius, archbishop of Rouen, see before p. 164, and his epitaph, p. 7.

A.D. 1087.] WILLLAM THE CONQUEROR'S ACTS. 407

"On one occasion, King Henry, was so enraged against me, that he invaded my territories with a vast army in two divisions, in order to overwhelm them by a double attack. [1] He led one body of troops himself into the diocese of Evreux, and ravaged the whole country on this side the Seine, while he gave the command of the other division to his brother Eudes, [2] with Reynold de Clermont, and the two counts, Ralph de Montdidier, [3] and Guy de Ponthieu, [4] with orders to enter Normandy by the fords of the Epte, [5] and, carrying fire and sword through Brai and the Talois, with the whole district of Rouen, to continue their devastations to the sea-coast.


[1] This double invasion of Normandy by the French was made in the beginning of spring, 1054, before Lent (February 16). It appears to have been intended to revenge the ill-success of the former campaign before Arques.

[2] Eudes, fourth son of King Robert and Constance, who died without having been married, appears to have been a prince of slender abilities. Odo namque nimis stultus erat, is the blunt language of a cotemporary chronicler.

[3] Ralph III., called the Great, Comte de Valois and Amiens in 1030, in right of his father, Ralph II., re-united to it Pontoise, Mantes, and great part of the Vexin, after the death of his cousin Walter in 1063. See before, p. 79. He never bore the title of Comte de Montdidier given him by our author, and only possessed that place by depriving his cousin-german, Rothais daughter and heiress of Eudes, comte de Montdidier of it. Having married twice, he divorced his second wife to marry the queen, Anne of Russia, widow of Henry I. Faithful to his habits of violence and usurpation, towards the close of his life (about 1071 or 1072) he seized the castle of Peronne, of which exploit he was so proud that he afterwards used no other title but that of Ralph de Peronne. He died at Montdidier, Sept. 8, 1074, under excommunication for his divorce, and was buried in the priory of Notre-Dame in that town.

Simon de Crepi, his son and successor, led a life as pure and holy as that of Ralph had been violent and criminal. One of his first cares was to restore Montdidier to the right heirs, and to disinter his father's body, and have it conveyed to his own patrimony at Crepi. This exhumation was made on March 22, 1076. Simon, who was present, was so shocked at the appearance of his father's corpse, that it was a new motive for his quitting the world and devoting himself to a monastic life, which he shortly afterwards did, although his friends, to withdraw him from it, brought about his marriage with Judith, daughter of Robert Comte d'Auvergne. The new married pair made vows of chastity on the day of their union, and both embraced a religious life. Simon was one of the nearest relatives and most devoted friends of Queen Matilda.

[4] Guy comte de Ponthieu, 1053-October 13, 1101.

[5] It was probably not by the fords of the Epte, but by those of the Bresle, that the French army reached Mortemer.

408 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XV

Receiving intelligence of these movements, I lost no time in preparing to meet them. Stationing myself with part of my troops along the bank of the Seine against the king's tents, I kept him in check, and was ready to fall upon the enemy at whatever point he attempted to ravage my territories. Meanwhile, I detached against Eudes and his division Robert, Count d'Eu, with Roger de Mortemer, [1] and other distinguished knights; who, encountering the French near the castle of Mortemer, the line of battle was formed by both armies, and a desperate engagement ensued, in which the carnage was enormous, for the combatants on both sides were full of ardour and resolved not to yield but with their lives. On one side, the French made furious assaults, inspired by the hope of gaining the spoils of the victory; on the other, the Normans struck home, animated by their determination to repel the enemy and defend their lives and possessions. This battle was fought beyond the Seine in the winter season, before Lent, eight years after that of Val-des-Dunes. [2] Guy, count of Ponthieu, was taken prisoner and Eudes, Reynold, and others were put to flight, owing their escape to the speed with which they ran away. Count Ralph [de Valois] would also have been taken, if Roger, my commander-in-chief, had not favoured his escape on account of the fealty he had formerly sworn to him. In acting thus, in the hour of the count's utmost need, he paid him a noble and legitimate service; receiving him in his castle, where he entertained him three days, and afterwards conducting him in safety to his own territories. Notwithstanding, for this breach of his duty to me, I banished Robert from Normandy, but, being soon afterwards reconciled with him, restored him all his domains, except the castle of Mortemer, in which he had sheltered my enemy; which I think he justly forfeited, and I granted it to his cousin William de Warrene, [3] one of my loyal young vassals. Guy, count of


[1] Roger de Mortemer, brother of William de Warrene, son of Walter (or Ralph), who married a niece of the Duchess Gonnor.

[2] As the battle of Val-des-dunes was fought in 1047, not more than seven years had elapsed in February, 1054.

[3] Although Roger de Mortemer, Roger's son, fought bravely at the battle of Hastings, the castle of his ancestors was not restored to him. In the treaty of 1153, between King Stephen and Duke Henry, by which the domains of Earl Warrene were ceded to William, the king's son, the castles of Bellencombre and Mortemer appear in the first line. A charter of Reginald de Boulogne, in 1204, mentions the castle of Mortemer, quod fuit comitis Garenniae.

A.D. 1087.] WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR'S ACTS. 409

Bayeux, was detained a captive during my pleasure; but two years afterwards I received his fealty on the terms of his being always my faithful subject and doing military service every year, wherever I should appoint, with a hundred men-at-arms. I then heaped favours upon him and dismissed him in peace thus honoured.

"As soon as I received certain intelligence of the issue of the battle of Mortemer, I despatched Ralph de Toni [1] to the


[1] Ralph de Toni, or Toeni, and Conches (see vol. i. p. 462), was hereditary standard-bearer of Normandy. His youngest son Robert was the founder of the great family of Stafford in England.- Erdeswick's Survey, p. 118.

William, as we have just seen, had marched in person against the king of France, who had crossed the Seine. It was between their two camps, separated, probably, by only a small interval, that Ralph de Toni executed his commission. According to Robert Wace, he climbed up into a tree, but Ralph de Diceto says he stood on a hillock: "It was night when, standing on a neighbouring hill, he began to shout aloud, 'My name is Ralph de Toni, and I bring you melancholy news; hasten with your chariots and cars to Mortemer, to carry off the bodies of the slain. The French have chosen to encounter the Norman chivalry, and have found its assault more severe than they expected. Eudes, the king's brother, has fled, and Guy, count of Ponthieu, is a captive. All the rest are either prisoners or slain, or have saved their lives by the speed with which they have run away. The duke of Normandy sends this message to the king of France'". A ballad of a later age is to the same purport

"Reveillez-vous et vous levee,
Francois, qui trop dormi avez;
Allez bientot voir vos amis,
Que les Normands ont a mort mis
Entre Ecouis et Mortemer:
La vous convient les inhumer.

These verses may be thus paraphrased:-

Wake, Frenchmen, wake! you sleep too sound,
Your friends, upon the bloody ground
Sleep a sounder sleep afar,
Between Ecouis and Mortemar.

Haste, Frenchmen, haste! if not to save,
At least to give an honoured grave
To gallant knights and comrades brave,
Who fell before the tide of war,
Between Ecouis and Mortemar.

Mortimer (mortuum-mare) en-Lions, on the river Caulne, not Mortemer-en-Brai, was the scene of this conflict; it was, therefore, a mistake of the later writer to place it near Ecouis. The language of the former has all the air of his being a cotemporary perfectly acquainted with the localities.

410 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XV.

king of France with an account of what had occurred on the left bank of the Seine. On hearing the news, which reached him in the dead of the night, King Henry lost not a moment in putting his troops in motion, and, having made a precipitate retreat, from that hour he has never reposed for a single night on my territories.

"Thus, from my very infancy, I have been continually involved in numberless embarassments, but, by God's mercy, I have freed myself from them all with the highest honour. I became in consequence an object of jealousy to all my neighbours, but by His aid in whom I always put my trust, none of them were able to prevail against me. The Bretons and Anjevins have found this; the French and Flemings are witnesses of it; the Manceaux have severely felt it.

"Geoffrey Martel, count of Anjou, [1] Conan, duke of Brittany, [2] and Robert the Frisian, count of Flanders, [3] engaged in perfidious enterprises against me; but as God was my protector, though they made great efforts and laid many snares for me, they were never able to accomplish their designs. I have placed on my brow a royal diadem, which none of my predecessors wore, having acquired it by the grace of God, not by hereditary right. It would be difficult for me to recount my labours beyond sea, and the perilous conflicts in which I have been engaged with the people of Exeter, Chester, and Northumbria, with the Scots and Welsh, Norwegians, Danes, and other adversaries who attempted to deprive me of the crown of England: in all which I obtained the victory. But much as human ambition is disposed to triumph in such successes, I am a prey to cruel fears and anxieties when I reflect with what barbarities


[1] Called also Geoffrey of Mayenne. Malmesbury gives an account of this expedition, which probably took place in 1052, the year preceding the revolt of William d'Arques before mentioned. Antiq. Lib. p. 266.

[2] King William here refers to a transaction which was perhaps the most dishonourable of his whole career. See before, p. 449.

[3] Allusion is made to the battle of Ravenchoven, near Cassel, February 22, 1071, in which William Fitz-Oshorne fell (see before p. 59), and also to the preparations made for invading England in 1085 concerted between Robert the Frisian and St. Canute, king of Denmark.

A.D. 1087.] THE CONQUEROR'S CARE OF THE CHURCH. 411

they were attended. I therefore humbly entreat you, the priests and ministers of Christ, to commend me in your prayers to Almighty God for the forgiveness of the sins with which my conscience is burdened, and that through his inexhaustible mercy he will vouchsafe to grant me salvation among his elect. I direct my treasure to be given to the churches and the poor, that what was amassed in crime may be dispersed among the saints and applied to holy uses. For you ought to remember how dearly I have loved you, and how stoutly I have defended you against all your enemies.

"I have never injured the church of God, which is our mother, but have always paid her, as circumstances demanded, due honour. I never sold ecclesiastical dignities. I prohibited simony, which I always detested. In the election of prelates my choice was directed by meritorious conduct and wise doctrine, and as far as it has been in my power the government of the church has been committed to the most worthy. This may be truly proved by my selection of Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury; of Anselm, abbot of Bec; Gerbert, abbot of Fontenelles; Durand, of Troarn; and many other doctors of my realm, whose praise, I think, is spread to the ends of the earth. Such were the associates with whom I conversed, and in whose society I learnt the maxims of wisdom and truth; so that I always delighted to receive their counsels.

"Nine abbeys of monks and one of nuns, founded in Normandy [1] by my predecessors, have, under God's blessing, been augmented by my care, nobly enriched with the splendid endowments of various kinds I have conferred upon them. Moreover, during the time I have governed the duchy, seventeen convents of monks and six of nuns have been erected, [2] in which the full service is regularly


[1] The nine abheys of monks here referred to were probably St. Ouen, at Rouen, St. Wandrille, Jumieges, Mont St. Michel, Fecamp, Bernai, Mont St. Catherine, Cerisi, and Bec; the abbey of nuns, Montivilliers.

[2] Grestain, St. Pierre-de-Preaux, Notre-dame-de-St. Pierre-sur-Dive, Lire, St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte, St. Evroult, St. Martin de Srez, Conches, Troarn, Lessai, Le Treport, Corneilles, St. Stephen at Caen, St. Sever, St. Georges de Bocherville, St. Victor-en Caux, and Bonne-Nouvelle (a priory). We can only discover five convents of nuns: St. Leger-de-Preaux, Almeneches, St. Desir de Lisieux, or Notre-Dame-du-Pre, St. Sauveur d'Evreux, La Trinite de Caen.

412 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XV.

performed, and large alms are daily distributed for the love of the King Supreme. With such fortresses Normandy is well protected, and in them men are taught to combat the demons and the sins of the flesh. By God's inspiration all these abbeys have been either of my creation or foundation, and I became their zealous benefactor and kind promoter. Moreover, all the endowments, whether in lands or other revenues, which my barons have given to God and his saints, for the good of their souls, both in Normandy and England, I have graciously confirmed, and have gratuitously ratified by my princely authority the charters granting them, against all claims and pretensions.

"Such have been my cares from my earliest years, and these duties I leave to my successors to be observed in all time to come. In these, my sons, constantly follow my example, that you may be honoured for ever before God and men. I especially exhort you, who are my own flesh, to cultivate unceasingly the society of good and wise men, and to submit to their rule in all things, if you desire to possess durable glory. From the teaching of pious philosophers you will learn to discern good from evil, to adhere to justice on all occasions, and to spare no pains in avoiding iniquity; to be merciful protectors of the weak, the poor, and the pious, while you bridle and put down the proud and malicious: to refrain from injuring simple folk, to frequent with devotion the services of holy church, to love the worship of God above all riches, and to observe unweariedly the divine law by day and by night, in prosperity and in adversity.

"I granted the dukedom of Normandy to my son Robert, because he was the eldest, [1] before I fought against Harold on the heath [2] of Senlac. He has already received the homage of nearly all the barons of this land. The grant thus made and ratified I cannot annul. But I know for certain that the country which is subject to his dominion will be truly wretched. He is a proud and silly prodigal, and will have long to suffer severe misfortune.


[1] It has been already remarked that the nomination of Robert to the succession of the duchy was made at least as early as 1063. See before, p. 14.

[2] Epitumo, query epithymum? a word found only in our author's work, referring, probably, to the odoriferous plants which are found on heaths.

A.D. 1087.] THE CONQUEROR CONFESSES HIS CRUELTIES. 413

"I appoint no one my heir to the crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am, and who ordereth all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but I wrested it from the perjured king Harold in a desperate battle, with much effusion of human blood, and it was by the slaughter and banishment of his adherents, that I subjugated England to my rule. I have persecuted its native inhabitants beyond all reason. Whether nobles or commons, I have cruelly oppressed them; many I unjustly disinherited; innumerable multitudes, especially in the county of York, perished through me by famine or the sword. Thus it happened: [1] the Deiri and other people beyond the Humber called in the troops of Sweyn, king of Denmark, as their auxiliaries against me, and put to the sword Robert Comyn and a thousand soldiers within the walls of Durham, as well as others, my barons and most esteemed knights, in various places. [2] These events inflamed me to the highest pitch of resentment, and I fell on the English of the northern counties like a raving lion. I commanded their houses and corn, with all their implements and furniture, to be burnt without distinction, and large herds of cattle and beasts of burden, to be butchered wherever they were found. It was thus that I took revenge on multitudes of both sexes by subjecting them to the calamity of a cruel famine; and by so doing, alas me! became the barbarous murderer of many thousands, both young and old, of that fine race of people. Having, therefore, made my way to the throne of that kingdom by so many crimes, I dare not leave it to any one but God alone, lest after my death worse should happen by my means. I trust that my son William, who from his earliest years has always attached himself to me, and been dutiful under all trials to the best of bis power, may live long and prosperous in the influence of the Spirit of God, and should it be the


[1] A full account of William's campaign in the north of England, and of the frightful devastations which attended its progress, is given by Ordericus in the fifth chapter of his fourth book (see p. 21 of the present vol.), which for its clear and vivid details, the boldness of the Anglo-Norman monk's strictures on William's cruelties, and the style of composition, is, perhaps, the best specimen of his historical powers this work affords.

[2] In this passage the king inverts the order of events.

414 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XVI.

divine will that he succeed to the throne, his reign may be illustrious".

CH. XVI. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, exempted from the general amnesty - The last hours and death of William the Conqueror - His funeral - and character.

WHILE King William discoursed thus, with much more to the same effect, and the bystanders who cautiously scanned the dim prospects of the future, were lost in amazement, Henry, his youngest son, hearing that no provision was made for him out of the royal wealth, said sorrowfully to the king: "And what, my father, do you give me"? to which the king replied: "I bequeath to you five thousand pounds of silver from my treasury". Upon which Henry said: "What shall I do with this money, having no corner of earth which I can call my own"? To which the king answered: "My son, be contented with your lot, and trust in the Lord. Suffer patiently your elder brothers to precede you. Robert will have Normandy, and William England. But you, also, in your turn, will succeed to all the dominions which belong to me, and you will surpass your brothers in wealth and power". After he had said this, the king, fearing lest in such extended territories some sudden tumults might burst forth, addressed a letter to Lanfranc the archbishop, on the appointment of a successor to the throne, and affixing his seal, gave it to his son William Rufus, commanding him to embark for England without delay. He then kissed him, and, giving him his blessing, directed him to hasten his departure and cross the sea to secure the crown. The prince lost no time in riding to the port of Wissant, [1] and there he received intelligence of his father's death. Henry was equally prompt in securing the money allotted to him. He had it carefully weighed that there might be no deficiency, and, summoning his intimate friends in whom he could confide, sought a place of safety in which to deposit his treasure.

Meanwhile the physicians and royal attendants in charge


[1] Wissant, which was a celebrated port in the middle ages, is situated between Boulogne and Calais, about four leagues and a half from the former. In his tenth book our author makes William Rufus embark at the port of Touque.

A.D. 1087.] A GENERAL AMNESTY. 415

of the dying prince, together with the nobles who had come to visit him, took an opportunity of speaking in favour of the captives who were detained in prison, humbly entreating him to have pity on them and grant their release. The king replied to them: "I have long kept in captivity Morcar, the noble English earl; in this I have been unjust, but my fear has been that if he were liberated he would raise disturbances in the kingdom of England. [1] I threw into prison Roger de Breteuil [2] who opposed me with bitter animosity, and stirred up against me his brother-in-law Ralph de Guader and many others, and I swore that he should not be set free as long as I lived. In like manner I confined many persons to punish them for their own offences, and others to prevent their causing future rebellions. Justice requires this, and the divine law, through Moses, commands the rulers of the world to restrain the guilty that the innocent may not perish. [3] Being now, however, at the point of death, as I hope to be saved and, by God's mercy, absolved from my sins, I order that the prison doors shall be forthwith thrown open, and all the prisoners, except my brother, the bishop of Bayeux, be released and suffered to go free, for the love of God, that He also may have mercy on me. But they are not to be liberated, but on condition that they first take an oath to my ministers, for the security of the state, that they will use every means to preserve the peace both in Normandy and in England, and will stedfastly resist the enemies of tranquillity to the utmost of their power".

When Robert, earl of Morton, heard that by the king's decision his brother was condemned to perpetual imprisonment he was much distressed. Herluin de Conteville [4] had married Harleve, the concubine of Duke Robert, by whom he had two sons. Odo and Robert. William, who was first duke and afterwards king, had heaped honours and possessions on his father-in-law both in Normandy and England, and had enriched with large domains his sons, Ralph, born


[1] See before, b. iv. c. 7, p. 45.

[2] See ib. p. 82.

[3] We are not able to discover any passage of this kind in the Pentateuch.

[4] Conteville-sur-mer, near the mouth of the Risle.

416 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XVI.

of another wife, [1] and Robert and Odo, his own uterine brothers. For having expelled from Normandy on slight pretences William, surnamed Werlenge, count of Morton, son of Count Mauger, [2] he had conferred the county of Morton on Robert, sou of Herluin, and thus his own brother. Moreover, on the death of Hugh, bishop of Bayeux, son of Count Mauger, [3] he gave that bishopric to his brother Odo, whom he afterwards made earl of Kent in England. At length, King William arrested him in the Isle of Wight, [4] on account of his overweening pride, as I have before fully related, and having detained him four years in prison, was unwilling, such was the insolence of Odo, to release him even when he was himself at the point of death. In consequence, the earl of Morton, of whom I have lately spoken, was sorely afflicted, and, by his own supplications and those of his friends on behalf of his brother, wearied the suffering prince.

The king was exhausted by the numerous solicitations from so many quarters for the release of the bishop of Bayeux; but at length he said: "I wonder that your penetration has not discovered the character of the man for whom you supplicate me. Are not you making petitions for a prelate who has long held religion in contempt, and who is the subtle promoter of fatal divisions? Have I not already incarcerated for four years this bishop, who when he ought to have proved himself exemplary in the just government of England, became a most cruel oppressor of the people, and destroyer of the convents of monks? In desiring the liberation of this seditious man, you are ill-advised, and are bringing on yourselves a serious calamity. It is clear that my brother Odo is a man not to be trusted, ambitious, given to fleshly desires, and of enormous cruelty; and that he will never be converted from his whoredoms and ruinous follies. I satisfied myself of this on several occasions, and therefore I imprisoned, not the bishop, but the tyrannical


[1] This is the only notice we have of this eldest son of Herluin de Conteville, and half-brother of the Conqueror.

[2] William de Jumieges (b. vii. c. 19) relates the circumstances under which William Werlene forfeited the earldom of Morton.

[3] Ralph comte d'Ivri. It was in 1040 that William gave his brother the bishopric of Bayeux, vacant by the death of William d'Ivri.

[4] See before, c. viii. p. 372, et seq. for the details of this transaction.

A.D. 1087.] CASE OF THE BISHOP OF BAYEUX. 417

earl. There is no doubt that if he is released, he will disturb the whole country and be the ruin of thousands. I say this not from hatred, as if I were his enemy, but as the father of my country, watching for the welfare of a Christian people. It would indeed give me inexpressible and heartfelt joy to think that he would conduct himself with chastity and moderation, as it always becomes a priest and minister of God". [1]

All the friends of the bishop pledging themselves for his reformation, the king further said: "Whether I will or not, your petition shall be granted, but after my death there will immediately be a violent change in affairs. It is against my own judgment that I permit my brother to be liberated from confinement, for be assured that he will cause the death or the grievous injury of many persons. Further, as I have declared the forfeiture of all the lands of Baudri, son of Nicholas, [2] as a punishment for his folly in quitting my service and going to Spain without my licence, I now restore him his domains for the love of God. I do not think that a braver knight exists, but he is prodigal and inconstant, and loves to wander in foreign countries".

Thus King William, though tormented with excruciating pains in his intestines, preserved throughout the full possession of his clearness of intellect and power of expressing himself with his usual vivacity; and gave with readiness useful counsels to all who addressed themselves to him on the affairs of the state.

At length, on Tuesday, the fifth of the ides [the 9th] of September, [3] the king waking just when the sun was beginning to shed his rays on the earth, heard the sound of the


[1] Whatever amplifications our author may have made in the speeches which he has put into the king's mouth (a practice we find him frequently pursuing in common with most ancient historians), it does appear that Odo was excepted from the general amnesty, and the sequel of the history will show how well his brother had penetrated the real character of this voluptuous and turbulent prelate.

[2] Baudri de Guitri. This offence must have been very recent, as we have seen Baudri, in 1085, fighting bravely in William's service in Maine. This lord held a fief at Bocquence under the abbey of St. Evroult, and must have been personally known to our author, who makes frequent and honourable mention of him.

[3] William died, as before stated, on September 9, 1087.

418 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XVI.

great bell of the cathedral of Rouen. On his inquiring what it meant, his attendants replied: "My Lord, the bell is tolling for primes in the church of St. Mary". Then the king, raised his eyes to heaven with deep devotion, and lifting up his hands said: "I commend myself to Mary, the holy mother of God, my heavenly mistress, that by her blessed intercession I may be reconciled to her well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ". Having said this he instantly expired. The physicians and others who were present, who had watched the king all night while he slept, his repose neither broken by cries or groans, seeing him now expire so suddenly and unexpectedly, were much astonished, and became as men who had lost their wits. Notwithstanding, the wealthiest of them mounted their horses and departed in haste to secure their property. But the inferior attendants, observing that their masters had disappeared, laid hands on the arms, the plate, the robes, the linen, and all the royal furniture, and leaving the corpse almost naked on the floor of the house hastened away.

Observe then, I pray you, my readers, how little trust can be placed in human fidelity. All these servants snatched up what they could of the royal effects, like so many kites, and took to their heels with their booty. Roguery thus came forth from its hiding place the moment the great justiciary was dead, and first exercised its rapacity round the corpse of him who had so long repressed it.

Intelligence of the king's death was quickly spread, and, far and near, the hearts of those who heard it were filled with joy or grief. In fact, King William's decease was known in Rome and in Calabria to some of the exiles he had disinherited, the same day he died at Rouen, as they afterwards solemnly asserted in Normandy. For the evil spirit was frantic with joy on finding his servants, who were bent on rapine and plunder, set free by the death of their judge.

O, worldly pomp, how despicable you are when one considers that you are empty and fleeting! You are justly compared to watery bubbles, since at one moment you are inflated and rise, and vanish the next. Behold this mighty prince, who was lately obsequiously obeyed by more than a hundred thousand men in arms, and at whose nod nations trembled, was now stripped by his own attendants, in a

A.D. 1087.] WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR'S DEATH. 419

house which was not his own; and left on the bare ground from the hour of primes to that of tierce.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Rouen having heard the death of their prince, were in the greatest state of alarm; almost all of them lost their reason, as if they had been intoxicated, and were thrown into as much confusion as if the city had been threatened with an assault by a powerful army. Each quitted the place where he received the news, and ran to confer with his wife, or the first friend or acquaintance he met, as to what was to be done. Every one removed, or prepared to remove, his valuables, concealing them with alarm, lest they should be discovered.

At length the religious, both clergy and monks, recovering their courage and the use of their senses, formed a procession; and, arrayed in their sacred vestments, with crosses and censers, went in due order to St. Gervase, where they commended the spirit of the departed king to God, according to the holy rites of the Christian faith. Then William, the archbishop, ordered the body to be conveyed to Caen, and interred there in the abbey of St. Stephen the protomartyr, which the king himself had founded. His brother and other relations had already quitted the place, and all his servants had deserted him, as if he had been a barbarian; so that not one of the king's attendants was found to take care of his corpse. However, Herluin, a country knight, was induced by his natural goodness to undertake the charge of the funeral, for the love of God and the honour of his country. He therefore procured at his own expense persons to embalm and carry the body; and, hiring a hearse, he caused it to be carried to the port on the Seine; and, embarking it on a vessel, conducted it by water and land to Caen.

Then Gilbert, the lord abbot, [1] with the whole convent of monks, met the hearse in solemn procession, accompanied by a sorrowing multitude of clerks and laymen, offering prayers. But at this moment a sudden calamity filled the minds of all with alarm. For a fire broke out in one of the houses, and, shooting up prodigious volumes of flame, spread through great part of the town of Caen, doing great damage. The crowds, both of clergy and laity, hastened with one accord to


[1] Gilbert de Coutances, abbot of St. Stephen at Caen, 1079-1101.

420 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XVI.

extinguish the fire, so that the monks were left alone to finish the service they had begun, and they brought the royal corpse into the abbey church, chanting psalms.

Afterwards, all the bishops and abbots of Normandy assembled to perform the obsequies of the illustrious duke, who was the father of his country. I will insert in this work a short list of some of the number, for the information of posterity. William, archbishop of Rouen; Odo, bishop of Bayeux; Gilbert, bishop of Evreux; Gilbert Maminot, bishop of Lisieux; Michael, bishop of Avranches; Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances; and Gerard, bishop of Seez. Among the abbots were the following: Anselm, of Bec; William de Roos, of Fecamp; Gerbert, of Fontenelles; Guntard, of Jumieges; Mainier, of St. Evroult; Fulk, of Dive; Durand, of Troarn; Robert, of Seez; Osbern, of Bernai; Roger, of St. Michael-in-peril-of-the-sea; the two abbots of Rouen, Nicholas, of St. Ouen, and Walter, of Mont-de-la-Sainte-Trinite; with many more, whom it would be tedious to enumerate. All these assembled at the funeral of the illustrious Baron, and buried him in the sanctuary, between the choir and the altar.

The mass ended, when the coffin was already lowered into the grave, but the corpse was still on the bier, the great Gilbert, bishop of Evreux, ascended the pulpit, and pronounced a long and eloquent discourse on the distinguished character of the deceased prince. He expatiated on William's having extended by his valour the bounds of the Norman dominion, and raised his people to a pitch of greatness surpassing the times of any of his predecessors; and on his having maintained peace and justice in all his states, wisely chastising thieves and robbers with the scourge of the law, while he firmly defended the clergy and monks, and defenceless people, with his meritorious sword. When he had concluded his discourse he addressed himself to the congregation, who were shedding affectionate tears and attested his assertions, and added this supplication: "As in this present life no man can live without sin, I beseech you, for the love of Christ, that you earnestly intercede with Almighty God on behalf of our deceased prince, and that you kindly forgive him, if in aught he has offended against you".

A.D. 1087.] FUNERAL OF THE CONQUEROR. 421.

Then Ascelin, son of Arthur, came forward from the crowd, and preferred the following complaint with a loud voice, in the hearing of all: "The land", he said, "on which you stand was the yard belonging to my father's house, which that man for whom you pray, when he was yet only duke of Normandy, [1] took forcible possession of, and in the teeth of all justice, by an exercise of tyrannical power, here founded this abbey. I therefore lay claim to this land, and openly demand its restitution, and in God's name I forbid the body of the spoiler being covered with earth which is my property, and buried in my inheritance". The bishops and other great men, on hearing this, and finding from inquiries among his neighbours that he spoke the truth, drew the man aside, and, instead of offering him any violence, appeased his resentment with gentle words and came to terms with him. For the small space in which the grave was made, they paid him on the spot sixty shillings, and promised him a proportionable price for the rest of the land which he claimed. This agreement they soon afterwards fulfilled, for the good of the soul of the master they dearly loved. [2]


[1] That is, before the conquest of England, when the abbey was built; at which time William was only duke of Normandy.

[2] The narrative of Wace entirely agrees with that of our author. According to William of Malmeshury, his son Henry, afterwards king of England, was present at the funeral, and paid to Ascelin, whom he calls a "knight and a brawler, a hundred pounds of silver to quiet his audacious claim".- B. iii. p. 311 of the edition in Bohn's Antiq. Lib.

Two cotemporary facts may serve for a fitting conclusion to our author's account of the last hours of William the Conqueror. The first is supplied by William of Malmesbury, ib. p. 307. Honouring his father's memory, he had sent a person in his confidence to remove the body of Duke Robert, which had been interred at Nice, and bring it to Normandy. The messenger, having proceeded on his pious errand, received the intelligence of his sovereign's death while he was in Apulia, on his return home with Robert's remains. He, therefore, interred them there. The place where they were deposited is unknown, but might be probably discovered by the researches of travellers in the south of Italy. The other fact presents a curious contrast between two destinies which were terminated within a few days of each other. The tourist who visits the church of St. Saviour at Bruges will find a leaden tablet, transferred from the church of St. Donat in the same city, which records that Gunilde, born of illustrious parents in England, being the daughter of the powerful Earl Godwin, by Githa a noble lady of Danish extraction, having devoted herself to a life of chastity, and refused the highest offers in marriage, left England when it was conquered by William the Norman, and her brother, King Harold, was slain. She spent some years of her exile at St. Ouen in Flanders, charitable to the poor, gentle and agreeable to her attendants, courteous to strangers, and only severe to herself. She afterwards removed to Bruges, and, after some years spent in the exercises of virtue, departed in the Lord on August 24, 1087. The deathbed of this chaste and pious princess was exempt from the remorse and the scandals which disgraced the last hours of the enemy of her family.

422 ORDERICUS VITALIS. [B.VII. CH.XVI.

However, when the corpse was lowered into the stone coffin, they were obliged to use some violence in forcing it in, because through the negligence of the masons it had been made too short, so that, as the king was very corpulent, the bowels burst, and an intolerable stench affected the by-standers and the rest of the crowd. The smoke of incense and other aromatics ascended in clouds, but failed to purify the tainted atmosphere. The priests therefore hurried the conclusion of the funeral service and retired as soon as possible, in great alarm, to their respective abodes. I have thus carefully investigated, and given a true account of all the manifestations of God's providence at the duke's death, not composing a well-feigned tragedy for the lucre of gain, nor a humorous comedy to provoke the laughter of parasites, but a true narrative of the various events for the perusal of studious readers. In the midst of prosperity adverse circumstances were permitted to arise, that the hearts of men might be impressed with the fearful warnings.

A king once potent, and warlike, and the terror of the numberless inhabitants of many provinces, lay naked on the floor, deserted by those who owed him their birth, and those he had fed and enriched. He needed the money of a stranger for the cost of his funeral, and a coffin and bearers were provided, at the expense of an ordinary person, for him, who till then had been in the enjoyment of enormous wealth. He was carried to the church, amidst flaming houses, by trembling crowds, and a spot of freehold land was wanting for the grave of one whose princely sway had extended over so many cities, and towns, and villages. His corpulent stomach, fattened with so many delicacies, shamefully burst, to give a lesson, both to the prudent and the thoughtless, on what is the end of fleshly glory. Beholding the corruption

A.D. 1087.] REFLECTIONS ON THE CONQUEROR'S END. 423

of that foul corpse, men were taught to strive earnestly, by the rules of a salutary temperance, after better things than the delights of the flesh, which is dust, and must return to dust.

There is but one lot for rich and poor; both become the prey of death and corruption. Trust not then, O sons of men, in princes who deceive, but in the true and living God, who created all things. Turn over the pages of the Old and New Testament, and take from thence numberless examples which will instruct you what to avoid and what to desire. Expect nothing from iniquity, and covet not the goods of others. "If riches increase, set not your heart upon them". "All flesh is grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of hay. The grass fadeth, and the flower thereof perisheth; but the word of the Lord remaineth for ever".

I have determined to conclude this seventh book of the history of St. Evroult with the end of King William's reign. In the eighth book, it is my design to leave to posterity some account of that king's sons, and of the various disturbances by which both Normandy and England were long grievously afflicted.

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