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Title: William of Malmesbury's Chronicle of the Kings of England - From the earliest period to the reign of King Stephen
Author: Giles, J. A. (John Allen)
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Notes

Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed into the Public

The Timeline in the page headers of the original book is represented
here by sidenotes, beginning with “[A.D. year]”, placed between nearby
paragraphs, and shaded in some versions of this eBook.

Other notes may be found at the end of this eBook.

[Illustration: _An Anglo-Saxon Chief._]






  With Notes and Illustrations.

  BY J. A. GILES, D.C.L.,




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

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

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

            J. A. G.

  _Bampton, June, 1847._



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

To himself then we are indebted for the knowledge of his being
descended from both English and Norman parents; his father having
probably come hither at the conquest. The exact time of his birth
cannot be ascertained; though perhaps an approximation to it may be
made. In the “Commentary on Jeremiah,”[1] Malmesbury observes, that
he “had long since, in his youthful days, amused himself with writing
history, that he was now forty years of age;” and, in another place, he
mentions a circumstance which occurred “in the time of king Henry;”[2]
apparently implying that Henry was then dead. Now, admitting the
expression of “long since” to denote a period of ten years, this, as
his “Histories of the Kings” and “of the Prelates” were completed in
the year 1125, must have been written about 1135, the time of Henry’s
death, and would of course place his own birth about 1095 or 1096.[3]

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

With these facts, meagre as they are, the personal account of him must
close. But with regard to his literary bent and attainments there is
ample store of information in his writings. From his earliest youth
he gave his soul to study, and to the collecting of books;[4] and
he visited many of the most celebrated monasteries in the kingdom,
apparently in prosecution of this darling propensity. The ardour of
his curiosity, and the unceasing diligence of his researches, in
this respect, have perhaps been seldom surpassed. He seems to have
procured every volume within his reach; and to have carefully examined
and digested its contents, whether divinity, history, biography,
poetry, or classical literature. Of his acquirements as a scholar it
is indeed difficult to speak in terms of sufficient commendation.
That he had accurately studied nearly all the Roman authors, will be
readily allowed by the classical reader of his works. From these he
either quotes or inserts so appositely, as to show how thoroughly he
had imbibed their sense and spirit. His adaptations are ever ready and
appropriate; they incorporate with his narrative with such exactness
that they appear only to occupy their legitimate place. His knowledge
of Greek is not equally apparent; at least his references to the
writers of Greece are not so frequent, and even these might probably be
obtained from translations: from this, however, no conclusion can be
drawn that he did not understand the language. With respect to writers
subsequent to those deemed classics, his range was so extensive that it
is no easy matter to point out many books which he had not seen, and
certainly he had perused several which we do not now possess.

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

His industry and application were truly extraordinary. Even to the
moment when we reluctantly lose sight of him, he is discovered
unceasingly occupied in the correction of his works.[5] In the MSS.
of the “History of the Kings” may be found traces of at least four
several editions; and the “History of the Prelates” supplies nearly
as many varieties. And though it may reasonably be imagined that a
great portion of the alterations are merely verbal, and of course
imperceptible in a translation, yet they contribute in an extraordinary
degree to the polish and elegance of his style.[6] Another excellent
feature of Malmesbury’s literary character is, his love of truth. He
repeatedly declares that, in the remoter periods of his work, he had
observed the most guarded caution in throwing all responsibility, for
the facts he mentions, on the authors from whom he derived them; and
in his own times he avers, that he has recorded nothing that he had
not either personally witnessed, or learned from the most credible
authority. Adhering closely to this principle, he seems to have been
fully impressed with the difficulty of relating the transactions of
the princes, his contemporaries, and on this account he repeatedly
apologizes for his omissions. But here is seen his dexterous management
in maintaining an equipoise between their virtues and vices; for he
spares neither William the First, nor his sons who succeeded him:
indeed several of his strictures in the earlier editions of this work,
are so severe, that he afterwards found it necessary to modify and
soften them.

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

Having thus stated the leading features of Malmesbury’s life, his
avocations and attainments, it may not be irrelevant to consider the
form and manner which he has adopted in the history before us. A
desire to be acquainted with the transactions of their ancestors seems
natural to men in every stage of society, however rude or barbarous.
The northern nations, more especially, had their historical traditions,
and the songs of their bards, from the remotest times. Influenced
by this feeling, the Anglo-Saxons turned their attention to the
composition of annals very early after their settlement in Britain;
and hence originated that invaluable register the SAXON CHRONICLE,[7]
in which facts are briefly related as they arose;--in chronological
order, indeed, but without comment or observation. After the Norman
conquest, among other objects of studious research in England,
history attracted considerable attention, and the form, as well as
the matter, of the Saxon Chronicle, became the prevailing standard.
It might readily be supposed that Malmesbury’s genius and attainments
would with difficulty submit to the shackles of a mere chronological
series, which afforded no field for the exercise of genius or judgment.
Accordingly, following the bent of his inclination, he struck into a
different and freer path; and to a judicious selection of facts gave
the added charm of wisdom and experience. It may therefore be useful
to advert to the exemplification of this principle in the scope and
design of the work immediately before us. His first book comprises the
exploits of the Anglo-Saxons, from the period of their arrival till the
consolidation of the empire under the monarchy of Egbert. Herein too
is separately given the history of those powerful but rival kingdoms,
which alternately subjugated, or bowed down to the dominion of, each
other, and deluged the country with blood, as the love of conquest or
the lust of ambition prompted. The second portion of the work continues
the regal series till the mighty revolution of the Norman conquest.
The three remaining books are occupied with the reigns of William and
his sons, including a very interesting account of the first Crusade.
His Modern History carries the narrative into the turbulent reign of

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

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

Having thus noticed the multifarious topics embraced by Malmesbury,
it may be necessary to advert to his style: although, after what has
been premised, it might seem almost superfluous to add, that it admits
nearly of as much variety as his facts. This probably arises from that
undeviating principle which he appears to have laid down, that his
chief efforts should be exerted to give pleasure to his readers; in
imitation of the rhetoricians, whose first object was to make their
audience kindly disposed, next attentive, and finally anxious to
receive instruction.[8] Of his style, therefore, generally speaking, it
may not be easy to give a perfect description. To say to which Roman
author it bears the nearest resemblance, when he imitated almost every
one of them, from Sallust to Eutropius, would be rash indeed. How shall
we bind this classical Proteus, who occasionally assumes the semblance
of Persius, Juvenal, Horace, Lucan, Virgil, Lucretius; and who never
appears in his proper shape so long as he can seize the form of an
ancient classic?[9] Often does he declare that he purposely varies
his diction, lest the reader should be disgusted by its sameness;
anxiously careful to avoid repetition, even in the structure of his
phrases. It may be said, however, that generally, in his earlier works,
(for he was apparently very young when he wrote his History of the
Kings,) his style is rather laboured; though, perhaps, even this may
have originated in an anxiety that his descriptions should be full;
or, to use his own expression, that posterity should be wholly and
perfectly informed. That his diction is highly antithetical, and his
sentences artfully poised, will be readily allowed; and perhaps the
best index to his meaning, where he may be occasionally obscure, is the
nicely-adjusted balance of his phrase. That he gradually improved his
style, and in riper years, where he describes the transactions of his
own times, became terse, elegant, and polished, no one will attempt to
dispute; and it will be regretted, that this interesting portion of
history should break off abruptly in the midst of the contest between
the empress Maud and Stephen.

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

It remains briefly to speak of the mode in which the translation has
been conducted. The printed text of Malmesbury[10] was found so
frequently faulty and corrupted that, on a careful perusal, it was
deemed necessary to seek for authentic manuscripts. These were supplied
by that noble institution, the British Museum; but one more especially,
which, on an exact comparison with others, was found to possess
indisputable proofs of the author’s latest corrections. This, Bib. Reg.
13, D. II, has been collated throughout with the printed copy; the
result has produced numerous important corrections, alterations, and
insertions, which are constantly referred to in the notes. In addition
to this, various other MSS. have been repeatedly consulted; so that it
is presumed the text, from which the translation has been made, is, by
these means, completely established.

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

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


  EDITOR’S PREFACE.                                                    v

  THE TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE.                                           vi

                    KING HENRY.                                        1

  PREFACE.                                                             3


    CHAP. I.    _Of the arrival of the Angles, and of the Kings of
                    Kent._ [A.D. 449.]                                 5

    CHAP. II.   _Of the kings of the West Saxons._ [A.D. 495.]        17

    CHAP. III.  _Of the kings of the Northumbrians._ [A.D. 450.]      40

    CHAP. IV.   _Of the kings of the Mercians._ [A.D. 626-874.]       70

    CHAP. V.    _Of the kings of the East Angles._ [A.D. 520-905.]    88

    CHAP. VI.   _Of the kings of the East Saxons._ [A.D. 520-823.]    90


    PROLOGUE.                                                         93

    CHAP. I.    _The history of king Egbert._ [A.D. 800-839.]         94

    CHAP. II.   _Of king Ethelwulf._ [A.D. 839-858.]                  97

    CHAP. III.  _Of Ethelbald, Ethelbert, and Ethelred, sons of
                    Ethelwulf._ [A.D. 858-872.]                      110

    CHAP. IV.   _Of king Alfred._ [A.D. 872-901.]                    113

    CHAP. V.    _Of Edward the son of Alfred._ [A.D. 901-924.]       122

    CHAP. VI.   _Of Athelstan, the son of Edward._ [A.D. 924-940.]   128

    CHAP. VII.  _Of kings Edmund, Edred, and Edwy._ [A.D. 940-955.]  141

    CHAP. VIII. _Of king Edgar, son of king Edmund._
                    [A.D. 959-975.]                                  147

    CHAP. IX.   _Of St. Edward king and martyr the son of Edgar._
                    [A.D. 975-978.]                                  162

    CHAP. X.    _Of king Ethelred and king Edmund._
                    [A.D. 979-1017.]                                 165

    CHAP. XI.   _Of king Canute._ [A.D. 1017-1031.]                  196

    CHAP. XII.  _Of king Harold and Hardecanute._ [A.D. 1036-1042.]  205

    CHAP. XIII. _Of St. Edward, son of king Ethelred._
                    [A.D. 1042-1066.]                                213


    PREFACE.                                                         258


    PREFACE.                                                         325

    CHAP. I.    _Of William the Second._ [A.D. 1087-1100.]           327

    CHAP. II.   _The Expedition to Jerusalem._ [A.D. 1095-1105.]     355


    PREFACE.                                                         424



    BOOK I.                                                          481

    BOOK II.                                                         498

    BOOK III.                                                        513

  INDEX.                                                             536


  Transcriber’s Notes.





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

The virtue of celebrated men holds forth as its greatest excellence,
its tendency to excite the love of persons even far removed from it:
hence the lower classes make the virtues of their superiors their own,
by venerating those great actions, to the practice of which they cannot
themselves aspire. Moreover, it redounds altogether to the glory of
exalted characters, both that they do good, and that they gain the
affection of their inferiors. To you, Princes, therefore, it is owing,
that we act well; to you, indeed, that we compose anything worthy of
remembrance; your exertions incite us to make you live for ever in
our writings, in return for the dangers you undergo to secure our
tranquillity. For this reason, I have deemed it proper to dedicate the
History of the Kings of England, which I have lately published, more
especially to you, my respected and truly amiable Lord. None, surely,
can be a more suitable patron of the liberal arts than yourself, in
whom are combined the magnanimity of your grandfather, the munificence
of your uncle, the circumspection of your father; more especially as
you add to the qualities of these men, whom you alike equal in industry
and resemble in person, this peculiar characteristic, a devotion to
learning. Nor is this all: you condescend to honour with your notice
those literary characters who are kept in obscurity, either by the
malevolence of fame, or the slenderness of their fortune. And as
our nature inclines us, not to condemn in others what we approve in
ourselves, therefore men of learning find in you manners congenial to
their own; for, without the slightest indication of moroseness, you
regard them with kindness, admit them with complacency, and dismiss
them with regret. Indeed, the greatness of your fortune has made no
difference in you, except that your beneficence can now almost keep
pace with your inclination.

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


The history of the English, from their arrival in Britain to his
own times, has been written by Bede, a man of singular learning and
modesty, in a clear and captivating style. After him you will not, in
my opinion, easily find any person who has attempted to compose in
Latin the history of this people. Let others declare whether their
researches in this respect have been, or are likely to be, more
fortunate; my own labour, though diligent in the extreme, has, down to
this period, been without its reward. There, are, indeed, some notices
of antiquity, written in the vernacular tongue after the manner of a
chronicle,[12] and arranged according to the years of our Lord. By
means of these alone, the times succeeding this man have been rescued
from oblivion: for of Elward,[13] a noble and illustrious man, who
attempted to arrange these chronicles in Latin, and whose intention
I could applaud if his language did not disgust me, it is better to
be silent. Nor has it escaped my knowledge, that there is also a work
of my Lord Eadmer,[14] written with a chastened elegance of style, in
which, beginning from King Edgar, he has but hastily glanced at the
times down to William the First: and thence, taking a freer range,
gives a narrative, copious, and of great utility to the studious, until
the death of Archbishop Ralph.[15] Thus from the time of Bede there is
a period of two hundred and twenty-three years left unnoticed in his
history; so that the regular series of time, unsupported by a connected
relation, halts in the middle. This circumstance has induced me, as
well out of love to my country, as respect for the authority of those
who have enjoined on me the undertaking, to fill up the chasm, and
to season the crude materials with Roman art. And that the work may
proceed with greater regularity, I shall cull somewhat from Bede, whom
I must often quote, glancing at a few facts, but omitting more.

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

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

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

The three following Books will be employed upon the history of three
successive kings, with the addition of whatever, in their times,
happened elsewhere, which, from its celebrity, may demand a more
particular notice. This, then, is what I purpose, if the Divine favour
shall smile on my undertaking, and carry me safely by those rocks of
rugged diction, on which Elward, in his search after sounding and
far-fetched phrases, so unhappily suffered shipwreck. “Should any one,
however,” to use the poet’s expression,[16] “peruse this work with
sensible delight,” I deem it necessary to acquaint him, that I vouch
nothing for the truth of long past transactions, but the consonance
of the time; the veracity of the relation must rest with its authors.
Whatever I have recorded of later times, I have either myself seen,
or heard from credible authority. However, in either part, I pay but
little respect to the judgment of my contemporaries: trusting that I
shall gain with posterity, when love and hatred shall be no more, if
not a reputation for eloquence, at least credit for diligence.






_Of the arrival of the Angles, and of the Kings of Kent._ [A.D. 449.]

In the year of the incarnation of our Lord 449, Angles and Saxons
first came into Britain; and although the cause of their arrival is
universally known, it may not be improper here to subjoin it: and,
that the design of my work may be the more manifest, to begin even
from an earlier period. That Britain, compelled by Julius Cæsar to
submit to the Roman power, was held in high estimation by that people,
may be collected from their history, and be seen also in the ruins of
their ancient buildings. Even their emperors, sovereigns of almost
all the world, eagerly embraced opportunities of sailing hither, and
of spending their days here. Finally, Severus and Constantius, two of
their greatest princes, died upon the island, and were there interred
with the utmost pomp. The former, to defend this province from the
incursions of the barbarians, built his celebrated and well-known
wall from sea to sea. The latter, a man, as they report, of courteous
manners, left Constantine, his son by Helena, a tender of cattle,[17] a
youth of great promise, his heir. Constantine, greeted emperor by the
army, led away, in an expedition destined to the continent, a numerous
force of British soldiers; by whose exertions, the war succeeding
to his wishes, he gained in a short time the summit of power. For
these veterans, when their toil was over, he founded a colony on the
western coast of Gaul, where, to this day, their descendants, somewhat
degenerate in language and manners from our own Britons, remain with
wonderful increase.[18]

In succeeding times, in this island, Maximus, a man well-fitted for
command, had he not aspired to power in defiance of his oath, assumed
the purple, as though compelled by the army, and preparing immediately
to pass over into Gaul, he despoiled the province of almost all its
military force. Not long after also, one Constantine, who had been
elected emperor on account of his name, drained its whole remaining
warlike strength; but both being slain, the one by Theodosius, the
other by Honorius, they became examples of the instability of human
greatness. Of the forces which had followed them, part shared the fate
of their leaders; the rest, after their defeat, fled to the continental
Britons. Thus when the tyrants had left none but half-savages in the
country, and, in the towns, those only who were given up to luxury,
Britain, despoiled of the support of its youthful[19] population, and
bereft of every useful art, was for a long time exposed to the ambition
of neighbouring nations.

For immediately, by an excursion of the Scots and Picts, numbers of the
people were slain, villages burnt,[20] towns destroyed, and everything
laid waste by fire and sword. Part of the harassed islanders, who
thought anything more advisable than contending in battle, fled for
safety to the mountains; others, burying their treasures in the earth,
many of which are dug up in our own times, proceeded to Rome to ask
assistance. The Romans, touched with pity, and deeming it above all
things important to yield succour to their oppressed allies, twice lent
their aid, and defeated the enemy. But at length, wearied with the
distant voyage, they declined returning in future; bidding them rather
themselves not degenerate from the martial energy of their ancestors,
but learn to defend their country with spirit, and with arms. They
accompanied their advice with the plan of a wall, to be built for their
defence; the mode of keeping watch on the ramparts; of sallying out
against the enemy, should it be necessary, together with other duties
of military discipline. After giving these admonitions, they departed,
accompanied by the tears of the miserable inhabitants; and Fortune,
smiling on their departure, restored them to their friends and country.
The Scots, learning the improbability of their return, immediately
began to make fresh and more frequent irruptions against the Britons;
to level their wall, to kill the few opponents they met with, and to
carry off considerable booty; while such as escaped fled to the royal
residence, imploring the protection of their sovereign.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 447.] REIGN OF VORTIGERN.]

At this time Vortigern was King of Britain; a man calculated neither
for the field nor the council, but wholly given up to the lusts of the
flesh, the slave of every vice: a character of insatiable avarice,
ungovernable pride, and polluted by his lusts. To complete the picture,
as we read in the History of the Britons, he had defiled his own
daughter, who was lured to the participation of such a crime by the
hope of sharing his kingdom, and she had borne him a son. Regardless of
his treasures at this dreadful juncture, and wasting the resources of
the kingdom in riotous living, he was awake only to the blandishments
of abandoned women. Roused at length, however, by the clamours of the
people, he summoned a council, to take the sense of his nobility on
the state of public affairs. To be brief, it was unanimously resolved
to invite over from Germany the Angles and Saxons, nations powerful
in arms, but of a roving life. It was conceived that this would be
a double advantage: for it was thought that, by their skill in war,
these people would easily subdue their enemies; and, as they hitherto
had no certain habitation, would gladly accept even an unproductive
soil, provided it afforded them a stationary residence. Moreover, that
they could not be suspected of ever entertaining a design against the
country, since the remembrance of this kindness would soften their
native ferocity. This counsel was adopted, and ambassadors, men of
rank, and worthy to represent the country, were sent into Germany.

The Germans, hearing that voluntarily offered, which they had long
anxiously desired, readily obeyed the invitation; their joy quickening
their haste. Bidding adieu, therefore, to their native fields and
the ties of kindred, they spread their sails to Fortune, and, with a
favouring breeze, arrived in Britain in three of those long vessels
which they call “ceols.”[21] At this and other times came over a
mixed multitude from three of the German nations; that is to say,
the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. For almost all the country lying to
the north of the British ocean, though divided into many provinces,
is justly denominated Germany, from its germinating so many men. And
as the pruner cuts off the more luxuriant branches of the tree to
impart a livelier vigour to the remainder, so the inhabitants of this
country assist their common parent by the expulsion of a part of their
members, lest she should perish by giving sustenance to too numerous an
offspring; but in order to obviate discontent, they cast lots who shall
be compelled to migrate. Hence the men of this country have made a
virtue of necessity, and, when driven from their native soil, they have
gained foreign settlements by force of arms. The Vandals, for instance,
who formerly over-ran Africa; the Goths, who made themselves masters
of Spain; the Lombards, who, even at the present time, are settled in
Italy; and the Normans, who have given their own name to that part of
Gaul which they subdued. From Germany, then, there first came into
Britain, an inconsiderable number indeed, but well able to make up
for their paucity by their courage. These were under the conduct of
Hengist and Horsa, two brothers of suitable disposition, and of noble
race in their own country. They were great-grandsons of the celebrated
Woden, from whom almost all the royal families of these barbarous
nations deduce their origin; and to whom the nations of the Angles,
fondly deifying him, have consecrated by immemorial superstition the
fourth day of the week, as they have the sixth to his wife Frea. Bede
has related in what particular parts of Britain, the Angles, Saxons,
and Jutes,[22] fixed their habitations: my design, however, is not to
dilate, though there may be abundance of materials for the purpose, but
to touch only on what is necessary.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 449.] ARRIVAL OF HENGIST.]

The Angles were eagerly met on all sides upon their arrival: from the
king they received thanks, from the people expressions of good-will.
Faith was plighted on either side, and the Isle of Thanet appropriated
for their residence. It was agreed, moreover, that they should exert
their prowess in arms for the service of the country; and, in return,
receive a suitable reward from the people for whose safety they
underwent such painful labours. Ere long, the Scots advanced, as
usual, secure, as they supposed, of a great booty with very little
difficulty. However, the Angles assailed them, and scarcely had they
engaged, before they were put to flight, whilst the cavalry pursued
and destroyed the fugitives. Contests of this kind were frequent, and
victory constantly siding with the Angles, as is customary in human
affairs, while success inflamed the courage of one party, and dread
increased the cowardice of the other, the Scots in the end avoided
nothing so cautiously as an engagement with them.

In the meantime, Hengist, not less keen in perception than ardent in
the field, with consent of Vortigern, sends back some of his followers
to his own country, with the secret purpose, however, of representing
the indolence of the king and people, the opulence of the island,
and the prospect of advantage to new adventurers. Having executed
their commission adroitly, in a short time they return with sixteen
ships, bringing with them the daughter of Hengist; a maiden, as we
have heard, who might justly be called the master-piece of nature and
the admiration of mankind. At an entertainment, provided for them on
their return, Hengist commanded his daughter to assume the office of
cup-bearer, that she might gratify the eyes of the king as he sat
at table. Nor was the design unsuccessful: for he, ever eager after
female beauty, deeply smitten with the gracefulness of her form and
the elegance of her motion, instantly conceived a vehement desire for
the possession of her person, and immediately proposed marriage to her
father; urging him to a measure to which he was already well inclined.
Hengist, at first, kept up the artifice by a refusal; stating, that so
humble a connection was unworthy of a king: but, at last, appearing
to consent with reluctance, he gave way to his importunities, and
accepted, as a reward, the whole of Kent, where all justice had long
since declined under the administration of its Gourong (or Viceroy),
who, like the other princes of the island, was subject to the monarchy
of Vortigern. Not satisfied with this liberality, but abusing the
imprudence of the king, the barbarian persuaded him to send for his
son and brother, men of warlike talents, from Germany, pretending,
that he would defend the province on the east, while they might curb
the Scots on the northern frontier. The king assenting, they sailed
round Britain, and arriving at the Orkney Isles, the inhabitants of
which they involved in the same calamity with the Picts and Scots, at
this and after times, they finally settled in the northern part of the
island, now called Northumbria. Still no one there assumed the royal
title or insignia till the time of Ida, from whom sprang the regal line
of the Northumbrians; but of this hereafter. We will now return to the
present subject.


Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, thinking it unnecessary longer to
dissemble that he saw himself and his Britons circumvented by the craft
of the Angles, turned his thoughts to their expulsion, and stimulated
his father to the same attempt. At his suggestion, the truce was
broken seven years after their arrival; and during the ensuing twenty,
they frequently fought partial battles,[23] and, as the chronicle
relates, four general actions. From the first conflict they parted on
equal terms: one party lamenting the loss of Horsa, the brother of
Hengist; the other, that of Katigis, another of Vortigern’s sons. The
Angles, having the advantage in all the succeeding encounters, peace
was concluded; Vortimer, who had been the instigator of the war, and
differed far from the indolence of his father, perished prematurely,
or he would have governed the kingdom in a noble manner, had God
permitted. When he died, the British strength decayed, and all hope
fled from them; and they would soon have perished altogether, had not
Ambrosius, the sole survivor of the Romans, who became monarch after
Vortigern, quelled the presumptuous barbarians by the powerful aid of
warlike Arthur. It is of this Arthur that the Britons fondly tell so
many fables, even to the present day; a man worthy to be celebrated,
not by idle fictions, but by authentic history. He long upheld the
sinking state, and roused the broken spirit of his countrymen to war.
Finally, at the siege of Mount Badon,[24] relying on an image of the
Virgin, which he had affixed to his armour, he engaged nine hundred of
the enemy, single-handed, and dispersed them with incredible slaughter.
On the other side, the Angles, after various revolutions of fortune,
filled up their thinned battalions with fresh supplies of their
countrymen; rushed with greater courage to the conflict, and extended
themselves by degrees, as the natives retreated, over the whole island:
for the counsels of God, in whose hand is every change of empire, did
not oppose their career. But this was effected in process of time; for
while Vortigern lived, no new attempt was made against them. About
this time, Hengist, from that bad quality of the human heart, which
grasps after more in proportion to what it already possesses, by a
preconcerted piece of deception, invited his son-in-law, with three
hundred of his followers, to an entertainment; and when, by more
than usual compotations, he had excited them to clamour, he began,
purposely, to taunt them severally, with sarcastic raillery: this had
the desired effect, of making them first quarrel, and then come to
blows. Thus the Britons were basely murdered to a man, and breathed
their last amid their cups. The king himself, made captive, purchased
his liberty at the price of three provinces. After this, Hengist died,
in the thirty-ninth year after his arrival; he was a man, who urging
his success not less by artifice than courage, and giving free scope
to his natural ferocity, preferred effecting his purpose rather by
cruelty than by kindness. He left a son named Eisc;[25] who, more
intent on defending, than enlarging, his dominions, never exceeded
the paternal bounds. At the expiration of twenty-four years, he had
for his successors, his son Otha, and Otha’s son, Ermenric, who, in
their manners, resembled him, rather than their grandfather and great
grandfather. To the times of both, the Chronicles assign fifty-three
years; but whether they reigned singly, or together, does not appear.

After them Ethelbert, the son of Ermenric, reigned fifty-three years
according to the Chronicle; but fifty-six according to Bede. The
reader must determine how this difference is to be accounted for; as
I think it sufficient to have apprized him of it, I shall let the
matter rest.[26] In the infancy of his reign, he was such an object of
contempt to the neighbouring kings, that, defeated in two battles, he
could scarcely defend his frontier; afterwards, however, when to his
riper years he had added a more perfect knowledge of war, he quickly,
by successive victories, subjugated every kingdom of the Angles, with
the exception of the Northumbrians. And, in order to obtain foreign
connections, he entered into affinity with the king of France, by
marrying his daughter Bertha. And now by this connection with the
Franks, the nation, hitherto savage and wedded to its own customs,
began daily to divest itself of its rustic propensities and incline to
gentler manners. To this was added the very exemplary life of bishop
Luidhard, who had come over with the queen, by which, though silently,
he allured the king to the knowledge of Christ our Lord. Hence it
arose, that his mind, already softened, easily yielded to the preaching
of the blessed Augustine; and he was the first of all his race who
renounced the errors of paganism, that he might obscure, by the glory
of his faith, those whom he surpassed in power. This, indeed, is
spotless nobility; this, exalted virtue; to excel in worth those
whom you exceed in rank. Besides, extending his care to posterity,
he enacted laws, in his native tongue, in which he appointed rewards
for the meritorious, and opposed severer restraints to the abandoned,
leaving nothing doubtful for the future.[27]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 618.] EDBALD.]

Ethelbert died in the twenty-first year after he had embraced the
Christian faith, leaving the diadem to his son Edbald. As soon
as he was freed from the restraints of paternal awe, he rejected
Christianity, and overcame the virtue of his stepmother.[28] But
the severity of the divine mercy opposed a barrier to his utter
destruction: for the princes, whom his father had subjugated,
immediately rebelled, he lost a part of his dominions, and was
perpetually haunted by an evil spirit, whereby he paid the penalty of
his unbelief. Laurentius, the successor of Augustine, was offended at
these transactions, and after having sent away his companions, was
meditating his own departure from the country, but having received
chastisement from God, he was induced to change his resolution.[29] The
king conversing with him on the subject, and finding his assertions
confirmed by his stripes, became easily converted, accepted the grace
of Christianity, and broke off his incestuous intercourse. But, that
posterity might be impressed with the singular punishment due to
apostacy, it was with difficulty he could maintain his hereditary
dominions, much less rival the eminence of his father. For the
remainder of his life, his faith was sound, and he did nothing to
sully his reputation. The monastery also, which his father had founded
without the walls of Canterbury,[30] he ennobled with large estates,
and sumptuous presents. The praises and merits of both these men ought
ever to be proclaimed, and had in honour by the English; because they
allowed the Christian faith to acquire strength, in England, by
patient listening and willingness to believe. Who can contemplate,
without satisfaction, the just and amiable answer which Bede makes king
Ethelbert to have given to the first preaching of Augustine? “That he
could not, thus early, embrace a new doctrine and leave the accustomed
worship of his country; but that, nevertheless, persons who had
undertaken so long a journey for the purpose of kindly communicating to
the Angles what they deemed an inestimable benefit, far from meeting
with ill-treatment, ought rather to be allowed full liberty to preach,
and also to receive the amplest maintenance.” He fully kept his
promise; and at length the truth of Christianity becoming apparent by
degrees, himself and all his subjects were admitted into the number of
the faithful. And what did the other? Though led away at first, more by
the lusts of the flesh than perverseness of heart, yet he paid respect
to the virtuous conduct of the prelates, although he neglected their
faith; and lastly, as I have related, was easily converted through
the sufferings of Laurentius, and became of infinite service to the
propagation of Christianity. Both, then, were laudable: both deserved
high encomiums; for the good work, so nobly begun by the one, was as
kindly fostered by the other.

To him, after a reign of twenty-four years, succeeded Erconbert, his
son, by Emma, daughter of the king of France. He reigned an equal
number of years with his father, but under happier auspices; alike
remarkable for piety towards God, and love to his country. For his
grandfather, and father, indeed, adopted our faith, but neglected to
destroy their idols; whilst he, thinking it derogatory to his royal
zeal not to take the readiest mode of annihilating openly what they
only secretly condemned, levelled every temple of their gods to the
ground, that not a trace of their paganism might be handed down to
posterity. This was nobly done: for the mass of the people would be
reminded of their superstition, so long as they could see the altars
of their deities. In order, also, that he might teach his subjects,
who were too much given to sensual indulgence, to accustom themselves
to temperance, he enjoined the solemn fast of Lent to be observed
throughout his dominions. This was an extraordinary act for the king
to attempt in those times: but he was a man whom no blandishments of
luxury could enervate; no anxiety for power seduce from the worship of
God. Wherefore he was protected by the favour of the Almighty; every
thing, at home and abroad, succeeded to his wishes, and he grew old in
uninterrupted tranquillity. His daughter Ercongotha, a child worthy of
such a parent, and emulating her father in virtuous qualities, became a
shining light in the monastery of Kalas in Gaul.[31]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 664-686.] EGBERT--LOTHERE.]

His son Egbert, retaining his father’s throne for nine years, did
nothing memorable in so short a reign; unless indeed it be ascribed
to the glory of this period, that Theodore[32] the archbishop, and
Adrian the abbat, two consummate scholars, came into England in his
reign. Were not the subject already trite, I should willingly record
what light they shed upon the Britons; how on one side the Greeks, and
on the other the Latins, emulously contributed their knowledge to the
public stock, and made this island, once the nurse of tyrants, the
constant residence of philosophy: but this and every other merit of the
times of Egbert is clouded by his horrid crime, of either destroying,
or permitting to be destroyed, Elbert and Egelbright, his nephews.[33]

To Egbert succeeded his brother Lothere, who began his reign with
unpropitious omens. For he was harassed during eleven years by Edric,
the son of Egbert, and engaged in many civil conflicts which terminated
with various success, until he was ultimately pierced through the body
with a dart, and died while they were applying remedies to the wound.
Some say, that both the brothers perished by a premature death as a
just return for their cruelty; because Egbert, as I have related,
murdered the innocent children of his uncle; and Lothere ridiculed the
notion of holding them up as martyrs: although the former had lamented
the action, and had granted a part of the Isle of Thanet to the mother
of his nephews, for the purpose of building a monastery.

Nor did Edric long boast the prosperous state of his government; for
within two years he was despoiled both of kingdom and of life, and
left his country to be torn in pieces by its enemies. Immediately
Cædwalla, with his brother Mull, in other respects a good and able
man, but breathing an inextinguishable hatred against the people of
Kent, made vigorous attempts upon the province; supposing it must
easily surrender to his views, as it had lately been in the enjoyment
of long continued peace, but at that time was torn with intestine war.
He found, however, the inhabitants by no means unprepared or void of
courage, as he had expected. For, after many losses sustained in the
towns and villages, at length they rushed with spirit to the conflict.
They gained the victory in the contest, and having put Cædwalla to
flight, drove his brother Mull into a little cottage, which they set on
fire. Thus, wanting courage to sally out against the enemy, the fire
gained uncontrolled power, and he perished in the flames. Nevertheless
Cædwalla ceased not his efforts, nor retired from the province; but
consoled himself for his losses by repeatedly ravaging the district;
however, he left the avenging of this injury to Ina, his successor, as
will be related in its place.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 774-823.] DOWNFALL OF KENT.]

In this desperate state of the affairs of Kent, there was a void of
about six years in the royal succession. In the seventh, Withred, the
son of Egbert, having repressed the malevolence of his countrymen
by his activity, and purchased peace from his enemies by money, was
chosen king by the inhabitants, who entertained great and well-founded
hopes of him. He was an admirable ruler at home, invincible in war,
and a truly pious follower of the Christian faith, for he extended its
power to the utmost. And, to complete his felicity, after a reign of
thirty-three years, he died in extreme old age, which men generally
reckon to be their greatest happiness, leaving his three children
his heirs. These were Egbert, Ethelbert, and Alric, and they reigned
twenty-three, eleven, and thirty-four years successively, without
deviation from the excellent example and institutions of their father,
except that Ethelbert, by the casual burning of Canterbury, and Alric,
by an unsuccessful battle with the Mercians, considerably obscured
the glory of their reigns. So it is that, if any thing disgraceful
occurs, it is not concealed; if any thing fortunate, it is not
sufficiently noticed in the Chronicles; whether it be done designedly,
or whether it arise from that bad quality of the human mind, which
makes gratitude for good transient; whereas the recollection of evil
remains for ever. After these men the noble stock of kings began to
wither, the royal blood to flow cold. Then every daring adventurer,
who had acquired riches by his eloquence, or whom faction had made
formidable, aspired to the kingdom, and disgraced the ensigns of
royalty. Of these, Edbert otherwise called Pren, after having governed
Kent two years, over-rating his power, was taken prisoner in a war with
the Mercians, and loaded with chains. But being set at liberty by his
enemies, though not received by his own subjects, it is uncertain by
what end he perished. Cuthred, heir to the same faction and calamity,
reigned, in name only, eight years. Next Baldred, a mere abortion of
a king, after having for eighteen years more properly possessed, than
governed the kingdom, went into exile, on his defeat by Egbert, king
of the West Saxons. Thus the kingdom of Kent, which, from the year of
our Lord 449, had continued 375 years, became annexed to another. And
since by following the royal line of the first kingdom which arose
among the Angles, I have elicited a spark, as it were, from the embers
of antiquity, I shall now endeavour to throw light on the kingdom of
the West Saxons, which, though after a considerable lapse of time, was
the next that sprang up. While others were neglected and wasted away,
this flourished with unconquerable vigour, even to the coming of the
Normans; and, if I may be permitted the expression, with greedy jaws
swallowed up the rest. Wherefore, after tracing this kingdom in detail
down to Egbert, I shall briefly, for fear of disgusting my readers,
subjoin some notices of the two remaining; this will be a suitable
termination to the first book, and the second will continue the history
of the West Saxons alone.


_Of the kings of the West Saxons._ [A.D. 495.]

The kingdom of the West Saxons,--and one more magnificent or lasting
Britain never beheld,--sprang from Cerdic, and soon increased to great
importance. He was a German by nation, of the noblest race, being the
tenth from Woden, and, having nurtured his ambition in domestic broils,
determined to leave his native land and extend his fame by the sword.
Having formed this daring resolution he communicated his design to
Cenric his son, who closely followed his father’s track to glory, and
with his concurrence transported his forces into Britain in five ceols.
This took place in the year of our Saviour’s incarnation 495, and the
eighth after the death of Hengist. Coming into action with the Britons
the very day of his arrival, this experienced soldier soon defeated an
undisciplined multitude, and compelled them to fly. By this success he
obtained perfect security in future for himself, as well as peace for
the inhabitants of those parts. For they never dared after that day to
attack him, but voluntarily submitted to his dominion. Nevertheless he
did not waste his time in indolence; but, on the contrary, extending
his conquests on all sides, by the time he had been twenty-four years
in the island, he had obtained the supremacy of the western part of
it, called West-Saxony. He died after enjoying it sixteen years, and
his whole kingdom, with the exception of the isle of Wight, descended
to his son. This, by the royal munificence, became subject to his
nephew, Withgar; who was as dear to his uncle by the ties of kindred,
for he was his sister’s son, as by his skill in war, and formed a
noble principality in the island, where he was afterwards splendidly
interred. Cenric moreover, who was as illustrious as his father, after
twenty-six years, bequeathed the kingdom, somewhat enlarged, to his son

The Chronicles extol the singular valour of this man in battle, so as
to excite a degree of envious admiration; for he was the astonishment
of the Angles, the detestation of the Britons, and was eventually the
destruction of both. I shall briefly subjoin some extracts from them.
Attacking Ethelbert king of Kent, who was a man in other respects
laudable, but at that time was endeavouring from the consciousness of
his family’s dignity to gain the ascendency, and, on this account,
making too eager incursions on the territories of his neighbour, he
routed his troops and forced him to retreat. The Britons, who, in the
times of his father and grandfather, had escaped destruction either
by a show of submission, or by the strength of their fortifications
at Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath, he now pursued with ceaseless
rancour; ejected them from their cities, and chased them into
mountainous and woody districts, as at the present day. But about this
time, as some unluckly throw of the dice in the table of human life
perpetually disappoints mankind, his military successes were clouded
by domestic calamity: his brother Cutha met an untimely death, and
he had a son of the same name taken off in battle; both young men of
great expectation, whose loss he frequently lamented as a severe blow
to his happiness. Finally, in his latter days, himself, banished from
his kingdom, presented a spectacle, pitiable even to his enemies. For
he had sounded, as it were, the trumpet of his own detestation on
all sides, and the Angles as well as the Britons conspiring against
him, his forces were destroyed at Wodensdike;[34] he lost his kingdom
thirty-one years after he had gained it; went into exile, and shortly
after died. The floating reins of government were then directed by his
nephews, the sons of Cutha, that is to say, Celric during six, Ceolwulf
during fourteen years: of these the inferior with respect to age, but
the more excellent in spirit, passed all his days in war, nor ever
neglected, for a moment, the protection and extension of his empire.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 577-626.] CYNEGILS AND CUICHELM.]

After him, the sons of Celric, Cynegils and Cuichelm, jointly put
on the ensigns of royalty; both active, both contending with each
other only in mutual offices of kindness; insomuch, that to their
contemporaries they were a miracle of concord very unusual amongst
princes, and to posterity a proper example. It is difficult to say
whether their courage or their moderation exceeded in the numberless
contests in which they engaged either against the Britons, or against
Penda, king of the Mercians: a man, as will be related in its place,
wonderfully expert in the subtleties of war; and who, overpassing the
limits of his own territory, in an attempt to add Cirencester to his
possessions, being unable to withstand the power of these united kings,
escaped with only a few followers. A considerable degree of guilt
indeed attaches to Cuichelm, for attempting to take off, by the hands
of an assassin, Edwin king of the Northumbrians, a man of acknowledged
prudence. Yet, if the heathen maxim,

    Who asks if fraud or force availed the foe?[35]

be considered, he will be readily excused, as having done nothing
uncommon, in wishing to get rid, by whatever means, of a rival
encroaching on his power. For he had formerly lopped off much from the
West Saxon empire, and now receiving fresh ground of offence, and his
ancient enmity reviving, he inflicted heavy calamities on that people.
The kings, however, escaped, and were, not long after, enlightened with
the heavenly doctrine, by the means of St. Birinus the bishop, in the
twenty-fifth year of their reign, and the fortieth after the coming of
the blessed Augustine, the apostle of the Angles. Cynegils, veiling his
princely pride, condescended to receive immediately the holy rite of
baptism: Cuichelm resisted for a time, but warned, by the sickness of
his body, not to endanger the salvation of his soul, he became a sharer
in his brother’s piety, and died the same year. Cynegils departed six
years afterwards, in the thirty-first year of his reign, enjoying the
happiness of a long-extended peace.

Kenwalk his son succeeded: in the beginning of his reign, to be
compared only to the worst of princes; but, in the succeeding and
latter periods, a rival of the best. The moment the young man became
possessed of power, wantoning in regal luxury and disregarding the
acts of his father, he abjured Christianity and legitimate marriage;
but being attacked and defeated by Penda, king of Mercia, whose sister
he had repudiated, he fled to the king of the East Angles. Here, by a
sense of his own calamities and by the perseverance of his host, he was
once more brought back to the Christian faith; and after three years,
recovering his strength and resuming his kingdom, he exhibited to his
subjects the joyful miracle of his reformation. So valiant was he,
that, he who formerly was unable to defend his own territories, now
extended his dominion on every side; totally defeating in two actions
the Britons, furious with the recollection of their ancient liberty,
and in consequence perpetually meditating resistance; first, at a place
called Witgeornesburg,[36] and then at a mountain named Pene;[37] and
again, avenging the injury of his father on Wulfhere, the son of Penda,
he deprived him of the greatest part of his kingdom: moreover he was
so religious, that, first of all his race, he built, for those times,
a most beautiful church at Winchester, on which site afterwards was
founded the episcopal see with still more skilful magnificence.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 658.] ACCOUNT OF GLASTONBURY.]

But since we have arrived at the times of Kenwalk, and the proper
place occurs for mentioning the monastery of Glastonbury,[38] I shall
trace from its very origin the rise and progress of that church as
far as I am able to discover it from the mass of evidences. It is
related in annals of good credit that Lucius, king of the Britons,
sent to Pope Eleutherius, thirteenth in succession from St. Peter, to
entreat, that he would dispel the darkness of Britain by the splendour
of Christian instruction. This surely was the commendable deed of a
magnanimous prince, eagerly to seek that faith, the mention of which
had barely reached him, at a time when it was an object of persecution
to almost every king and people to whom it was offered. In consequence,
preachers, sent by Eleutherius, came into Britain, the effects of whose
labours will remain for ever, although the rust of antiquity may have
obliterated their names. By these was built the ancient church of St.
Mary of Glastonbury, as faithful tradition has handed down through
decaying time. Moreover there are documents of no small credit, which
have been discovered in certain places to the following effect: “No
other hands than those of the disciples of Christ erected the church
of Glastonbury.” Nor is it dissonant from probability: for if Philip,
the Apostle, preached to the Gauls, as Freculphus relates in the fourth
chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he also planted
the word on this side of the channel also. But that I may not seem to
balk the expectation of my readers by vain imaginations, leaving all
doubtful matter, I shall proceed to the relation of substantial truths.

The church of which we are speaking, from its antiquity called by the
Angles, by way of distinction, “Ealde Chirche,” that is, the “Old
Church,” of wattle-work, at first, savoured somewhat of heavenly
sanctity even from its very foundation, and exhaled it over the whole
country; claiming superior reverence, though the structure was mean.
Hence, here arrived whole tribes of the lower orders, thronging every
path; here assembled the opulent divested of their pomp; and it became
the crowded residence of the religious and the literary. For, as we
have heard from men of old time, here Gildas, an historian neither
unlearned nor inelegant, to whom the Britons are indebted for whatever
notice they obtain among other nations, captivated by the sanctity of
the place, took up his abode for a series of years.[39] This church,
then, is certainly the oldest I am acquainted with in England, and from
this circumstance derives its name. In it are preserved the mortal
remains of many saints, some of whom we shall notice in our progress,
nor is any corner of the church destitute of the ashes of the holy. The
very floor, inlaid with polished stone, and the sides of the altar, and
even the altar itself above and beneath are laden with the multitude of
relics. Moreover in the pavement may be remarked on every side stones
designedly interlaid in triangles and squares, and figured with lead,
under which if I believe some sacred enigma to be contained, I do no
injustice to religion. The antiquity, and multitude of its saints, have
endued the place with so much sanctity, that, at night, scarcely any
one presumes to keep vigil there, or, during the day, to spit upon its
floor: he who is conscious of pollution shudders throughout his whole
frame: no one ever brought hawk or horses within the confines of the
neighbouring cemetery, who did not depart injured either in them or in
himself. Within the memory of man, all persons who, before undergoing
the ordeal[40] of fire or water, there put up their petitions, exulted
in their escape, one only excepted: if any person erected a building in
its vicinity, which by its shade obstructed the light of the church,
it forthwith became a ruin. And it is sufficiently evident, that, the
men of that province had no oath more frequent, or more sacred, than
to swear by the Old Church, fearing the swiftest vengeance on their
perjury in this respect. The truth of what I have asserted, if it
be dubious, will be supported by testimony in the book which I have
written, on the antiquity of the said church, according to the series
of years.


In the meantime it is clear, that the depository of so many saints
may be deservedly styled an heavenly sanctuary upon earth. There are
numbers of documents, though I abstain from mentioning them for fear
of causing weariness, to prove how extremely venerable this place was
held by the chief persons of the country, who there more especially
chose to await the day of resurrection under the protection of the
mother of God. Willingly would I declare the meaning of those pyramids,
which are almost incomprehensible to all, could I but ascertain the
truth. These, situated some few feet from the church, border on the
cemetery of the monks. That which is the loftiest and nearest the
church, is twenty-eight feet high and has five stories: this, though
threatening ruin from its extreme age, possesses nevertheless some
traces of antiquity, which may be clearly read though not perfectly
understood. In the highest story is an image in a pontifical habit.
In the next a statue of regal dignity, and the letters, Her Sexi,
and Blisperh. In the third, too, are the names, Pencrest, Bantomp,
Pinepegn. In the fourth, Bate, Pulfred, and Eanfled. In the fifth,
which is the lowest, there is an image, and the words as follow, Logor,
Peslicas, and Bregden, Spelpes, Highingendes Bearn. The other pyramid
is twenty-six feet high and has four stories, in which are read,
Kentwin, Hedda the bishop, and Bregored and Beorward. The meaning of
these I do not hastily decide, but I shrewdly conjecture that within,
in stone coffins, are contained the bones of those persons whose names
are inscribed without.[41] At least Logor is said to imply the person
from whom Logperesbeorh formerly took its name, which is now called
Montacute; Bregden, from whom is derived Brentknolle and Brentmarsh;
Bregored and Beorward were abbats of that place in the time of the
Britons; of whom, and of others which occur, I shall henceforward speak
more circumstantially. For my history will now proceed to disclose
the succession of abbats, and what was bestowed on each, or on the
monastery, and by what particular king.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 425-474.] DEATH OF ST. PATRICK.]

And first, I shall briefly mention St. Patrick, from whom the series
of our records dawns. While the Saxons were disturbing the peace of
the Britons, and the Pelagians assaulting their faith, St. Germanus
of Auxerre assisted them against both; routing the one by the chorus
of Hallelujah,[42] and hurling down the other by the thunder of the
Evangelists and Apostles. Thence returning to his own country, he
summoned Patrick to become his inmate, and after a few years, sent him,
at the instance of Pope Celestine, to preach to the Irish. Whence it
is written in the Chronicles, “In the year of our Lord’s incarnation
425, St. Patrick is ordained to Ireland by Pope Celestine.” Also,
“In the year 433 Ireland is converted to the faith of Christ by the
preaching of St. Patrick, accompanied by many miracles.” In consequence
executing his appointed office with diligence, and in his latter
days returning to his own country, he landed in Cornwall, from his
altar,[43] which even to this time is held in high veneration by the
inhabitants for its sanctity and efficacy in restoring the infirm.
Proceeding to Glastonbury, and there becoming monk, and abbat, after
some years he paid the debt of nature. All doubt of the truth of this
assertion is removed by the vision of a certain brother, who, after
the saint’s death, when it had frequently become a question, through
decay of evidence, whether he really was monk and abbat there, had
the fact confirmed by the following oracle. When asleep he seemed to
hear some person reading, after many of his miracles, the words which
follow--“this man then was adorned by the sanctity of the metropolitan
pall, but afterwards was here made monk and abbat.” He added, moreover,
as the brother did not give implicit credit to him, that he could show
what he had said inscribed in golden letters. Patrick died in the year
of his age 111, of our Lord’s incarnation 472, being the forty-seventh
year after he was sent into Ireland. He lies on the right side of the
altar in the old church: indeed the care of posterity has enshrined his
body in silver. Hence the Irish have an ancient usage of frequenting
the place to kiss the relics of their patron. Wherefore the report
is extremely prevalent that both St. Indract and St. Briget, no mean
inhabitants of Ireland, formerly came over to this spot. Whether
Briget returned home or died at Glastonbury is not sufficiently
ascertained, though she left here some of her ornaments; that is to
say, her necklace, scrip, and implements for embroidering, which are
yet shown in memory of her sanctity, and are efficacious in curing
divers diseases. In the course of my narrative it will appear that St.
Indract, with seven companions, was martyred near Glastonbury, and
afterwards interred in the old church.[44]

Benignus succeeded Patrick in the government of the abbey; but for how
long, remains in doubt. Who he was, and how called in the vernacular
tongue, the verses of his epitaph at Ferramere express, not inaptly:

  Beneath this marble Beon’s ashes lie,
  Once rev’rend abbat of this monastery:
  Saint Patrick’s servant, as the Irish frame
  The legend-tale, and Beon was his name.

The wonderful works both of his former life, and since his recent
translation into the greater church, proclaim the singular grace of
God which he anciently possessed, and which he still retains.

The esteem in which David, archbishop of Menevia, held this place, is
too notorious to require repeating. He established the antiquity and
sanctity of the church by a divine oracle; for purposing to dedicate
it, he came to the spot with his seven suffragan bishops, and every
thing being prepared for the due celebration of the solemnity, on the
night, as he purposed, preceding it, he gave way to profound repose.
When all his senses were steeped in rest, he beheld the Lord Jesus
standing near, and mildly inquiring the cause of his arrival; and on
his immediately disclosing it, the Lord diverted him from his purpose
by saying, “That the church had been already dedicated by himself in
honour of his Mother, and that the ceremony was not to be profaned
by human repetition.” With these words he seemed to bore the palm of
his hand with his finger, adding, “That this was a sign for him not
to reiterate what himself had done before. But that, since his design
savoured more of piety than of temerity, his punishment should not be
prolonged: and lastly, that on the following morning, when he should
repeat the words of the mass, ‘With him, and by him, and in him,’
his health should return to him undiminished.” The prelate, awakened
by these terrific appearances, as at the moment he grew pale at the
purulent matter, so afterwards he hailed the truth of the prediction.
But that he might not appear to have done nothing, he quickly built
and dedicated another church. Of this celebrated and incomparable man,
I am at a loss to decide, whether he closed his life in this place,
or at his own cathedral. For they affirm that he is with St. Patrick;
and the Welsh, both by the frequency of their prayers to him and by
various reports, without doubt confirm and establish this opinion;
openly alleging that bishop Bernard sought after him more than once,
notwithstanding much opposition, but was not able to find him. But let
thus much suffice of St. David.

After a long lapse of time, St. Augustine, at the instance of St.
Gregory, came into Britain in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 596,
and the tradition of our ancestors has handed down, that the companion
of his labours, Paulinus, who was bishop of Rochester after being
archbishop of York, covered the church, built, as we have before
observed, of wattle-work, with a casing of boards. The dexterity of
this celebrated man so artfully managed, that nothing of its sanctity
should be lost, though much should accrue to its beauty: and certainly
the more magnificent the ornaments of churches are, the more they
incline the brute mind to prayer, and bend the stubborn to supplication.

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 601, that is, the fifth after
the arrival of St. Augustine, the king of Devonshire, on the petition
of abbat Worgrez, granted to the old church which is there situated
the land called Ineswitrin, containing five cassates.[45] “I, Maworn,
bishop, wrote this grant. I, Worgrez, abbat of the same place, signed

[Sidenote: [A.D. 596-692.] GRANTS TO GLASTONBURY.]

Who this king might be, the antiquity of the instrument prevents
our knowing. But that he was a Briton cannot be doubted, because he
called Glastonbury, Ineswitrin, in his vernacular tongue; and that,
in the British, it is so called, is well known. Moreover it is proper
to remark the extreme antiquity of a church, which, even then, was
called “the old church.” In addition to Worgrez, Lademund and Bregored,
whose very names imply British barbarism, were abbats of this place.
The periods of their presiding are uncertain, but their names and
dignities are indicated by a painting in the larger church, near the
altar. Blessed, therefore, are the inhabitants of this place, allured
to uprightness of life, by reverence for such a sanctuary. I cannot
suppose that any of these, when dead, can fail of heaven, when assisted
by the virtues and intercession of so many patrons. In the year of our
Lord’s incarnation 670, and the 29th of his reign, Kenwalk gave to
Berthwald, abbat of Glastonbury, Ferramere, two hides, at the request
of archbishop Theodore. The same Berthwald, against the will of the
king and of the bishop of the diocese, relinquishing Glastonbury, went
to govern the monastery of Reculver. In consequence, Berthwald equally
renowned for piety and high birth, being nephew to Ethelred, king of
the Mercians, and residing in the vicinity of Canterbury, on the demise
of archbishop Theodore, succeeded to his see. This may be sufficient
for me to have inserted on the antiquity of the church of Glastonbury.
Now I shall return in course to Kenwalk, who was of a character so
munificent that he never refused to give any part of his patrimony to
his relations; but with noble-minded generosity conferred nearly the
third of his kingdom on his nephew.[46] These qualities of the royal
mind, were stimulated by the admonitions of those holy bishops of his
province, Agilbert, of whom Bede relates many commendable things in
his history of the Angles, and his nephew Leutherius, who, after him,
was, for seven years, bishop of the West Saxons. This circumstance I
have thought proper to mention, because Bede has left no account of the
duration of his episcopacy, and to disguise a fact which I learn from
the Chronicles, would be against my conscience; besides, it affords
an opportunity for making mention of a distinguished man, who by a
mind, clear, and almost divinely inspired, advanced the monastery of
Malmesbury, where I carry on my earthly warfare, to the highest pitch.
This monastery was so slenderly endowed by Maildulph, a Scot, as they
say, by nation, a philosopher by erudition, and a monk by profession,
that its members could scarcely procure their daily subsistence; but
Leutherius, after long and due deliberation, gave it to Aldhelm,[47] a
monk of the same place, to be by him governed with the authority then
possessed by bishops. Of which matter, that my relation may obviate
every doubt, I shall subjoin his own words.

“I, Leutherius, by divine permission, bishop supreme of the Saxon see,
am requested by the abbats who, within the jurisdiction of our diocese,
preside over the conventual assemblies of monks with pastoral anxiety,
to give and to grant that portion of land called Maildulfesburgh, to
Aldhelm the priest, for the purpose of leading a life according to
strict rule; in which place, indeed, from his earliest infancy and
first initiation in the study of learning, he has been instructed
in the liberal arts, and passed his days, nurtured in the bosom of
the holy mother church; and on which account fraternal love appears
principally to have conceived this request. Wherefore assenting to the
petition of the aforesaid abbats, I willingly grant that place to him
and his successors, who shall sedulously follow the laws of the holy
institution. Done publicly near the river Bladon;[48] this eighth
before the kalends of September, in the year of our Lord’s incarnation

[Sidenote: [A.D. 670.] PIETY OF ALDHELM.]

But when the industry of the abbat was superadded to the kindness
of the bishop, then the affairs of the monastery began to flourish
exceedingly; then monks assembled on all sides; there was a general
concourse to Aldhelm; some admiring the sanctity of his life, others
the depth of his learning. For he was a man as unsophisticated in
religion as multifarious in knowledge; whose piety surpassed even his
reputation; and he had so fully imbibed the liberal arts, that he was
wonderful in each of them, and unrivalled in all. I greatly err, if
his works written on the subject of virginity,[49] than which, in my
opinion, nothing can be more pleasing or more splendid, are not proofs
of his immortal genius: although, such is the slothfulness of our
times, they may excite disgust in some persons, not duly considering
how modes of expression differ according to the customs of nations. The
Greeks, for instance, express themselves impliedly, the Romans clearly,
the Gauls gorgeously, the Angles turgidly. And truly, as it is pleasant
to dwell on the graces of our ancestors and to animate our minds by
their example, I would here, most willingly, unfold what painful
labours this holy man encountered for the privileges of our church,
and with what miracles he signalized his life, did not my avocations
lead me elsewhere; and his noble acts appear clearer even to the eye
of the purblind, than they can possibly be sketched by my pencil. The
innumerable miracles which now take place at his tomb, manifest to the
present race the sanctity of the life he passed. He has therefore his
proper praise; he has the fame acquired by his merits.[50] We proceed
with the history.

After thirty-one years, Kenwalk dying, bequeathed the administration of
the government to his wife Sexburga; nor did this woman want spirit for
discharging the duties of the station. She levied new forces, preserved
the old in their duty; ruled her subjects with moderation, and overawed
her enemies: in short, she conducted all things in such a manner, that
no difference was discernible except that of her sex. But, breathing
more than female spirit, she died, having scarcely reigned a year.

Escwin passed the next two years in the government; a near relation
to the royal family, being grand-nephew to Cynegils, by his brother
Cuthgist. At his death, either natural or violent, for I cannot exactly
find which, Kentwin, the son of Cynegils, filled the vacant throne
in legitimate succession. Both were men of noted experience in war;
as the one routed the Mercians, the other the Britons, with dreadful
slaughter: but they were to be pitied for the shortness of their
career; the reign of the latter not extending beyond nine, that of the
former, more than two years, as I have already related. This is on the
credit of the Chronicles. However, Bede records that they did not reign
successively, but divided the kingdom between them.

Next sprang forth a noble branch of the royal stock, Cædwalla,
grand-nephew of Ceawlin, by his brother Cutha: a youth of unbounded
promise, who allowed no opportunity of exercising his valour to escape
him. He, having long since, by his active exertions, excited the
animosity of the princes of his country, was, by a conspiracy, driven
into exile. Yielding to this outrage, as the means of depriving the
province of its warlike force, he led away all the military population
with him; for, whether out of pity to his broken fortunes, or regard
for his valour, the whole of the youth accompanied him into exile.
Ethelwalch, king of the South Saxons, hazarding an engagement with him,
felt the first effects of his fury: for he was routed with all the
forces he had collected, and too late repented his rash design.[51] The
spirits of his followers being thus elated, Cædwalla, by a sudden and
unexpected return, drove the rivals of his power from the kingdom.
Enjoying his government for the space of two years, he performed many
signal exploits. His hatred and hostility towards the South Saxons
were inextinguishable, and he totally destroyed Edric, the successor
of Ethelwalch, who opposed him with renovated boldness: he nearly
depopulated the Isle of Wight, which had rebelled in confederacy with
the Mercians: he also gained repeated victories over the people of
Kent, as I have mentioned before in their history. Finally, as is
observed above, he retired from that province, on the death of his
brother, compensating his loss by the blood of many of its inhabitants.
It is difficult to relate, how extremely pious he was even before
his baptism, insomuch that he dedicated to God the tenth of all the
spoils which he had acquired in war. In which, though we approve the
intention, we condemn the example; according to the saying: “He who
offers sacrifice from the substance of a poor man, is like him who
immolates the son in the sight of the father.” That he went to Rome to
be baptized by Pope Sergius, and was called Peter; and that he yielded
joyfully to the will of heaven, while yet in his initiatory robes, are
matters too well known to require our illustration.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 686-694.] INA.]

After his departure to Rome, the government was assumed by Ina,
grand-nephew of Cynegils by his brother Cuthbald, who ascended
the throne, more from the innate activity of his spirit, than any
legitimate right of succession. He was a rare example of fortitude; a
mirror of prudence; unequalled in piety. Thus regulating his life, he
gained favour at home and respect abroad. Safe from any apprehensions
of treachery, he grew old in the discharge of his duties for
fifty-eight years, the pious conciliator of general esteem. His first
expedition was against the people of Kent, as the indignation at their
burning Moll had not yet subsided. The inhabitants resisted awhile:
but soon finding all their attempts and endeavours fail, and seeing
nothing in the disposition of Ina which could lead them to suppose he
would remit his exertions, they were induced, by the contemplation of
their losses, to treat of a surrender. They tempt the royal mind with
presents, lure him with promises, and bargain for a peace for thirty
thousand marks of gold, that, softened by so high a price, he should
put an end to the war, and, bound in golden chains, sound a retreat.
Accepting the money, as a sufficient atonement for their offence, he
returned into his kingdom. And not only the people of Kent, but the
East Angles[52] also felt the effects of his hereditary anger; all
their nobility being first expelled, and afterwards routed in battle.
But let the relation of his military successes here find a termination.
Moreover how sedulous he was in religious matters, the laws he enacted
to reform the manners of the people, are proof sufficient;[53] in which
the image of his purity is reflected even upon the present times.
Another proof are the monasteries nobly founded at the king’s expense.
But[54] more especially Glastonbury, whither he ordered the bodies of
the blessed martyr, Indract, and of his associates, to be taken from
the place of their martyrdom and to be conveyed into the church. The
body of St. Indract he deposited in the stone pyramid on the left
side of the altar, where the zeal of posterity afterwards also placed
St. Hilda: the others were distributed beneath the pavement as chance
directed or regard might suggest. Here, too, he erected a church,
dedicated to the holy apostles, as an appendage to the ancient church,
of which we are speaking, enriched it with vast possessions, and
granted it a privilege to the following effect:

[Sidenote: [A.D. 725.] INA’S GRANTS.]

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: I, Ina, supported in my
royal dignity by God, with the advice of my queen, Sexburga, and
the permission of Berthwald, archbishop of Canterbury, and of all
his suffragans; and also at the instance of the princes Baltred
and Athelard, to the ancient church, situate in the place called
Glastonbury (which church the great high-priest and chiefest minister
formerly through his own ministry, and that of angels, sanctified by
many and unheard-of miracles to himself and the eternal Virgin Mary,
as was formerly revealed to St. David,) do grant out of those places,
which I possess by paternal inheritance, and hold in my demesne, they
being adjacent and fitting for the purpose, for the maintenance of the
monastic institution, and the use of the monks, Brente ten hides, Sowy
ten hides, Pilton twenty hides, Dulting twenty hides, Bledenhida one
hide, together with whatever my predecessors have contributed to the
same church:[55] to wit, Kenwalk, who, at the instance of archbishop
Theodore, gave Ferramere, Bregarai, Coneneie, Martineseie, Etheredseie;
Kentwin, who used to call Glastonbury, “the mother of saints,” and
liberated it from every secular and ecclesiastical service, and granted
it this dignified privilege, that the brethren of that place should
have the power of electing and appointing their ruler according to the
rule of St. Benedict: Hedda the bishop, with permission of Cædwalla,
who, though a heathen, confirmed it with his own hand, gave Lantokay:
Baltred, who gave Pennard, six hides: Athelard who contributed Poelt,
sixty hides; I, Ina, permitting and confirming it. To the piety and
affectionate entreaty of these people I assent, and I guard by the
security of my royal grant against the designs of malignant men and
snarling curs, in order that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ and
the eternal Virgin Mary, as it is the first in the kingdom of Britain
and the source and the fountain of all religion, may obtain surpassing
dignity and privilege, and, as she rules over choirs of angels in
heaven, it may never pay servile obedience to men on earth. Wherefore
the chief pontiff, Gregory, assenting, and taking the mother of his
Lord, and me, however unworthy, together with her, into the bosom and
protection of the holy Roman church; and all the princes, archbishops,
bishops, dukes, and abbats of Britain consenting, I appoint and
establish, that, all lands, places, and possessions of St. Mary of
Glastonbury be free, quiet, and undisturbed, from all royal taxes and
works, which are wont to be appointed, that is to say, expeditions, the
building of bridges or forts, and from the edicts or molestations of
all archbishops or bishops, as is found to be confirmed and granted by
my predecessors, Kenwalk, Kentwin, Cædwalla, Baltred, in the ancient
charters of the same church. And whatsoever questions shall arise,
whether of homicide, sacrilege, poison, theft, rapine, the disposal
and limits of churches, the ordination of clerks, ecclesiastical
synods, and all judicial inquiries, they shall be determined by the
decision of the abbat and convent, without the interference of any
person whatsoever. Moreover, I command all princes, archbishops,
bishops, dukes, and governors of my kingdom, as they tender my honour
and regard, and all dependants, mine as well as theirs, as they value
their personal safety, never to dare enter the island of our Lord Jesus
Christ and of the eternal Virgin, at Glastonbury, nor the possessions
of the said church, for the purpose of holding courts, making inquiry,
or seizing, or doing anything whatever to the offence of the servants
of God there residing: moreover I particularly inhibit, by the curse
of Almighty God, of the eternal Virgin Mary, and of the holy apostles
Peter and Paul, and of the rest of the saints, any bishop on any
account whatever from presuming to take his episcopal seat or celebrate
divine service or consecrate altars, or dedicate churches, or ordain,
or do any thing whatever, either in the church of Glastonbury itself,
or its dependent churches, that is to say--Sowy, Brente, Merlinch,
Sapewic, Stret, Sbudeclalech, Pilton, or in their chapels, or islands,
unless he be specially invited by the abbat or brethren of that place.
But if he come upon such invitation, he shall take nothing to himself
of the things of the church, nor of the offerings; knowing that he has
two mansions appointed him in two several places out of this church’s
possessions, one in Pilton, the other in the village called Poelt,
that, when coming or going, he may have a place of entertainment.
Nor even shall it be lawful for him to pass the night here unless
he shall be detained by stress of weather or bodily sickness, or
invited by the abbat or monks, and then with not more than three or
four clerks. Moreover let the aforesaid bishop be mindful every year,
with his clerks that are at Wells, to acknowledge his mother church
of Glastonbury with litanies on the second day after our Lord’s
ascension; and should he haughtily defer it, or fail in the things
which are above recited and confirmed, he shall forfeit his mansions
above-mentioned. The abbat or monks shall direct whom they please,
celebrating Easter canonically, to perform service in the church of
Glastonbury, its dependent churches, and in their chapels. Whosoever,
be he of what dignity, profession, or degree, he may, shall hereafter,
on any occasion whatsoever, attempt to pervert, or nullify this, the
witness of my munificence and liberality, let him be aware that, with
the traitor Judas, he shall perish, to his eternal confusion, in the
devouring flames of unspeakable torments. The charter of this donation
was written in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 725, the fourteenth
of the indiction, in the presence of the king Ina, and of Berthwald,
archbishop of Canterbury.”


What splendour he [Ina] added to the monastery, may be collected from
the short treatise which I have written about its antiquities.[56]
Father Aldhelm assisted the design, and his precepts were heard with
humility, nobly adopted, and joyfully carried into effect. Lastly,
the king readily confirmed the privilege which Aldhelm had obtained
from pope Sergius, for the immunity of his monasteries; gave much to
the servants of God by his advice, and finally honoured him, though
constantly refusing, with a bishopric; but an early death malignantly
cut off this great man from the world. For scarcely had he discharged
the offices of his bishopric four years, ere he made his soul an
offering to heaven, in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 709, on the
vigil of St. Augustine the apostle of the Angles, namely the eighth
before the Kalends of June.[57] Some say, that he was the nephew of
the king, by his brother Kenten; but I do not choose to assert for
truth any thing which savours more of vague opinion, than of historic
credibility; especially as I can find no ancient record of it, and the
Chronicle clearly declares, that Ina had no other brother than Ingild,
who died some few years before him. Aldhelm needs no support from
fiction: such great things are there concerning him of indisputable
truth, so many which are beyond the reach of doubt. The sisters,
indeed, of Ina were Cuthburga and Cwenburga. Cuthburga was given
in marriage to Alfrid, king of the Northumbrians, but the contract
being soon after dissolved, she led a life dedicated to God, first at
Barking,[58] under the abbess Hildelitha, and afterwards as superior of
the convent at Wimborne; now a mean village, but formerly celebrated
for containing a full company of virgins, dead to earthly desires, and
breathing only aspirations towards heaven. She embraced the profession
of holy celibacy from the perusal of Aldhelm’s books on virginity,
dedicated indeed to the sisterhood of Barking, but profitable to all,
who aspire to that state. Ina’s queen was Ethelburga, a woman of royal
race and disposition: who perpetually urging the necessity of bidding
adieu to earthly things, at least in the close of life, and the king as
constantly deferring the execution of her advice, at last endeavoured
to overcome him by stratagem. For, on a certain occasion, when they had
been revelling at a country seat with more than usual riot and luxury,
the next day, after their departure, an attendant, with the privity
of the queen, defiled the palace in every possible manner, both with
the excrement of cattle and heaps of filth; and lastly he put a sow,
which had recently farrowed, in the very bed where they had lain. They
had hardly proceeded a mile, ere she attacked her husband with the
fondest conjugal endearments, entreating that they might immediately
return thither, whence they had departed, saying, that his denial would
be attended with dangerous consequences. Her petition being readily
granted, the king was astonished at seeing a place, which yesterday
might have vied with Assyrian luxury, now filthily disgusting and
desolate: and silently pondering on the sight, his eyes at length
turned upon the queen. Seizing the opportunity, and pleasantly smiling,
she said, “My noble spouse, where are the revellings of yesterday?
Where the tapestries dipped in Sidonian dyes? Where the ceaseless
impertinence of parasites? Where the sculptured vessels, overwhelming
the very tables with their weight of gold? Where are the delicacies so
anxiously sought throughout sea and land, to pamper the appetite? Are
not all these things smoke and vapour? Have they not all passed away?
Woe be to those who attach themselves to such, for they in like manner
shall consume away. Are not all these like a rapid river hastening to
the sea? And woe to those who are attached to them, for they shall be
carried away by the current. Reflect, I entreat you, how wretchedly
will these bodies decay, which we pamper with such unbounded luxury.
Must not we, who gorge so constantly, become more disgustingly putrid?
The mighty must undergo mightier torments, and a severer trial awaits
the strong.” Without saying more, by this striking example, she gained
over her husband to those sentiments, which she had in vain attempted
for years by persuasion.[59]

For after his triumphal spoils in war; after many successive degrees in
virtue, he aspired to the highest perfection, and went to Rome. There,
not to make the glory of his conversion public, but that he might be
acceptable in the sight of God alone, he was shorn in secret; and, clad
in homely garb, grew old in privacy. Nor did his queen, the author
of this noble deed, desert him; but as she had before incited him to
undertake it, so, afterwards, she made it her constant care to soothe
his sorrows by her conversation, to stimulate him, when wavering, by
her example; in short, to omit nothing that could be conducive to his
salvation. Thus united in mutual affection, in due time they trod the
common path of all mankind. This was attended, as we have heard, with
singular miracles, such as God often deigns to bestow on the virtues of
happy couples.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 725-741.] ETHELARD--CUTHRED.]

To the government succeeded Ethelard, the cousin of Ina; though Oswald,
a youth of royal extraction, often obscured his opening prospects.
Exciting his countrymen to rebellion, he attempted to make war on the
king, but soon after perishing by some unhappy doom, Ethelard kept
quiet possession of the kingdom for fourteen years, and then left it to
his kinsman, Cuthred, who for an equal space of time, and with similar
courage, was ever actively employed:--

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I, Cuthred, king of the West
Saxons, do hereby declare that all the gifts of former kings--Kentwin,
Baldred, Kedwall, Ina, Ethelard, and Ethelbald king of the Mercians,
in country houses, and in villages and lands, and farms, and mansions,
according to the confirmations made to the ancient city of Glastonbury,
and confirmed by autograph and by the sign of the cross, I do, as was
before said, hereby decree that this grant of former kings shall remain
firm and inviolate, as long as the revolution of the pole shall carry
the lands and seas with regular movement round the starry heavens.
But if any one, confiding in tyrannical pride shall endeavour on any
occasion to disturb and nullify this my testamentary grant, may he be
separated by the fan of the last judgment from the congregation of the
righteous, and joined to the assembly of the wicked for ever, paying
the penalty of his violence. But whoever with benevolent intention
shall strive to approve, confirm, and defend this my grant, may he be
allowed to enjoy unfailing immortality before the glory of Him that
sitteth on the throne, together with the happy companies of angels and
of all the saints. A copy of this grant was set forth in presence of
king Cuthred, in the aforesaid monastery, and dedicated to the holy
altar by the munificence of his own hand, in the wooden church, where
the brethren placed the coffin of abbat Hemgils, the 30th of April, in
the year of our Lord 745.”

The same Cuthred, after much toil, made a successful campaign against
Ethelbald, king of Mercia, and the Britons, and gave up the sovereignty
after he had held it fourteen years.

Sigebert then seized on the kingdom; a man of inhuman cruelty among
his own subjects, and noted for cowardice abroad; but the common
detestation of all conspiring against him, he was within a year driven
from the throne, and gave place to one more worthy. Yet, as commonly
happens in similar cases, the severity of his misfortunes brought back
some persons to his cause, and the province which is called Hampshire,
was, by their exertions, retained in subjection to him. Still, however,
unable to quit his former habits, and exciting the enmity of all
against him by the murder of one Cumbran, who had adhered to him with
unshaken fidelity, he fled to the recesses of wild beasts. Misfortune
still attending him thither also, he was stabbed by a swineherd. Thus
the cruelty of a king, which had almost desolated the higher ranks, was
put an end to by a man of the lowest condition.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 776-784.] DEATH OF CYNEWOLF.]

Cynewolf next undertook the guidance of the state; illustrious for
the regulation of his conduct and his deeds in arms: but suffering
extremely from the loss of a single battle, in the twenty-fourth year
of his reign, against Offa, king of the Mercians, near Bensington,
he was also finally doomed to a disgraceful death. For after he had
reigned thirty-one years,[60] neither indolently nor oppressively,
either elated with success, because he imagined nothing could oppose
him, or alarmed for his posterity, from the increasing power of
Kineard, the brother of Sigebert, he compelled him to quit the kingdom.
Kineard, deeming it necessary to yield to the emergency of the times,
departed as if voluntarily; but soon after, when by secret meetings
he had assembled a desperate band of wretches, watching when the king
might be alone, for he had gone into the country for the sake of
recreation, he followed him thither with his party. And learning that
he was there giving loose to improper desires, he beset the house on
all sides. The king struck with his perilous situation, and holding a
conference with the persons present, shut fast the doors, expecting
either to appease the desperadoes by fair language, or to terrify them
by threats. When neither succeeded, he rushed furiously on Kineard, and
had nearly killed him; but, surrounded by the multitude, and thinking
it derogatory to his courage to give way, he fell, selling his life
nobly. Some few of his attendants, who, instead of yielding, attempted
to take vengeance for the loss of their lord, were slain. The report
of this dreadful outrage soon reached the ears of the nobles, who were
waiting near at hand. Of these Esric, the chief in age and prudence,
conjuring the rest not to leave unrevenged the death of their sovereign
to their own signal and eternal ignominy, rushed with drawn sword upon
the conspirators. At first Kineard attempted to argue his case; to
make tempting offers; to hold forth their relationship; but when this
availed nothing, he stimulated his party to resistance. Doubtful was
the conflict, where one side contended with all its powers for life,
the other for glory. And victory, wavering for a long time, at last
decided for the juster cause. Thus, fruitlessly valiant, this unhappy
man lost his life, unable long to boast the success of his treachery.
The king’s body was buried at Winchester, and the prince’s at Repton;
at that time a noble monastery, but at present, as I have heard, with
few, or scarcely any inmates.

After him, for sixteen years, reigned Bertric: more studious of
peace than of war. Skilful in conciliating friendship, affable with
foreigners, and giving great allowances to his subjects, in those
matters at least which could not impair the strength of the government.
To acquire still greater estimation with his neighbours, he married
the daughter of Offa, king of Mercia, at that time all-powerful; by
whom, as far as I am acquainted, he had no issue. Supported by this
alliance he compelled Egbert, the sole survivor of the royal stock,
and whom he feared as the most effectual obstacle to his power, to
fly into France. In fact Bertric himself, and the other kings, after
Ina, though glorying in the splendour of their parentage, as deriving
their origin from Cerdic, had considerably deviated from the direct
line of the royal race. On Egbert’s expulsion, then, he had already
begun to indulge in indolent security, when a piratical tribe of the
Danes, accustomed to live by plunder, clandestinely arriving in three
ships, disturbed the tranquillity of the kingdom. This band came over
expressly to ascertain the fruitfulness of the soil, and the courage
of the inhabitants, as was afterwards discovered by the arrival of
that multitude, which over-ran almost the whole of Britain. Landing
then, unexpectedly, when the kingdom was in a state of profound peace,
they seized upon a royal village, which was nearest them, and killed
the superintendent, who had advanced with succours; but losing their
booty, through fear of the people, who hastened to attack them, they
retired to their ships. After Bertric, who was buried at Warham, Egbert
ascended the throne of his ancestors; justly to be preferred to all the
kings who preceded him. Thus having brought down our narrative to his
times, we must, as we have promised, next give our attention to the


_Of the kings of the Northumbrians._ [A.D. 450.]

We have before related briefly, and now necessarily repeat, that
Hengist, having settled his own government in Kent, had sent his
brother Otha, and his son Ebusa, men of activity and tried experience,
to seize on the northern parts of Britain. Sedulous in executing the
command, affairs succeeded to their wishes. For frequently coming
into action with the inhabitants, and dispersing those who attempted
resistance, they conciliated with uninterrupted quiet such as
submitted. Thus, though through their own address and the good will of
their followers, they had established a certain degree of power, yet
never entertaining an idea of assuming the royal title, they left an
example of similar moderation to their immediate posterity. For during
the space of ninety-nine years, the Northumbrian leaders, contented
with subordinate power, lived in subjection to the kings of Kent.
Afterwards, however, this forbearance ceased; either because the human
mind is ever prone to degeneracy, or because that race of people was
naturally ambitious. In the year, therefore, of our Lord’s incarnation
547, the sixtieth after Hengist’s death, the principality was converted
into a kingdom. The most noble Ida, in the full vigour of life and of
strength, first reigned there. But whether he himself seized the chief
authority, or received it by the consent of others, I by no means
venture to determine, because the truth is unrevealed. However, it is
sufficiently evident, that, sprung from a great and ancient lineage,
he reflected much splendour on his illustrious descent, by his pure
and unsullied manners. Unconquerable abroad, at home he tempered his
kingly power with peculiar affability. Of this man, and of others, in
their respective places, I could lineally trace the descent, were it
not that the very names, of uncouth sound, would be less agreeable to
my readers than I wish. It may be proper though to remark, that Woden
had three sons; Weldeg, Withleg, and Beldeg; from the first, the kings
of Kent derived their origin; from the second, the kings of Mercia; and
from the third, the kings of the West-Saxons and Northumbrians, with
the exception of the two I am going to particularize. This Ida, then,
the ninth from Beldeg, and the tenth from Woden, as I find positively
declared, continued in the government fourteen years.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 450-560.] IDA--ALLA.]

His successor Alla, originating from the same stock, but descending
from Woden by a different branch, conducted the government, extended
by his exertions considerably beyond its former bounds, for thirty
years. In his time, youths from Northumbria were exposed for sale,
after the common and almost native custom of this people; so that,
even as our days have witnessed, they would make no scruple of
separating the nearest ties of relationship through the temptation
of the slightest advantage. Some of these youths then, carried from
England for sale to Rome, became the means of salvation to all their
countrymen. For exciting the attention of that city, by the beauty of
their countenances and the elegance of their features, it happened
that, among others, the blessed Gregory, at that time archdeacon of
the apostolical see, was present. Admiring such an assemblage of grace
in mortals, and, at the same time, pitying their abject condition, as
captives, he asked the standers-by, “of what race are these? Whence
come they?” They reply, “by birth they are Angles; by country are
Deiri; (Deira being a province of Northumbria,) subjects of King Alla,
and Pagans.” Their concluding characteristic he accompanied with
heartfelt sighs: to the others he elegantly alluded, saying, “that
these Angles, _angel_-like, should be delivered from (_de_) _ira_,
and taught to sing _Alle-luia_.” Obtaining permission without delay
from pope Benedict, the industry of this excellent man was all alive
to enter on the journey to convert them; and certainly his zeal would
have completed this intended labour, had not the mutinous love of his
fellow citizens recalled him, already on his progress. He was a man
as celebrated for his virtues, as beloved by his countrymen; for by
his matchless worth, he had even exceeded the expectations they had
formed of him from his youth. His good intention, though frustrated at
this time, received afterwards, during his pontificate, an honourable
termination, as the reader will find in its proper place. I have
made this insertion with pleasure, that my readers might not lose
this notice of Alla, mention of whom is slightly made in the life of
Pope Gregory, who, although he was the primary cause of introducing
Christianity among the Angles, yet, either by the counsel of God, or
some mischance, was never himself permitted to know it. The calling,
indeed, descended to his son.

On the death of Alla, Ethelric, the son of Ida, advanced to extreme old
age, after a life consumed in penury, obtained the kingdom, and after
five years, was taken off by a sudden death. He was a pitiable prince,
whom fame would have hidden in obscurity, had not the conspicuous
energy of the son lifted up the father to notice.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 588-603.] ETHELFRID.]

When, therefore, by a long old age, he had satisfied the desire of
life, Ethelfrid, the elder of his sons, ascended the throne, and
compensated the greenness of his years by the maturity of his conduct.
His transactions have been so displayed by graceful composition, that
they want no assistance of mine, except as order is concerned. Bede
has eagerly dwelt on the praises of this man and his successors; and
has dilated on the Northumbrians at greater length, because they were
his near neighbours: our history, therefore, will select and compile
from his relation. In order, however, that no one may blame me for
contracting so diffuse a narrative, I must tell him that I have done
it purposely, that they who have been satiated with such high-seasoned
delicacies, may respire a little on these humble remnants: for it
is a saying trite by use and venerable for its age, “that the meats
which cloy the least are eaten with keenest appetite.” Ethelfrid
then, as I was relating, having obtained the kingdom, began at first
vigorously to defend his own territories, afterwards eagerly to invade
his neighbours, and to seek occasion for signalizing himself on all
sides. Many wars were begun by him with foresight, and terminated with
success; as he was neither restrained from duty by indolence, nor
precipitated into rashness by courage. An evidence of these things is
Degstan,[61] a noted place in those parts, where Edan, king of the
Scots, envying Ethelfrid’s successes, had constrained him, though
averse, to give battle; but, being overcome, he took to flight, though
the triumph was not obtained without considerable hazard to the victor.
For Tedbald, the brother of Ethelfrid, opposing himself to the most
imminent dangers that he might display his zeal in his brother’s cause,
left a mournful victory indeed, being cut off with his whole party.
Another proof of his success is afforded by the city of Carlegion,
now commonly called Chester, which, till that period possessed by the
Britons, fostered the pride of a people hostile to the king. When he
bent his exertions to subdue this city, the townsmen preferring any
extremity to a siege, and at the same confiding in their numbers,
rushed out in multitudes to battle. But deceived by a stratagem, they
were overcome and put to flight; his fury being first vented on the
monks, who came out in numbers to pray for the safety of the army.
That their number was incredible to these times is apparent from so
many half-destroyed walls of churches in the neighbouring monastery,
so many winding porticoes, such masses of ruins as can scarcely be
seen elsewhere. The place is called Bangor; at that day a noted
monastery, but now changed into a cathedral.[62] Ethelfrid, thus, while
circumstances proceeded to his wishes abroad, being desirous of warding
off domestic apprehensions and intestine danger, banished Edwin, the
son of Alla, a youth of no mean worth, from his kingdom and country.
He, wandering for a long time without any settled habitation, found
many of his former friends more inclined to his enemy than to the
observance of their engagements; for as it is said,

 “If joy be thine, ’tis then thy friends abound:
  Misfortune comes, and thou alone art found.”[63]

At last he came to Redwald, king of the East Angles, and bewailing his
misfortunes, was received into his protection. Shortly after there
came messengers from Ethelfrid, either demanding the surrender of the
fugitive, or denouncing hostilities. Determined by the advice of his
wife not to violate, through intimidation, the laws of friendship,
Redwald collected a body of troops, rushed against Ethelfrid, and
attacked him suddenly, whilst suspecting nothing less than an assault.
The only remedy that courage, thus taken by surprise, could suggest,
there being no time to escape, he availed himself of. Wherefore, though
almost totally unprepared, though beset with fearful danger on every
side, he fell not till he had avenged his own death by the destruction
of Regnhere, the son of Redwald. Such an end had Ethelfrid, after a
reign of twenty-four years: a man second to none in martial experience,
but entirely ignorant of the holy faith. He had two sons by Acca, the
daughter of Alla, sister of Edwin, Oswald aged twelve, and Oswy four
years; who, upon the death of their father, fled through the management
of their governors, and escaped into Scotland.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 617-633.] EDWIN.]

In this manner, all his rivals being slain or banished, Edwin, trained
by many adversities, ascended, not meanly qualified, the summit of
power. When the haughtiness of the Northumbrians had bent to his
dominion, his felicity was crowned by the timely death of Redwald,
whose subjects, during Edwin’s exile among them, having formerly
experienced his ready courage and ardent disposition, now willingly
swore obedience to him. Granting to the son of Redwald the empty
title of king, himself managed all things as he thought fit. At this
juncture, the hopes and the resources of the Angles centred totally
in him; nor was there a single province of Britain which did not
regard his will, and prepare to obey it, except Kent: for he had left
the Kentish people free from his incursions, because he had long
meditated a marriage with Ethelburga, sister of their king. When she
was granted to him, after a courtship long protracted, to the intent
that he should not despise that woman when possessed whom he so
ardently desired when withheld, these two kingdoms became so united
by the ties of kindred, that, there was no rivalry in their powers,
no difference in their manners. Moreover, on this occasion, the faith
of Christ our Lord, infused into those parts by the preaching of
Paulinus, reached first the king himself, whom the queen, among other
proofs of conjugal affection, was perpetually instructing; nor was
the admonition of bishop Paulinus wanting in its place. For a long
time, he was wavering and doubtful; but once received, he imbibed it
altogether. Then he invited neighbouring kings to the faith; then he
erected churches, and neglected nothing for its propagation. In the
meanwhile, the merciful grace of God smiled on the devotion of the
king; insomuch, that not only the nations of Britain, that is to say,
the Angles, Scots, and Picts, but even the Orkney and Mevanian isles,
which we now call Anglesey, that is, islands of the Angles, both feared
his arms, and venerated his power. At that time, there was no public
robber; no domestic thief; the tempter of conjugal fidelity was far
distant; the plunderer of another man’s inheritance was in exile: a
state of things redounding to his praise, and worthy of celebration in
our times. In short, such was the increase of his power, that justice
and peace willingly met and kissed each other, imparting mutual acts
of kindness. And now indeed would the government of the Angles have
held a prosperous course, had not an untimely death, the stepmother of
all earthly felicity, by a lamentable turn of fortune, snatched this
man from his country. For in the forty-eighth year of his age, and the
seventeenth of his reign, being killed, together with his son, by the
princes whom he had formerly subjugated, Cadwalla of the Britons and
Penda of the Mercians, rising up against him, he became a melancholy
example of human vicissitude. He was inferior to none in prudence: for
he would not embrace even the Christian faith till he had examined it
most carefully; but when once adopted, he esteemed nothing worthy to be
compared to it.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 635.] OSWALD.]

Edwin thus slain, the sons of Ethelfrid, who were also the nephews of
Edwin, Oswald, and Oswy, now grown up, and in the budding prime of
youth, re-sought their country, together with Eanfrid, their elder
brother, whom I forgot before to mention. The kingdom, therefore, was
now divided into two. Indeed, Northumbria, long since separated into
two provinces, had elected Alla, king of the Deirans, and Ida, of the
Bernicians. Wherefore Osric, the cousin of Edwin, succeeding to Deira,
and Eanfrid, the son of Ethelfrid, to Bernicia, they exulted in the
recovery of their hereditary right. They had both been baptized in
Scotland, though they were scarcely settled in their authority, ere
they renounced their faith: but shortly after they suffered the just
penalty of their apostacy through the hostility of Cadwalla. The space
of a year, passed in these transactions, improved Oswald, a young man
of great hope, in the science of government. Armed rather by his faith,
for he had been admitted to baptism while in exile with many nobles
among the Scots, than by his military preparations, on the first onset
he drove Cadwalla,[64] a man elated with the recollection of his former
deeds, and, as he used himself to say, “born for the extermination of
the Angles,” from his camp, and afterwards destroyed him with all his
forces. For when he had collected the little army which he was able
to muster, he excited them to the conflict, in which, laying aside
all thought of flight, they must determine either to conquer or die,
by suggesting, “that it must be a circumstance highly disgraceful
for the Angles to meet the Britons on such unequal terms, as to fight
against those persons for safety, whom they had been used voluntarily
to attack for glory only; that therefore they should maintain their
liberty with dauntless courage, and the most strenuous exertions; but,
that of the impulse to flight no feeling whatever should be indulged.”
In consequence they met with such fury on both sides, that, it may be
truly said, no day was ever more disastrous for the Britons, or more
joyful for the Angles: so completely was one party routed with all
its forces, as never to have hope of recovering again; so exceedingly
powerful did the other become, through the effects of faith and the
accompanying courage of the king. From this time, the worship of idols
fell prostrate in the dust; and he governed the kingdom, extended
beyond Edwin’s boundaries, for eight years, peaceably and without
the loss of any of his people. Bede, in his History, sets forth the
praises of this king in a high style of panegyric, of which I shall
extract such portions as may be necessary, by way of conclusion. With
what fervent faith his breast was inspired, may easily be learned
from this circumstance. If at any time Aidan the priest addressed his
auditors on the subject of their duty, in the Scottish tongue, and
no interpreter was present, the king himself would directly, though
habited in the royal robe, glittering with gold, or glowing with
Tyrian purple, graciously assume that office, and explain the foreign
idiom in his native language. It is well known too, that frequently
at entertainments, when the guests had whetted their appetites
and bent their inclinations on the feast, he would forego his own
gratification;[65] procuring, by his abstinence, comfort for the poor.
So that I think the truth of that heavenly sentence was fulfilled even
on earth, where the celestial oracle hath said, “He that dispersed
abroad, he hath given to the poor, his righteousness remaineth for
ever.” And moreover, what the hearer must wonder at, and cannot deny,
that identical royal right hand, the dispenser of so many alms,
remains to this day perfect, with the arm, the skin and nerves, though
the remainder of the body, with the exception of the bones, mouldering
into dust, has not escaped the common lot of mortality. It is true the
corporeal remains of some of the saints are unconscious altogether of
decay. Wherefore let others determine by what standard they will fix
their judgment; I pronounce this still more gracious and divine on
account of its singular manifestation; because things ever so precious
degenerate by frequency, and whatever is more unusual, is celebrated
more generally. I should indeed be thought prolix were I to relate how
diligent he was to address his prayers on high, and to fill the heavens
with vows. This virtue of Oswald is too well known to require the
support of our narrative. For at what time would that man neglect his
supplications, who, in the insurrection excited by Penda king of the
Mercians, his guards being put to flight and himself actually carrying
a forest of darts in his breast, could not be prevented by the pain
of his wounds or the approach of death, from praying for the souls of
his faithful companions? In such manner this personage, of surpassing
celebrity in this world, and highly in favour with God, ending a
valuable life, transmitted his memory to posterity by a frequency of
miracles; and indeed most deservedly. For it is not common, but even
more rare than a white crow, for men to abound in riches, and not give
indulgence to their vices.[66]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 642.] OSWALD.]

When he was slain, his arms with the hands and his head were cut off
by the insatiable rage of his conqueror, and fixed on a stake. The
dead trunk indeed, as I have mentioned, being laid to rest in the
calm bosom of the earth, turned to its native dust; but the arms and
hands, through the power of God, remain, according to the testimony
of an author of veracity, without corruption. These being placed by
his brother Oswy in a shrine, at the city of Bebbanburg,[67] so the
Angles call it, and shown for a miracle, bear testimony to the fact.
Whether they remain at that place at the present day, I venture not
rashly to affirm, because I waver in my opinion. If other historians
have precipitately recorded any matter, let them be accountable:
I hold common report at a cheaper rate, and affirm nothing but
what is deserving of entire credit. The head was then buried by his
before-mentioned brother at Lindisfarne; but it is said now to be
preserved at Durham in the arms of the blessed Cuthbert.[68] When
Ostritha, the wife of Ethelred, king of the Mercians, daughter of
king Oswy, through regard to her uncle, was anxious to take the bones
of the trunk to her monastery of Bardney, which is in the country of
the Mercians not far from the city of Lincoln, the monks refused her
request at first; denying repose even to the bones of that man when
dead whom they had hated whilst living, because he had obtained their
country by right of arms. But at midnight being taught, by a miraculous
light from heaven shining on the relics, to abate their haughty pride,
they became converts to reason, and even entreated as a favour, what
before they had rejected. Virtues from on high became resident in this
place: every sick person who implored this most excellent martyr’s
assistance, immediately received it. The withering turf grew greener
from his blood, and recovered a horse:[69] and some of it being hung up
against a post, the devouring flames fled from it in their turn. Some
dust, moistened from his relics, was equally efficacious in restoring
a lunatic to his proper senses. The washings of the stake which had
imbibed the blood fresh streaming from his head, restored health to
one despairing of recovery. For a long time this monastery, possessing
so great a treasure, flourished in the sanctity of its members and the
abundance of its friends, more especially after king Ethelred received
the tonsure there, where also his tomb is seen even to the present day.
After many years indeed, when the barbarians infested these parts, the
bones of the most holy Oswald were removed to Gloucester. This place,
at that period inhabited by monks, but at the present time by canons,
contains but few inmates. Oswald, therefore, was the man who yielded
the first fruits of holiness to his nation; since no Angle before him,
to my knowledge, was celebrated for miracles. For after a life spent in
sanctity, in liberally giving alms, in frequent watchings and prayer,
and lastly, through zeal for the church of God, in waging war with an
heathen, he poured out his spirit, according to his wishes, before he
could behold, what was his greatest object of apprehension, the decline
of Christianity. Nor indeed shall he be denied the praise of the
martyrs, who, first aspiring after a holy life, and next opposing his
body to a glorious death, certainly trod in their steps: in a manner he
deserves higher commendation, since they barely consecrated themselves
to God; but Oswald not only himself, but all the Northumbrians with him.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 655-670.] OSWY. EGFRID.]

On his removal from this world, Oswy his brother assumed the dominion
over the Bernicians, as did Oswin, the son of Osric, whom I have before
mentioned, over the Deirans. After meeting temperately at first on
the subject of the division of the provinces, under a doubtful truce,
they each retired peaceably to their territories; but not long after,
by means of persons who delighted in sowing the seeds of discord, the
peace, of which they had so often made a mockery by ambiguous treaties,
was finally broken, and vanished into air. Horrid crime! that there
should be men who could envy these kings their friendly intimacy,
nor abstain from using their utmost efforts to precipitate them into
battle. Here then fortune, who had before so frequently caressed Oswin
with her blandishments, now wounded him with her scorpion-sting.
For thinking it prudent to abstain from fighting, on account of the
smallness of his force, he had secretly withdrawn to a country-seat,
where he was immediately betrayed by his own people, and killed by
Oswy. He was a man admirably calculated to gain the favour of his
subjects by his pecuniary liberality; and, as they relate, demonstrated
his care for his soul by his fervent devotion. Oswy, thus sovereign of
the entire kingdom, did every thing to wipe out this foul stain, and to
increase his dignity, extenuating the enormity of that atrocious deed
by the rectitude of his future conduct. Indeed the first and highest
point of his glory is, that he nobly avenged his brother and his uncle,
and gave to perdition Penda king of the Mercians, that destroyer of
his neighbours, and fomenter of hostility. From this period he either
governed the Mercians, as well as almost all the Angles, himself,
or was supreme over those who did. Turning from this time altogether
to offices of piety, that he might be truly grateful for the favours
of God perpetually flowing down upon him, he proceeded to raise up
and animate, with all his power, the infancy of the Christian faith,
which of late was fainting through his brother’s death. This faith,
brought shortly after to maturity by the learning of the Scots, but
wavering in many ecclesiastical observances, was now settled on
canonical foundations:[70] first by Agilbert and Wilfrid, and next by
archbishop Theodore: for whose arrival in Britain, although Egbert,
king of Kent, as far as his province is concerned, takes much from his
glory, the chief thanks are due to Oswy.[71] Moreover he built numerous
habitations for the servants of God, and so left not his country
destitute of this advantage also. The principal of these monasteries,
at that time for females, but now for males, was situate about thirty
miles north of York, and was anciently called Streaneshalch, but
latterly Whitby. Begun by Hilda, a woman of singular piety, it was
augmented with large revenues by Elfled, daughter of this king, who
succeeded her in the government of it; in which place also she buried
her father with all due solemnity, after he had reigned twenty-eight
years. This monastery, like all others of the same order, was destroyed
in the times of the Danish invasion, which will be related hereafter,
and bereaved of the bodies of many saints. For the bones of St. Aidan
the bishop, of Ceolfrid the abbat, and of that truly holy virgin Hilda,
together with those of many others, were, as I have related in the book
which I lately published on the Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury,
at that time removed to Glastonbury; and those of other saints to
different places. Now the monastery, under another name, and somewhat
restored as circumstances permitted, hardly presents a vestige of its
former opulence.

To Oswy, who had two sons, the elder who was illegitimate being
rejected, succeeded the younger, Egfrid, legitimately born, more valued
on account of the good qualities of his most pious wife Etheldrida,
than for his own; yet he was certainly to be commended for two
things which I have read in the history of the Angles, his allowing
his wife to dedicate herself to God, and his promoting the blessed
Cuthbert to a bishopric, whose tears at the same time burst out with
pious assent.[72] But my mind shudders at the bare recollection of
his outrage against the holy Wilfrid, when, loathing his virtues, he
deprived the country of this shining character. Overbearing towards
the suppliant, a malady incident to tyrants, he overwhelmed the Irish,
a race of men harmless in genuine simplicity and guiltless of every
crime, with incredible slaughter. On the other hand, inactive towards
the rebellious, and not following up the triumphs of his father,
he lost the dominion of the Mercians, and moreover, defeated in
battle by Ethelred the son of Penda, their king, he lost his brother
also. Perhaps these last circumstances may be truly attributed to
the unsteadiness of youth, but his conduct towards Wilfrid, to the
instigation of his wife,[73] and of the bishops; more especially as
Bede, a man who knew not how to flatter, calls him, in his book of
the Lives of his Abbats, the most pious man, the most beloved by God.
At length, in the fifteenth year of his reign, as he was leading
an expedition against the Picts, and eagerly pursuing them as they
purposely retired to some secluded mountains, he perished with almost
all his forces; the few who escaped by flight carried home news of
the event; and yet the divine Cuthbert, from his knowledge of future
events, had both attempted to keep him back, when departing, and at the
very moment of his death, enlightened by heavenly influence, declared,
though at a distance, that he was slain.

While a more than common report every where noised the death of Egfrid,
an intimation of it, “borne on the wings of haste,” reached the ears of
his brother Alfrid. Though the elder brother, he had been deemed, by
the nobility, unworthy of the government, from his illegitimacy, as I
have observed, and had retired to Ireland, either through compulsion or
indignation. In this place, safe from the persecution of his brother,
he had, from his ample leisure, become deeply versed in literature, and
had enriched his mind with every kind of learning. On which account the
very persons who had formerly banished him, esteeming him the better
qualified to manage the reins of government, now sent for him of their
own accord. Fate rendered efficacious their entreaties; neither did he
disappoint their expectations. For during the space of nineteen years,
he presided over the kingdom in the utmost tranquillity and joy; doing
nothing that even greedy calumny itself could justly carp at, except
the persecution of that great man Wilfrid. However he held not the
same extent of territory as his father and brother, because the Picts,
proudly profiting by their recent victory, and attacking the Angles,
who were become indolent through a lengthened peace, had curtailed his
boundaries on the north.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 685-730.] OSRED.--CEOLWULF.]

He had for successor his son, Osred, a boy of eight years old; who
disgracing the throne for eleven years, and spending an ignominious
life in the seduction of nuns, was ultimately taken off by the
hostility of his relations. Yet he poured out to them a draught
from the same cup; for Kenred after reigning two, and Osric eleven
years, left only this to be recorded of them; that they expiated by
a violent death, the blood of their master, whom they supposed they
had rightfully slain. Osric indeed deserved a happier end, for, as a
heathen[74] says, he was more dignified than other shades, because,
while yet living he had adopted Ceolwulf, Kenred’s brother, as his
successor. Then Ceolwulf ascended the giddy height of empire, seventh
in descent from Ida: a man competent in other respects, and withal
possessed of a depth of literature, acquired by good abilities and
indefatigable attention. Bede vouches for the truth of my assertion,
who, at the very juncture when Britain most abounded with scholars,
offered his History of the Angles, for correction, to this prince more
especially; making choice of his authority, to confirm by his high
station what had been well written; and of his learning, to rectify by
his talents what might be carelessly expressed.

In the fourth year of his reign, Bede, the historian, after having
written many books for the holy church, entered the heavenly kingdom,
for which he had so long languished, in the year of our Lord’s
incarnation 734; of his age the fifty-ninth. A man whom it is easier
to admire than worthily to extol: who, though born in a remote corner
of the world, was able to dazzle the whole earth with the brilliancy
of his learning. For even Britain, which by some is called another
world, since, surrounded by the ocean, it was not thoroughly known
by many geographers, possesses, in its remotest region, bordering
on Scotland, the place of his birth and education. This region,
formerly exhaling the grateful odour of monasteries, or glittering
with a multitude of cities built by the Romans, now desolate through
the ancient devastations of the Danes, or those more recent of the
Normans,[75] presents but little to allure the mind. Here is the river
Wear, of considerable breadth and rapid tide; which running into the
sea, receives the vessels, borne by gentle gales, on the calm bosom
of its haven. Both its banks[76] have been made conspicuous by one
Benedict,[77] who there built churches and monasteries; one dedicated
to Peter, and the other to Paul, united in the bond of brotherly love
and of monastic rule. The industry and forbearance of this man, any
one will admire who reads the book which Bede composed concerning his
life and those of the succeeding abbats: his industry, in bringing
over a multitude of books, and being the first person who introduced
in England constructors of stone edifices, as well as makers of glass
windows; in which pursuits he spent almost his whole life abroad:
the love of his country and his taste for elegance beguiling his
painful labours, in the earnest desire of conveying something to his
countrymen out of the common way; for very rarely before the time of
Benedict were buildings of stone[78] seen in Britain, nor did the
solar ray cast its light through the transparent glass. Again, his
forbearance: for when in possession of the monastery of St. Augustine
at Canterbury, he cheerfully resigned it to Adrian, when he arrived,
not as fearing the severity of St. Theodore the archbishop, but bowing
to his authority. And farther, while long absent abroad, he endured not
only with temper, but, I may say, with magnanimity, the substitution of
another abbat, without his knowledge, by the monks of Wearmouth; and
on his return, admitted him to equal honour with himself, in rank and
power. Moreover, when stricken so severely with the palsy that he could
move none of his limbs, he appointed a third abbat, because the other,
of whom we have spoken, was not less affected by the same disease. And
when the disorder, increasing, was just about to seize his vitals, he
bade adieu to his companion, who was brought into his presence, with
an inclination of the head only; nor was he better able to return the
salutation, for he was hastening to a still nearer exit, and actually
died before Benedict.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 690.] CEOLFRID.]

Ceolfrid succeeded, under whom the affairs of the monastery flourished
beyond measure. When, through extreme old age, life ceased to be
desirable, he purposed going to Rome, that he might pour out, as he
hoped, his aged soul an offering to the apostles his masters. But
failing of the object of his desires, he paid the debt of nature at the
city of Langres. The relics of his bones were in after time conveyed
to his monastery; and at the period of the Danish devastation, with
those of St. Hilda, were taken to Glastonbury.[79] The merits of these
abbats, sufficiently eminent in themselves, their celebrated pupil,
Bede, crowns with superior splendour. It is written indeed, “A wise son
is the glory of his father:” for one of them made him a monk, the other
educated him. And since Bede himself has given some slight notices of
these facts, comprising his whole life in a kind of summary, it may be
allowed to turn to his words, which the reader will recognize, lest any
variation of the style should affect the relation. At the end then of
the Ecclesiastical History of the English[80] this man, as praiseworthy
in other respects as in this, that he withheld nothing from posterity,
though it might be only a trifling knowledge of himself, says thus:

“I, Bede, the servant of Christ, and priest of the monastery of the
holy apostles Peter and Paul, which is at Wearmouth, have, by God’s
assistance, arranged these materials for the history of Britain. I was
born within the possessions of this monastery, and at seven years of
age, was committed, by the care of my relations, to the most reverend
abbat Benedict, to be educated, and, after, to Ceolfrid; passing
the remainder of my life from that period in residence at the said
monastery, I have given up my whole attention to the study of the
Scriptures, and amid the observance of my regular discipline and my
daily duty of singing in the church, have ever delighted to learn,
to teach, or to write. In the nineteenth year of my life, I took
deacon’s, in the thirtieth, priest’s orders; both, at the instance of
abbat Ceolfrid, by the ministry of the most reverend bishop John:[81]
from which time of receiving the priesthood till the fifty-ninth year
of my age, I have been employed for the benefit of myself or of my
friends, in making these extracts from the works of the venerable
fathers, or in making additions, according to the form of their
sense or interpretation.” Then enumerating thirty-six volumes which
he published in seventy-eight books, he proceeds, “And I pray most
earnestly, O merciful Jesus, that thou wouldst grant me, to whom thou
hast already given the knowledge of thyself, finally to come to thee,
the fountain of all wisdom, and to appear for ever in thy presence.
Moreover I humbly entreat all persons, whether readers or hearers,
whom this history of our nation shall reach, that they be mindful to
intercede with the divine clemency for my infirmities both of mind
and of body, and that, in their several provinces, they make me this
grateful return; that I, who have diligently laboured to record, of
every province, or of more exalted places, what appeared worthy of
preservation or agreeable to the inhabitants, may receive, from all,
the benefit of their pious intercessions.”

Here my abilities fail, here my eloquence falls short: ignorant which
to praise most, the number of his writings, or the gravity of his
style. No doubt he had imbibed a large portion of heavenly wisdom,
to be able to compose so many volumes within the limits of so short
a life. Nay, they even report, that he went to Rome for the purpose
either of personally asserting that his writings were consistent with
the doctrines of the church; or of correcting them by apostolical
authority, should they be found repugnant thereto. That he went to Rome
I do not however affirm for fact: but I have no doubt in declaring that
he was invited thither, as the following epistle will certify; as well
as that the see of Rome so highly esteemed him as greatly to desire his

[Sidenote: [A.D. 701.] SERGIUS’S EPISTLE.]

“_Sergius the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Ceolfrid the
holy abbat sendeth greeting_:--

“With what words, and in what manner, can we declare the kindness
and unspeakable providence of our God, and return fit thanks for his
boundless benefits, who leads us, when placed in darkness, and the
shadow of death, to the light of knowledge?” And below, “Know, that
we received the favour of the offering which your devout piety hath
sent by the present bearer, with the same joy and goodwill with which
it was transmitted. We assent to the timely and becoming prayers of
your laudable anxiety with deepest regard, and entreat of your pious
goodness, so acceptable to God, that, since there have occurred certain
points of ecclesiastical discipline, not to be promulgated without
farther examination, which have made it necessary for us to confer with
a person skilled in literature, as becomes an assistant of God’s holy
universal motherchurch, you would not delay paying ready obedience
to this, our admonition; but would send without loss of time, to our
lowly presence, at the church of the chief apostles, my lords Peter
and Paul, your friends and protectors, that religious servant of God,
Bede, the venerable priest of your monastery; whom, God willing, you
may expect to return in safety, when the necessary discussion of
the above-mentioned points shall be, by God’s assistance, solemnly
completed: for whatever may be added to the church at large, by his
assistance, will, we trust, be profitable to the things committed to
your immediate care.”

So extensive was his fame then, that even the majesty of Rome itself
solicited his assistance in solving abstruse questions, nor did Gallic
conceit ever find in this Angle any thing justly to blame. All the
western world yielded the palm to his faith and authority; for indeed
he was of sound faith, and of artless, yet pleasing eloquence: in all
elucidations of the holy scriptures, discussing those points from which
the reader might imbibe the love of God, and of his neighbour, rather
than those which might charm by their wit, or polish a rugged style.
Moreover the irrefragable truth of that sentence, which the majesty
of divine wisdom proclaimed to the world forbids any one to doubt the
sanctity of his life, “Wisdom will not enter the malevolent soul, nor
dwell in the person of the sinful;” which indeed is said not of earthly
wisdom, which is infused promiscuously into the hearts of men, and in
which, even the wicked, who continue their crimes until their last day,
seem often to excel, according to the divine expression, “The sons of
this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light;”
but it rather describes that wisdom which needs not the assistance
of learning, and which dismisses from its cogitations those things
which are void of understanding, that is to say, of the understanding
of acting and speaking properly. Hence Seneca in his book, “De
Causis,”[82] appositely relates that Cato, defining the duty of an
orator, said, “An orator is a good man, skilled in speaking.” This
ecclesiastical orator, then, used to purify his knowledge, that so he
might, as far as possible, unveil the meaning of mystic writings. How
indeed could that man be enslaved to vice who gave his whole soul and
spirit to elucidate the scriptures? For, as he confesses in his third
book on Samuel, if his expositions were productive of no advantage to
his readers, yet were they of considerable importance to himself,
inasmuch as, while fully intent upon them, he escaped the vanity and
empty imaginations of the times. Purified from vice, therefore, he
entered within the inner veil, divulging in pure diction the sentiments
of his mind.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 735.] DEATH OF BEDE.]

But the unspotted sanctity and holy purity of his heart were chiefly
conspicuous on the approach of death. Although for seven weeks
successively, from the indisposition of his stomach, he nauseated all
food, and was troubled with such a difficulty of breathing that his
disorder confined him to his bed, yet he by no means abandoned his
literary avocations. During whole days he endeavoured to mitigate
the pressure of his disorder and to lose the recollection of it by
constant lectures to his pupils, and by examining and solving abstruse
questions, in addition to his usual task of psalmody. Moreover the
gospel of St. John, which from its difficulty exercises the talents of
its readers even to the present day, was translated by him into the
English language, and accommodated to those who did not understand
Latin. Occasionally, also, would he admonish his disciples, saying,
“Learn, my children, while I am with you, for I know not how long I
shall continue; and although my Maker should very shortly take me
hence, and my spirit should return to him that sent and granted it to
come into this life, yet have I lived long, God hath rightly appointed
my portion of days, I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ.”

Often too when the balance was poised between hope and fear, he would
remark “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
God.[83] I have not passed my life among you in such manner as to be
ashamed to live, neither do I fear to die, because we have a kind
Master;” thus borrowing the expression of St. Ambrose when dying.
Happy man! who could speak with so quiet a conscience as neither being
ashamed to live, nor afraid to die; on the one hand not fearing the
judgment of men, on the other waiting with composure the hidden will of
God. Often, when urged by extremity of pain, he comforted himself with
these remarks, “The furnace tries the gold, and the fire of temptation
the just man: the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared to the future glory which shall be revealed in us.”[84] Tears
and a difficulty of breathing accompanied his words. At night, when
there were none to be instructed or to note down his remarks, he passed
the whole season in giving thanks and singing psalms, fulfilling the
saying of that very wise man,[85] “that he was never less alone than
when alone.” If at any time a short and disturbed sleep stole upon his
eye-lids, he immediately shook it off, and showed that his affections
were always intent on God, by exclaiming “Lift me up, O Lord, that the
proud calumniate me not. Do with thy servant according to thy mercy.”
These and similar expressions which his shattered memory suggested,
flowed spontaneously from his lips whenever the pain of his agonizing
disorder became mitigated. But on the Tuesday before our Lord’s
ascension his disease rapidly increased, and there appeared a small
swelling in his feet, the sure and certain indication of approaching
death. Then the congregation being called together, he was anointed and
received the sacrament. Kissing them all, and requesting from each that
they would bear him in remembrance, he gave a small present, which he
had privately reserved, to some with whom he had been in closer bonds
of friendship. On Ascension day, when his soul, tired of the frail
occupation of the body, panted to be free, lying down on a hair-cloth
near the oratory, where he used to pray, with sense unimpaired and
joyful countenance, he invited the grace of the Holy Spirit, saying, “O
King of glory, Lord of virtue, who ascendedst this day triumphant into
the heavens, leave us not destitute, but send upon us the promise of
the Father, the Spirit of truth.” This prayer ended, he breathed his
last, and immediately the senses of all were pervaded by an odour such
as neither cinnamon nor balm could give, but coming, as it were, from
paradise, and fraught with all the joyous exhalations of spring. At
that time he was buried in the same monastery, but at present, report
asserts that he lies at Durham with St. Cuthbert.

With this man was buried almost all knowledge of history down to our
times, inasmuch as there has been no Englishman either emulous of his
pursuits, or a follower of his graces, who could continue the thread
of his discourse, now broken short. Some few indeed, “whom the mild
Jesus loved,” though well skilled in literature, have yet observed an
ungracious silence throughout their lives; others, scarcely tasting of
the stream, have fostered a criminal indolence. Thus to the slothful
succeeded others more slothful still, and the warmth of science for a
long time decreased throughout the island. The verses of his epitaph
will afford sufficient specimen of this indolence; they are indeed
contemptible, and unworthy the tomb of so great a man:

 “Presbyter hic Beda, requiescit carne sepultus;
  Dona, Christe, animam in cœlis gaudere per ævum:
  Daque illi sophiæ debriari fonte, cui jam
  Suspiravit ovans, intento semper amore.”[86]

Can this disgrace be extenuated by any excuse, that there was not to
be found even in that monastery, where during his lifetime the school
of all learning had flourished, a single person who could write his
epitaph, except in this mean and paltry style? But enough of this: I
will return to my subject.

Ceolwulf thinking it beneath the dignity of a Christian to be immersed
in earthly things, abdicated the throne after a reign of eight years,
and assumed the monastic habit at Lindisfarne, in which place how
meritoriously he lived, is amply testified by his being honourably
interred near St. Cuthbert, and by many miracles vouchsafed from on

[Sidenote: [A.D. 737, 738.] KING EADBERT.]

He had made provision against the state’s being endangered, by placing
his cousin, Eadbert,[87] on the throne, which he filled for twenty
years with singular moderation and virtue. Eadbert had a brother
of the same name, archbishop of York, who, by his own prudence and
the power of the king, restored that see to its original state.
For, as is well known to any one conversant in the history of the
Angles,[88] Paulinus, the first prelate of the church of York, had
been forcibly driven away, and died at Rochester, where he left that
honourable distinction of the pall which he had received from pope
Honorius. After him, many prelates of this august city, satisfied
with the name of a simple bishopric, aspired to nothing higher: but
when Eadbert was seated on the throne, a man of loftier spirit, and
one who thought, that, “as it is over-reaching to require what is not
our due, so is it ignoble to neglect our right,” he reclaimed the
pall by frequent appeals to the pope. This personage, if I may be
allowed the expression, was the depository and receptacle of every
liberal art; and founded a most noble library at York. For this I
cite Alcuin,[89] as competent witness; who was sent from the kings
of England to the emperor Charles the Great, to treat of peace, and
being hospitably entertained by him, observes, in a letter to Eanbald,
third in succession from Eadbert, “Praise and glory be to God, who
hath preserved my days in full prosperity, that I should rejoice in
the exaltation of my dearest son, who laboured in my stead, in the
church where I had been brought up and educated, and presided over the
treasures of wisdom, to which my beloved master, archbishop Egbert,
left me heir.” Thus too to Charles Augustus:[90] “Give me the more
polished volumes of scholastic learning, such as I used to have in my
own country, through the laudable and ardent industry of my master,
archbishop Egbert. And, if it please your wisdom, I will send some of
our youths, who may obtain thence whatever is necessary, and bring back
into France the flowers of Britain; that the garden of Paradise may not
be confined to York, but that some of its scions may be transplanted to

This is the same Alcuin, who, as I have said, was sent into France to
treat of peace, and during his abode with Charles, captivated either by
the pleasantness of the country or the kindness of the king, settled
there; and being held in high estimation, he taught the king, during
his leisure from the cares of state, a thorough knowledge of logic,
rhetoric, and astronomy. Alcuin was, of all the Angles, of whom I have
read, next to St. Aldhelm and Bede, certainly the most learned, and has
given proof of his talents in a variety of compositions. He lies buried
in France, at the church of St. Paul, of Cormaric,[91] which monastery
Charles the Great built at his suggestion: on which account, even at
the present day, the subsistence of four monks is distributed in alms,
for the soul of our Alcuin, in that church.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 738.] KINGS OF FRANCE.]

But since I am arrived at that point where the mention of Charles the
Great naturally presents itself, I shall subjoin a true statement of
the descent of the kings of France, of which antiquity has said much:
nor shall I depart widely from my design; because to be unacquainted
with their race, I hold as a defect in information; seeing that they
are our near neighbours, and to them the Christian world chiefly looks
up: and, perhaps, to glance over this compendium may give pleasure to
many who have not leisure to wade through voluminous works.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 747-937.] CAROLOMAN--CHARLEMAGNE--LOUIS.]

The Franks were so called, by a Greek appellative, from the ferocity
of their manners, when, by order of the emperor Valentinian the First,
they ejected the Alani, who had retreated to the Mæotian marshes. It
is scarcely possible to believe how much this people, few and mean at
first, became increased by a ten years’ exemption from taxes: such,
before the war, being the condition on which they engaged in it.
Thus augmenting wonderfully by the acquisition of freedom, and first
seizing the greatest part of Germany, and next the whole of Gaul,
they compelled the inhabitants to list under their banners. Hence the
Lotharingi and Allamanni, and other nations beyond the Rhine, who are
subject to the emperor of Germany, will have themselves more properly
to be called Franks; and those whom we suppose Franks, they call by an
ancient appellative Galwalæ, that is to say, Gauls. To this opinion
I assent; knowing that Charles the Great, whom none can deny to have
been king of the Franks, always used the same vernacular language with
the Franks on the other side of the Rhine. Any one who shall read the
life of Charles will readily admit the truth of my assertion.[92] In
the year then of the Incarnate Word 425 the Franks were governed by
Faramund, their first king. The grandson of Faramund was Meroveus,
from whom all the succeeding kings of the Franks, to the time of
Pepin, were called Merovingians. In like manner the sons of the kings
of the Angles took patronymical appellations from their fathers. For
instance; Eadgaring the son of Edgar; Eadmunding the son of Edmund, and
the rest in like manner; commonly, however, they are called ethelings.
The native language of the Franks, therefore, partakes of that of
the Angles, by reason of both nations originating from Germany. The
Merovingians reigned successfully and powerfully till the year of our
Lord’s incarnation, 687. At that period Pepin, son of Ansegise, was
made mayor of the palace[93] among the Franks, on the other side of
the Rhine. Seizing opportunities for veiling his ambitious views, he
completely subjugated his master Theodoric, the dregs as it were of the
Merovingians, and to lessen the obloquy excited by the transaction,
he indulged him with the empty title of king, while himself managed
every thing, at home and abroad, according to his own pleasure. The
genealogy of this Pepin, both to and from him, is thus traced: Ausbert,
the senator, on Blithilde, the daughter of Lothaire, the father of
Dagobert, begot Arnold: Arnold begot St. Arnulph, bishop of Metz:
Arnulph begot Flodulph, Walcthise, Anschise: Flodulph begot duke
Martin, whom Ebroin slew: Walcthise begot the most holy Wandregesil
the abbat: duke Anschise begot Ansegise: Ansegise begot Pepin. The son
of Pepin was Carolus Tudites, whom they also call Martel, because he
beat down the tyrants who were raising up in every part of France, and
nobly defeated the Saracens, at that time infesting Gaul. Following
the practice of his father, whilst he was himself satisfied with the
title of earl, he kept the kings in a state of pupilage. He left
two sons, Pepin and Caroloman. Caroloman, from some unknown cause,
relinquishing the world, took his religious vows at Mount Cassin. Pepin
was crowned king of the Franks, and patrician of the Romans, in the
church of St. Denys, by pope Stephen, the successor of Zachary. For
the Constantinopolitan emperors, already much degenerated from their
ancient valour, giving no assistance either to Italy or the church of
Rome, which had long groaned under the tyranny of the Lombards, this
pope bewailed the injuries to which they were exposed from them to
the ruler of the Franks; wherefore Pepin passing the Alps, reduced
Desiderius, king of the Lombards, to such difficulties, that he
restored what he had plundered to the church of Rome, and gave surety
by oath that he would not attempt to resume it. Pepin returning to
France after some years, died, leaving his surviving children, Charles
and Caroloman, his heirs. In two years Caroloman departed this life.
Charles obtaining the name of “Great” from his exploits, enlarged the
kingdom to twice the limits which it possessed in his father’s time,
and being contented for more than thirty years with the simple title
of king, abstained from the appellation of emperor, though repeatedly
invited to assume it by pope Adrian. But when, after the death of this
pontiff, his relations maimed the holy Leo, his successors in the
church of St. Peter, so as to cut out his tongue, and put out his eyes,
Charles hastily proceeded to Rome to settle the state of the church.
Justly punishing these abandoned wretches, he stayed there the whole
winter, and restored the pontiff, now speaking plainly and seeing
clearly, by the miraculous interposition of God, to his customary
power. At that time the Roman people, with the privity of the pontiff,
on the day of our Lord’s nativity, unexpectedly hailed him with the
title of Augustus; which title, though, from its being unusual, he
reluctantly admitted, yet afterwards he defended with proper spirit
against the Constantinopolitan emperors, and left it, as hereditary,
to his son Louis. His descendants reigned in that country, which is
now properly called France, till the time of Hugh, surnamed Capet,
from whom is descended the present Louis. From the same stock came the
sovereigns of Germany and Italy, till the year of our Lord 912, when
Conrad, king of the Teutonians, seized that empire. The grandson of
this personage was Otho the Great, equal in every estimable quality to
any of the emperors who preceded him. Thus admirable for his valour
and goodness, he left the empire hereditary to his posterity; for
the present Henry, son-in-law of Henry, king of England, derives his
lineage from his blood.

To return to my narrative: Alcuin, though promoted by Charles the Great
to the monastery of St. Martin in France, was not unmindful of his
countrymen, but exerted himself to retain the emperor in amity with
them, and stimulated them to virtue by frequent epistles. I shall here
subjoin many of his observations, from which it will appear clearly how
soon after the death of Bede the love of learning declined even in his
own monastery: and how quickly after the decease of Eadbert the kingdom
of the Northumbrians came to ruin, through the prevalence of degenerate

He says thus to the monks of Wearmouth, among whom Bede had both lived
and died, obliquely accusing them of having done the very thing which
he begs them not to do, “Let the youths be accustomed to attend the
praises of our heavenly King, not to dig up the burrows of foxes,
or pursue the winding mazes of hares; let them now learn the Holy
Scriptures, that, when grown up, they may be able to instruct others.
Remember the most noble teacher of our times, Bede, the priest, what
thirst for learning he had in his youth, what praise he now has among
men, and what a far greater reward of glory with God.” Again, to those
of York he says, “The Searcher of my heart is witness that it was not
for lust of gold that I came to France or continued there, but for the
necessities of the church.” And thus to Offa, king of the Mercians, “I
was prepared to come to you with the presents of king Charles and to
return to my country, but it seemed more advisable to me, for the peace
of my nation, to remain abroad, not knowing what I could have done
among those persons, with whom no one can be secure, or able to proceed
in any laudable pursuit. Behold every holy place is laid desolate by
Pagans, the altars are polluted by perjury, the monasteries dishonoured
by adultery, the earth itself stained with the blood of rulers and
of princes.” Again, to king Ethelred, third in the sovereignty after
Eadbert, “Behold the church of St. Cuthbert is sprinkled with the
blood of God’s priests, despoiled of all its ornaments, and the holiest
spot in Britain given up to Pagan nations to be plundered; and where,
after the departure of St. Paulinus from York, the Christian religion
first took its rise in our own nation, there misery and calamity took
their rise also. What portends that shower of blood which in the time
of Lent, in the city of York, the capital of the whole kingdom, in the
church of St. Peter, the chief of the apostles, we saw tremendously
falling on the northern side of the building from the summit of the
roof, though the weather was fair? Must not blood be expected to come
upon the land from the northern regions?” Again, to Osbert, prince of
the Mercians, “Our kingdom of the Northumbrians has almost perished
through internal dissensions and perjury.” So also to Athelard,
archbishop of Canterbury, “I speak this on account of the scourge which
has lately fallen on that part of our island which has been inhabited
by our forefathers for nearly three hundred and forty years. It is
recorded in the writings of Gildas, the wisest of the Britons, that
those very Britons ruined their country through the avarice and rapine
of their princes, the iniquity and injustice of their judges, their
bishops’ neglect of preaching, the luxury and abandoned manners of the
people. Let us be cautious that such vices become not prevalent in our
times, in order that the divine favour may preserve our country to us
in that happy prosperity for the future which it has hitherto in its
most merciful kindness vouchsafed us.”

It has been made evident, I think, what disgrace and what destruction
the neglect of learning and the immoral manners of degenerate men
brought upon England! These remarks obtain this place in my history
merely for the purpose of cautioning my readers.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 758.] OSWULPH.]

Eadbert, then, rivalling his brother in piety, assumed the monastic
habit, and gave place to Oswulph, his son, who being, without any cause
on his part, slain by his subjects, was, after a twelvemonth’s reign,
succeeded by Moll. Moll carried on the government with commendable
diligence for eleven years,[94] and then fell a victim to the treachery
of Alcred. Alcred in his tenth year was compelled by his countrymen
to retire from the government which he had usurped. Ethelred too, the
son of Moll, being elected king, was expelled by them at the end of
five years. Alfwold was next hailed sovereign; but he also, at the end
of eleven years, experienced the perfidy of the inhabitants, for he
was cut off by assassination, though guiltless, as his distinguished
interment at Hexham and divine miracles sufficiently declare. His
nephew, Osred,[95] the son of Alcred, succeeding him, was expelled
after the space of a year, and gave place to Ethelred, who was also
called Ethelbert. He was the son of Moll, also called Ethelwald, and,
obtaining the kingdom after twelve years of exile, held it during
four, at the end of which time, unable to escape the fate of his
predecessors, he was cruelly murdered. At this, many of the bishops
and nobles greatly shocked, fled from the country. Some indeed affirm
that he was punished deservedly, because he had assented to the unjust
murder of Osred, whereas he had it in his power to quit the sovereignty
and restore him to his throne. Of the beginning of this reign Alcuin
thus speaks: “Blessed be God, the only worker of miracles, Ethelred,
the son of Ethelwald, went lately from the dungeon to the throne, from
misery to grandeur; by the infancy of whose reign we are detained from
coming to you.”[96] Of his death he writes[97] thus to Offa king of
the Mercians: “Your esteemed kindness is to understand that my lord,
king Charles, often speaks to me of you with affection and sincerity,
and in him you have the firmest friend. He therefore sends becoming
presents to your love, and to the several sees of your kingdom. In
like manner he had appointed presents for king Ethelred, and for the
sees of his bishops, but, oh, dreadful to think, at the very moment of
despatching these gifts and letters there came a sorrowful account, by
the ambassadors who returned out of Scotland through your country, of
the faithlessness of the people, and the death of the king. So that
Charles, withholding his liberal gifts, is so highly incensed against
that nation as to call it perfidious and perverse, and the murderer of
its sovereigns, esteeming it worse than pagan; and had I not interceded
he would have already deprived them of every advantage within his
reach, and have done them all the injury in his power.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 796-827.] KING EGBERT.]

After Ethelred no one durst ascend the throne;[98] each dreading the
fate of his predecessor, and preferring a life of safety in inglorious
ease, to a tottering reign in anxious suspense: for most of the
Northumbrian kings had ended their reigns by a death which was now
become almost habitual. Thus being without a sovereign for thirty-three
years, that province became an object of plunder and contempt to its
neighbours. For when the Danes, who, as I have before related from
the words of Alcuin, laid waste the holy places, on their return home
represented to their countrymen the fruitfulness of the island, and
the indolence of its inhabitants; these barbarians came over hastily,
in great numbers, and obtained forcible possession of that part of
the country, till the time we are speaking of: indeed they had a
king of their own for many years, though he was subordinate to the
authority of the king of the West Saxons. However, after the lapse
of these thirty-three years, king Egbert obtained the sovereignty of
this province, as well as of the others, in the year of our Lord’s
incarnation 827, and the twenty-eighth of his reign. And since we have
reached his times, mindful of our engagement, we shall speak briefly
of the kingdom of the Mercians; and this, as well because we admire
brevity in relation, as that there is no great abundance of materials.


_Of the kings of the Mercians._ [A.D. 626-874.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 626, and the hundred and
thirty-ninth after the death of Hengist, Penda the son of Pybba,
tenth in descent of Woden, of noble lineage, expert in war, but at
the same time an irreligious heathen, at the age of fifty assumed the
title[99] of king of the Mercians, after he had already fostered his
presumption by frequent incursions on his neighbours. Seizing the
sovereignty, therefore, with a mind loathing quiet and unconscious how
great an enormity it was even to be victorious in a contest against
his own countrymen, he began to attack the neighbouring cities, to
invade the confines of the surrounding kings, and to fill everything
with terror and confusion. For what would not that man attempt, who,
by his lawless daring, had extinguished those luminaries of Britain,
Edwin and Oswald, kings of the Northumbrians, Sigebert, Ecgric, and
Anna, kings of the East Angles; men, in whom nobility of race was
equalled by sanctity of life? Kenwalk also, king of the West Saxons,
after being frequently harassed by him, was driven into exile; though,
perhaps, he deservedly paid the penalty of his perfidy towards God,
in denying his faith; and towards Penda himself, in repudiating his
sister. It is irksome to relate, how eagerly he watched opportunities
of slaughter, and as a raven flies greedily at the scent of a carcase,
so he joined Cadwalla,[100] and was of infinite service to him, in
recovering his dominions. In this manner, for thirty years, he attacked
his countrymen, but did nothing worthy of record against strangers. His
insatiable desires, however, at last found an end suitable to their
deserts; for being routed, with his allies, by Oswy, who had succeeded
his brother Oswald, more through the assistance of God than his
military powers, Penda increased the number of infernal spirits. By his
queen Kyneswith his sons were Peada, Wulfhere, Ethelred, Merwal, and
Mercelin: his daughters, Kyneburg, and Kyneswith; both distinguished
for inviolable chastity. Thus the parent, though ever rebellious
towards God, produced a most holy offspring for Heaven.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 655-661.] PEADA--WULFHERE.]

His son Peada succeeded him in a portion of the kingdom, by the
permission of Oswy, advanced to the government of the South Mercians;
a young man of talents, and even in his father’s lifetime son-in-law
to Oswy. For he had received his daughter, on condition of renouncing
paganism and embracing Christianity; in which faith he would soon have
caused the province of participate, the peaceful state of the kingdom
and his father-in-law’s consent tending to such a purpose, had not his
death, hastened, as they say, by the intrigues of his wife, intercepted
these joyful prospects. Then Oswy resumed the government, which seemed
rightly to appertain to him from his victory over the father, and
from his affinity to the son. The spirit, however, of the inhabitants
could not brook his authority more than three years; for they expelled
his generals, and Wulfhere, the son of Penda, being hailed as his
successor, the province recovered its liberty.

Wulfhere, that he might not disappoint the hopes of the nation, began
to act with energy, to show himself an efficient prince by great
exertions both mental and personal, and finally to afford Christianity,
introduced by his brother and yet hardly breathing in his kingdom,
every possible assistance. In the early years of his reign he was
heavily oppressed by the king of the West Saxons, but in succeeding
times, repelling the injury by the energy of his measures, he deprived
him of the sovereignty of the Isle of Wight; and leading it, yet
panting after heathen rites, into the proper path, he soon after
bestowed it on his godson, Ethelwalch, king of the South Saxons, as a
recompence for his faith. But these and all his other good qualities
are stained and deteriorated by the dreadful brand of simony; because
he, first of the kings of the Angles, sold the sacred bishopric of
London to one Wini, an ambitious man. His wife was Ermenhilda, the
daughter of Erconbert, king of Kent, of whom he begat Kinred, and
Wereburga, a most holy virgin who lies buried at Chester. His brother
Merewald married Ermenburga, the daughter of Ermenred, brother of the
same Erconbert; by her he had issue, three daughters; Milburga, who
lies at Weneloch; Mildritha in Kent, in the monastery of St. Augustine;
and Milgitha: and one son, Merefin. Alfrid king of the Northumbrians
married Kyneburg, daughter of Penda: who, after a time, disgusted with
wedlock, took the habit of a nun in the monastery which her brothers,
Wulfhere and Ethelred, had founded.

Wulfhere died at the end of nineteen years, and his brother Ethelred
ascended the throne; more famed for his pious disposition than his
skill in war. Moreover he was satisfied with displaying his valour
in a single but illustrious expedition into Kent, and passed the
remainder of his life in quiet, except that attacking Egfrid, king of
the Northumbrians, who had passed beyond the limits of his kingdom, he
admonished him to return home, by the murder of his brother Elfwin.
He atoned however for this slaughter, after due deliberation, at the
instance of St. Theodore, the archbishop, by giving Egfrid a large
sum of money.[101] Subsequently to this, in the thirtieth year of
his reign, he took the cowl, and became a monk at Bardney, of which
monastery he was ultimately promoted to be abbat. This is the same
person who was contemporary with Ina, king of the West Saxons, and
confirmed by his authority also the privilege which St. Aldhelm brought
from Rome. His wife was Ostritha, sister of Egfrid, king of the
Northumbrians, by whom she had issue a son named Ceolred.

He appointed Kenred, the son of his brother Wulfhere his successor,
who, equally celebrated for piety to God and uprightness towards
his subjects, ran his mortal race with great purity of manners, and
proceeding to Rome in the fifth year of his reign, passed the remainder
of his life there in the offices of religion; chiefly instigated
to this by the melancholy departure of a soldier, who, as Bede
relates,[102] disdaining to confess his crimes when in health, saw,
manifestly, when at the point of death, those very demons coming to
punish him to whose vicious allurements he had surrendered his soul.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 709-756.] BONIFACE’S EPISTLE.]

After him reigned Ceolred, the son of Ethelred his uncle, as
conspicuous for his valour against Ina, as pitiable for an early death;
for not filling the throne more than eight years, he was buried at
Lichfield, leaving Ethelbald, the grand-nephew of Penda by his brother
Alwy, his heir. This king, enjoying the sovereignty in profound and
long-continued peace, that is, for the space of forty-one years, was
ultimately killed by his subjects, and thus met with a reverse of
fortune. Bernred, the author of his death, left nothing worthy of
record, except that afterwards, being himself put to death by Offa,
he received the just reward of his treachery. To this Ethelbald,
Boniface,[103] archbishop of Mentz, an Angle by nation, who was
subsequently crowned with martyrdom, sent an epistle, part of which I
shall transcribe, that it may appear how freely he asserts those very
vices to have already gained ground among the Angles of which Alcuin in
after times was apprehensive. It will also be a strong proof, by the
remarkable deaths of certain kings, how severely God punishes those
guilty persons for whom his long-suspended anger mercifully waits.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 756.] BONIFACE’S EPISTLE.]

[104]“_To Ethelbald, my dearest lord, and to be preferred to all other
kings of the Angles, in the love of Christ, Boniface the archbishop,
legate to Germany from the church of Rome, wisheth perpetual health in
Christ._ We confess before God that when we hear of your prosperity,
your faith, and good works, we rejoice; and if at any time we hear
of any adversity befallen you, either in the chance of war or the
jeopardy of your soul, we are afflicted. We have heard that, devoted
to almsgiving, you prohibit theft and rapine, are a lover of peace, a
defender of widows, and of the poor; and for this we give God thanks.
Your contempt for lawful matrimony, were it for chastity’s sake, would
be laudable; but since you wallow in luxury and even in adultery with
nuns, it is disgraceful and damnable; it dims the brightness of your
glory before God and man, and transforms you into an idolater, because
you have polluted the temple of God. Wherefore, my beloved son, repent,
and remember how dishonourable it is, that you, who, by the grant of
God, are sovereign over many nations, should yourself be the slave of
lust to his disservice. Moreover, we have heard that almost all the
nobles of the Mercian kingdom, following your example, desert their
lawful wives and live in guilty intercourse with adultresses and nuns.
Let the custom of a foreign country teach you how far distant this
is from rectitude. For in old Saxony, where there is no knowledge of
Christ, if a virgin in her father’s house, or a married woman under
the protection of her husband, should be guilty of adultery, they
burn her, strangled by her own hand, and hang up her seducer over the
grave where she is buried; or else, cutting off her garments to the
waist, modest matrons whip her and pierce her with knives, and fresh
tormentors punish her in the same manner as she goes from town to town,
till they destroy her. Again the Winedi,[105] the basest of nations,
have this custom--the wife, on the death of her husband, casts herself
on the same funeral pile to be consumed with him. If then the gentiles,
who know not God, have so zealous a regard for chastity, how much more
ought you to possess, my beloved son, who are both a Christian and
a king? Spare therefore your own soul, spare a multitude of people,
perishing by your example, for whose souls you must give account. Give
heed to this too, if the nation of the Angles, (and we are reproached
in France and in Italy and by the very pagans for it,) despising
lawful matrimony, give free indulgence to adultery, a race ignoble and
despising God must necessarily proceed from such a mixture, which will
destroy the country by their abandoned manners, as was the case with
the Burgundians, Provençals, and Spaniards, whom the Saracens harassed
for many years on account of their past transgressions. Moreover, it
has been told us, that you take away from the churches and monasteries
many of their privileges, and excite, by your example, your nobility
to do the like. But recollect, I entreat you, what terrible vengeance
God hath inflicted upon former kings, guilty of the crime we lay to
your charge. For Ceolred, your predecessor, the debaucher of nuns, the
infringer of ecclesiastical privileges, was seized, while splendidly
regaling with his nobles, by a malignant spirit, who snatched away his
soul without confession and without communion, while in converse with
the devil and despising the law of God. He drove Osred also, king of
the Deirans and Bernicians, who was guilty of the same crimes, to such
excess that he lost his kingdom and perished in early manhood by an
ignominious death. Charles also, governor of the Franks, the subverter
of many monasteries and the appropriator of ecclesiastical revenues to
his own use, perished by excruciating pain and a fearful death.” And
afterwards, “Wherefore, my beloved son, we entreat with paternal and
fervent prayers that you would not despise the counsel of your fathers,
who, for the love of God, anxiously appeal to your highness. For
nothing is more salutary to a good king than the willing correction of
such crimes when they are pointed out to him; since Solomon says ‘Whoso
loveth instruction, loveth wisdom.’ Wherefore, my dearest son, showing
you good counsel, we call you to witness, and entreat you by the living
God, and his Son Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, that you would
recollect how fleeting is the present life, how short and momentary
is the delight of the filthy flesh, and how ignominious for a person
of transitory existence to leave a bad example to posterity. Begin
therefore to regulate your life by better habits, and correct the past
errors of your youth, that you may have praise before men here, and be
blest with eternal glory hereafter. We wish your Highness health and
proficiency in virtue.”

I have inserted in my narrative portions of this epistle, to give
sufficient knowledge of these circumstances, partly in the words of the
author and partly in my own, shortening the sentences as seemed proper,
for which I shall easily be excused, because there was need of brevity
for the sake of those who were eager to resume the thread of the
history. Moreover, Boniface transmitted an epistle of like import to
archbishop Cuthbert, adding that he should remonstrate with the clergy
and nuns on the fineness and vanity of their dress. Besides, that he
might not wonder at his interfering in that in which he had no apparent
concern, that is to say, how or with what manners the nation of the
Angles conducted itself, he gave him to understand, that he had bound
himself by oath to pope Gregory the Third, not to conceal the conduct
of the nations near him from the knowledge of the apostolical see;
wherefore, if mild measures failed of success, he should take care to
act in such manner, that vices of this kind should not be kept secret
from the pope. Indeed, on account of the fine texture of the clerical
vestments, Alcuin obliquely glances at Athelard the archbishop,
Cuthbert’s successor, reminding him that, when he should come to Rome
to visit the emperor Charles the Great, the grandson of Charles of whom
Boniface was speaking above, he should not bring the clergy or monks
dressed in party-coloured or gaudy garments, for the clergy amongst the
Franks dressed only in ecclesiastical habits.

Nor could the letters of so great a man, which he was accustomed
to send from watchful regard to his legation and pure love of his
country, be without effect. For both Cuthbert, the archbishop, and
king Ethelbald summoned a council for the purpose of retrenching the
superfluities which he had stigmatised. The acts of this synod, veiled
in a multiplicity of words, I shall forbear to add, as I think they
will better accord with another part of my work, when I come to the
succession of the bishops: but as I am now on the subject of kingly
affairs, I shall subjoin a charter of Ethelbald’s, as a proof of his
devotion, because it took place in the same council.

“It often happens, through the uncertain change of times, that those
things which have been confirmed by the testimony and advice of many
faithful persons, have been made of none effect by the contumacy
of very many, or by the artifices of deceit, without any regard to
justice, unless they have been committed to eternal memory by the
authority of writing and the testimony of charters. Wherefore I
Ethelbald, king of the Mercians, out of love to heaven and regard for
my own soul, have felt the necessity of considering how I may, by good
works, set it free from every tie of sin. For since the Omnipotent God,
through the greatness of his clemency, without any previous merit on
my part, hath bestowed on me the sceptre of government, therefore I
willingly repay him out of that which he hath given. On this account
I grant, so long as I live, that all monasteries and churches of my
kingdom shall be exempted from public taxes, works, and impositions,
except the building of forts and bridges, from which none can be
released. And moreover the servants of God shall have perfect liberty
in the produce of their woods and lands, and the right of fishing, nor
shall they bring presents either to king or princes except voluntarily,
but they shall serve God without molestation.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 749-777.] LULLUS--OFFA.]

Lullus[106] succeeded Boniface, an Englishman by birth also; of whose
sanctity mention is made in the life of St. Goar, and these verses,
which I remember to have heard from my earliest childhood, bear witness:

 “Lullus, than whom no holier prelate lives,
  By God’s assistance healing medicine gives,
  Cures each disorder by his powerful hand,
  And with his glory overspreads the land.”

However, to return to my history, Offa, descended from Penda in the
fifth degree, succeeded Ethelbald. He was a man of great mind, and one
who endeavoured to bring to effect whatever he had preconceived; he
reigned thirty-nine years. When I consider the deeds of this person, I
am doubtful whether I should commend or censure. At one time, in the
same character, vices were so palliated by virtues, and at another
virtues came in such quick succession upon vices that it is difficult
to determine how to characterize the changing Proteus. My narrative
shall give examples of each. Engaging in a set battle with Cynewulf,
king of the West Saxons, he easily gained the victory, though the
other was a celebrated warrior. When he thought artifice would better
suit his purpose, this same man beheaded king Ethelbert, who had come
to him through the allurement of great promises, and was at that very
time within the walls of his palace, soothed into security by his
perfidious attentions, and then unjustly seized upon the kingdom of the
East Angles which Ethelbert had held.

The relics of St. Alban, at that time obscurely buried, he ordered
to be reverently taken up and placed in a shrine, decorated to the
fullest extent of royal munificence, with gold and jewels; a church
of most beautiful workmanship was there erected, and a society of
monks assembled. Yet rebellious against God, he endeavoured to remove
the archiepiscopal see formerly settled at Canterbury, to Lichfield,
envying, forsooth, the men of Kent the dignity of the archbishopric:
on which account he at last deprived Lambert, the archbishop, worn
out with continual exertion, and who produced many edicts of the
apostolical see, both ancient and modern, of all possessions within
his territories, as well as of the jurisdiction over the bishoprics.
From pope Adrian, therefore, whom he had wearied with plausible
assertions for a long time, as many things not to be granted may
be gradually drawn and artfully wrested from minds intent on other
occupations, he obtained that there should be an archbishopric of the
Mercians at Lichfield, and that all the prelates of the Mercians should
be subject to that province. Their names were as follow: Denebert,
bishop of Worcester, Werenbert, of Leicester, Edulph, of Sidnacester,
Wulpheard, of Hereford; and the bishops of the East Angles, Alpheard,
of Elmham, Tidfrid, of Dunwich; the bishop of Lichfield was named
Aldulph. Four bishops however remained suffragan to Lambert, archbishop
of Canterbury, London, Winchester, Rochester, and Selsey. Some of
these bishoprics are now in being, some are removed to other places,
others consolidated by venal interest, for Leicester, Sidnacester, and
Dunwich, from some unknown cause, are no longer in existence. Nor did
Offa’s rapacity stop here, for he showed himself a downright public
pilferer, by converting to his own use the lands of many churches,
of which Malmesbury was one. But this iniquity did not long deform
canonical institutions, for soon after Kenulf, Offa’s successor,
inferior to no preceding king in power or in faith, transmitted a
letter to Leo, the successor of Adrian, and restored Athelard who had
succeeded Lambert, to his former dignity. Hence Alcuin, in an epistle
to the same Athelard, says “Having heard of the success of your
journey, and your return to your country, and how you were received by
the pope, I give thanks with every sentiment of my heart to the Lord
our God, who, by the precious gift of his mercy, directed your way
with a prosperous progress, gave you favour in the sight of the pope,
granted you to return home with the perfect accomplishment of your
wishes, and hath condescended, through you, to restore the holiest seat
of our first teacher to its pristine dignity.” I think it proper to
subjoin part of the king’s epistle and also of the pope’s, though I may
seem by so doing to anticipate the regular order of time; but I shall
do it on this account, that it is a task of greater difficulty to blend
together disjointed facts than to despatch those I had begun.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 790.] KENULF’S EPISTLE.]

“_To the most holy and truly loving lord Leo, pontiff of the sacred and
apostolical see, Kenulf, by the grace of God king of the Mercians, with
the bishops, princes, and every degree of dignity under our authority,
sendeth the salutation of the purest love in Christ._

“We give thanks ever to God Almighty, who is wont, by the means of
new guides, the former being taken to the life eternal, to guide the
church, purchased by his precious blood, amid the diverse storms of
this world, to the haven of salvation, and to shed fresh light upon
it, in order that it be led into no error of darkness, but may pursue
the path of truth without stumbling; wherefore the universal church
justly rejoices, that when the true rewarder of all good men took the
most glorious pastor of his flock, Adrian, to be eternally rewarded in
heaven, still his kind providence gave a shepherd to his flock, not
less skilled, to conduct the sheep of God into the fold of life. We
also, who live on the farthest confines of the world, justly boast,
beyond all other things, that the church’s exaltation is our safety,
its prosperity our constant ground of joy; since your apostolical
dignity and our true faith originate from the same source. Whentfore
I deem it fitting to incline the ear of our obedience, with all due
humility, to your holy commands, and to fulfil, with every possible
endeavour, what shall seem just to your piety for us to accomplish:
but to avoid, and utterly reject, all that shall be found inconsistent
with right. But now, I, Kenulf, by the grace of God king, humbly
entreat your excellence that I may address you as I wish, without
offence, on the subject of our progress, that you may receive me
with peaceful tranquillity into the bosom of your piety, and that
the liberal bounty of your benediction may qualify me, gifted with
no stock of merit, to rule my people; in order that God may deign,
through your intercession, to defend the nation, which, together with
me, your apostolical authority has instructed in the rudiments of the
faith, against all attacks of adversaries, and to extend that kingdom
which he hath given. This benediction all the Mercian kings before me
were, by your predecessors, deemed worthy to obtain. This, I humbly
beg, and this, O most holy man, I desire to receive, that you would
more especially accept me as a son by adoption, as I love you as my
father, and always honour you with all possible obedience. For among
such great personages faith ever should be kept inviolate, as well as
perfect love, because paternal love is to be looked upon as filial
happiness in God, according to the saying of Hezekiah, ‘A father will
make known thy truth to his sons, O Lord.’ In which words I implore
you, O loved father, not to deny to your unworthy son the knowledge of
the Lord in your holy words, in order that, by your sound instruction,
I may deserve, by the assistance of God, to come to a better course of
life. And moreover, O most affectionate father, we beg, with all our
bishops, and every person of rank among us, that, concerning the many
inquiries on which we have thought it right to consult your wisdom,
you would courteously reply, lest the traditions of the holy fathers
and their instructions should, through ignorance, be misunderstood by
us; but let your reply reach us in charity and meekness, that, through
the mercy of God, it may bring forth fruit in us. The first thing our
bishops and learned men allege is, that, contrary to the canons and
papal constitutions enacted for our use by the direction of the most
holy father Gregory, as you know, the jurisdiction of the metropolitan
of Canterbury is divided into two provinces, to whose power, by the
same father’s command, twelve bishops ought to be subject, as is read
throughout our churches, in the letter which he directed to his brother
and fellow bishop, Augustine, concerning the two metropolitans of
London and York, which letter doubtlessly you also possess. But that
pontifical dignity, which was at that time destined to London, with
the honour and distinction of the pall, was, for his sake, removed
and granted to Canterbury. For since Augustine, of blessed memory,
who, at the command of St. Gregory, preached the word of God to the
nation of the Angles, and so gloriously presided over the church of the
Saxons, died in that city, and his body was buried in the church of
St. Peter, the chief of apostles, which his successor St. Laurentius
consecrated, it seemed proper to the sages of our nation, that the
metropolitan dignity should reside in that city where rests the body of
the man who planted the true faith in these parts. The honour of this
pre-eminence, as you know, king Offa first attempted to take away and
to divide it into two provinces, through enmity against the venerable
Lambert and the Kentish people; and your pious brother and predecessor,
Adrian, at the request of the aforesaid king, first did what no one
had before presumed, and honoured the prelate of the Mercians with the
pall. But yet we blame neither of these persons, whom, as we believe,
Christ crowns with eternal glory. Nevertheless we humbly entreat your
excellence, on whom God hath deservedly conferred the key of wisdom,
that you would consult with your counsellors on this subject, and
condescend to transmit to us what may be necessary for us to observe
hereafter, and what may tend to the unity of real peace, as we wish,
through your sound doctrine, lest the coat of Christ, woven throughout
without seam, should suffer any rent among us. We have written this
to you, most holy father, with equal humility and regard, earnestly
entreating your clemency, that you would kindly and justly reply to
those things which have been of necessity submitted to you. Moreover we
wish that you would examine, with pious love, that epistle which, in
the presence of all our bishops, Athelard the archbishop wrote to you
more fully on the subject of his own affairs and necessities, as well
as on those of all Britain; that whatever the rule of faith requires in
those matters which are contained therein, you would condescend truly
to explain. Wherefore last year I sent my own embassy, and that of the
bishops by Wada the abbat, which he received, but idly and foolishly
executed. I now send you a small present as a token of regard,
respected father, by Birine the priest, and Fildas and Ceolbert,
my servants, that is to say, one hundred and twenty mancuses,[107]
together with letters, begging that you would condescend to receive
them kindly, and give us your blessing. May God Almighty long preserve
you safe to the glory of his holy church.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 787.] POPE LEO’S EPISTLE.]

“_To the most excellent prince, my son Kenulf, king of the Mercians, of
the province of the Saxons, pope Leo sendeth greeting._ Our most holy
and reverend brother Athelard, archbishop of Canterbury, arriving at
the holy churches of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, as well for
the faithful performance of his vow of prayer as to acquaint us with
the cause of his ecclesiastical mission to the apostolical see, hath
brought to us the enclosures of your royal excellence, where finding,
in two epistles filled with true faith, your great humility, we return
thanks to Almighty God, who hath taught and inclined your most prudent
excellence to have due regard with us in all things towards St. Peter,
the chief of apostles, and to submit with meekness to all apostolical
constitutions. Moreover, in one of these epistles we find that, were
it requisite, you would even lay down your life for us, for the sake
of our apostolical office. And again, you confess that you rejoice
much in the Lord at our prosperity, and that when these our letters of
kindest admonition reach the ears of your cordiality, you will receive
them with all humility and spiritual joy of heart, as sons do the gift
of a father. It is added too that you had ordered a small present
out of your abundance to be offered to us, an hundred and twenty
mancuses, which, with ardent desire for the salvation of your soul,
we have accepted. The aforesaid archbishop, with his attendants, has
been honourably and kindly received by us, and has been rendered every
necessary assistance. In the meantime, trusting to your most prudent
excellence when you observe, even in your own royal letters, that no
Christian can presume to run counter to our apostolical decisions,
we therefore endeavour, with all possible diligence, to transmit and
ordain what shall be of service to your kingdom, that as a canonical
censure enjoins your royal excellence, and all the princes of your
nation, and the whole people of God, to observe all things which the
aforesaid archbishop Athelard our brother, or the whole body of the
evangelical and apostolical doctrine and that of the holy fathers and
of our predecessors the holy pontiffs ordain, you ought by no means to
resist their orthodox doctrine in any thing, as our Lord and Saviour
says in the Gospel, “He who receiveth you receiveth me,” and “he who
receives a prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s
reward.” And how much more do we praise the Almighty for this same lord
archbishop, whom you have so highly commended to us as being, what
he really is, honourable, and skilful, and prudent, of good morals,
worthy before God and men. O loving son and excellent king, we praise
God, that hath pointed out to you a prelate who, like a true shepherd,
is able to prescribe due penance, according to the doctrine of the
holy Scriptures, and to rescue the souls of those who are under his
sacerdotal authority from the nethermost hell, snatching them from
inextinguishable fire, bringing them into the haven of salvation, and
offering for them to God Almighty a sacrifice, fit and pure in the
sight of the Divine Majesty. And since the aforesaid archbishop hath
pleased us extremely in every respect, in all holiness and conversation
of life, confiding much to him, we give him such prelatical power by
the authority of St. Peter, the chief of the apostles, whose office,
though unworthily, we fill, that if any in his province, as well
kings and princes as people, shall transgress the commandments of the
Lord, he shall excommunicate him until he repent; and if he remain
impenitent, let him be to you as an heathen and a publican. But with
respect to the aforesaid Athelard, archbishop of Canterbury, since
your excellent prelates have demanded from us that we do him justice
concerning the jurisdiction which he lately held, as well of bishops
as monasteries, and of which he has been unjustly deprived, as you
know, and which have been taken from his venerable see: we, making most
diligent search, have found in our sacred depository, that St. Gregory,
our predecessor, delivered that diocese to his deputed archbishop St.
Augustine, with the right of consecrating bishops, to the full number
of twelve. Hence we also, having ascertained the truth, have, by our
apostolical authority, placed all ordinations or confirmations on their
ancient footing, and do restore them to him entire, and we deliver to
him the grant of our confirmation, to be duly observed by his church,
according to the sacred canons.”

In the meantime Offa, that the outrages against his countrymen might
not secretly tend to his disadvantage, in order to conciliate the
favour of neighbouring kings, gave his daughter Eadburga in marriage
to Bertric, king of the West Saxons; and obtained the amity of Charles
the Great, king of the Franks, by repeated embassies, though he could
find little in the disposition of Charles to second his views. They
had disagreed before, insomuch that violent feuds having arisen on
both sides, even the intercourse of traders was prohibited. There is
an epistle of Alcuin to this effect, part of which I shall subjoin, as
it affords a strong proof of the magnanimity and valour of Charles,
who spent all his time in war against the Pagans, rebels to God. He
says,[108] “The ancient Saxons and all the Friesland nations were
converted to the faith of Christ through the exertions of king Charles,
urging some with threats, and others with rewards. At the end of the
year the king made an attack upon the Sclavonians and subjugated them
to his power. The Avares, whom we call Huns, made a furious attempt
upon Italy, but were conquered by the generals of the aforesaid most
Christian king, and returned home with disgrace. In like manner they
rushed against Bavaria, and were again overcome and dispersed by the
Christian army. Moreover the princes and commanders of the same most
Christian king took great part of Spain from the Saracens, to the
extent of three hundred miles along the sea-coast: but, O shame! these
accursed Saracens, who are the Hagarens, have dominion over the whole
of Africa, and the larger part of Asia Major. I know not what will be
our destination, for some ground of difference, fomented by the devil,
has arisen between king Charles and king Offa, so that, on both sides,
all navigation is prohibited the merchants. Some say that we are to be
sent into those parts to treat of peace.”

In these words, in addition to what I have remarked above, any
curious person may determine how many years have elapsed since the
Saracens invaded Africa and Asia Major. And indeed, had not the mercy
of God animated the native spirit of the emperors of the Franks,
the pagans had long since subjugated Europe also. For, holding the
Constantinopolitan emperors in contempt, they possessed themselves of
Sicily and Sardinia, the Balearic isles, and almost all the countries
surrounded by the sea, with the exception of Crete, Rhodes, and Cyprus.
In our time however they have been compelled to relinquish Sicily by
the Normans, Corsica and Sardinia by the Pisans, and great part of
Asia and Jerusalem itself by the Franks and other nations of Europe.
But, as I shall have a fitter place to treat largely of these matters
hereafter, I shall now subjoin, from the words of Charles himself, the
treaty which was ratified between him and Offa king of the Mercians.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 787.] EPISTLE OF CHARLEMAGNE.]

“_Charles, by the grace of God king of the Franks and Lombards, and
patrician of the Romans, to his esteemed and dearest brother Offa
king of the Mercians, sendeth health_:--First, we give thanks to God
Almighty for the purity of the Catholic faith, which we find laudably
expressed in your letters. Concerning pilgrims, who for the love of
God or the salvation of their souls, wish to visit the residence of
the holy apostles, let them go peaceably without any molestation; but
if persons, not seeking the cause of religion, but that of gain, be
found amongst them, let them pay the customary tolls in proper places.
We will, too, that traders have due protection within our kingdom,
according to our mandate, and if in any place they suffer wrongful
oppression, let them appeal to us or to our judges, and we will see
full justice done. Let your kindness also be apprized that we have sent
some token of our regard, out of our dalmatics[109] and palls, to each
episcopal see of your kingdom or of Ethelred’s, as an almsgiving, on
account of our apostolical lord Adrian, earnestly begging that you
would order him to be prayed for, not as doubting that his blessed soul
is at rest, but to show our esteem and regard to our dearest friend.
Moreover we have sent somewhat out of the treasure of those earthly
riches, which the Lord Jesus hath granted to us of his unmerited
bounty, for the metropolitan cities, and for yourself a belt, an
Hungarian sword, and two silk cloaks.”

I have inserted these brief extracts from the epistle that posterity
may be clearly acquainted with the friendship of Offa and Charles;
confiding in which friendly intercourse, although assailed by the
hatred of numbers, he passed the rest of his life in uninterrupted
quiet, and saw Egfert his son anointed to succeed him. This Egfert
studiously avoided the cruel path trod by his father, and devoutly
restored the privileges of all the churches which Offa had in his
time abridged. The possessions also which his father had taken from
Malmesbury he restored into the hands of Cuthbert, then abbat of that
place, at the admonition of the aforesaid Athelard archbishop of
Canterbury, a man of energy and a worthy servant of God, and who is
uniformly asserted to have been its abbat before Cuthbert, from the
circumstance of his choosing there to be buried. But while the hopes
of Egfert’s noble qualities were ripening, in the first moments of
his reign, untimely death cropped the flower of his youthful prime;
on which account Alcuin writing to the patrician Osbert, says, “I do
not think that the most noble youth Egfert died for his own sins, but
because his father, in the establishment of his kingdom, shed a deluge
of blood.” Dying after a reign of four months, he appointed Kenulf,
nephew of Penda in the fifth degree by his brother Kenwalk, to succeed

Kenulf was a truly great man, and surpassed his fame by his virtues,
doing nothing that malice could justly find fault with. Religious at
home, victorious abroad, his praises will be deservedly extolled so
long as an impartial judge can be found in England. Equally to be
admired for the extent of his power and for the lowliness of his mind;
of which he gave an eminent proof in restoring, as we have related, its
faltering dignity to Canterbury, he little regarded earthly grandeur in
his own kingdom at the expense of deviating from anciently-enjoined
canons. Taking up Offa’s hatred against the Kentish people, he sorely
afflicted that province, and led away captive their king Eadbert,
surnamed Pren; but not long after, moved with sentiments of pity, he
released him. For at Winchelcombe, where he had built a church to God,
which yet remains, on the day of its dedication he freed the captive
king at the altar, and consoled him with liberty; thereby giving a
memorable instance of his clemency. Cuthred,[110] whom he had made
king over the Kentish people, was present to applaud this act of royal
munificence. The church resounded with acclamations, the street shook
with crowds of people, for in an assembly of thirteen bishops and ten
dukes, no one was refused a largess, all departed with full purses.
Moreover, in addition to those presents of inestimable price and number
in utensils, clothes, and select horses, which the chief nobility
received, he gave to all who did not possess landed property[111] a
pound of silver, to each presbyter a marca of gold, to every monk a
shilling, and lastly he made many presents to the people at large.
After he had endowed the monastery with such ample revenues as would
seem incredible in the present time, he honoured it by his sepulture,
in the twenty-fourth year of his reign. His son Kenelm, of tender age,
and undeservedly murdered by his sister Quendrida, gained the title and
distinction of martyrdom, and rests in the same place.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 796-825.] KENELM--WITHLAF.]

After him the kingdom of the Mercians sank from its prosperity, and
becoming nearly lifeless, produced nothing worthy to be mentioned in
history. However, that no one may accuse me of leaving the history
imperfect, I shall glance over the names of the kings in succession.
Ceolwulf, the brother of Kenulf, reigning one year was expelled in the
second by Bernulf; who in the third year of his reign being overcome
and put to flight by Egbert, king of the West Saxons, was afterwards
slain by the East Angles, because he had attempted to seize on East
Anglia, as a kingdom subject to the Mercians from the time of Offa.
Ludecan, after a reign of two years, was despatched by these Angles,
as he was preparing to avenge his predecessor: Withlaf, subjugated in
the commencement of his reign by the before-mentioned Egbert, governed
thirteen years, paying tribute to him and to his son, both for his
person and his property: Berthwulf reigning thirteen years on the same
conditions, was at last driven by the Danish pirates beyond the sea:
Burhred marrying Ethelswith, the daughter of king Ethelwulf, the son
of Egbert, exonerated himself, by this affinity, from the payment of
tribute and the depredations of the enemy, but after twenty-two years,
driven by them from his country, he fled to Rome, and was there buried
at the school of the Angles, in the church of St. Mary; his wife, at
that time continuing in this country, but afterwards following her
husband, died at Pavia. The kingdom was next given by the Danes to one
Celwulf, an attendant of Burhred’s, who bound himself by oath that he
would retain it only at their pleasure: after a few years it fell under
the dominion of Alfred, the grandson of Egbert. Thus the sovereignty
of the Mercians, which prematurely bloomed by the overweening ambition
of an heathen, altogether withered away through the inactivity of a
driveller king, in the year of our Lord’s incarnation eight hundred and


_Of the kings of the East Angles._ [A.D. 520-905.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 616-793.] EORPWALD--EDMUND.]

As my narrative has hitherto treated of the history of the four more
powerful kingdoms in as copious a manner, I trust, as the perusal of
ancient writers has enabled me, I shall now, as last in point of order,
run through the governments of the East Angles and East Saxons, as
suggested in my preface. The kingdom of the East Angles arose anterior
to the West Saxons, though posterior to the kingdom of Kent. The
first[112] and also the greatest king of the East Angles was Redwald,
tenth in descent from Woden as they affirm; for all the southern
provinces of the Angles and Saxons on this side of the river Humber,
with their kings, were subject to his authority. This is the person
whom I have formerly mentioned as having, out of regard for Edwin,
killed Ethelfrid, king of the Northumbrians. Through the persuasion of
Edwin too he was baptized; and after, at the instigation of his wife,
abjured the faith. His son, Eorpwald, embraced pure Christianity, and
poured out his immaculate spirit to God, being barbarously murdered
by the heathen Richbert. To him succeeded Sigebert, his brother by
the mother’s side, a worthy servant of the Lord, polished from all
barbarism by his education among the Franks. For, being driven into
banishment by Redwald, and for a long time associating with them, he
had received the rites of Christianity, which, on his coming into
power he graciously communicated to the whole of his kingdom, and also
instituted schools of learning in different places. This ought highly
to be extolled: as men heretofore uncivilized and irreligious, were
enabled, by his means, to taste the sweets of literature. The promoter
of his studies and the stimulator of his religion was Felix the bishop,
a Burgundian by birth, who now lies buried at Ramsey. Sigebert moreover
renouncing the world and taking the monastic vow, left the throne to
his relation, Ecgric, with whom, being attacked in intestine war by
Penda, king of the Mercians, he met his death, at the moment when,
superior to his misfortunes, and mindful of his religious profession,
he held only a wand in his hand. The successor of Ecgric was Anna, the
son of Eni, the brother of Redwald, involved in similar destruction
by the same furious Penda; he was blessed with a numerous and noble
offspring, as the second book will declare in its proper place. To Anna
succeeded his brother Ethelhere, who was justly slain by Oswy king of
the Northumbrians, together with Penda, because he was an auxiliary
to him, and was actually supporting the very army which had destroyed
his brother and his kinsman. His brother Ethelwald, in due succession,
left the kingdom to Adulf and Elwold, the sons of Ethelhere. Next came
Bernred. After him Ethelred. His son was St. Ethelbert, whom Offa king
of the Mercians killed through treachery, as has already been said,
and will be repeated hereafter. After him, through the violence of the
Mercians, few kings reigned in Eastern Anglia till the time of St.
Edmund, and he was despatched in the sixteenth year of his reign, by
Hingwar, a heathen; from which time the Angles ceased to command in
their own country for fifty years. For the province was nine years
without a king, owing to the continued devastations of the pagans;
afterwards both in it and in East Saxony, Gothrun, a Danish king,
reigned for twelve years, in the time of king Alfred. Gothrun had
for successor a Dane also, by name Eohric, who, after he had reigned
fourteen years, was taken off by the Angles, because he conducted
himself with cruelty towards them. Still, however, liberty beamed not
on this people, for the Danish earls continued to oppress them, or
else to excite them against the kings of the West Saxons, till Edward,
the son of Alfred, added both provinces to his own West Saxon empire,
expelling the Danes and freeing the Angles. This event took place in
the fiftieth year after the murder of St. Edmund, king and martyr, and
in the fifteenth[113] of his own reign.


_Of the kings of the East Saxons._ [A.D. 520-823.]

Nearly co-eval with the kingdom of the East Angles, was that of the
East Saxons; which had many kings in succession, though subject
to others, and principally to those of the Mercians. First, then,
Sleda,[114] the tenth from Woden, reigned over them; whose son, Sabert,
nephew of St. Ethelbert, king of Kent, by his sister Ricula, embraced
the faith of Christ at the preaching of St. Mellitus, first bishop
of London; for that city belongs to the East Saxons. On the death of
Sabert, his sons, Sexred and Seward, drove Mellitus into banishment,
and soon after, being killed by the West Saxons, they paid the penalty
of their persecution against Christ. Sigbert, surnamed the Small,
the son of Seward, succeeding, left the kingdom to Sigebert, the son
of Sigebald, who was the brother of Sabert. This Sigebert, at the
exhortation of king Oswy, was baptized in Northumbria by bishop Finan,
and brought back to his nation, by the ministry of bishop Cedd,[115]
the faith which they had expelled together with Mellitus. After
gloriously governing the kingdom, he left it in a manner still more
glorious; for he was murdered by his near relations, merely because,
in conformity to the gospel-precept, he used kindly to spare his
enemies, nor regard with harsh and angry countenance, if they were
penitent, those who had offended him. His brother Suidelm, baptized
by the same Cedd in East Anglia, succeeded. On his death, Sighere,
the son of Sigbert the Small, and Sebbi, the son of Seward, held the
sovereignty. Sebbi’s associate dying, he himself voluntarily retired
from the kingdom in his thirtieth year, becoming a monk, as Bede
relates. His sons Sighard and of Sighere, governed the kingdom for a
short time; a youth of engaging countenance and disposition, in the
flower of his age, and highly beloved by his subjects. He, through the
persuasion of Kyneswith, daughter of king Penda, whom he had anxiously
sought in marriage, being taught to aspire after heavenly affections,
went to Rome with Kenred king of the Mercians, and St. Edwin bishop of
Worcester; and there taking the vow, in due time entered the heavenly
mansions. To him succeeded Selred, son of Sigebert the Good, during
thirty-eight years; who being slain, Swithed assumed the sovereignty of
the East Saxons;[116] but in the same year that Egbert king of the West
Saxons subdued Kent, being expelled by him, he vacated the kingdom;
though London, with the adjacent country, continued subject to the
kings of the Mercians as long as they held their sovereignty.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 653-823.] OF THE KINGS OF KENT.]

The kings of Kent, it is observed, had dominion peculiarly in Kent, in
which are two sees; the archbishopric of Canterbury, and the bishopric
of Rochester.

The kings of the West Saxons ruled in Wiltshire, Berkshire, and
Dorsetshire; in which there is one bishop, whose see is now at Sarum
or Salisbury; formerly it was at Ramsbury, or at Sherborne: in Sussex,
which for some little time possessed a king of its own;[117] the
episcopal see of this county was anciently in the island of Selsey,
as Bede relates, where St. Wilfrid built a monastery; the bishop now
dwells at Chichester: in the counties of Southampton and Surrey; which
have a bishop, whose see is at Winchester: in the county of Somerset,
which formerly had a bishop at Wells, but now at Bath: and in Domnonia,
now called Devonshire, and Cornubia, now Cornwall; at that time there
were two bishoprics, one at Crediton, the other at St. German’s; now
there is but one, and the see is at Exeter.

The kings of the Mercians governed the counties of Gloucester,
Worcester, and Warwick; in these is one bishop whose residence is
at Worcester: in Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire; these
have one bishop, who has part of Warwickshire and Shropshire; his
residence is at the city of Legions, that is Chester or Coventry;
formerly it was at Lichfield: in Herefordshire; and there is a bishop
having half Shropshire and part of Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire;
whose residence is at Hereford: in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire,
Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, half of Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire,
Leicestershire, Lincolnshire; which counties are under the jurisdiction
of a bishop now resident at Lincoln, but formerly at Dorchester in the
county of Oxford: in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, which belong
to the diocese of York; formerly they had their own bishop, whose seat
was at Leicester.

The kings of the East Angles had dominion over the county of Cambridge;
there is a bishop, whose seat is at Ely: and in Norfolk and Suffolk:
whose see is at Norwich; formerly at Elmham or Thetford.

The kings of the East Saxons ruled in Essex, in Middlesex, and half of
Hertfordshire; where there anciently was, and still remains, the bishop
of London.

The kings of the Northumbrians governed all the country which is beyond
the river Humber, even into Scotland; and there were the archbishop
of York, the bishops of Hexham, of Ripon, of Lindisfarne, and of
Candida Casa [Whitherne]; Hexham and Ripon are no more; Lindisfarne is
translated to Durham.

Such were the divisions of the kingdom of England, although the kings,
according to the vicissitude of the times, now one, and then the other,
would exceed their boundaries through their courage, or lose them by
their indolence; but all these several kingdoms Egbert subjugated by
his abilities, and consolidated into one empire, reserving to each
their own laws. Wherefore, since I have passed beyond his times,
fulfilling my promise in a review of the different periods, I will
here fix the limits of my first volume, that the various tracks of the
different kingdoms may unite in the general path of the West Saxon



[Sidenote: [A.D. 800.] PROLOGUE TO BOOK II.]

A long period has elapsed since, as well through the care of my
parents as my own industry, I became familiar with books. This
pleasure possessed me from my childhood: this source of delight has
grown with my years. Indeed I was so instructed by my father, that,
had I turned aside to other pursuits, I should have considered it as
jeopardy to my soul and discredit to my character. Wherefore mindful
of the adage “covet what is necessary,” I constrained my early age
to desire eagerly that which it was disgraceful not to possess. I
gave, indeed, my attention to various branches of literature, but in
different degrees. Logic, for instance, which gives arms to eloquence,
I contented myself with barely hearing. Medicine, which ministers to
the health of the body, I studied with somewhat more attention. But
now, having scrupulously examined the several branches of Ethics, I
bow down to its majesty, because it spontaneously unveils itself to
those who study it, and directs their minds to moral practice; History
more especially; which, by an agreeable recapitulation of past events,
excites its readers, by example, to frame their lives to the pursuit
of good, or to aversion from evil. When, therefore, at my own expense,
I had procured some historians of foreign nations, I proceeded, during
my domestic leisure, to inquire if any thing concerning our own country
could be found worthy of handing down to posterity. Hence it arose,
that, not content with the writings of ancient times, I began, myself,
to compose; not indeed to display my learning, which is comparatively
nothing, but to bring to light events lying concealed in the confused
mass of antiquity. In consequence rejecting vague opinions, I have
studiously sought for chronicles far and near, though I confess I have
scarcely profited any thing by this industry. For perusing them all, I
still remained poor in information; though I ceased not my researches
as long as I could find any thing to read. However, what I have clearly
ascertained concerning the four kingdoms, I have inserted in my first
book, in which I hope truth will find no cause to blush, though perhaps
a degree of doubt may sometimes arise. I shall now trace the monarchy
of the West Saxon kingdom, through the line of successive princes,
down to the coming of the Normans: which if any person will condescend
to regard with complacency, let him in brotherly love observe the
following rule: “If before, he knew only these things, let him not be
disgusted because I have inserted them; if he shall know more, let
him not be angry that I have not spoken of them;” but rather let him
communicate his knowledge to me, while I yet live, that at least, those
events may appear in the margin of my history, which do not occur in
the text.


_The history of king Egbert._ [A.D. 800-839.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 800-828.] OF KING EGBERT.]

My former volume terminated where the four kingdoms of Britain were
consolidated into one. Egbert, the founder of this sovereignty,
grand-nephew of king Ina, by his brother Ingild, of high rank in his
own nation, and liberally educated, had been conspicuous among the
West Saxons from his childhood. His uninterrupted course of valour
begat envy, and as it is almost naturally ordained that kings should
regard with suspicion whomsoever they see growing up in expectation
of the kingdom, Bertric, as before related, jealous of his rising
character, was meditating how to destroy him. Egbert, apprised of
this, escaped to Offa, king of the Mercians. While Offa concealed him
with anxious care, the messengers of Bertric arrived, demanding the
fugitive for punishment, and offering money for his surrender. In
addition to this they solicited his daughter in marriage for their
king, in order that the nuptial tie might bind them in perpetual
amity. In consequence Offa, who would not give way to hostile threats,
yielded to flattering allurements, and Egbert, passing the sea, went
into France; a circumstance which I attribute to the counsels of God,
that a man destined to rule so great a kingdom might learn the art of
government from the Franks; for this people has no competitor among
all the Western nations in military skill or polished manners. This
ill-treatment Egbert used as an incentive to “rub off the rust of
indolence,” to quicken the energy of his mind, and to adopt foreign
customs, far differing from his native barbarism. On the death,
therefore, of Bertric, being invited into Britain by frequent messages
from his friends, he ascended the throne, and realized the fondest
expectations of his country. He was crowned in the year of our Lord’s
incarnation 800, and in the thirty-fourth year of the reign of Charles
the Great, of France, who survived this event twelve years. In the
meantime Egbert, when he had acquired the regard of his subjects
by his affability and kindness, first manifested his power against
those Britons who inhabit that part of the island which is called
Cornwall, and having subjugated them, he proceeded to make the Northern
Britons,[118] who are separated from the others by an arm of the sea,
tributary to him. While the fame of these victories struck terror into
the rest, Bernulf king of the Mercians, aiming at something great, and
supposing it would redound to his glory if he could remove the terror
of others by his own audacity, proclaimed war against Egbert. Deeming
it disgraceful to retreat, Egbert met him with much spirit, and on
then coming into action, Bernulf was defeated and fled. This battle
took place at Hellendun, A.D. 824.[119] Elated with this success, the
West Saxon king, extending his views, in the heat of victory, sent his
son Ethelwulf, with Alstan, bishop of Sherborne, and a chosen band,
into Kent, for the purpose of adding to the West Saxon dominions that
province, which had either grown indolent through long repose, or was
terrified by the fame of his valour. These commanders observed their
instructions effectually, for they passed through every part of the
country, and driving Baldred its king, with little difficulty, beyond
the river Thames, they subjugated to his dominion, in the twenty-fourth
year of his reign, Kent, Surrey, the South Saxons, and the East Saxons,
who had formerly been under the jurisdiction of his predecessors. Not
long after the East Angles, animated by the support of Egbert, killed
by successive stratagems, Bernulf and Ludecan, kings of the Mercians.
The cause of their destruction was, their perpetual incursions, with
their usual insolence, on the territories of others. Withlaf their
successor, first driven from his kingdom by Egbert, and afterwards
admitted as a tributary prince, augmented the West Saxon sovereignty.
In the same year the Northumbrians perceiving that themselves only
remained and were a conspicuous object, and fearing lest he should
pour out his long-cherished anger on them, at last, though late, gave
hostages, and yielded to his power. When he was thus possessed of all
Britain, the rest of his life, a space of nine years, passed quietly
on, except that, nearly in his latter days, a piratical band of Danes
made a descent, and disturbed the peace of the kingdom. So changeable
is the lot of human affairs, that he, who first singly governed all
the Angles, could derive but little satisfaction from the obedience of
his countrymen, for a foreign enemy was perpetually harassing him and
his descendants. Against these invaders the forces of the Angles made
a stand, but fortune no longer flattered the king with her customary
favours, but deserted him in the contest: for, when, during the greater
part of the day, he had almost secured the victory, he lost the battle
as the sun declined; however, by the favour of darkness, he escaped the
disgrace of being conquered. In the next action, with a small force,
he totally routed an immense multitude. At length, after a reign of
thirty-seven years and seven months, he departed this life, and was
buried at Winchester; leaving an ample field of glory for his son, and
declaring, that he must be happy, if he was careful not to destroy,
by the indolence natural to his race, a kingdom that himself had
consolidated with such consummate industry.


_Of king Ethelwulf._ [A.D. 839-858.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 838-851.] OF KING ETHELWULF.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 837,[120] Ethelwulf, whom some
call Athulf, the son of Egbert, came to the throne, and reigned twenty
years and five months. Mild by nature he infinitely preferred a life
of tranquillity to dominion over many provinces; and, finally, content
with his paternal kingdom, he bestowed all the rest, which his father
had subjugated, on his son Ethelstan; of whom it is not known when, or
in what manner, he died. He assisted Burhred, king of the Mercians,
with an army against the Britons, and highly exalted him by giving
him his daughter in marriage. He frequently overcame the piratical
Danes, who were traversing the whole island and infesting the coast
with sudden descents, both personally and by his generals; although,
according to the chance of war, he himself experienced great and
repeated calamities; London and almost the whole of Kent being laid
waste. Yet these disasters were ever checked by the alacrity of the
king’s advisers, who suffered not the enemy to trespass with impunity,
but fully avenged themselves on them by the effect of their united
counsels. For he possessed at that time, two most excellent prelates,
St. Swithun of Winchester, and Ealstan of Sherborne, who perceiving the
king to be of heavy and sluggish disposition, perpetually stimulated
him, by their admonitions, to the knowledge of governing. Swithun,
disgusted with earthly, trained his master to heavenly pursuits;
Ealstan, knowing that the business of the kingdom ought not to be
neglected, continually inspirited him against the Danes: himself
furnishing the exchequer with money, as well as regulating the army.
Any peruser of the Annals[121] will find many affairs of this kind,
both entered on with courage, and terminated with success through his
means. He held his bishopric fifty years; happy in living for so long
a space in the practice of good works. I should readily commend him,
had he not been swayed by worldly avarice, and usurped what belonged to
others, when by his intrigues he seized the monastery of Malmesbury for
his own use. We feel the mischief of this shameful conduct even to the
present day, although the monastery has baffled all similar violence
from the time of his death till now, when it has fallen again into
like difficulty.[122] Thus the accursed passion of avarice corrupts
the human soul, and forces men, though great and illustrious in other
respects, into hell.

Ethelwulf, confiding in these two supporters, provided effectually for
external emergencies, and did not neglect the interior concerns of
his kingdom. For after the subjugation of his enemies, turning to the
establishment of God’s worship, he granted every tenth hide of land
within his kingdom to the servants of Christ, free from all tribute,
exempt from all services. But how small a portion is this of his
glory? Having settled his kingdom, he went to Rome, and there offered
to St. Peter that tribute which England pays to this day,[123] before
pope Leo the fourth, who had also, formerly, honourably received,
and anointed as king, Alfred,[124] his son, whom Ethelwulf had sent
to him. Continuing there a whole year, he nobly repaired the School
of the Angles, which, according to report, was first founded by Offa,
king of the Mercians, and had been burned down the preceding year.[125]
Returning home through France, he married Judith, daughter of Charles,
king of the Franks.


[Sidenote: [A.D. 814-840.] SUCCESSORS OF CHARLEMAGNE.]

For Louis the Pious, son of Charles the Great, had four sons; Lothaire,
Pepin, Louis, and Charles, surnamed the Bald; of these Lothaire, even
in his father’s life-time, usurping the title of emperor, reigned
fifteen years in that part of Germany situated near the Alps which
is now called Lorraine, that is, the kingdom of Lothaire, and in all
Italy together with Rome. In his latter days, afflicted with sickness,
he renounced the world. He was a man by far more inhuman than all who
preceded him; so much so, as even frequently to load his own father
with chains in a dungeon. Louis indeed was of mild and simple manners,
but he was unmercifully persecuted by Lothaire, because Ermengarda,
by whom he had his first family, being dead, he was doatingly fond of
Charles, his son by his second wife Judith. Pepin, another son of
Louis, had dominion in Aquitaine[126] and Gascony. Louis, the third son
of Louis, in addition to Norica, which he had already, possessed the
kingdoms which his father had given him, that is to say, Alemannia,
Thuringia, Austrasia, Saxony, and the kingdom of the Avares, that
is, the Huns. Charles obtained the half of France on the west, and
all Neustria, Brittany, and the greatest part of Burgundy, Gothia,
Gascony, and Aquitaine, Pepin the son of Pepin being ejected thence
and compelled to become a monk in the monastery of St. Methard; who
afterwards escaping by flight, and returning into Aquitaine, remained
there in concealment a long time; but being again treacherously
deceived by Ranulph the governor, he was seized, brought to Charles
at Senlis, and doomed to perpetual exile. Moreover, after the death
of the most pious emperor, Louis, Lothaire, who had been anointed
emperor eighteen years before his father’s decease, being joined by
Pepin with the people of Aquitaine, led an army against his brothers,
that is, Louis, the most pious king of the Bavarians, and Charles,
into the county of Auxerre to a place called Fontenai:[127] where,
when the Franks with all their subject nations had been overwhelmed
by mutual slaughter, Louis and Charles ultimately triumphed; Lothaire
being put to flight. After this most sanguinary conflict, however,
peace was made between them, and they divided the sovereignty of
the Franks, as has been mentioned above. Lothaire had three sons by
Ermengarda the daughter of Hugo: first, Louis, to whom he committed
the government of the Romans and of Italy; next, Lothaire, to whom he
left the imperial crown; lastly, Charles, to whom he gave Provence.
Lothaire died in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 855, of his reign
the thirty-third. Charles his son, who governed Provence, survived
him eight years, and then Louis, emperor of the Romans, and Lothaire
his brother, shared his kingdom of Provence. But Louis king of the
Norici, that is, of the Bavarians, the son of Louis the emperor, in the
year of our Lord’s incarnation 865, after the feast of Easter, divided
his kingdom between his sons. To Caroloman he gave Norica, that is,
Bavaria, and the marches bordering on the Sclavonians and the Lombards;
to Louis, Thuringia, the Eastern Franks, and Saxony; to Charles he
left Alemannia, and Curnwalla, that is, the county of Cornwall.[128]
Louis himself reigned happily over his sons, in full power for ten
years, and then died in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 876, when he
had reigned fifty-four years. Charles king of the West Franks, in the
thirty-sixth year of his reign, entering Italy, came to offer up his
prayers in the church of the apostles, and was there elected emperor
by all the Roman people, and consecrated by pope John on the 25th of
December, in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 875. Thence he had
a prosperous return into Gaul. But in the thirty-eighth year of his
reign, and the beginning of the third of his imperial dignity, he went
into Italy again, and held a conference with pope John; and returning
into Gaul, he died, after passing Mount Cenis, on the 13th of October,
in the tenth of the Indiction, in the year of our Lord 877, and was
succeeded by his son Louis. Before the second year of his reign was
completed this Louis died in the palace at Compeigne, on the sixth
before the Ides of April, in the year of our Lord 879, the twelfth
of the Indiction. After him his sons, Louis and Caroloman, divided
his kingdom. Of these, Louis gained a victory over the Normans in the
district of Vimeu, and died soon after on the 12th of August, in the
year of our Lord 881, the fifteenth of the Indiction, having reigned
two years, three months, and twenty-four days. He was succeeded in his
government by his brother Caroloman, who, after reigning three years
and six days, was wounded by a wild boar[129] in the forest of Iveline,
in Mount Ericus. He departed this life in the year of our Lord 884,
the second of the Indiction, the 24th of December. Next Charles king
of the Suavi, the son of Louis king of the Norici, assumed the joint
empire of the Franks and Romans, in the year of the Incarnate Word
885, the third of the Indiction; whose vision, as I think it worth
preserving, I here subjoin:

[Sidenote: [A.D. 885.] CHARLES’S VISION.]

“In the name of God most high, the King of kings. As I, Charles by
the free gift of God, emperor, king of the Germans, patrician of the
Romans, and emperor of the Franks, on the sacred night of the Lord’s
day, after duly performing the holy service of the evening, went to the
bed of rest and sought the sleep of quietude, there came a tremendous
voice to me, saying, ‘Charles, thy spirit shall shortly depart from
thee for a considerable time:’ immediately I was rapt in the spirit,
and he who carried me away in the spirit was most glorious to behold.
In his hand he held a clue of thread emitting a beam of purest light,
such as comets shed when they appear. This he began to unwind, and
said to me, ‘Take the thread of this brilliant clue and bind and tie
it firmly on the thumb of thy right hand, for thou shalt be led by
it through the inextricable punishments of the infernal regions.’
Saying this, he went before me, quickly unrolling the thread of the
brilliant clue, and led me into very deep and fiery valleys which were
full of pits boiling with pitch, and brimstone, and lead, and wax,
and grease. There I found the bishops of my father and of my uncles:
and when in terror I asked them why they were suffering such dreadful
torments? they replied, ‘We were the bishops of your father and of
your uncles, and instead of preaching, and admonishing them and their
people to peace and concord, as was our duty, we were the sowers of
discord and the fomenters of evil. On this account we are now burning
in these infernal torments, together with other lovers of slaughter
and of rapine; and hither also will your bishops and ministers come,
who now delight to act as we did.’ While I was fearfully listening
to this, behold the blackest demons came flying about me, with fiery
claws endeavouring to snatch away the thread of life which I held in
my hand, and to draw it to them; but repelled by the rays of the clue,
they were unable to touch it. Next running behind me, they tried to
gripe me in their claws and cast me headlong into those sulphureous
pits: but my conductor, who carried the clue, threw a thread of light
over my shoulders, and doubling it, drew me strongly after him, and
in this manner we ascended lofty fiery mountains, from which arose
lakes, and burning rivers, and all kinds of burning metals, wherein
I found immersed innumerable souls of the vassals and princes of my
father and brothers, some up to the hair, others to the chin, and
others to the middle, who mournfully cried out to me, ‘While we were
living, we were, together with you, and your father, and brothers, and
uncles, fond of battle, and slaughter, and plunder, through lust of
earthly things: wherefore we now undergo punishment in these boiling
rivers, and in various kinds of liquid metal.’ While I was, with the
greatest alarm, attending to these, I heard some souls behind me crying
out, ‘The great will undergo still greater torment.’ I looked back
and beheld on the banks of the boiling river, furnaces of pitch and
brimstone, filled with great dragons, and scorpions, and different
kinds of serpents, where I also saw some of my father’s nobles, some of
my own, and of those of my brothers and of my uncles, who said, ‘Alas,
Charles, you see what dreadful torments we undergo on account of our
malice, and pride, and the evil counsel which we gave to our kings and
to you, for lust’s sake.’ When I could not help groaning mournfully
at this, the dragons ran at me with open jaws filled with fire, and
brimstone, and pitch, and tried to swallow me up. My conductor then
tripled the thread of the clue around me, which by the splendour of
its rays overcame their fiery throats: he then pulled me with greater
violence, and we descended into a valley, which was in one part
dark and burning like a fiery furnace, but in another so extremely
enchanting and glorious, that I cannot describe it. I turned myself
to the dark part which emitted flames, and there I saw some kings of
my race in extreme torture; at which, affrighted beyond measure and
reduced to great distress, I expected that I should be immediately
thrown into these torments by some very black giants, who made the
valley blaze with every kind of flame. I trembled very much, and, the
thread of the clue of light assisting my eyes, I saw, on the side of
the valley, the light somewhat brightening, and two fountains flowing
out thence: one was extremely hot; the other clear and luke-warm; two
large casks were there besides. When, guided by the thread of light,
I proceeded thither, I looked into the vessel containing boiling
water, and saw my father Louis, standing therein up to his thighs. He
was dreadfully oppressed with pain and agony, and said to me, ‘Fear
not, my lord Charles; I know that your spirit will again return into
your body, and that God hath permitted you to come hither, that you
might see for what crimes myself and all whom you have beheld, undergo
these torments. One day I am bathed in the boiling cask; next I pass
into that other delightful water; which is effected by the prayers of
St. Peter and St. Remigius, under whose patronage our royal race has
hitherto reigned. But if you, and my faithful bishops and abbats, and
the whole ecclesiastical order will quickly assist me with masses,
prayers and psalms, and alms, and vigils, I shall shortly be released
from the punishment of the boiling water. For my brother Lothaire and
his son Louis have had these punishments remitted by the prayers of
St. Peter and St. Remigius, and have now entered into the joy of God’s
paradise.’ He then said to me, ‘Look on your left hand;’ and when I had
done so, I saw two very deep casks boiling furiously. ‘These,’ said he,
‘are prepared for you, if you do not amend and repent of your atrocious
crimes.’ I then began to be dreadfully afraid, and when my conductor
saw my spirit thus terrified, he said to me, ‘Follow me to the right
of that most resplendent valley of paradise.’ As we proceeded, I
beheld my uncle Lothaire sitting in excessive brightness, in company
with glorious kings, on a topaz-stone of uncommon size, crowned with a
precious diadem: and near him, his son Louis crowned in like manner.
Seeing me near at hand he called me to him in a kind voice, saying,
‘Come to me, Charles, now my third successor in the empire of the
Romans; I know that you have passed through the place of punishment
where your father, my brother, is placed in the baths appointed for
him; but, by the mercy of God, he will be shortly liberated from those
punishments as we have been, by the merits of St. Peter and the prayers
of St. Remigius, to whom God hath given a special charge over the kings
and people of the Franks, and unless he shall continue to favour and
assist the dregs of our family, our race must shortly cease both from
the kingdom and the empire. Know, moreover, that the rule of the empire
will be shortly taken out of your hand, nor will you long survive. Then
Louis turning to me, said, ‘The empire which you have hitherto held
by hereditary right, Louis the son of my daughter is to assume.’ So
saying, there seemed immediately to appear before me a little child,
and Lothaire his grandfather looking upon him, said to me, ‘This infant
seems to be such an one as that which the Lord set in the midst of the
disciples, and said, “Of such is the kingdom of God, I say unto you,
that their angels do always behold the face of my father who is in
heaven.” But do you bestow on him the empire by that thread of the clue
which you hold in your hand.’ I then untied the thread from the thumb
of my right hand, and gave him the whole monarchy of the empire by that
thread, and immediately the entire clue, like a brilliant sun-beam,
became rolled up in his hand. Thus, after this wonderful transaction,
my spirit, extremely wearied and affrighted, returned into my body.
Therefore, let all persons know willingly or unwillingly, forasmuch
as, according to the will of God, the whole empire of the Romans will
revert into his hands, and that I cannot prevail against him, compelled
by the conditions of this my calling, that God, who is the ruler of
the living and the dead, will both complete and establish this; whose
eternal kingdom remains for ever and ever, amen.”

The vision itself, and the partition of the kingdoms, I have inserted
in the very words I found them in.[130] This Charles, then, had
scarcely discharged the united duties of the empire and kingdom for two
years, when Charles, the son of Louis who died at Compeigne, succeeded
him: this is the Charles who married the daughter of Edward, king of
England, and gave Normandy to Rollo with his daughter Gisla, who was
the surety of peace and pledge of the treaty. To this Charles, in the
empire, succeeded Arnulph; a king of the imperial line, tutor of that
young Louis of whom the vision above recited speaks. Arnulph dying
after fifteen years, this Louis succeeded him, at whose death, one
Conrad, king of the Teutonians, obtained the sovereignty. His son
Henry, who succeeded him, sent to Athelstan king of the Angles, for
his two sisters, Aldgitha and Edgitha, the latter of whom he married
to his son Otho, the former to a certain duke near the Alps. Thus the
empire of the Romans and the kingdom of the Franks being severed from
their ancient union, the one is governed by emperors and the other by
kings. But as I have wandered wide from my purpose, whilst indulging in
tracing the descent of the illustrious kings of the Franks, I will now
return to the course I had begun, and to Ethelwulf.

On his return after his year’s peregrination and marriage with the
daughter of Charles the Bald, as I have said, he found the dispositions
of some persons contrary to his expectations. For Ethelbald his son,
and Ealstan bishop of Sherborne, and Enulph earl of Somerset conspiring
against him, endeavoured to eject him from the sovereignty; but through
the intervention of maturer counsel, the kingdom was divided between
the father and his son. This partition was extremely unequal; for
malignity was so far successful that the western portion, which was the
better, was allotted to the son, the eastern, which was the worse, fell
to the father. He, however, with incredible forbearance, dreading “a
worse than civil war,” calmly gave way to his son, restraining, by a
conciliatory harangue, the people who had assembled for the purpose of
asserting his dignity. And though all this quarrel arose on account of
his foreign wife, yet he held her in the highest estimation, and used
to place her on the throne near himself, contrary to the West Saxon
custom. For that people never suffered the king’s consort either to be
seated by the king or to be honoured with the appellation of queen, on
account of the depravity of Eadburga, daughter of Offa, king of the
Mercians; who, as we have before mentioned, being married to Bertric,
king of the West Saxons, used to persuade him, a tender-hearted man,
as they report, to the destruction of the innocent, and would herself
take off by poison those against whom her accusations failed. This was
exemplified in the case of a youth much beloved by the king, whom she
made away with in this manner: and immediately afterwards Bertric fell
sick, wasted away and died, from having previously drunk of the same
potion, unknown to the queen. The rumour of this getting abroad, drove
the poisoner from the kingdom. Proceeding to Charles the Great, she
happened to find him standing with one of his sons, and after offering
him presents, the emperor, in a playful, jocose manner, commanded
her to choose which she liked best, himself, or his son. Eadburga
choosing the young man for his blooming beauty, Charles replied with
some emotion, “Had you chosen me, you should have had my son, but
since you have chosen him, you shall have neither.” He then placed her
in a monastery where she might pass her life in splendour; but, soon
after, finding her guilty of incontinence he expelled her.[131] Struck
with this instance of depravity, the Saxons framed the regulation I
have alluded to, though Ethelwulf invalidated it by his affectionate
kindness. He made his will a few months before he died, in which, after
the division of the kingdom between his sons Ethelbald and Ethelbert,
he set out the dowry of his daughter, and ordered, that, till the end
of time, one poor person should be clothed and fed from every tenth
hide of his inheritance, and that every year, three hundred mancas of
gold[132] should be sent to Rome, of which one-third should be given
to St. Peter, another to St. Paul for lamps, and the other to the pope
for distribution. He died two years after he came from Rome, and was
buried at Winchester in the cathedral. But that I may return from my
digression to my proposed series, I shall here subjoin the charter of
ecclesiastical immunities which he granted to all England.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 857.] ETHELWULF’S CHARTER.]

“Our Lord Jesus Christ reigning for evermore. Since we perceive that
perilous times are pressing on us, that there are in our days hostile
burnings, and plunderings of our wealth, and most cruel depredations
by devastating enemies, and many tribulations of barbarous and pagan
nations, threatening even our destruction: therefore I Ethelwulf
king of the West Saxons, with the advice of my bishops and nobility,
have established a wholesome counsel and general remedy. I have
decided that there shall be given to the servants of God, whether
male or female or laymen,[133] a certain hereditary portion of the
lands possessed by persons of every degree, that is to say, the tenth
manse,[134] but where it is less than this, then the tenth part; that
it may be exonerated from all secular services, all royal tributes
great and small, or those taxes which we call Witereden. And let it
be free from all things, for the release of our souls, that it may be
applied to God’s service alone, exempt from expeditions, the building
of bridges, or of forts; in order that they may more diligently pour
forth their prayers to God for us without ceasing, inasmuch as we have
in some measure alleviated their service. Moreover it hath pleased
Ealstan bishop of Sherborne, and Swithun bishop of Winchester, with
their abbats and the servants of God, to appoint that all our brethren
and sisters at each church, every week on the day of Mercury, that
is to say, Wednesday, should sing fifty psalms, and every priest
two masses, one for king Ethelwulf, and another for his nobility,
consenting to this gift, for the pardon and alleviation of their sins;
for the king while living, they shall say, ‘Let us pray: O God, who
justifiest.’ For the nobility while living, ‘Stretch forth, O Lord.’
After they are dead; for the departed king, singly: for the departed
nobility, in common: and let this be firmly appointed for all the times
of Christianity, in like manner as that immunity is appointed, so long
as faith shall increase in the nation of the Angles. This charter of
donation was written in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 844,[135]
the fourth of the indiction, and on the nones, i. e. the fifth day of
November, in the city of Winchester, in the church of St. Peter, before
the high altar, and they have done this for the honour of St. Michael
the archangel, and of St. Mary the glorious queen, the mother of God,
and also for the honour of St. Peter the chief of the apostles, and
of our most holy father pope Gregory, and all saints. And then, for
greater security, king Ethelwulf placed the charter on the altar of St.
Peter, and the bishops received it in behalf of God’s holy faith, and
afterwards transmitted it to all churches in their dioceses according
to the above-cited form.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 858.] WEST SAXON KINGS.]

From this king the English chronicles trace the line of the generation
of their kings upwards, even to Adam, as we know Luke the evangelist
has done with respect to our Lord Jesus; and which, perhaps, it will
not be superfluous for me to do, though it is to be apprehended, that
the utterance of barbarous names may shock the ears of persons unused
to them. Ethelwulf was the son of Egbert, Egbert of Elmund, Elmund
of Eafa, Eafa of Eoppa, Eoppa was the son of Ingild, the brother of
king Ina, who were both sons of Kenred; Kenred of Ceolwald, Ceolwald
of Cutha, Cutha of Cuthwin, Cuthwin of Ceawlin, Ceawlin of Cynric,
Cynric of Creoding, Creoding of Cerdic, who was the first king of the
West Saxons; Cerdic of Elesa, Elesa of Esla, Esla of Gewis, Gewis of
Wig, Wig of Freawin, Freawin of Frithogar, Frithogar of Brond, Brond
of Beldeg, Beldeg of Woden; and from him, as we have often remarked,
proceeded the kings of many nations. Woden was the son of Frithowald,
Frithowald of Frealaf, Frealaf of Finn, Finn of Godwulf, Godwulf of
Geat, Geat of Tætwa, Tætwa of Beaw, Beaw of Sceldi, Sceldi of Sceaf;
who, as some affirm, was driven on a certain island in Germany, called
Scamphta, (of which Jornandes,[136] the historian of the Goths,
speaks,) a little boy in a skiff, without any attendant, asleep, with
a handful of corn at his head, whence he was called Sceaf; and, on
account of his singular appearance, being well received by the men
of that country, and carefully educated, in his riper age he reigned
in a town which was called Slaswic, but at present Haitheby; which
country, called old Anglia, whence the Angles came into Britain, is
situated between the Saxons and the Gioths. Sceaf was the son of
Heremod, Heremod of Itermon, Itermon of Hathra, Hathra of Guala, Guala
of Bedwig, Bedwig of Streaf, and he, as they say, was the son of Noah,
born in the Ark.[137]


_Of Ethelbald, Ethelbert, and Ethelred, sons of Ethelwulf._

[A.D. 858-872.]

In the year of our Lord 857,[138] the two sons of Ethelwulf divided
their paternal kingdom; Ethelbald reigned in West Saxony, and Ethelbert
in Kent. Ethelbald, base and perfidious, defiled the bed of his
father by marrying, after his decease, Judith his step-mother. Dying,
however, at the end of five years, and being interred at Sherborne,
the whole government devolved upon his brother. In his time a band
of pirates landing at Southampton, proceeded to plunder the populous
city of Winchester, but soon after being spiritedly repulsed by the
king’s generals, and suffering considerable loss, they put to sea, and
coasting round, chose the Isle of Thanet, in Kent, for their winter
quarters. The people of Kent, giving hostages, and promising a sum of
money, would have remained quiet, had not these pirates, breaking the
treaty, laid waste the whole district by nightly predatory excursions,
but roused by this conduct they mustered a force and drove out the
truce-breakers. Moreover Ethelbert, having ruled the kingdom with
vigour and with mildness, paid the debt of nature after five years,
and was buried at Sherborne.

In the year of our Lord 867, Ethelred, the son of Ethelwulf, obtained
his paternal kingdom, and ruled it for the same number of years as his
brothers. Surely it would be a pitiable and grievous destiny, that all
of them should perish by an early death, unless it is, that in such a
tempest of evils, these royal youths should prefer an honourable end
to a painful government. Indeed, so bravely and so vigorously did they
contend for their country, that it was not to be imputed to them that
their valour did not succeed in its design. Finally, it is related,
that this king was personally engaged in hostile conflict against the
enemy nine times in one year, with various success indeed, but for the
most part victor, besides sudden attacks, in which, from his skill in
warfare, he frequently worsted those straggling depredators. In these
several actions the Danes lost nine earls and one king, besides common
people innumerable.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 867-871.] BATTLE OF ESCHENDUN.]

One battle memorable beyond all the rest was that which took place at
Eschendun.[139] The Danes, having collected an army at this place,
divided it into two bodies; their two kings commanded the one, all
their earls the other. Ethelred drew near with his brother Alfred. It
fell to the lot of Ethelred to oppose the kings, while Alfred was to
attack the earls. Both armies eagerly prepared for battle, but night
approaching deferred the conflict till the ensuing day. Scarcely had
the morning dawned ere Alfred was ready at his post, but his brother,
intent on his devotions, had remained in his tent; and when urged on by
a message, that the pagans were rushing forward with unbounded fury,
he declared that he should not move a step till his religious services
were ended. This piety of the king was of infinite advantage to his
brother, who was too impetuous from the thoughtlessness of youth, and
had already far advanced. The battalions of the Angles were now giving
way, and even bordering on flight, in consequence of their adversaries
pressing upon them from the higher ground, for the Christians were
fighting in an unfavourable situation, when the king himself, signed
with the cross of God, unexpectedly hastened forward, dispersing the
enemy, and rallying his subjects. The Danes, terrified equally by his
courage and the divine manifestation, consulted their safety by flight.
Here fell Oseg their king, five earls, and an innumerable multitude of
common people.

The reader will be careful to observe that during this time, the
kings of the Mercians and of the Northumbrians, eagerly seizing the
opportunity of the arrival of the Danes, with whom Ethelred was
fully occupied in fighting, and somewhat relieved from their bondage
to the West Saxons, had nearly regained their original power. All
the provinces, therefore, were laid waste by cruel depredations,
because each king chose rather to resist the enemy within his own
territories, than to assist his neighbours in their difficulties; and
thus preferring to avenge injury rather than to prevent it, they ruined
their country by their senseless conduct. The Danes acquired strength
without impediment, whilst the apprehensions of the inhabitants
increased, and each successive victory, from the addition of captives,
became the means of obtaining another. The country of the East Angles,
together with their cities and villages, was possessed by these
plunderers; its king, St. Edmund, slain by them in the year of our
Lord’s incarnation 870, on the tenth of November, purchased an eternal
kingdom by putting off this mortal life. The Mercians, often harassed,
alleviated their afflictions by giving hostages. The Northumbrians,
long embroiled in civil dissensions, made up their differences on the
approach of the enemy. Replacing Osbert their king, whom they had
expelled, upon the throne, and collecting a powerful force, they went
out to meet the foe; but being easily repelled, they shut themselves
up in the city of York, which was presently after set on fire by the
victors; and when the flames were raging to the utmost and consuming
the very walls, they perished for their country in the conflagration.
In this manner Northumbria, the prize of war, for a considerable time
after, felt the more bitterly, through a sense of former liberty,
the galling yoke of the barbarians. And now Ethelred, worn down with
numberless labours, died and was buried at Wimborne.


_Of king Alfred._ [A.D. 872--901.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 872-878.] ALFRED’S DREAM.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 872, Alfred, the youngest son
of Ethelwulf, who had, as has been related before, received the royal
unction and crown from pope Leo the fourth at Rome, acceded to the
sovereignty and retained it with the greatest difficulty, but with
equal valour, twenty-eight years and a half. To trace in detail
the mazy labyrinth of his labours was never my design; because a
recapitulation of his exploits in their exact order of time would
occasion some confusion to the reader. For, to relate how a hostile
army, driven by himself or his generals, from one part of a district,
retreated to another; and, dislodged thence, sought a fresh scene of
operation and filled every place with rapine and slaughter; and, if
I may use the expression, “to go round the whole island with him,”
might to some seem the height of folly: consequently I shall touch
on all points summarily. For nine successive years battling with his
enemies, sometimes deceived by false treaties, and sometimes wreaking
his vengeance on the deceivers, he was at last reduced to such extreme
distress, that scarcely three counties, that is to say, Hampshire,
Wiltshire, and Somersetshire, stood fast by their allegiance, as he
was compelled to retreat to a certain island called Athelney, which
from its marshy situation was hardly accessible. He was accustomed
afterwards, when in happier circumstances, to relate to his companions,
in a lively and agreeable manner, his perils there, and how he escaped
them by the merits of St. Cuthbert;[140] for it frequently happens
that men are pleased with the recollection of those circumstances,
which formerly they dreaded to encounter. During his retreat in this
island, as he was one day in the house alone, his companions being
dispersed on the river side for the purpose of fishing, he endeavoured
to refresh his weary frame with sleep: and behold! Cuthbert, formerly
bishop of Lindisfarne, addressed him, while sleeping, in the following
manner:--“I am Cuthbert, if ever you heard of me; God hath sent me to
announce good fortune to you; and since England has already largely
paid the penalty of her crimes, God now, through the merits of her
native saints, looks upon her with an eye of mercy. You too, so
pitiably banished from your kingdom, shall shortly be again seated
with honour on your throne; of which I give you this extraordinary
token: your fishers shall this day bring home a great quantity of large
fish in baskets; which will be so much the more extraordinary because
the river, at this time hard-bound with ice, could warrant no such
expectation; especially as the air now dripping with cold rain mocks
the art of the fisher. But, when your fortune shall succeed to your
wishes, you will act as becomes a king, if you conciliate God your
helper, and me his messenger, with suitable devotion.” Saying thus,
the saint divested the sleeping king of his anxiety; and comforted
his mother also, who was lying near him, and endeavouring to invite
some gentle slumbers to her hard couch to relieve her cares, with the
same joyful intelligence. When they awoke, they repeatedly declared
that each had had the self-same dream, when the fishermen entering,
displayed such a multitude of fishes as would have been sufficient to
satisfy the appetite of a numerous army.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 878-890.] DEFEAT OF THE DANES.]

Not long after, venturing from his concealment, he hazarded an
experiment of consummate art. Accompanied only by one of his most
faithful adherents, he entered the tent of the Danish king under the
disguise of a minstrel;[141] and being admitted, as a professor of
the mimic art, to the banqueting room, there was no object of secrecy
that he did not minutely attend to both with eyes and ears. Remaining
there several days, till he had satisfied his mind on every matter
which he wished to know, he returned to Athelney: and assembling his
companions, pointed out the indolence of the enemy and the easiness of
their defeat. All were eager for the enterprise, and himself collecting
forces from every side, and learning exactly the situation of the
barbarians from scouts he had sent out for that purpose, he suddenly
attacked and routed them with incredible slaughter. The remainder,
with their king, gave hostages that they would embrace Christianity and
depart from the country; which they performed. For their king, Gothrun,
whom our people call Gurmund, with thirty nobles and almost all the
commonalty, was baptized, Alfred standing for him; and the provinces
of the East Angles, and Northumbrians[142] were given up to him, in
order that he might, under fealty to the king, protect with hereditary
right, what before he had overrun with predatory incursion. However,
as the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, he domineered over these
tributary provinces with the haughtiness of a tyrant for eleven years,
and died in the twelfth, transmitting to his posterity the inheritance
of his disloyalty, until subdued by Athelstan, the grandson of Alfred,
they were, though reluctantly, compelled to admit one common king of
England, as we see at the present day. Such of the Danes as had refused
to become Christians, together with Hastings, went over sea, where the
inhabitants are best able to tell what cruelties they perpetrated. For
overrunning the whole maritime coasts to the Tuscan sea, they unpeopled
Paris and Tours, as well as many other cities seated on the Seine and
Loire, those noted rivers of France. At that time the bodies of many
saints being taken up from the spot of their original interment and
conveyed to safer places, have ennobled foreign churches with their
relics even to this day. Then also the body of St. Martin, venerated,
as Sidonius says, over the whole earth, in which virtue resides though
life be at an end, was taken to Auxerre, by the clergy of his church,
and placed in that of St. German, where it astonished the people of
that district by unheard-of miracles. And when they who came thither,
out of gratitude for cures performed, contributed many things to
requite the labours of those who had borne him to this church, as is
commonly the case, a dispute arose about the division of the money;
the Turonians claiming the whole, because their patron had called the
contributors together by his miracles: the natives, on the other hand,
alleging that St. German was not unequal in merit, and was of equal
kindness; that both indeed had the same power, but that the prerogative
of their church preponderated. To solve this knotty doubt, a leprous
person was sought, and placed, nearly at the last gasp, wasted to a
skeleton, and already dead, as it were, in a living carcass, between
the bodies of the two saints. All human watch was prohibited for the
whole night: the glory of Martin alone was vigilant; for the next
day, the skin of the man on his side appeared clear, while on that of
German, it was discoloured with its customary deformity. And, that
they might not attribute this miracle to chance, they turned the yet
diseased side to Martin. As soon as the morning began to dawn, the man
was found by the hastening attendants with his skin smooth, perfectly
cured, declaring the kind condescension of the resident patron, who
yielded to the honour of such a welcome stranger. Thus the Turonians,
both at that time and afterwards, safely filled their common purse
by the assistance of their patron, till a more favourable gale of
peace restored them to their former residence. For these marauders
infesting France for thirteen years, and being at last overcome by
the emperor Ernulph and the people of Brittany in many encounters,
retreated into England as a convenient receptacle for their tyranny.
During this space of time Alfred had reduced the whole island to his
power, with the exception of what the Danes possessed. The Angles
had willingly surrendered to his dominion, rejoicing that they had
produced a man capable of leading them to liberty. He granted London,
the chief city of the Mercian kingdom, to a nobleman named Ethered,
to hold in fealty, and gave him his daughter Ethelfled in marriage.
Ethered conducted himself with equal valour and fidelity; defended
his trust with activity, and kept the East Angles and Northumbrians,
who were fomenting rebellion against the king, within due bounds,
compelling them to give hostages. Of what infinite service this was,
the following emergency proved. After England had rejoiced for thirteen
years in the tranquillity of peace and in the fertility of her soil,
the northern pest of barbarians again returned. With them returned
war and slaughter; again arose conspiracies of the Northumbrians and
East Angles: but neither strangers nor natives experienced the same
fortune as in former years; the one party, diminished by foreign
contests, were less alert in their invasions; while the other, now
experienced in war and animated by the exhortations of the king, were
not only more ready to resist, but also to attack. The king himself
was, with his usual activity, present in every action, ever daunting
the invaders, and at the same time inspiriting his subjects, with the
signal display of his courage. He would oppose himself singly to the
enemy; and by his own personal exertions rally his declining forces.
The very places are yet pointed out by the inhabitants where he felt
the vicissitudes of good and evil fortune. It was necessary to contend
with Alfred even after he was overcome, after he was prostrate;
insomuch that when he might be supposed altogether vanquished, he would
escape like a slippery serpent, from the hand which held him, glide
from his lurking-place, and, with undiminished courage, spring on his
insulting enemies: he was insupportable after flight, and became more
circumspect from the recollection of defeat, more bold from the thirst
of vengeance. His children by Elswitha, the daughter of earl Athelred,
were Ethelswitha, Edward who reigned after him; Ethelfled who was
married to Ethered earl of the Mercians; Ethelwerd, whom they celebrate
as being extremely learned; Elfred and Ethelgiva, virgins. His health
was so bad that he was constantly disquieted either by the piles or
some disorder of the intestines. It is said, however, that he entreated
this from God, in his supplications, in order that, by the admonition
of pain, he might be less anxious after earthly delights.


Yet amid these circumstances the private life of the king is to be
admired and celebrated with the highest praise. For although, as some
one has said, “Laws must give way amid the strife of arms,” yet he,
amid the sound of trumpets and the din of war, enacted statutes by
which his people might equally familiarise themselves to religious
worship and to military discipline. And since, from the example of
the barbarians, the natives themselves began to lust after rapine,
insomuch that there was no safe intercourse without a military guard,
he appointed centuries, which they call “hundreds,” and decennaries,
that is to say, “tythings,” so that every Englishman, living according
to law, must be a member of both. If any one was accused of a crime,
he was obliged immediately to produce persons from the hundred and
tything to become his surety; and whosoever was unable to find such
surety, must dread the severity of the laws. If any who was impleaded
made his escape either before or after he had found surety, all persons
of the hundred and tything paid a fine to the king. By this regulation
he diffused such peace throughout the country, that he ordered golden
bracelets, which might mock the eager desires of the passengers while
no one durst take them away, to be hung up on the public causeways,
where the roads crossed each other. Ever intent on almsgiving, he
confirmed the privileges of the churches, as appointed by his father,
and sent many presents over sea to Rome and to St. Thomas in India.
Sighelm, bishop of Sherborne, sent ambassador for this purpose,
penetrated successfully into India, a matter of astonishment even in
the present time. Returning thence, he brought back many brilliant
exotic gems and aromatic juices in which that country abounds, and
a present more precious than the finest gold, part of our Saviour’s
cross, sent by pope Marinus to the king. He erected monasteries
wherever he deemed it fitting; one in Athelney, where he lay concealed,
as has been above related, and there he made John abbat, a native of
Old Saxony; another at Winchester, which is called the New-minster,
where he appointed Grimbald abbat, who, at his invitation, had been
sent into England by Fulco archbishop of Rheims, known to him, as they
say, by having kindly entertained him when a child on his way to Rome.
The cause of his being sent for was that by his activity he might
awaken the study of literature in England, which was now slumbering
and almost expiring. The monastery of Shaftesbury also he filled with
nuns, where he made his daughter Ethelgiva abbess. From St. David’s
he procured a person named Asser,[143] a man of skill in literature,
whom he made bishop of Sherborne. This man explained the meaning of
the works of Boethius, on the Consolation of Philosophy, in clearer
terms, and the king himself translated them into the English language.
And since there was no good scholar in his own kingdom, he sent for
Werefrith bishop of Worcester out of Mercia, who by command of the
king rendered into the English tongue the books of Gregory’s Dialogues.
At this time Johannes Scotus is supposed to have lived; a man of clear
understanding and amazing eloquence. He had long since, from the
continued tumult of war around him, retired into France to Charles the
Bald, at whose request he had translated the Hierarchia of Dionysius
the Areopagite, word for word, out of the Greek into Latin. He composed
a book also, which he entitled περὶ φύσεων μερισμοῦ, or Of the Division
of Nature,[144] extremely useful in solving the perplexity of certain
indispensable inquiries, if he be pardoned for some things in which he
deviated from the opinions of the Latins, through too close attention
to the Greeks. In after time, allured by the munificence of Alfred, he
came into England, and at our monastery, as report says, was pierced
with the iron styles of the boys whom he was instructing, and was even
looked upon as a martyr; which phrase I have not made use of to the
disparagement of his holy spirit, as though it were matter of doubt,
especially as his tomb on the left side of the altar, and the verses of
his epitaph, record his fame.[145] These, though rugged and deficient
in the polish of our days, are not so uncouth for ancient times:

 “Here lies a saint, the sophist John, whose days
  On earth were grac’d with deepest learning’s praise:
  Deem’d meet at last by martyrdom to gain
  Christ’s kingdom, where the saints for ever reign.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 893.] STORY OF JOHN THE SCOT.]

Confiding in these auxiliaries, the king gave his whole soul to the
cultivation of the liberal arts, insomuch that no Englishman was
quicker in comprehending, or more elegant in translating. This was the
more remarkable, because until twelve years of age he absolutely knew
nothing of literature.[146] At that time, lured by a kind mother,
who under the mask of amusement promised that he should have a little
book which she held in her hand for a present if he would learn it
quickly, he entered upon learning in sport indeed at first, but
afterwards drank of the stream with unquenchable avidity. He translated
into English the greater part of the Roman authors, bringing off the
noblest spoil of foreign intercourse for the use of his subjects; of
which the chief books were Orosius, Gregory’s Pastoral, Bede’s History
of the Angles, Boethius Of the Consolation of Philosophy, his own
book, which he called in his vernacular tongue “Handboc,” that is, a
manual.[147] Moreover he infused a great regard for literature into
his countrymen, stimulating them both with rewards and punishments,
allowing no ignorant person to aspire to any dignity in the court. He
died just as he had begun a translation of the Psalms. In the prologue
to “The Pastoral” he observes, “that he was incited to translate these
books into English because the churches which had formerly contained
numerous libraries had, together with their books, been burnt by the
Danes.” And again, “that the pursuit of literature had gone to decay
almost over the whole island, because each person was more occupied in
the preservation of his life than in the perusal of books; wherefore
he so far consulted the good of his countrymen, that they might now
hastily view what hereafter, if peace should ever return, they might
thoroughly comprehend in the Latin language.” Again, “That he designed
to transmit this book, transcribed by his order, to every see, with
a golden style in which was a mancus of gold; that there was nothing
of his own opinions inserted in this or his other translations, but
that everything was derived from those celebrated men Plegmund[148]
archbishop of Canterbury, Asser the bishop, Grimbald and John the
priests.” But, in short, I may thus briefly elucidate his whole
life: he so divided the twenty-four hours of the day and night as to
employ eight of them in writing, in reading, and in prayer, eight in
the refreshment of his body, and eight in dispatching the business of
the realm. There was in his chapel a candle consisting of twenty-four
divisions, and an attendant, whose peculiar province it was to admonish
the king of his several duties by its consumption. One half of all
revenues, provided they were justly acquired, he gave to his[149]
monasteries, all his other income he divided into two equal parts, the
first was again subdivided into three, of which the first was given to
the servants of his court, the second to artificers whom he constantly
employed in the erection of new edifices, in a manner surprising and
hitherto unknown to the English, the third he gave to strangers. The
second part of the revenue was divided in such a mode that the first
portion should be given to the poor of his kingdom, the second to
the monasteries, the third to scholars,[150] the fourth to foreign
churches. He was a strict inquirer into the sentences passed by his
magistrates, and a severe corrector of such as were unjust. He had one
unusual and unheard-of custom, which was, that he always carried in his
bosom a book in which the daily order of the Psalms was contained, for
the purpose of carefully perusing it, if at any time he had leisure. In
this way he passed his life, much respected by neighbouring princes,
and gave his daughter Ethelswitha in marriage to Baldwin earl of
Flanders, by whom he had Arnulf and Ethelwulf; the former received
from his father the county of Boulogne, from the other at this day are
descended the earls of Flanders.[151]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 893.] KING ALFRED’S DEATH.]

Alfred, paying the debt of nature, was buried at Winchester, in the
monastery which he had founded; to build the offices of which Edward,
his son, purchased a sufficient space of ground from the bishop and
canons, giving, for every foot, a mancus of gold of the statute weight.
The endurance of the king was astonishing, in suffering such a sum
to be extorted from him; but he did not choose to offer a sacrifice
to God from the robbery of the poor. These two churches were so
contiguous, that, when singing, they heard each others’ voices; on this
and other accounts an unhappy jealousy was daily stirring up causes of
dissension, which produced frequent injuries on either side. For this
reason that monastery was lately removed out of the city, and became
a more healthy, as well as a more conspicuous, residence. They report
that Alfred was first buried in the cathedral, because his monastery
was unfinished, but that afterwards, on account of the folly of the
canons, who asserted that the royal spirit, resuming its carcass,
wandered nightly through the buildings, Edward, his son and successor,
removed the remains of his father, and gave them a quiet resting-place
in the new minster.[152] These and similar superstitions, such as that
the dead body of a wicked man runs about, after death, by the agency
of the devil, the English hold with almost inbred credulity,[153]
borrowing them from the heathens, according to the expression of Virgil,

  “Forms such as flit, they say, when life is gone.”[154]


_Of Edward the son of Alfred._ [A.D. 901-924.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 901.] EDWARD.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation, 901, Edward, the son of Alfred,
succeeded to the government, and held it twenty-three years: he was
much inferior to his father in literature, but greatly excelled in
extent of power. For Alfred, indeed, united the two kingdoms of the
Mercian and West Saxons, holding that of the Mercians only nominally,
as he had assigned it to prince Ethelred: but at his death Edward first
brought the Mercians altogether under his power, next, the West[155]
and East Angles, and Northumbrians, who had become one nation with the
Danes; the Scots, who inhabit the northern part of the island; and all
the Britons, whom we call Welsh, after perpetual battles, in which he
was always successful. He devised a mode of frustrating the incursions
of the Danes; for he repaired many ancient cities, or built new ones,
in places calculated for his purpose, and filled them with a military
force, to protect the inhabitants and repel the enemy. Nor was his
design unsuccessful; for the inhabitants became so extremely valorous
in these contests, that if they heard of an enemy approaching, they
rushed out to give them battle, even without consulting the king or his
generals, and constantly surpassed them, both in number and in warlike
skill. Thus the enemy became an object of contempt to the soldiery and
of derision to the king. At last some fresh assailants, who had come
over under the command of Ethelwald, the son of the king’s uncle, were
all, together with himself, cut off to a man; those before, settled in
the country, being either destroyed or spared under the denomination
of Angles. Ethelwald indeed had attempted many things in the earlier
days of this king; and, disdaining subjection to him, declared himself
his inferior neither in birth nor valour; but being driven into exile
by the nobility, who had sworn allegiance to Edward, he brought over
the pirates; with whom, meeting his death, as I have related, he gave
proof of the folly of resisting those who are our superiors in power.
Although Edward may be deservedly praised for these transactions,
yet, in my opinion, the palm should be more especially given to his
father, who certainly laid the foundation of this extent of dominion.
And here indeed Ethelfled, sister of the king and relict of Ethered,
ought not to be forgotten, as she was a powerful accession to his
party, the delight of his subjects, the dread of his enemies, a woman
of an enlarged soul, who, from the difficulty experienced in her first
labour, ever after refused the embraces of her husband; protesting
that it was unbecoming the daughter of a king to give way to a delight
which, after a time, produced such painful consequences. This spirited
heroine assisted her brother greatly with her advice, was of equal
service in building cities, nor could you easily discern, whether it
was more owing to fortune or her own exertions, that a woman should
be able to protect men at home, and to intimidate them abroad. She
died five years before her brother, and was buried in the monastery of
St. Peter’s, at Gloucester; which, in conjunction with her husband,
Ethered, she had erected with great solicitude. Thither too she had
transferred the bones of St. Oswald, the king, from Bardney; but this
monastery being destroyed in succeeding time by the Danes, Aldred,
archbishop of York, founded another, which is now the chief in that

As the king had many daughters, he gave Edgiva to Charles, king of
France, the son of Lewis the Stammerer, son of Charles the Bald, whose
daughter, as I have repeatedly observed, Ethelwulf had married on his
return from Rome; and, as the opportunity has now presented itself, the
candid reader will not think it irrelevant, if I state the names of his
wives and children. By Egwina, an illustrious lady, he had Athelstan,
his first-born, and a daughter, whose name I cannot particularise, but
her brother gave her in marriage to Sihtric, king of the Northumbrians.
The second son of Edward was Ethelward, by Elfleda, daughter of earl
Etheline; deeply versed in literature, much resembling his grandfather
Alfred in features and disposition, but who departed, by an early
death, soon after his father. By the same wife he had Edwin, of whose
fate what the received opinion is I shall hereafter describe, not with
confidence, but doubtingly. By her too he had six daughters; Edfleda,
Edgiva, Ethelhilda, Ethilda, Edgitha, Elgifa: the first and third
vowing celibacy to God, renounced the pleasure of earthly nuptials;
Edfleda in a religious, and Ethelhilda in a lay habit: they both lie
buried near their mother, at Winchester. Her father gave Edgiva, as I
have mentioned, to king Charles,[156] and her brother, Athelstan, gave
Ethilda to Hugh:[157] this same brother also sent Edgitha and Elgifa to
Henry,[158] emperor of Germany, the second of whom he gave to his son
Otho, the other to a certain duke, near the Alps. Again; by his third
wife, named Edgiva, he had two sons, Edmund and Edred, each of whom
reigned after Athelstan: two daughters, Eadburga, and Edgiva; Eadburga,
a virgin, dedicated to Christ, lies buried at Winchester; Edgiva, a
lady of incomparable beauty, was united, by her brother Athelstan, to
Lewis, prince of Aquitaine.[159] Edward had brought up his daughters
in such wise, that in childhood they gave their whole attention to
literature, and afterwards employed themselves in the labours of the
distaff and the needle that thus they might chastely pass their virgin
age. His sons were so educated, as, first, to have the completest
benefit of learning, that afterwards they might succeed to govern the
state, not like rustics, but philosophers.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 912.] EDWARD.]

Charles, the son-in-law of Edward, constrained thereto by Rollo,
through a succession of calamities, conceded to him that part of Gaul
which at present is called Normandy. It would be tedious to relate
for how many years, and with what audacity, the Normans disquieted
every place from the British ocean, as I have said, to the Tuscan sea.
First Hasten, and then Rollo; who, born of noble lineage among the
Norwegians, though obsolete from its extreme antiquity, was banished,
by the king’s command, from his own country, and brought over with
him multitudes, who were in danger, either from debt or consciousness
of guilt, and whom he had allured by great expectations of advantage.
Betaking himself therefore to piracy, after his cruelty had raged
on every side at pleasure, he experienced a check at Chartres. For
the townspeople, relying neither on arms nor fortifications, piously
implored the assistance of the blessed Virgin Mary. The shift too of
the virgin, which Charles the Bald had brought with other relics from
Constantinople, they displayed to the winds on the ramparts, thronged
by the garrison, after the fashion of a banner. The enemy on seeing it
began to laugh, and to direct their arrows at it. This, however, was
not done with impunity; for presently their eyes became dim, and they
could neither retreat nor advance. The townsmen, with joy perceiving
this, indulged themselves in a plentiful slaughter of them, as far
as fortune permitted. Rollo, however, whom God reserved for the true
faith, escaped, and soon after gained Rouen and the neighbouring cities
by force of arms, in the year of our Lord 876, and one year before
the death of Charles the Bald, whose grandson Lewis, as is before
mentioned, vanquished the Normans, but did not expel them: but Charles,
the brother of that Lewis, grandson of Charles the Bald, by his son
Lewis, as I have said above, repeatedly experiencing, from unsuccessful
conflicts, that fortune gave him nothing which she took from others,
resolved, after consulting his nobility, that it was advisable to make
a show of royal munificence, when he was unable to repel injury; and,
in a friendly manner, sent for Rollo. He was at this time far advanced
in years; and, consequently, easily inclined to pacific measures. It
was therefore determined by treaty, that he should be baptized, and
hold that country of the king as his lord. The inbred and untameable
ferocity of the man may well be imagined, for, on receiving this gift,
as the by standers suggested to him, that he ought to kiss the foot of
his benefactor, disdaining to kneel down, he seized the king’s foot
and dragged it to his mouth as he stood erect. The king falling on his
back, the Normans began to laugh, and the Franks to be indignant; but
Rollo apologized for his shameful conduct, by saying that it was the
custom of his country. Thus the affair being settled, Rollo returned to
Rouen, and there died.

The son of this Charles was Lewis: he being challenged by one Isembard,
that had turned pagan, and renounced his faith, called upon his
nobility for their assistance: they not even deigned an answer; when
one Hugh, son of Robert, earl of Mont Didier, a youth of no great
celebrity at the time, voluntarily entered the lists for his lord and
killed the challenger. Lewis, with his whole army pursuing to Ponthieu,
gained there a glorious triumph; either destroying or putting to flight
all the barbarians whom Isembard had brought with him. But not long
after, weakened by extreme sickness, the consequence of this laborious
expedition, he appointed this Hugh, a young man of noted faith and
courage, heir to the kingdom. Thus the lineage of Charles the Great
ceased with him, because either his wife was barren, or else did not
live long enough to have issue. Hugh married one of the daughters of
Edward,[160] and begot Robert; Robert begot Henry; Henry, Philip; and
Philip, Lewis, who now reigns in France. But to return to our Edward:
I think it will be pleasing to relate what in his time pope Formosus
commanded to be done with respect to filling up the bishoprics, which I
shall insert in the very words I found it.[161]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 912.] POPE FORMOSUS.]

“In the year of our Lord’s nativity 904, pope Formosus sent letters
into England, by which he denounced excommunication and malediction to
king Edward and all his subjects, instead of the benediction which St.
Gregory had given to the English nation from the seat of St. Peter,
because for seven whole years the entire district of the Gewissæ, that
is, of the West-Saxons, had been destitute of bishops. On hearing
this, king Edward assembled a council of the senators of the English,
over which presided Plegmund, archbishop of Canterbury, interpreting
carefully the words of the apostolic legation. Then the king and the
bishops chose for themselves and their followers a salutary council,
and, according to our Saviour’s words, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous,
but the labourers are few,’[162] they elected and appointed one bishop
to every province of the Gewissæ, and that district which two formerly
possessed they divided into five. The council being dissolved, the
archbishop went to Rome with splendid presents, appeased the pope with
much humility, and related the king’s ordinance, which gave the pontiff
great satisfaction. Returning home, in one day he ordained in the city
of Canterbury seven bishops to seven churches:--Frithstan to the church
of Winchester; Athelstan to Cornwall; Werstan to Sherborne; Athelelm
to Wells; Aidulf to Crediton in Devonshire: also to other provinces he
appointed two bishops; to the South-Saxons, Bernegus, a very proper
person; and to the Mercians, Cenulph, whose see was at Dorchester, in
Oxfordshire. All this the pope established, in such wise, that he who
should invalidate this decree should be damned everlastingly.”

Edward, going the way of all flesh, rested in the same monastery with
his father, which he had augmented with considerable revenues, and in
which he had buried his brother Ethelward four years before.


_Of Athelstan, the son of Edward._ [A.D. 924-940.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 927.] ATHELSTAN.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 924, Athelstan, the son of
Edward, began to reign, and held the sovereignty sixteen years. His
brother, Ethelward, dying a few days after his father, had been buried
with him at Winchester. At this place, therefore, Athelstan, being
elected king by the unanimous consent of the nobility, he was crowned
at a royal town, which is called Kingston; though one Elfred, whose
death we shall hereafter relate in the words of the king, with his
factious party, as sedition never wants adherents, attempted to prevent
it. The ground of his opposition, as they affirm, was, that Athelstan
was born of a concubine. But having nothing ignoble in him, except
this stain, if after all it be true, he cast all his predecessors into
the shade by his piety, as well as the glory of all their triumphs, by
the splendour of his own. So much more excellent is it to have that
for which we are renowned inherent, than derived from our ancestors;
because the former is exclusively our own, the latter is imputable to
others. I forbear relating how many new and magnificent monasteries
he founded; but I will not conceal that there was scarcely an old one
in England which he did not embellish, either with buildings, or
ornaments, or books, or possessions. Thus he ennobled the new ones
expressly, but the old, as though they were only casual objects of his
kindness. With Sihtric, king of the Northumbrians, who married, as
I have before said, one of his sisters, he made a lasting covenant;
he dying after a year, Athelstan took that province under his own
government, expelling one Aldulph, who resisted him. And as a noble
mind, when once roused, aspires to greater things, he compelled
Jothwel, king of all the Welsh, and Constantine, king of the Scots,
to quit their kingdoms; but not long after, moved with commiseration,
he restored them to their original state, that they might reign under
him, saying, “it was more glorious to make than to be a king.” His last
contest was with Anlaf, the son of Sihtric, who, with the before-named
Constantine, again in a state of rebellion, had entered his territories
under the hope of gaining the kingdom. Athelstan purposely retreating,
that he might derive greater honour from vanquishing his furious
assailants, this bold youth, meditating unlawful conquests, had now
proceeded far into England, when he was opposed at Bruneford[163] by
the most experienced generals, and most valiant forces. Perceiving,
at length, what danger hung over him, he assumed the character of a
spy. Laying aside his royal ensigns, and taking a harp in his hand,
he proceeded to our king’s tent: singing before the entrance, and at
times touching the trembling strings in harmonious cadence, he was
readily admitted, professing himself a minstrel, who procured his
daily sustenance by such employment. Here he entertained the king and
his companions for some time with his musical performance, carefully
examining everything while occupied in singing. When satiety of eating
had put an end to their sensual enjoyments, and the business of war
was resumed among the nobles, he was ordered to depart, and received
the recompence of his song; but disdaining to take it away, he hid it
beneath him in the earth. This circumstance was remarked by a person,
who had formerly served under him, and immediately related it to
Athelstan. The king, blaming him extremely for not having detected his
enemy as he stood before them, received this answer: “The same oath,
which I have lately sworn to you, O king, I formerly made to Anlaf; and
had you seen me violate it towards him, you might have expected similar
perfidy towards yourself: but condescend to listen to the advice of
your servant, which is, that you should remove your tent hence, and
remaining in another place till the residue of the army come up, you
will destroy your ferocious enemy by a moderate delay.” Approving
this admonition, he removed to another place. Anlaf advancing, well
prepared, at night, put to death, together with the whole of his
followers, a certain bishop,[164] who had joined the army only the
evening before, and, ignorant of what had passed, had pitched his
tent there on account of the level turf. Proceeding farther, he found
the king himself equally unprepared; who, little expecting his enemy
capable of such an attack, had indulged in profound repose. But, when
roused from his sleep by the excessive tumult, and urging his people,
as much as the darkness of the night would permit, to the conflict, his
sword fell by chance from the sheath; upon which, while all things were
filled with dread and blind confusion, he invoked the protection of God
and of St. Aldhelm, who was distantly related to him; and replacing his
hand upon the scabbard, he there found a sword, which is kept to this
day, on account of the miracle, in the treasury of the kings. Moreover,
it is, as they say, chased in one part, but can never be inlaid either
with gold or silver. Confiding in this divine present, and at the same
time, as it began to dawn, attacking the Norwegian, he continued the
battle unwearied through the day, and put him to flight with his whole
army. There fell Constantine, king of the Scots, a man of treacherous
energy and vigorous old age; five other kings, twelve earls, and almost
the whole assemblage of barbarians. The few who escaped were preserved
to embrace the faith of Christ.

Concerning this king a strong persuasion is prevalent among the
English, that one more just or learned never governed the kingdom.
That he was versed in literature, I discovered a few days since, in a
certain old volume, wherein the writer struggles with the difficulty of
the task, unable to express his meaning as he wished. Indeed I would
subjoin his words for brevity’s sake, were they not extravagant beyond
belief in the praises of the king, and just in that style of writing
which Cicero, the prince of Roman eloquence, in his book on Rhetoric,
denominates “bombast.” The custom of that time excuses the diction, and
the affection for Athelstan, who was yet living, gave countenance to
the excess of praise. I shall subjoin, therefore, in familiar language,
some few circumstances which may tend to augment his reputation.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 924.] ATHELSTAN.]

King Edward, after many noble exploits, both in war and peace, a few
days before his death subdued the contumacy of the city of Chester,
which was rebelling in confederacy with the Britons; and placing a
garrison there, he fell sick and died at Faringdon, and was buried,
as I before related, at Winchester. Athelstan, as his father had
commanded in his will, was then hailed king, recommended by his
years,--for he was now thirty,--and the maturity of his wisdom. For
even his grandfather Alfred, seeing and embracing him affectionately
when he was a boy of astonishing beauty and graceful manners, had
most devoutly prayed that his government might be prosperous: indeed,
he had made him a knight[165] unusually early, giving him a scarlet
cloak, a belt studded with diamonds, and a Saxon sword with a golden
scabbard. Next he had provided that he should be educated in the court
of Ethelfled his daughter, and of his son-in-law Ethered; so that,
having been brought up in expectation of succeeding to the kingdom, by
the tender care of his aunt and of this celebrated prince, he repressed
and destroyed all envy by the lustre of his good qualities; and, after
the death of his father, and decease of his brother, he was crowned at
Kingston. Hence, to celebrate such splendid events, and the joy of that
illustrious day, the poet justly exclaims:

    Of royal race a noble stem
  Hath chased our darkness like a gem.
  Great Athelstan, his country’s pride,
  Whose virtue never turns aside;
  Sent by his father to the schools,
  Patient, he bore their rigid rules,
  And drinking deep of science mild,
  Passed his first years unlike a child.
  Next clothed in youth’s bewitching charms,
  Studied the harsher lore of arms,
  Which soon confessed his knowledge keen,
  As after in the sovereign seen.
  Soon as his father, good and great,
  Yielded, though ever famed, to fate,
  The youth was called the realm to guide,
  And, like his parent, well preside.
  The nobles meet, the crown present,
  On rebels, prelates curses vent;
  The people light the festive fires,
  And show by turns their kind desires.
  Their deeds their loyalty declare,
  Though hopes and fears their bosoms share.
  With festive treat the court abounds;
  Foams the brisk wine, the hall resounds:
  The pages run, the servants haste,
  And food and verse regale the taste.
  The minstrels sing, the guests commend,
  Whilst all in praise to Christ contend.
  The king with pleasure all things sees,
  And all his kind attentions please.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 926.] ATHELSTAN.]

The solemnity of the consecration being finished, Athelstan, that he
might not deceive the expectation of his subjects, and fall below
their opinion, subdued the whole of England, except Northumbria, by
the single terror of his name. One Sihtric, a relation of that Gothrun
who is mentioned in the history of Alfred, presided over this people,
a barbarian both by race and disposition, who, though he ridiculed the
power of preceding kings, humbly solicited affinity with Athelstan,
sending messengers expressly for the purpose; and himself shortly
following confirmed the proposals of the ambassadors. In consequence,
honoured by a union with his sister, and by various presents, he laid
the basis of a perpetual treaty. But, as I have before observed, dying
at the end of a year, he afforded Athelstan an opportunity for uniting
Northumbria, which belonged to him both by ancient right and recent
affinity, to his sovereignty. Anlaf, the son of Sihtric, then fled
into Ireland, and his brother Guthferth into Scotland. Messengers
from the king immediately followed to Constantine, king of the Scots,
and Eugenius, king of the Cumbrians, claiming the fugitive under a
threat of war. The barbarians had no idea of resistance, but without
delay coming to a place called Dacor, they surrendered themselves and
their kingdoms to the sovereign of England. Out of regard to this
treaty, the king himself stood for the son of Constantine, who was
ordered to be baptized, at the sacred font. Guthferth, however, amid
the preparations for the journey, escaped by flight with one Turfrid,
a leader of the opposite party; and afterwards laying siege to York,
where he could succeed in bringing the townsmen to surrender neither
by entreaties nor by threats, he departed. Not long after, being both
shut up in a castle, they eluded the vigilance of the guards, and
escaped. Turfrid, losing his life quickly after by shipwreck, became a
prey to fishes. Guthferth, suffering extremely both by sea and land, at
last came a suppliant to court. Being amicably received by the king,
and sumptuously entertained for four days, he resought his ships; an
incorrigible pirate, and accustomed to live in the water like a fish.
In the meantime Athelstan levelled with the ground the castle which the
Danes had formerly fortified in York, that there might be no place for
disloyalty to shelter in; and the booty which had been found there,
which was very considerable, he generously divided, man by man, to
the whole army. For he had prescribed himself this rule of conduct,
never to hoard up riches; but liberally to expend all his acquisition
either on monasteries or on his faithful followers. On these, during
the whole of his life, he expended his paternal treasures, as well as
the produce of his victories. To the clergy he was humble and affable;
to the laity mild and pleasant; to the nobility rather reserved,
from respect to his dignity; to the lower classes, laying aside the
stateliness of power, he was kind and condescending. He was, as we have
heard, of becoming stature, thin in person, his hair flaxen, as I have
seen by his remains, and beautifully wreathed with golden threads.
Extremely beloved by his subjects from admiration of his fortitude and
humility, he was terrible to those who rebelled against him, through
his invincible courage. He compelled the rulers of the northern Welsh,
that is, of the North Britons, to meet him at the city of Hereford, and
after some opposition to surrender to his power. So that he actually
brought to pass what no king before him had even presumed to think of:
which was, that they should pay annually by way of tribute, twenty
pounds of gold, three hundred of silver, twenty-five thousand oxen,
besides as many dogs as he might choose, which from their sagacious
scent could discover the retreats and hiding places of wild beasts; and
birds, trained to make prey of others in the air. Departing thence, he
turned towards the Western Britons, who are called the Cornwallish,
because, situated in the west of Britain, they are opposite to the
extremity of Gaul.[166] Fiercely attacking, he obliged them to retreat
from Exeter, which, till that time, they had inhabited with equal
privileges with the Angles, fixing the boundary of their province on
the other side of the river Tamar, as he had appointed the river Wye to
the North Britons. This city then, which he had cleansed by purging it
of its contaminated race, he fortified with towers and surrounded with
a wall of squared stone. And, though the barren and unfruitful soil
can scarcely produce indifferent oats, and frequently only the empty
husk without the grain, yet, owing to the magnificence of the city,
the opulence of its inhabitants, and the constant resort of strangers,
every kind of merchandise is there so abundant that nothing is wanting
which can conduce to human comfort. Many noble traces of him are to
be seen in that city, as well as in the neighbouring district, which
will be better described by the conversation of the natives, than by my

On this account all Europe resounded with his praises, and extolled his
valour to the skies: foreign princes with justice esteemed themselves
happy if they could purchase his friendship either by affinity or by
presents. Harold king of Norway sent him a ship with golden beak and a
purple sail, furnished within with a compacted fence of gilded shields.
The names of the persons sent with it, were Helgrim and Offrid: who,
being received with princely magnificence in the city of York, were
amply compensated, by rich presents, for the labour of their journey.
Henry the First, for there were many of the name, the son of Conrad,
king of the Teutonians and emperor of the Romans, demanded his sister,
as I have before related, for his son Otho: passing over so many
neighbouring kings, but contemplating from a distance Athelstan’s noble
descent, and greatness of mind. So completely indeed had these two
qualities taken up their abode with him, that none could be more noble
or illustrious in descent; none more bold or prompt in disposition.
Maturely considering that he had four sisters, who were all equally
beautiful, except only as their ages made a difference, he sent two to
the emperor at his request; and how he disposed of them in marriage
has already been related: Lewis prince of Aquitania, a descendant
of Charles the Great, obtained the third in wedlock: the fourth, in
whom the whole essence of beauty had centred, which the others only
possessed in part, was demanded from her brother by Hugh king of the
Franks.[167] The chief of this embassy was Adulph, son of Baldwin earl
of Flanders by Ethelswitha daughter of king Edward.[168] When he had
declared the request of the suitor in an assembly of the nobility at
Abingdon, he produced such liberal presents as might gratify the most
boundless avarice: perfumes such as never had been seen in England
before: jewels, but more especially emeralds, the greenness of which,
reflected by the sun, illumined the countenances of the by-standers
with agreeable light: many fleet horses with their trappings, and,
as Virgil says, “Champing their golden bits:” an alabaster vase so
exquisitely chased, that, the cornfields really seemed to wave, the
vines to bud, the figures of men actually to move, and so clear and
polished, that it reflected the features like a mirror; the sword of
Constantine the Great, on which the name of its original possessor
was read in golden letters; on the pommel, upon thick plates of gold,
might be seen fixed an iron spike, one of the four which the Jewish
faction prepared for the crucifixion of our Lord: the spear of Charles
the Great, which whenever that invincible emperor hurled in his
expeditions against the Saracens, he always came off conqueror; it was
reported to be the same, which, driven into the side of our Saviour by
the hand of the centurion,[169] opened, by that precious wound, the
joys of paradise to wretched mortals: the banner of the most blessed
martyr Maurice, chief of the Theban legion;[170] with which the same
king, in the Spanish war, used to break through the battalions of the
enemy however fierce and wedged together, and put them to flight: a
diadem, precious from its quantity of gold, but more so for its jewels,
the splendour of which threw the sparks of light so strongly on the
beholders, that the more stedfastly any person endeavoured to gaze, so
much the more he was dazzled, and compelled to avert his eyes; part
of the holy and adorable cross enclosed in crystal; where the eye,
piercing through the substance of the stone, might discern the colour
and size of the wood; a small portion of the crown of thorns, enclosed
in a similar manner, which, in derision of his government, the madness
of the soldiers placed on Christ’s sacred head. The king, delighted
with such great and exquisite presents, made an equal return of good
offices; and gratified the soul of the longing suitor by a union with
his sister. With some of these presents he enriched succeeding kings:
but to Malmesbury he gave part of the cross and crown; by the support
of which, I believe, that place even now flourishes, though it has
suffered so many shipwrecks of its liberty, so many attacks of its
enemies.[171] In this place he ordered Elwin and Ethelwin, the sons of
his uncle Ethelward, whom he had lost in the battle against Anlaf, to
be honourably buried, expressing his design of resting here himself: of
which battle it is now proper time to give the account of that poet,
from whom I have taken all these transactions.

  His subjects governing with justest sway,
  Tyrants o’eraw’d, twelve years had pass’d away,
  When Europe’s noxious pestilence stalk’d forth,
  And poured the barbarous legions from the north.
  The pirate Anlaf now the briny surge
  Forsakes, while deeds of desperation urge.
  Her king consenting, Scotia’s land receives
  The frantic madman, and his host of thieves:
  Now flush’d with insolence they shout and boast,
  And drive the harmless natives from the coast.
  Thus, while the king, secure in youthful pride,
  Bade the soft hours in gentle pleasures glide,
  Though erst he stemmed the battle’s furious tide,
  With ceaseless plunder sped the daring horde,
  And wasted districts with their fire and sword.
  The verdant crops lay withering on the fields
  The glebe no promise to the rustic yields.
  Immense the numbers of barbarian force,
  Countless the squadrons both of foot and horse.
  At length fame’s rueful moan alarmed the king,
  And bade him shun this ignominious sting,
  That arms like his to ruffian bands should bend:
  ’Tis done: delays and hesitations end.
  High in the air the threatening banners fly,
  And call his eager troops to victory,
  His hardy force, a hundred thousand strong
  Whom standards hasten to the fight along.
  The martial clamour scares the plund’ring band,
  And drives them bootless tow’rds their native land.
  The vulgar mass a dreadful carnage share,
  And shed contagion on the ambient air,
  While Anlaf, only, out of all the crew
  Escapes the meed of death, so justly due,
  Reserved by fortune’s favor, once again
  When Athelstan was dead, to claim our strain.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 937.] DEATH OF ELFRED.]

This place seems to require that I should relate the death of Elfred
in the words of the king, for which I before pledged the faith of my
narrative. For as he had commanded the bodies of his relations to be
conveyed to Malmesbury, and interred at the head of the sepulchre of
St. Aldhelm; he honoured the place afterwards to such a degree, that
he esteemed none more desirable or more holy. Bestowing many large
estates upon it, he confirmed them by charters, in one of which, after
the donation, he adds: “Be it known to the sages of our kingdom, that
I have not unjustly seized the lands aforesaid, or dedicated plunder
to God; but that I have received them, as the English nobility, and
even John, the pope of the church of Rome himself, have judged fitting
on the death of Elfred. He was the jealous rival both of my happiness
and life, and consented to the wickedness of my enemies, who, on my
father’s decease, had not God in his mercy delivered me, wished to put
out my eyes in the city of Winchester: wherefore, on the discovery
of their infernal contrivances, he was sent to the church of Rome to
defend himself by oath before pope John. This he did at the altar of
St. Peter; but at the very instant he had sworn, he fell down before
it, and was carried by his servants to the English School, where he
died the third night after. The pope immediately sent to consult
with us, whether his body should be placed among other Christians.
On receiving this account the nobility of our kingdom, with the
whole body of his relations, humbly entreated that we would grant
our permission for his remains to be buried with other Christians.
Consenting, therefore, to their urgent request, we sent back our
compliance to Rome, and with the pope’s permission he was buried,
though unworthy, with other Christians. In consequence all his property
of every description was adjudged to be mine. Moreover, we have noted
this in writing, that, so long as Christianity reigns, it may never be
abrogated, whence the aforesaid land, which I have given to God and St.
Peter, was granted me; nor do I know any thing more just, than that
I should bestow this gift on God and St. Peter, who caused my rival
to fall in the sight of all persons, and conferred on me a prosperous

In these words of the king, we may equally venerate his wisdom, and
his piety in sacred matters: his wisdom, that so young a man should
perceive that a sacrifice obtained by rapine could not be acceptable
to God: his piety in so gratefully making a return to God, out of a
benefit conferred on him by divine vengeance. Moreover, it may be
necessary to observe, that at that time the church of St. Peter was the
chief of the monastery, which now is deemed second only: the church of
St. Mary, which the monks at present frequent, was built afterwards in
the time of king Edgar, under abbat Elfric. Thus far relating to the
king I have written from authentic testimony: that which follows I have
learned more from old ballads, popular through succeeding times, than
from books written expressly for the information of posterity. I have
subjoined them, not to defend their veracity, but to put my reader in
possession of all I know. First, then, to the relation of his birth.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 926.] BIRTH OF ATHELSTAN.]

There was in a certain village, a shepherd’s daughter, a girl of
exquisite beauty, who gained through the elegance of her person what
her birth could never have bestowed. In a vision she beheld a prodigy:
the moon shone from her womb, and all England was illuminated by the
light. When she sportively related this to her companions in the
morning, it was not so lightly received, but immediately reached the
ears of the woman who had nursed the sons of the king. Deliberating on
this matter, she took her home and adopted her as a daughter, bringing
up this young maiden with costlier attire, more delicate food, and
more elegant demeanour. Soon after, Edward, the son of king Alfred,
travelling through the village, stopped at the house which had been
the scene of his infantine education. Indeed, he thought it would be a
blemish on his reputation to omit paying his salutations to his nurse.
He became deeply enamoured of the young woman from the first moment he
saw her, and passed the night with her. In consequence of this single
intercourse, she brought forth her son Athelstan, and so realized her
dream. For at the expiration of his childish years, as he approached
manhood, he gave proof by many actions what just expectations of noble
qualities might be entertained of him. King Edward, therefore, died,
and was shortly followed by his legitimate son Ethelward. All hopes
now centred in Athelstan: Elfred alone, a man of uncommon insolence,
disdaining to be governed by a sovereign whom he had not voluntarily
chosen, secretly opposed with his party to the very utmost. But he
being detected and punished, as the king has before related, there
were some who even accused Edwin, the king’s brother, of treachery.
Base and dreadful crime was it thus to embroil fraternal affection by
sinister constructions. Edwin, though imploring, both personally and
by messengers, the confidence of his brother, and though invalidating
the accusation by an oath, was nevertheless driven into exile. So far,
indeed, did the dark suggestions of some persons prevail on a mind
distracted with various cares, that, forgetful of a brother’s love,
he expelled the youth, an object of pity even to strangers. The mode
adopted too was cruel in the extreme: he was compelled to go on board
a vessel, with a single attendant, without a rower, without even an
oar, and the bark crazy with age. Fortune laboured for a long time
to restore the innocent youth to land, but when at length he was far
out at sea, and sails could not endure the violence of the wind, the
young man, delicate, and weary of life under such circumstances, put
an end to his existence by a voluntary plunge into the waters. The
attendant wisely determining to prolong his life, sometimes by shunning
the hostile waves, and sometimes by urging the boat forward with his
feet, brought his master’s body to land, in the narrow sea which
flows between Wissant and Dover. Athelstan, when his anger cooled,
and his mind became calm, shuddered at the deed, and submitting to a
seven years’ penance, inflicted severe vengeance on the accuser of
his brother: he was the king’s cup-bearer, and on this account had
opportunity of enforcing his insinuations. It so happened on a festive
day, as he was serving wine, that slipping with one foot in the midst
of the chamber, he recovered himself with the other. On this occasion,
he made use of an expression which proved his destruction: “Thus
brother,” said he, “assists brother.” The king on hearing this, ordered
the faithless wretch to be put to death, loudly reproaching him with
the loss of that assistance he might have had from his brother, were he
alive, and bewailing his death.

The circumstances of Edwin’s death, though extremely probable, I the
less venture to affirm for truth, on account of the extraordinary
affection he manifested towards the rest of his brothers; for, as his
father had left them very young, he cherished them whilst children with
much kindness, and, when grown up, made them partakers of his kingdom;
it is before related to what dignity he exalted such of his sisters
as his father had left unmarried and unprovided for. Completing his
earthly course, and that a short one, Athelstan died at Gloucester.
His noble remains were conveyed to Malmesbury and buried under the
altar. Many gifts, both in gold and silver, as well as relics of
saints purchased abroad in Brittany, were carried before the body:
for, in such things, admonished, as they say, in a dream, he expended
the treasures which his father had long since amassed, and had left
untouched. His years, though few, were full of glory.


_Of kings Edmund, Edred, and Edwy._ [A.D. 940-955.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 940-944.] KING EDMUND.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 940, Edmund the brother of
Athelstan, a youth of about eighteen, received and held the government
for six years and a half. In his time the Northumbrians, meditating a
renewal of hostilities, violated the treaty which they had made with
Athelstan, and created Anlaf, whom they had recalled from Ireland,
their king. Edmund, who thought it disgraceful not to complete his
brother’s victorious course, led his troops against the delinquents;
who presently retreating, he subjugated all the cities on this side the
river Humber. Anlaf, with a certain prince, Reginald,[172] the son of
that Gurmund of whom we have spoken in the history of Alfred, sounding
the disposition of the king, offered to surrender himself, proffering
his conversion to Christianity as a pledge of his fidelity, and
receiving baptism. His savage nature, however, did not let him remain
long in this resolution, for he violated his oath, and irritated his
lord. In consequence of which, the following year he suffered for his
crimes, being doomed to perpetual exile. The province which is called
Cumberland Edmund assigned to Malcolm, king of the Scots, under fealty
of an oath.

Among the many donations which the king conferred on different
churches, he exalted that of Glastonbury, through his singular
affection towards it, with great estates and honours; and granted it a
charter in these words:

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I Edmund, king of the Angles,
and governor and ruler of the other surrounding nations, with the
advice and consent of my nobility, for the hope of eternal retribution,
and remission of my transgressions, do grant to the church of the holy
mother of God, Mary of Glastonbury, and the venerable Dunstan, whom I
have there constituted abbat, the franchise and jurisdiction, rights,
customs, and all the forfeitures of all their possessions; that is
to say,[173] burhgeritha, and hundred-setena, athas and ordelas, and
infangenetheofas, hamsocne, and fridebrice, and forestel and toll, and
team, throughout my kingdom, and their lands shall be free to them, and
released from all exactions, as my own are. But more especially shall
the town of Glastonbury, in which is situated that most ancient church
of the holy mother of God, together with its bounds, be more free than
other places. The abbat of this place, alone, shall have power, as
well in causes known as unknown; in small and in great; and even in
those which are above, and under the earth; on dry land, and in the
water; in woods and in plains; and he shall have the same authority of
punishing or remitting the crimes of delinquents perpetrated within it,
as my court has; in the same manner as my predecessors have granted and
confirmed by charter; to wit, Edward my father, and Elfred his father,
and Kentwin, Ina, and Cuthred, and many others, who more peculiarly
honoured and esteemed that noble place. And that any one, either
bishop, or duke,[174] or prince, or any of their servants, should dare
to enter it for the purpose of holding courts, or distraining, or doing
any thing contrary to the will of the servants of God there, I inhibit
under God’s curse. Whosoever therefore shall benevolently augment my
donation, may his life be prosperous in this present world; long may he
enjoy his happiness: but whosoever shall presume to invade it through
his own rashness, let him know for certain that he shall be compelled
with fear and trembling to give account before the tribunal of a
rigorous judge, unless he shall first atone for his offence by proper

[Sidenote: [A.D. 946.] EDMUND KILLED.]

The aforesaid donation was granted in the year of our Lord Jesus
Christ’s incarnation 944, in the first of the indiction, and was
written in letters of gold in the book of the Gospels, which he
presented to the same church elegantly adorned. Such great and
prosperous successes, however, were obscured by a melancholy death.
A certain robber named Leofa, whom he had banished for his crimes,
returning after six years’ absence totally unexpected, was sitting,
on the feast of St. Augustine, the apostle of the English, and first
archbishop of Canterbury, among the royal guests at Puckle-church,[175]
for on this day the English were wont to regale in commemoration of
their first preacher; by chance too, he was placed near a nobleman whom
the king had condescended to make his guest. This, while the others
were eagerly carousing, was perceived by the king alone; when, hurried
with indignation and impelled by fate, he leaped from the table, caught
the robber by the hair, and dragged him to the floor; but he secretly
drawing a dagger from its sheath plunged it with all his force into the
breast of the king as he lay upon him. Dying of the wound, he gave rise
over the whole kingdom to many fictions concerning his decease. The
robber was shortly torn limb from limb by the attendants who rushed in,
though he wounded some of them ere they could accomplish their purpose.
St. Dunstan, at that time abbat of Glastonbury, had foreseen his
ignoble end, being fully persuaded of it from the gesticulations and
insolent mockery of a devil dancing before him. Wherefore, hastening
to court at full speed, he received intelligence of the transaction
on the road. By common consent then it was determined, that his body
should be brought to Glastonbury and there magnificently buried in
the northern part of the tower. That such had been his intention,
through his singular regard for the abbat, was evident from particular
circumstances. The village also where he was murdered was made an
offering for the dead, that the spot which had witnessed his fall might
ever after minister aid to his soul.

In his fourth year, that is, in the year of our Lord 944, William, the
son of Rollo, duke of Normandy, was treacherously killed in France,
which old writers relate as having been done with some degree of
justice. Rinulph, one of the Norman nobility, owing William a grudge
from some unknown cause, harassed him with perpetual aggressions.
His son, Anschetil, who served under the earl, to gratify his lord
durst offer violence to nature for taking his father in battle: he
delivered him into the power of the earl, relying on the most solemn
oath, that he should suffer nothing beyond imprisonment. As wickedness,
however, constantly discovers pretences for crime, the earl, shortly
after feigning an excuse, sends Anschetil to Pavia bearing a letter
to the duke of Italy, the purport of which was his own destruction.
Completing his journey, he was received, on his entrance into the
city, in the most respectful manner; and delivering the letter, the
duke, astonished at the treachery, shuddered, that a warrior of such
singular address should be ordered to be despatched. But as he would
not oppose the request of so renowned a nobleman, he laid an ambush
of a thousand horsemen, as it is said, for Anschetil when he left
the city. For a long time, with his companions whom he had selected
out of all Normandy, he resisted their attack; but at last he fell
nobly, compensating his own death by slaying many of the enemy. The
only survivor on either side was Balso, a Norman, a man of small size,
but of incredible courage; although some say that he was ironically
called short. This man, I say, alone hovered round the city, and by his
single sword terrified the townspeople as long as he thought proper.
No person will deem this incredible, who considers what efforts the
desperation of a courageous man will produce, and how little military
valour the people of that region possess. Returning thence to his own
country, he laid his complaint of the perfidy of his lord before the
king of France. Fame reported too, that Rinulph, in addition to his
chains, had had his eyes put out. In consequence the earl being cited
to his trial at Paris, was met, under the pretence of a conference,
as they assert, and killed by Balso; thus making atonement for his
own perfidy, and satisfying the rage of his antagonist in the midst
of the river Seine. His death was the source of long discord between
the French and Normans, till by the exertions of Richard his son it
had a termination worthy such a personage. A truer history[176] indeed
relates, that being at enmity with Ernulph, earl of Flanders, he had
possessed himself of one of his castles, and that being invited out
by him to a conference, on a pretended design of making a truce, he
was killed by Balso, as they were conversing in a ship: that a key was
found at his girdle, which being applied to the lock of his private
cabinet, discovered certain monastic habiliments;[177] for he ever
designed, even amid his warlike pursuits, one day to become a monk at
Jumiéges; which place, deserted from the time of Hasten, he cleared of
the overspreading thorns, and with princely magnificence exalted to its
present state.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 946-955.] EDRED--EDWY.]

In the year of our Lord 946, Edred, Edward’s third son, assuming the
government, reigned nine years and a half. He gave proof that he had
not degenerated in greatness of soul from his father and his brothers;
for he nearly exterminated the Northumbrians and the Scots, laying
waste the whole province with sword and famine, because, having with
little difficulty compelled them to swear fidelity to him, they broke
their oath, and made Iricius their king. He for a long time kept
Wulstan, archbishop of York, who, it was said, connived at the revolt
of his countrymen, in chains, but afterwards, out of respect to his
ecclesiastical dignity, released and pardoned him. In the meantime, the
king himself, prostrate at the feet of the saints, devoted his life to
God and to Dunstan, by whose admonition he endured with patience his
frequent bodily pains,[178] prolonged his prayers, and made his palace
altogether the school of virtue. He died accompanied with the utmost
grief of men, but joy of angels; for Dunstan, learning by a messenger
that he was sick, while urging his horse in order to see him, heard a
voice thundering over his head, “Now king Edred sleeps in the Lord.” He
lies buried in the cathedral at Winchester.

In the year of our Lord 955, Edwy, son of Edmund, the brother of
Athelstan the former king, taking possession of the kingdom, retained
it four years: a wanton youth, who abused the beauty of his person
in illicit intercourse. Finally, taking a woman nearly related to
him as his wife, he doated on her beauty, and despised the advice
of his counsellors. On the very day he had been consecrated king,
in full assembly of the nobility, when deliberating on affairs of
importance and essential to the state, he burst suddenly from amongst
them, darted wantonly into his chamber, and rioted in the embraces of
the harlot. All were indignant of the shameless deed, and murmured
among themselves. Dunstan alone, with that firmness which his name
implies,[179] regardless of the royal indignation, violently dragged
the lascivious boy from the chamber, and on the archbishop’s compelling
him to repudiate the strumpet,[180] made him his enemy for ever. Soon
after, upheld by most contemptible supporters, he afflicted with
undeserved calamities all the members of the monastic order throughout
England,--who were first despoiled of their property, and then driven
into exile. He drove Dunstan himself, the chief of monks, into
Flanders. At that time the face of monachism was sad and pitiable. Even
the monastery of Malmesbury, which had been inhabited by monks for more
than two hundred and seventy years, he made a sty for secular canons.
But thou, O Lord Jesus, our creator and redeemer, gracious disposer,
art abundantly able to remedy our defects by means of those irregular
and vagabond men. Thou didst bring to light thy treasure, hidden for
so many years--I mean the body of St. Aldhelm, which they took up and
placed in a shrine. The royal generosity increased the fame of the
canons; for the king bestowed on the saint an estate, very convenient
both from its size and vicinity. But my recollection shudders even at
this time, to think how cruel he was to other monasteries, equally
on account of the giddiness of youth, and the pernicious counsel of
his concubine, who was perpetually poisoning his uninformed mind.
But let his soul, long since placed in rest by the interposition of
Dunstan,[181] pardon my grief: grief, I say, compels me to condemn
him, “because private advantage is not to be preferred to public loss,
but rather public loss should outweigh private advantage.” He paid the
penalty of his rash attempt even in this life, being despoiled of the
greatest part of his kingdom;[182] shocked with which calamity, he
died, and was buried in the new minster at Winchester.


_Of king Edgar, son of king Edmund._ [A.D. 959-975.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 959-975.] OF KING EDGAR.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 959, Edgar, the honour and
delight of the English, the son of Edmund, the brother of Edwy, a
youth of sixteen years old, assuming the government, held it for
about a similar period. The transactions of his reign are celebrated
with peculiar splendour even in our times. The Divine love, which
he sedulously procured by his devotion and energy of counsel, shone
propitious on his years. It is commonly reported, that at his birth
Dunstan heard an angelic voice, saying, “Peace to England so long as
this child shall reign, and our Dunstan survives.” The succession of
events was in unison with the heavenly oracle; so much while he lived
did ecclesiastical glory flourish, and martial clamour decay. Scarcely
does a year elapse in the chronicles, in which he did not perform
something great and advantageous to his country; in which he did not
build some new monastery. He experienced no internal treachery, no
foreign attack. Kinad, king of the Scots, Malcolm, of the Cambrians,
that prince of pirates, Maccus, all the Welsh kings, whose names were
Dufnal, Giferth, Huval, Jacob, Judethil, being summoned to his court,
were bound to him by one, and that a lasting oath; so that meeting him
at Chester, he exhibited them on the river Dee in triumphal ceremony.
For putting them all on board the same vessels he compelled them to
row him as he sat at the prow: thus displaying his regal magnificence,
who held so many kings in subjection. Indeed, he is reported to have
said, that henceforward his successors might truly boast of being
kings of England, since they would enjoy so singular an honour. Hence
his fame being noised abroad, foreigners, Saxons, Flemings, and even
Danes, frequently sailed hither, and were on terms of intimacy with
Edgar, though their arrival was highly prejudicial to the natives: for
from the Saxons they learned an untameable ferocity of mind; from the
Flemings an unmanly delicacy of body; and from the Danes drunkenness;
though they were before free from such propensities, and disposed to
observe their own customs with native simplicity rather than admire
those of others. For this history justly and deservedly blames him; for
the other imputations which I shall mention hereafter have rather been
cast on him by ballads.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 973.] KING EDGAR’S REFORMS.]

At this time the light of holy men was so resplendent in England, that
you would believe the very stars from heaven smiled upon it. Among
these was Dunstan, whom I have mentioned so frequently, first, abbat
of Glastonbury; next, bishop of Worcester; and lastly, archbishop of
Canterbury: of great power in earthly matters, in high favour with God;
in the one representing Martha, in the other Mary. Next to king Alfred,
he was the most extraordinary patron of the liberal arts throughout
the whole island; the munificent restorer of monasteries; terrible
were his denunciations against transgressing kings and princes;
kind was his support of the middling and poorer classes. Indeed, so
extremely anxious was he to preserve peace ever in trivial matters,
that, as his countrymen used to assemble in taverns, and when a little
elevated quarrel as to the proportions of their liquor, he ordered
gold or silver pegs to be fastened in the pots, that whilst every man
knew his just measure, shame should compel each neither to take more
himself, nor oblige others to drink beyond their proportional share.
Osberne,[183] precentor of Canterbury, second to none of these times
in composition, and indisputably the best skilled of all in music,
who wrote his life with Roman elegance, forbids me to relate farther
praiseworthy anecdotes of him. Besides, in addition to this, if the
divine grace shall accompany my design, I intend after the succession
of the kings at least to particularize the names of all the bishops
of each province in England, and to offer them to the knowledge of
my countrymen, if I shall be able to coin anything worth notice out
of the mintage of antiquity. How powerful indeed the sanctity and
virtue of Dunstan’s disciples were, is sufficiently evidenced by
Ethelwold, made abbat of Abingdon from a monk of Glastonbury, and
afterwards bishop of Winchester, who built so many and such great
monasteries, as to make it appear hardly credible how the bishop of one
see should be able to effect what the king of England himself could
scarcely undertake. I am deceived, and err through hasty opinion, if
what I assert be not evident. How great are the monasteries of Ely,
Peterborough, and Thorney, which he raised from the foundations, and
completed by his industry; which though repeatedly reduced by the
wickedness of plunderers, are yet sufficient for their inhabitants.
His life was composed in a decent style by Wulstan,[184] precentor of
Winchester, who had been his attendant and pupil: he wrote also another
very useful work, “On the Harmony of Sounds,” a proof that he was a
learned Englishman, a man of pious life and correct eloquence. At that
time too Oswald, nephew of Odo, who had been archbishop before Dunstan,
from a monk of Flory becoming bishop of Worcester and archbishop of
York, claimed equal honours with the others. Treading the same paths,
he extended the monastic profession by his authority, and built a
monastery at Ramsey in a marshy situation. He filled the cathedral
of Worcester with monks, the canons not being driven out by force,
but circumvented by pious fraud.[185] Bishop Ethelwold, by the royal
command, had before expelled the canons from Winchester, who, upon
the king’s giving them an option either to live according to rule, or
depart the place, gave the preference to an easy life, and were at that
time without fixed habitations wandering over the whole island. In this
manner these three persons, illuminating England, as it were, with a
triple light, chased away the thick darkness of error. In consequence,
Edgar advanced the monastery of Glastonbury, which he ever loved beyond
all others, with great possessions, and was anxiously vigilant in all
things pertaining either to the beauty or convenience of the church,
whether internally or externally. It may be proper here to subjoin to
our narrative the charter he granted to the said church, as I have read
it in their ancient chartulary.[186]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 973.] EDGAR’S CHARTER.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 973.] CHARTER OF GLASTONBURY.]

“Edgar of glorious memory, king of the Angles, son of king Edmund,
whose inclinations were ever vigilantly bent on divine matters, often
coming to the monastery of the holy mother of God at Glastonbury, and
studying to honour this place with dignity superior to others, hath by
the common consent of the bishops, abbats, and nobility, conferred on
it many and very splendid privileges;--the first of which is, that no
person, unless a monk of that place, shall there be abbat, either in
name or in office, nor any other, except such as the common consent of
the meeting shall have chosen according to the tenor of the rule. But
should necessity so ordain, that an abbat or monk of another monastery
be made president of this place, then he deems it proper that none
shall be appointed, but such as the congregation of the monastery may
elect, to preside over them in the fear of the Lord; nor shall this be
done, if any, even the lowest of the congregation, can be there found
fit for the office. He hath appointed too, that the election of their
abbat shall rest for ever in the monks, reserving only to himself
and his heirs the power of giving the pastoral staff to the elected
brother. He hath ordained also, that so often as the abbat or the monks
of this place shall appoint any of their society to be dignified with
holy orders, they shall cause any bishop canonically ordained, either
in his own cathedral, or in the monastery of St. Mary at Glastonbury,
to ordain such monks and clerks as they deem fit to the church of St.
Mary. He hath granted moreover, that as he himself decides in his own
dominions, so the abbat or the convent shall decide the causes of
their entire island,[187] in all matters ecclesiastical or secular,
without the contradiction of any one. Nor shall it be lawful for any
person to enter that island which bore witness to his birth, whether
he be bishop, duke, or prince, or person of whatever order, for the
purpose of there doing any thing prejudicial to the servants of God:
this he forbids altogether, in the same manner as his predecessors have
sanctioned and confirmed by their privileges; that is to say, Kentwin,
Ina, Ethelard, Cuthred, Alfred, Edward, Athelstan, and Edmund. When,
therefore, by the common consent, as has been said, of his prelates,
abbats, and nobility, he determined to grant these privileges to the
place aforesaid, he laid his own horn, beautifully formed of ivory
and adorned with gold, upon the altar of the holy mother of God, and
by that donation confirmed them to the same holy mother of God, and
her monks, to be possessed for ever. Soon after he caused this horn
to be cut in two in his presence, that no future abbat might give or
sell it to any one, commanding part of it to be kept upon the spot
for a testimony of the aforesaid donation. Recollecting, however, how
great is the temerity of human inconstancy, and on whom it is likely
to creep, and fearing lest any one hereafter should attempt to take
away these privileges from this place, or eject the monks, he sent
this charter of royal liberality to the renowned lord, pope John, who
had succeeded Octavian in the honour of the pontificate, begging him
to corroborate these grants by an apostolical bull. Kindly receiving
the legation, the pope, with the assenting voice of the Roman council,
confirmed what had been already ordained, by writing an apostolical
injunction, terribly hurling on the violators of them, should any
be so daring, the vengeance of a perpetual curse. This confirmation
therefore of the aforesaid pope, directed to the same place, king
Edgar, of worthy memory, laid upon the altar of the holy mother of God
for a perpetual remembrance, commanding it to be carefully kept in
future for the information of posterity. We have judged it proper to
insert both these instruments, lest we should be supposed to invent
such things against those persons who seek to enter into the fold
of St. Mary, not like shepherds, by the door, but like thieves and
robbers, some other way. “Be it known to all the faithful, that I,
John the twelfth, through the mercy of God unworthy pope of the holy
Roman See, am intreated by the humble request of the noble Edgar,
king of the Angles, and of Dunstan, archbishop of the holy church of
Canterbury, for the monastery of St. Mary, Glastonbury; which, induced
by the love of the heavenly King, they have endowed with many great
possessions, increasing in it the monastic order, and having confirmed
it by royal grant, they pray me also so to do. Wherefore assenting to
their affectionate request, I take that place into the bosom of the
Roman church, and the protection of the holy apostles, and support
and confirm its immunities as long as it shall remain in the same
conventual order in which it now flourishes. The monks shall have
power to elect their own superior; ordination, as well of monks as
of clerks, shall be at the will of the abbat and convent. We ordain,
moreover, that no person shall have liberty to enter this island,
either to hold courts, to make inquiry, or to correct; and should any
one attempt to oppose this, or to take away, retain, diminish, or
harass with vexatious boldness, the possessions of the same church,
he shall become liable to a perpetual curse, by the authority of God
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the holy mother of God, the holy
apostles Peter and Paul, and all saints, unless he recant. But the
peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all who maintain the rights of
the place aforesaid. Amen. And let this our deed remain unshaken. Done
in the time of Edward, abbat of the said monastery.” The aforesaid
king Edgar confirmed these things at London, by his solemn charter, in
the twelfth year of his reign; and in the same year, that is, of our
Lord 965,[188] the pope aforesaid allowed them in a general synod at
Rome, and commanded all members of superior dignity who were present at
the said general council, to confirm them likewise. Let the despisers
then of so terrible a curse consider well what an extensive sentence
of excommunication hangs over their heads: and indeed to St. Peter
the apostle, the chief of apostles, Christ gave the office either of
binding or loosing, as well as the keys of the kingdom of heaven. But
to all the faithful it must be plain and evident, that the head of
the Roman church must be the vicar of this apostle, and the immediate
inheritor of his power. Over this church then John of holy memory
laudably presided in his lifetime, as he lives to this day in glorious
recollection, promoted thereto by the choice of God and of all the
people. If then the ordinance of St. Peter the apostle be binding,
consequently that of John the pope must be so likewise; but not even
a madman would deny the ordinance of Peter the apostle to be binding,
consequently no one in his sober senses can say that the ordinance of
John the pope is invalid. Either, therefore, acknowledging the power
conferred by Christ on St. Peter and his successors, they will abstain
from transgressing against the authority of so dreadful an interdict,
or else contemning it, they will, with the devil and his angels, bring
upon themselves the eternal duration of the curse aforewritten. In
consequence, it is manifest that no stranger ever seized this monastery
for himself, who did not, as shall appear, disgracefully lose it again;
and that this occurred, not by any concerted plan of the monks, but by
the judgment of God, for the avenging his holy authority. Wherefore let
no man reading this despise it, nor make himself conspicuous by being
angry at it; for should he, perhaps he will confess that to be said of
himself which was designed to be spoken of another. The monastic order,
for a long time depressed, now joyfully reared its head, and hence it
came to pass that our monastery also resumed its ancient liberties: but
this I think will be more suitably related in the words of the king


“I, Edgar, king of all Albion, and exalted, by the subjection of the
surrounding kings maritime or insular, by the bountiful grace of God,
to a degree never enjoyed by any of my progenitors, have often, mindful
of so high an honour, diligently considered what offering I should
more especially make from my earthly kingdom, to the King of kings.
In aid of my pious devotion, heavenly love suddenly insinuated to my
watchful solicitude, that I should rebuild all the holy monasteries
throughout my kingdom, which, as they were outwardly ruinous, with
mouldering shingles and worm-eaten boards, even to the rafters, so,
what was still worse, they had become internally neglected, and almost
destitute of the service of God; wherefore, ejecting those illiterate
clerks, subject to the discipline of no regular order, in many places
I have appointed pastors of an holier race, that is, of the monastic
order, supplying them with ample means out of my royal revenues to
repair their churches wherever ruinated. One of these pastors, by
name Elfric, in all things a true priest, I have appointed guardian
of that most celebrated monastery which the Angles call by a twofold
name Maldelmes-burgh. To which, for the benefit of my soul, and in
honour of our Saviour, and the holy mother of God the virgin Mary,
and the apostles Peter and Paul, and the amiable prelate Aldhelm, I
have restored, with munificent liberality, a portion of land: and
more especially a piece of ground,[189] with meadows and woods.
This, leased out by the aforesaid priest, was unjustly held by the
contentious Edelnot; but his vain and subtle disputation being heard by
my counsellors, and his false defence being, in my presence, nullified,
by them, I have restored it to the use of the monastery in the year of
our Lord 974, in the fourteenth of my reign, and the first of my royal

[Sidenote: [A.D. 973.] EDGAR’S VISION.]

And here I deem it not irrelevant to commit to writing what was
supernaturally shown to the king. He had entered a wood abundant in
game, and, as usually happens, while his associates were dispersed in
the thicket for the purpose of hunting, he was left alone. Pursuing
his course, he came to the outlet of the wood, and stopping there
waited for his companions. Shortly after, seized with an irresistible
desire to sleep, he alighted from his horse, that the enjoyment of a
short repose might assuage the fatigue of the past day. He lay down,
therefore, under a wild apple-tree, where the clustering branches had
formed a shady canopy all around. A river, flowing softly beside him,
adding to his drowsiness, by its gentle murmur soothed him to sleep;
when a bitch, of the hunting breed, pregnant, and lying down at his
feet, terrified him in his slumbers. Though the mother was silent, yet
the whelps within her womb barked in various sonorous tones, incited,
as it were, by a singular delight in the place of their confinement.
Astonished at this prodigy, as he lifted up his eyes towards the summit
of the tree, he saw, first one apple, and then another, fall into the
river, by the collision of which, the watery bubbles being put in
commotion, a voice articulately sounded, “Well is thee.” Soon after,
driven by the rippling wave, a little pitcher appeared upon the stream,
and after that a larger vessel, overflowing with water, for the former
was empty: and although by the violence of the stream the greater
vessel pressed upon the lesser that it might discharge its waters
into it; yet it ever happened that the pitcher escaped, still empty,
and again, as in a haughty and insulting manner, attacked the larger.
Returning home, as the Psalmist says, “He thought upon what had been
done, and sought out his spirit.” His mother addressed him, however,
that she might cheer both his countenance and his heart; saying, it
should be her care to entreat God, who knew how to explain mysteries
by the light of his inspiration. With this admonition he dispelled his
grief and dismissed his anxiety, conscious of his mother’s sanctity, to
whom God had vouchsafed many revelations. Her name was Elfgiva, a woman
intent on good works, and gifted with such affection and kindness, that
she would even secretly discharge the penalties of those culprits whom
the sad sentence of the judges had publicly condemned. That costly
clothing, which, to many women, is the pander of vice, was to her the
means of liberality; as she would give a garment of the most beautiful
workmanship to the first poor person she saw. Even malice itself, as
there was nothing to carp at, might praise the beauty of her person and
the work of her hands. Thoroughly comprehending the presage, she said
to her son next morning, “The barking of the whelps while the mother
was sleeping, implies, that after your death, those persons who are
now living and in power, dying also, miscreants yet unborn will bark
against the church of God. And whereas one apple followed the other,
so that the voice, ‘Well is thee,’ seemed to proceed from the dashing
of the second against the first, this implies that from you, who are
now a tree shading all England, two sons will proceed; the favourers
of the second will destroy the first, when the chiefs of the different
parties will say to each of the boys, ‘Well is thee,’ because the dead
will reign in heaven, the living on earth, Forasmuch as the greater
pitcher could not fill the smaller, this signifies, that the Northern
nations, which are more numerous than the English, shall attack England
after your death; and, although they may recruit their deficiencies by
perpetual supplies of their countrymen, yet they shall never be able
to fill this Angle of the world, but instead of that, our Angles, when
they seem to be completely subjugated, shall drive them out, and it
shall remain under its own and God’s governance, even unto the time
before appointed by Christ. Amen.”

Farther perusal will justify the truth of the presage. The manifest
sanctity both of parent and child ought here to be considered; that the
one should see a mystery when broad awake without impediment, and that
the other should be able to solve the problem by the far-discerning eye
of prophecy. The rigour of Edgar’s justice was equal to the sanctity
of his manners, so that he permitted no person, be his dignity what
it might, to elude the laws with impunity. In his time there was no
private thief, no public freebooter, unless such as chose to risk the
loss of life for their attacks upon the property of others.[190] How,
indeed, can it be supposed that he would pass over the crimes of men
when he designed to exterminate every beast of prey from his kingdom;
and commanded Judwall, king of the Welsh, to pay him yearly a tribute
of three hundred wolves? This he performed for three years, but omitted
in the fourth, declaring that he could find no more.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 973.] EDGAR’S CHARACTER.]

Although it is reported that he was extremely small both in stature
and in bulk, yet nature had condescended to enclose such strength in
that diminutive body, that he would voluntarily challenge any person,
whom he knew to be bold and valiant, to engage with him, and his
greatest apprehension was, lest they should stand in awe of him in
these encounters. Moreover, at a certain banquet, where the prating
of coxcombs generally shows itself very freely, it is reported that
Kinad, king of the Scots, said in a sportive manner, that it seemed
extraordinary to him how so many provinces should be subject to such a
sorry little fellow. This was caught up with malignant ear by a certain
minstrel, and afterwards cast in Edgar’s teeth, with the customary
raillery of such people. But he, concealing the circumstance from his
friends, sent for Kinad, as if to consult him on some secret matter
of importance, and leading him aside far into the recesses of a wood,
he gave him one of two swords, which he had brought with him. “Now,”
said he, “as we are alone, I shall have an opportunity of proving your
strength; I will now make it appear which ought deservedly to command
the other; nor shall you stir a foot till you try the matter with me,
for it is disgraceful in a king to prate at a banquet, and not to be
prompt in action.” Confused, and not daring to utter a word, he fell at
the feet of his sovereign lord, and asked pardon for what was merely
a joke; which he immediately obtained. But what of this? Every summer,
as soon as the festival of Easter was passed, he ordered his ships to
be collected on each coast; cruising to the western part of the island
with the eastern fleet; and, dismissing that, with the western to the
north; and then again with the northern squadron towards the east,
carefully vigilant lest pirates should disturb the country. During the
winter and spring, travelling through the provinces, he made inquiry
into the decisions of men in power, severely avenging violated laws,
by the one mode advancing justice, by the other military strength; and
in both consulting public utility. There are some persons, indeed,
who endeavour to dim his exceeding glory by saying, that in his
earlier years he was cruel to his subjects, and libidinous in respect
of virgins. Their first accusation they exemplify thus. There was,
in his time, one Athelwold, a nobleman of celebrity and one of his
confidants. The king had commissioned him to visit Elfthrida, daughter
of Ordgar, duke of Devonshire, (whose charms had so fascinated the eyes
of some persons that they commended her to the king), and to offer
her marriage, if her beauty were really equal to report. Hastening on
his embassy, and finding everything consonant to general estimation,
he concealed his mission from her parents and procured the damsel for
himself. Returning to the king, he told a tale which made for his
own purpose; that she was a girl nothing out of the common track of
beauty, and by no means worthy such transcendent dignity. When Edgar’s
heart was disengaged from this affair, and employed on other amours,
some tattlers acquainted him, how completely Athelwold had duped him
by his artifices. Paying him in his own coin, that is, returning him
deceit for deceit, he showed the earl a fair countenance, and, as in
a sportive manner, appointed a day when he would visit his far-famed
lady. Terrified, almost to death, with this dreadful pleasantry, he
hastened before to his wife, entreating that she would administer to
his safety by attiring herself as unbecomingly as possible: then first
disclosing the intention of such a proceeding. But what did not this
woman dare? She was hardy enough to deceive the confidence of her
first lover, her first husband; to call up every charm by art, and to
omit nothing which could stimulate the desire of a young and powerful
man. Nor did events happen contrary to her design. For he fell so
desperately in love with her the moment he saw her, that, dissembling
his indignation, he sent for the earl into a wood at Warewelle,[191]
called Harewood, under pretence of hunting, and ran him through with
a javelin: and when the illegitimate son of the murdered nobleman
approached with his accustomed familiarity, and was asked by the
king how he liked that kind of sport, he is reported to have said,
“Well, my sovereign liege, I ought not to be displeased with that
which gives you pleasure.” This answer so assuaged the mind of the
raging monarch, that, for the remainder of his life, he held no one in
greater estimation than this young man; mitigating the offence of his
tyrannical deed against the father, by royal solicitude for the son.
In expiation of this crime, a monastery which was built on the spot by
Elfthrida is inhabited by a large congregation of nuns.

To this instance of cruelty, they add a second of lust. Hearing of the
beauty of a certain virgin, who was dedicated to God, he carried her
off from a monastery by force, ravished her, and repeatedly made her
the partner of his bed. When this circumstance reached the ears of
St. Dunstan, he was vehemently reproved by him, and underwent a seven
years’ penance; though a king, submitting to fast and to forego the
wearing of his crown for that period.[192] They add a third, in which
both vices may be discovered. King Edgar coming to Andover, a town not
far from Winchester, ordered the daughter of a certain nobleman, the
fame of whose beauty had been loudly extolled, to be brought to him.
The mother of the young lady, shocked at the proposed concubinage of
her daughter, assisted by the darkness of night placed an attendant
in his bed; a maiden indeed neither deficient in elegance nor in
understanding. The night having passed, when aurora was hastening
into day, the woman attempted to rise; and being asked, “why in such
haste?” she replied, “to perform the daily labour of her mistress.”
Retained though with difficulty, on her knees she bewailed her wretched
situation to the king, and entreated her freedom as the recompence
of her connexion with him; saying, “that it became his greatness, not
to suffer one who had ministered to his royal pleasure, any longer
to groan under the commands of cruel masters.” His indignation being
excited, and sternly smiling, while his mind was wavering between
pity to the girl, and displeasure to her mistress, he, at last, as
if treating the whole as a joke, released her from servitude, and
dismissed his anger. Soon after, he exalted her with great honour, to
be mistress of her former tyrants, little consulting how they liked
it, loved her entirely, nor left her bed till he took Elfthrida, the
daughter of Ordgar, to be his legitimate wife. Elfthrida bore him
Edmund, who dying five years before his father, lies buried at Romsey,
and Ethelred, who reigned after him. Besides, of Egelfleda, surnamed
the fair, the daughter of the most powerful duke, Ordmer, he begot
Edward; and St. Editha of Wulfritha, who it is certain was not a nun
at that time, but being a lay virgin had assumed the veil through fear
of the king, though she was immediately afterwards forced to the royal
bed; on which, St. Dunstan, offended that he should desire lustfully a
person who had been even the semblance of a nun, exerted the pontifical
power against him. But however these things may be, this is certain,
that from the sixteenth year of his age, when he was appointed king,
till the thirtieth, he reigned without the insignia of royalty; for at
that time, the princes and men of every order assembling generally, he
was crowned with great pomp at Bath, survived only three years, and
was buried at Glastonbury. Nor is it to be forgotten, that when abbat
Ailward opened his tomb in the year of our Lord 1052, he found the body
unconscious of corruption; which instead of inclining him to reverence,
served only to increase his audacity. For when the receptacle which
he had prepared, seemed too small to admit the body, he profaned the
royal corpse by cutting it. Whence the blood immediately gushing out
in torrents, shook the hearts of the by-standers with horror. In
consequence his royal remains were placed upon the altar in a shrine,
which he had himself given to this church, with the head of St.
Apollinaris, and the relics of Vincent the martyr; which purchased,
at a great price, he had added to the beauty of the house of God. The
violator of the sacred body presently became distracted, and not long
after, going out of the church, met his death by a broken neck. Nor did
the display of royal sanctity stop thus; it proceeded still further,
a man, lunatic and blind, being there cured. Deservedly then does the
report prevail among the English, that no king, either of his own or
former times in England, could be justly and fairly compared to Edgar:
for nothing could be more holy than his life, nothing more praiseworthy
than his justice; those vices excepted which he afterwards obliterated
by abundant virtues: a man who rendered his country illustrious through
his distinguished courage, and the brilliancy of his actions, as well
as by the increase of the servants of God. After his departure, the
state and the hopes of the English met with a melancholy reverse.[193]


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

[Sidenote: [A.D. 975-977.] COUNCIL AT CALNE.]

In the year of our Lord 975, Edward the son of Edgar began to reign,
and enjoyed the sovereignty for three years and a half. Dunstan, in
common consent with the other bishops, elevated him to the royal
dignity, in opposition, as it is said, to the will of some of the
nobility, and of his step-mother; who was anxious to advance her son
Ethelred, a child scarcely seven years of age, in order that herself
might govern under colour of his name. Then, from the increasing
malice of men, the happiness of the kingdom was impaired; then too,
comets were seen, which were asserted certainly to portend either
pestilence to the inhabitants, or a change in the government. Nor
was it long ere there followed a scarcity of corn; famine among men;
murrain among cattle; and an extraordinary accident at a royal town
called Calne. For as soon as Edgar was dead, the secular canons who
had been for some time expelled their monasteries, rekindled the
former feuds, alleging, that it was a great and serious disgrace, for
new comers to drive the ancient inmates from their dwellings; that
it could not be esteemed grateful to God, who had granted them their
ancient habitations: neither could it be so to any considerate man,
who might dread that injustice as likely to befall himself, which he
had seen overtake others. Hence they proceeded to clamour and rage,
and hastened to Dunstan; the principal people, as is the custom of the
laity, exclaiming more especially, that the injury which the canons
had wrongfully suffered, ought to be redressed by gentler measures.
Moreover, one of them, Elferius, with more than common audacity, had
even overturned almost all the monasteries which that highly revered
monk Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, had built throughout Mercia.
On this account a full synod being convened, they first assembled at
Winchester. What was the issue of the contest of that place, other
writings declare;[194] relating, that the image of our Saviour,
speaking decidedly, confounded the canons and their party. But men’s
minds being not yet at rest on the subject, a council was called at
Calne; where, when all the senators of England, the king being absent
on account of his youth, had assembled in an upper chamber, and the
business was agitated with much animosity and debate; while the weapons
of harsh reproach were directed against that firmest bulwark of the
church, I mean Dunstan, but could not shake it; and men of every rank
were earnestly defending their several sides of the question; the floor
with its beams and supporters gave way suddenly and fell to the ground.
All fell with it except Dunstan, who alone escaped unhurt by standing
on a single rafter which retained its position: the rest were either
killed, or subjected to lasting infirmity. This miracle procured the
archbishop peace on the score of the canons; all the English, both at
that time and afterwards, yielding to his sentiments.

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

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


_Of king Ethelred and king Edmund._ [A.D. 979-1017.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 978, 979.] ETHELRED--EDMUND.]

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

[Sidenote: [A.D. 988-994.] DUNSTAN’S PROPHECY.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1012.] TREACHERY OF EDRIC.]

A quarrel between the king and the bishop of Rochester had arisen
from some unknown cause; in consequence of which he led an army
against that city. It was signified to him by the archbishop, that
he should desist from his fury, and not irritate St. Andrew, under
whose guardianship that bishopric was; for as he was ever ready to
pardon, so was he equally formidable to avenge. This simple message
being held in contempt, he graced the intimation with money, and sent
him a hundred pounds, as a bribe, that he should raise the siege and
retire. He therefore took the money, retreated, and dismissed his
army. Dunstan, astonished at his avarice, sent messengers to him
with the following words, “Since you have preferred silver to God,
money to the apostle, and covetousness to me; the evils which God has
pronounced will shortly come upon you; but they will not come while
I live, for this also hath God spoken.” Soon after the death of this
holy man, which was in the tenth year of his reign, the predictions
speedily began to be fulfilled, and the prophecies to have their
consummation. For the Danes infested every port, and made descents on
all sides with great activity, so that it was not known where they
could be opposed. But Siric, the second archbishop after Dunstan,
advised that money should repel those whom the sword could not: thus
a payment of ten thousand pounds satisfied the avarice of the Danes.
This was an infamous precedent, and totally unworthy the character
of men, to redeem liberty, which no violence can ever extirpate from
a noble mind, by money. They now indeed abstained a short time from
their incursions; but as soon as their strength was recruited by rest,
they returned to their old practices. Such extreme fear had seized
the English, that there was no thought of resistance: if any indeed,
mindful of their ancient glory, made an attempt to oppose, or engage
them, they were unsuccessful, from the multitude of their enemies, and
the desertion of their allies. The leader of revolt was one Elfric,
whom the king had appointed to command the fleet: he, instead of
trying his fortune, as he ought, in a naval conflict, went over, on
the night preceding the battle, a base deserter to the enemy, whom he
had apprised, by messengers, what preparations to make; and though
the king, for this perfidious crime, ordered his son’s eyes to be
put out, yet he returned again, and again deserted. All Northumbria
being laid waste, the enemy was met in battle and worsted. London was
besieged, but honourably defended by its citizens. In consequence,
the besiegers, after suffering severely and despairing of taking the
city, retired; and devastating the whole province to the eastward,
compelled the king to pay a sum of money, amounting to sixteen
thousand pounds. Moreover, hostages being given, he caused their king
Anlaf to come to him, stood for him at the font, and soothing him with
royal munificence, bound him by an oath that he should never return
into England again. The evil however was not thus put to rest. For
they could never provide against their enemies from Denmark, springing
up afresh, like the heads of the hydra. The province in the west of
England, called Devonshire, was laid waste; the monasteries destroyed;
and the city of Exeter set on fire: Kent was given up to plunder; the
metropolitan city and seat of the patriarchs, burnt; the holy patriarch
himself, the most reverend Elphege, carried away and bound in chains:
and at last, when required to plunder his tenants in order to ransom
himself, and refusing to do so, he was stoned, struck with a hatchet,
and glorified heaven with his soul. After he was murdered, God exalted
him; insomuch, that when the Danes, who had been instrumental to his
death, saw that dead wood besmeared with his blood miraculously grew
green again in one night, they ran eagerly to kiss his remains, and
to bear them on their shoulders. Thus they abated their usual pride,
and suffered his sacred corpse to be carried to London. There it was
honorably buried; and when taken up, ten years afterwards, free from
every taint of corruption, it conferred honour on his cathedral at
Canterbury.[195] To the present moment both its blood remains fresh,
and its soundness unimpaired, and it is considered a miracle, that
a carcass should be divested of life, and yet not decay. That I may
not be tedious in mentioning severally all the provinces which the
Danes laid waste, let it be briefly understood, that out of thirty-two
counties, which are reckoned in England, they had already overrun
sixteen; the names of which I forbear to enumerate on account of
the harshness of the language. In the meantime, the king, admirably
calculated for sleeping, did nothing but postpone and hesitate, and if
ever he recovered his senses enough to raise himself upon his elbow,
he quickly relapsed into his original wretchedness, either from the
oppression of indolence, or the adverseness of fortune. His brother’s
ghost also, demanding dire expiation, tormented him. Who can tell
how often he collected his army? how often he ordered ships to be
built? how frequently he called out commanders from all quarters? and
yet nothing was ever effected. For the army, destitute of a leader
and ignorant of military discipline, either retreated before it
came into action, or else was easily overcome. The presence of the
leader is of much avail in battle; courage manifested by him avails
also; experience, and more especially, discipline avail much; and as
I have said, the want of these, in an army, must be an irreparable
injury to its countrymen, as well as a pitiable object of contempt
to an enemy. For soldiers are a kind of men, who, if not restrained
before the battle, are eager to plunder; and if not animated during
it, are prone to flight. When the ships, built for the defence of the
sea-coast, were lying at anchor, a tempest suddenly arising dashed
them together, and rendered them useless by the destruction of their
tackling: a few, fitted from the wrecks of the others, were, by the
attack of one Wulnod, whom the king had banished, either sunk, or
burnt, and consequently disappointed the expectations of all England.
The commanders, if ever they met to confer, immediately chose different
sides, and rarely or never united in one good plan; for they gave more
attention to private quarrels, than to public exigences: and, if in
the midst of pressing danger, they had resolved on any eligible secret
design, it was immediately communicated to the Danes by traitors. For
besides Elfric, the successor of Elfere who had murdered the late king,
there was one Edric, a man infamously skilled in such transactions,
whom the king had made governor of the Mercians. This fellow was the
refuse of mankind, the reproach of the English; an abandoned glutton,
a cunning miscreant; who had become opulent, not by nobility, but by
specious language and impudence. This artful dissembler, capable of
feigning anything, was accustomed, by pretended fidelity, to scent out
the king’s designs, that he might treacherously divulge them. Often,
when despatched to the enemy as the mediator of peace, he inflamed them
to battle. His perfidy was sufficiently conspicuous in this king’s
reign, but much more so in the next; of which I shall have occasion to
speak hereafter. Ulfkytel, earl of the East Angles, was the only person
who, at that time, resisted the invaders with any degree of spirit;
insomuch that although the enemy had nominally the victory, yet the
conquerors suffered much more than the conquered:[196] nor were the
barbarians ashamed to confess this truth, while they so frequently
bewailed that victory. The valour of the earl was more conspicuously
eminent, after the death of Ethelred, in that battle which mowed down
the whole flower of the province; where, when he was surrounded from
the rear, deeming it disgraceful to fly, he gave fresh confidence to
the king by his blood; but this happened some time after.[197] At this
juncture, that the measure of king Ethelred’s misery might be full, a
famine ravaged all England, and those whom war had spared perished from
want. The enemy over-ran the country with such freedom, that they would
carry off their booty to their ships through a space of fifty miles,
without fearing any resistance from the inhabitants. In the midst of
these pressing evils, the expedient of buying off hostilities by money
was again debated and adopted; for first twenty-four, and soon after,
thirty thousand pounds were given to the Danes: with what advantage,
succeeding times will show. To me, indeed, deeply reflecting upon the
subject, it seems wonderful, how a man, as we have been taught to
suppose, neither very foolish, nor excessively heartless, should pass
his life in the wretched endurance of so many calamities. Should any
one ask me the reason of this, I could not easily answer, except by
saying, that the revolt of the generals proceeded from the haughtiness
of the king. Their perfidy has been spoken of before: I now hasten to
instances of his violence, which was so intolerable, that he spared not
even his own relations. For, besides the English, whom he despoiled
of their hereditary possessions without any cause, or defrauded of
their property for supposititious crimes: besides the Danes, whom,
from light suspicion only, he ordered to be all butchered on the same
day throughout England; which was a dreadful spectacle to behold; each
one compelled to betray his dearest guests, now become dearer from the
tenderest connexions of affinity, and to cut short their embraces with
the sword: yet besides all this, I say, he was so inconstant towards
his wife, that he scarcely deigned her his bed, and degraded the royal
dignity by his intercourse with harlots. She too, a woman, conscious of
her high descent, became indignant at her husband, as she found herself
endeared to him neither by her blameless modesty nor her fruitfulness;
for she had borne him two children, Elfred and Edward. She was the
daughter of Richard, earl of Normandy, the son of William, who, after
his father, presided over that earldom for fifty-two years, and died
in the twenty-eighth year of this king. He lies at the monastery of
Fescamp, which he augmented with certain revenues, and which he adorned
with a monastic order, by means of William, formerly abbat of Dijon.
Richard was a distinguished character, and had also often harassed
Ethelred: which, when it became known at Rome, the holy see, not
enduring that two Christians should be at enmity, sent Leo, bishop of
Treves, into England, to restore peace: the epistle describing this
legation was as follows:--

[Sidenote: [A.D. 991.] EPISTLE OF POPE JOHN XV.]

“John the fifteenth, pope of the holy Roman church, to all faithful
people, health. Be it known to all the faithful of the holy mother
church, and our children spiritual and secular, dispersed through the
several climates of the world, that inasmuch as we had been informed
by many of the enmity between Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and
Richard the marquis, and were grieved sorely at this, on account of our
spiritual children; taking, therefore, wholesome counsel, we summoned
one of our legates, Leo, bishop of the holy church of Treves, and sent
him with our letters, admonishing them, that they should return from
their ungodliness. He, passing vast spaces, at length crossed the sea,
and, on the day of the Lord’s nativity, came into the presence of the
said king; whom, having saluted on our part, he delivered to him the
letters we had sent. And all the faithful people of his kingdom, and
senators of either order, being summoned, he granted, for love and
fear of God Almighty, and of St. Peter, the chief of the apostles, and
on account of our paternal admonition, the firmest peace for all his
sons and daughters, present and future, and all his faithful people,
without deceit. On which account he sent Edelsin, prelate of the holy
church of Sherborne, and Leofstan, son of Alfwold, and Edelnoth, son
of Wulstan, who passed the maritime boundaries, and came to Richard,
the said marquis. He, peaceably receiving our admonitions, and hearing
the determination of the said king, readily confirmed the peace for
his sons and daughters, present and future, and for all his faithful
people, with this reasonable condition, that if any of their subjects,
or they themselves, should commit any injustice against each other,
it should be duly redressed; and that peace should remain for ever
unshaken and confirmed by the oath of both parties: on the part of king
Ethelred, to wit, Edelsin, prelate of the holy church of Sherborne;
Leofstan, the son of Alfwold; Edelnoth, the son of Wulstan. On the part
of Richard, Roger, the bishop; Rodolph, son of Hugh; Truteno, the son
of Thurgis.

“Done at Rouen, on the kalends of March, in the year of our Lord 991,
the fourth of the indiction. Moreover, of the king’s subjects, or of
his enemies, let Richard receive none, nor the king of his, without
their respective seals.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1002.] ISIDORE--GERBERT.]

After the death of this John, Gregory succeeded; after whom came John
XVI.; then Silvester, also called Gerbert, about whom it will not be
absurd, in my opinion, if I commit to writing those facts which are
generally related about him.[198] Born in Gaul, from a lad he grew
up a monk at Flory; afterwards, when he arrived at the double path
of Pythagoras,[199] either disgusted at a monastic life or seized by
lust of glory, he fled by night into Spain, chiefly designing to learn
astrology and other sciences of that description from the Saracens.
Spain, formerly for many years possessed by the Romans, in the time
of the emperor Honorius, fell under the power of the Goths. The Goths
were Arians down to the days of St. Gregory, when that people were
united to the Catholic church by Leander bishop of Seville, and by king
Recared, brother of Hermengildus,[200] whom his father slew on Easter
night for professing the true faith. To Leander succeeded Isidore,[201]
celebrated for learning and sanctity, whose body purchased, for its
weight in gold, Aldefonsus king of Gallicia in our times conveyed to
Toledo. The Saracens, who had subjugated the Goths, being conquered
in their turn by Charles the Great, lost Gallicia and Lusitania, the
largest provinces of Spain; but to this day they possess the southern
parts. As the Christians esteem Toledo, so do they hold Hispalis,
which in common they call Seville, to be the capital of the kingdom;
there practising divinations and incantations, after the usual mode
of that nation. Gerbert then, as I have related, coming among these
people, satisfied his desires. There he surpassed Ptolemy with the
astrolabe,[202] and Alcandræus in astronomy, and Julius Firmicus in
judicial astrology; there he learned what the singing and the flight
of birds portended; there he acquired the art of calling up spirits
from hell: in short, whatever, hurtful or salutary, human curiosity
has discovered. There is no necessity to speak of his progress in the
lawful sciences of arithmetic and astronomy, music and geometry, which
he imbibed so thoroughly as to show they were beneath his talents,
and which, with great perseverance, he revived in Gaul, where they
had for a long time been wholly obsolete. Being certainly the first
who seized on the abacus[203] from the Saracens, he gave rules which
are scarcely understood even by laborious computers. He resided with
a certain philosopher of that sect, whose good will he had obtained,
first by great liberality, and then by promises. The Saracen had no
objection to sell his knowledge; he frequently associated with him;
would talk with him of matters at times serious, at others trivial, and
lend him books to transcribe. There was however one volume, containing
the knowledge of his whole art, which he could never by any means
entice him to lend. In consequence Gerbert was inflamed with anxious
desire to obtain this book at any rate, “for we ever press more eagerly
towards what is forbidden, and that which is denied is always esteemed
most valuable.”[204] Trying, therefore, the effect of entreaty, he
besought him for the love of God, and by his friendship; offered
him many things, and promised him more. When this failed he tried a
nocturnal stratagem. He plied him with wine, and, with the help of
his daughter, who connived at the attempt through the intimacy which
Gerbert’s attentions had procured, stole the book from under his pillow
and fled. Waking suddenly, the Saracen pursued the fugitive by the
direction of the stars, in which art he was well versed. The fugitive
too, looking back, and discovering his danger by means of the same art,
hid himself under a wooden bridge which was near at hand; clinging
to it, and hanging in such a manner as neither to touch earth nor
water.[205] In this manner the eagerness of the pursuer being eluded,
he returned home. Gerbert, then quickening his pace, arrived at the
sea-coast. Here, by his incantations, he called up the devil, and made
an agreement with him to be under his dominion for ever, if he would
defend him from the Saracen, who was again pursuing, and transport him
to the opposite coast: this was accordingly done.

Probably some may regard all this as a fiction, because the vulgar are
used to undermine the fame of scholars, saying that the man who excels
in any admirable science, holds converse with the devil. Of this,
Boethius, in his book, On the Consolation of Philosophy, complains;
and affirms, that he had the discredit of such practices on account
of his ardent love of literature, as if he had polluted his knowledge
by detestable arts for the sake of ambition. “It was hardly likely,”
says he, “that I, whom you dress up with such excellence as almost to
make me like God, should catch at the protection of the vilest spirits;
but it is in this point that we approach nearest to a connection with
them, in that we are instructed in your learning, and educated in your
customs.” So far Boethius. The singular choice of his death confirms
me in the belief of his league with the devil; else, when dying, as we
shall relate hereafter, why should he, gladiator-like, maim his own
person, unless conscious of some unusual crime? Accordingly, in an old
volume, which accidentally fell into my hands, wherein the names and
years of all the popes are entered, I found written to the following
purport, “Silvester, who was also called Gerbert, ten months; this man
made a shameful end.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1002.] ROBERT, KING OF FRANCE.]

Gerbert, returning into Gaul, became a public professor in the schools,
and had as brother philosophers and companions of his studies,
Constantine, abbat of the monastery of St. Maximin, near Orleans, to
whom he addressed the Rules of the Abacus;[206] and Ethelbald bishop,
as they say, of Winteburg, who himself gave proof of ability, in a
letter which he wrote to Gerbert, on a question concerning the diameter
in Macrobius,[207] and in some other points. He had as pupils, of
exquisite talents and noble origin, Robert, son of Hugh surnamed Capet;
and Otho, son of the emperor Otho. Robert, afterwards king of France,
made a suitable return to his master, and appointed him archbishop of
Rheims. In that church are still extant, as proofs of his science, a
clock constructed on mechanical principles: and an hydraulic organ, in
which the air escaping in a surprising manner, by the force of heated
water, fills the cavity of the instrument, and the brazen pipes emit
modulated tones through the multifarious apertures. The king himself,
too, was well skilled in sacred music, and in this and many other
respects, a liberal benefactor to the church: moreover, he composed
that beautiful sequence, “The grace of the Holy Spirit be with us;”
and the response, “He hath joined together Judah and Jerusalem;”
together with more, which I should have pleasure in relating, were
it not irksome to others to hear. Otho, emperor of Italy after his
father, made Gerbert archbishop of Ravenna, and finally Roman pontiff.
He followed up his fortune so successfully by the assistance of the
devil, that he left nothing unexecuted which he had once conceived.
The treasures formerly buried by the inhabitants, he discovered by the
art of necromancy, and removing the rubbish, applied to his own lusts.
Thus viciously disposed are the wicked towards God, and thus they abuse
his patience, though he had rather that they repent than perish. At
last, he found where his master would stop, and as the proverb says,
“in the same manner as one crow picks out another crow’s eyes,” while
endeavouring to oppose his attempts with art like his own.

There was a statue in the Campus Martius near Rome, I know not whether
of brass or iron, having the forefinger of the right hand extended,
and on the head was written, “Strike here.” The men of former times
supposing this should be understood as if they might find a treasure
there, had battered the harmless statue, by repeated strokes of a
hatchet. But Gerbert convicted them of error by solving the problem
in a very different manner. Marking where the shadow of the finger
fell at noon-day, when the sun was on the meridian, he there placed
a post; and at night proceeded thither, attended only by a servant
carrying a lanthorn. The earth opening by means of his accustomed arts,
displayed to them a spacious entrance. They see before them a vast
palace with golden walls, golden roofs, every thing of gold; golden
soldiers amusing themselves, as it were, with golden dice; a king of
the same metal, at table with his queen; delicacies set before them,
and servants waiting; vessels of great weight and value, where the
sculpture surpassed nature herself. In the inmost part of the mansion,
a carbuncle of the first quality, though small in appearance, dispelled
the darkness of night. In the opposite corner stood a boy, holding a
bow bent, and the arrow drawn to the head. While the exquisite art of
every thing ravished the eyes of the spectators, there was nothing
which might be handled though it might be seen: for immediately,
if any one stretched forth his hand to touch any thing, all these
figures appeared to rush forward and repel such presumption. Alarmed
at this, Gerbert repressed his inclination: but not so the servant.
He endeavoured to snatch off from a table, a knife of admirable
workmanship; supposing that in a booty of such magnitude, so small
a theft could hardly be discovered. In an instant, the figures all
starting up with loud clamour, the boy let fly his arrow at the
carbuncle, and in a moment all was in darkness; and if the servant had
not, by the advice of his master, made the utmost despatch in throwing
back the knife, they would have both suffered severely. In this
manner, their boundless avarice unsatiated, they departed, the lantern
directing their steps. That he performed such things by unlawful
devices is the generally received opinion. Yet, however, if any one
diligently investigate the truth, he will see that even Solomon, to
whom God himself had given wisdom, was not ignorant of these arts: for,
as Josephus relates,[208] he, in conjunction with his father, buried
vast treasures in coffers, which were hidden, as he says, in a kind of
necromantic manner, under ground: neither was Hyrcanus, celebrated for
his skill in prophecy and his valour; who, to ward off the distress of
a siege, dug up, by the same art, three thousand talents of gold from
the sepulchre of David, and gave part of them to the besiegers; with
the remainder building an hospital for the reception of strangers.
But Herod, who would make an attempt of the same kind, with more
presumption than knowledge, lost in consequence many of his attendants,
by an eruption of internal fire. Besides, when I hear the Lord Jesus
saying, “My father worketh hitherto, and I work;” I believe, that
He, who gave to Solomon power over demons to such a degree, as the
same historian declares, that he relates there were men, even in his
time, who could eject them from persons possessed, by applying to the
nostrils of the patient a ring having the impression pointed out by
Solomon: I believe, I say, that he could give, also, the same science
to this man: but I do not affirm that he did give it.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1002.] POPE SILVESTER.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1002.] THE AQUITANIAN MONK.]

But leaving these matters to my readers, I shall relate what I
recollect having heard, when I was a boy, from a certain monk of our
house, a native of Aquitaine, a man in years, and a physician by
profession. “When I was seven years old,” said he, “despising the mean
circumstances of my father, a poor citizen of Barcelona, I surmounted
the snowy Alps, and went into Italy. There, as was to be expected in
a boy of that age, having to seek my daily bread in great distress, I
paid more attention to the food of my mind than of my body. As I grew
up I eagerly viewed many of the wonders of that country and impressed
them on my memory. Among others I saw a perforated mountain, beyond
which the inhabitants supposed the treasures of Octavian were hidden.
Many persons were reported to have entered into these caverns for the
purpose of exploring them, and to have there perished, being bewildered
by the intricacy of the ways. But, as hardly any apprehension can
restrain avaricious minds from their intent, I, with my companions,
about twelve in number, meditated an expedition of this nature, either
for the sake of plunder, or through curiosity. Imitating therefore
the ingenuity of Dædalus, who brought Theseus out of the labyrinth by
a conducting clue, we, also carrying a large ball of thread, fixed a
small post at the entrance. Tying the end of the thread to it, and
lighting lanterns, lest darkness, as well as intricacy, should obstruct
us, we unrolled the clue; and fixing a post at every mile, we proceeded
on our journey along the caverns of the mountain, in the best manner
we were able. Every thing was dark, and full of horrors; the bats,
flitting from holes, assailed our eyes and faces: the path was narrow,
and made dreadful on the left-hand by a precipice, with a river flowing
beneath it. We saw the way strewed with bare bones: we wept over the
carcasses of men yet in a state of putrefaction, who, induced by hopes
similar to our own, had in vain attempted, after their entrance, to
return. After some time, however, and many alarms, arriving at the
farther outlet, we beheld a lake of softly murmuring waters, where the
wave came gently rolling to the shores. A bridge of brass united the
opposite banks. Beyond the bridge were seen golden horses of great
size, mounted by golden riders, and all those other things which are
related of Gerbert. The mid-day beams of Phœbus darting upon them,
with redoubled splendour, dazzled the eyes of the beholders. Seeing
these things at a distance, we should have been delighted with a nearer
view, meaning, if fate would permit, to carry off some portion of
the precious metal. Animating each other in turn, we prepared to pass
over the lake. All our efforts, however, were vain: for as soon as one
of the company, more forward than the rest, had put his foot on the
hither edge of the bridge, immediately, wonderful to hear, it became
depressed, and the farther edge was elevated, bringing forward a rustic
of brass with a brazen club, with which, dashing the waters, he so
clouded the air, as completely to obscure both the day and the heavens.
The moment the foot was withdrawn, peace was restored. The same was
tried by many of us, with exactly the same result. Despairing, then,
of getting over, we stood there some little time; and, as long as we
could, at least glutted our eyes with the gold. Soon after returning
by the guidance of the thread, we found a silver dish, which being cut
in pieces and distributed in morsels only irritated the thirst of our
avidity without allaying it. Consulting together the next day, we went
to a professor, of that time, who was said to know the unutterable name
of God. When questioned, he did not deny his knowledge, adding, that,
so great was the power of that name, that no magic, no witchcraft could
resist it. Hiring him at a great price, fasting and confessed, he led
us, prepared in the same manner, to a fountain. Taking up some water
from it in a silver vessel, he silently traced the letters with his
fingers, until we understood by our eyes, what was unutterable with
our tongues. We then went confidently to the mountain, but we found
the farther outlet beset, as I believe, with devils, hating, forsooth,
the name of God because it was able to destroy their inventions. In
the morning a Jew-necromancer came to me, excited by the report of
our attempt; and, having inquired into the matter, when he heard of
our want of enterprise, “You shall see,” said he, venting his spleen
with loud laughter, “how far the power of my art can prevail.” And
immediately entering the mountain, he soon after came out again,
bringing, as a proof of his having passed the lake, many things which
I had noted beyond it: indeed some of that most precious dust, which
turned every thing that it touched into gold: not that it was really
so, but only retained this appearance until washed with water; for
nothing effected by necromancy can, when put into water, deceive the
sight of the beholders. The truth of my assertion is confirmed by a
circumstance which happened about the same time.

“There were in a public street leading to Rome, two old women, the
most drunken and filthy beings that can be conceived; both living in
the same hut, and both practising witchcraft. If any lone stranger
happened to come in their way, they used to make him appear either a
horse, or a sow, or some other animal; expose him for sale to dealers,
and gluttonize with the money. By chance, on a certain night, taking
in a lad to lodge who got his livelihood by stage-dancing, they turned
him into an ass: and so possessed a creature extremely advantageous
to their interests, who caught the eyes of such as passed by the
strangeness of his postures. In whatever mode the old woman commanded,
the ass began to dance, for he retained his understanding, though he
had lost the power of speech. In this manner the women had accumulated
much money; for there was, daily, a large concourse of people, from all
parts, to see the tricks of the ass. The report of this induced a rich
neighbour to purchase the quadruped for a considerable sum; and he was
warned, that, if he would have him as a constant dancer, he must keep
him from water. The person who had charge of him rigidly fulfilled his
orders. A long time elapsed; the ass sometimes gratified his master by
his reeling motions, and sometimes entertained his friends with his
tricks. But, however, as in time all things surfeit, he began at length
to be less cautiously observed. In consequence of this negligence,
breaking his halter, he got loose, plunged into a pool hard by, and
rolling for a long time in the water, recovered his human form. The
keeper, inquiring of all he met, and pursuing him by the track of his
feet, asked him if he had seen an ass; he replied that himself had
been an ass, but was now a man: and related the whole transaction.
The servant astonished told it to his master, and the master to pope
Leo, the holiest man in our times. The old women were convicted, and
confessed the fact. The pope doubting this, was assured by Peter
Damian, a learned man, that it was not wonderful that such things
should be done: he produced the example of Simon Magus,[209] who caused
Faustinianus to assume the figure of Simon, and to become an object of
terror to his sons, and thus rendered his holiness better skilled in
such matters for the future.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1050.] DEATH OF SILVESTER.]

I have inserted this narrative of the Aquitanian to the intent that
what is reported of Gerbert should not seem wonderful to any person;
which is, that he cast, for his own purposes, the head of a statue,
by a certain inspection of the stars when all the planets were about
to begin their courses, which spake not unless spoken to, but then
pronounced the truth, either in the affirmative or negative. For
instance, when Gerbert would say, “Shall I be pope?” the statue would
reply, “Yes.” “Am I to die, ere I sing mass at Jerusalem?” “No.”
They relate, that he was so much deceived by this ambiguity, that he
thought nothing of repentance: for when would he think of going to
Jerusalem, to accelerate his own death? Nor did he foresee that at Rome
there is a church called Jerusalem, that is, “the vision of peace,”
because whoever flies thither finds safety, whatsoever crime he may
be guilty of. We have heard, that this was called an asylum in the
very infancy of the city, because Romulus, to increase the number of
his subjects, had appointed it to be a refuge for the guilty of every
description. The pope sings mass there on three Sundays, which are
called “The station at Jerusalem.” Wherefore upon one of those days
Gerbert, preparing himself for mass, was suddenly struck with sickness;
which increased so that he took to his bed: and consulting his statue,
he became convinced of his delusion and of his approaching death.
Calling, therefore, the cardinals together, he lamented his crimes for
a long space of time. They, being struck with sudden fear were unable
to make any reply, whereupon he began to rave, and losing his reason
through excess of pain, commanded himself to be maimed, and cast forth
piecemeal, saying, “Let him have the service of my limbs, who before
sought their homage; for my mind never consented to that abominable

And since I have wandered from my subject, I think it may not be
unpleasant to relate what took place in Saxony in the time of this
king, in the year of our Lord 1012, and is not so generally known.
It is better to dilate on such matters than to dwell on Ethelred’s
indolence and calamities: and it will be more pleasing certainly, and
nearer the truth, if I subjoin it in the original language of the
person who was a sufferer, than if I had clothed it in my own words.
Besides, I think it ornamental to a work, that the style should be
occasionally varied.

“I Ethelbert,[210] a sinner, even were I desirous of concealing the
divine judgment which overtook me, yet the tremor of my limbs would
betray me; wherefore I shall relate circumstantially how this happened,
that all may know the heavy punishment due to disobedience. We were, on
the eve of our Lord’s nativity, in a certain town of Saxony, in which
was the church of Magnus the martyr, and a priest named Robert had
begun the first mass. I was in the churchyard with eighteen companions,
fifteen men and three women, dancing, and singing profane songs to such
a degree that I interrupted the priest, and our voices resounded amid
the sacred solemnity of the mass. Wherefore, having commanded us to be
silent, and not being attended to, he cursed us in the following words,
‘May it please God and St. Magnus, that you may remain singing in that
manner for a whole year.’ His words had their effect. The son of John
the priest seized his sister who was singing with us, by the arm, and
immediately tore it from her body; but not a drop of blood flowed out.
She also remained a whole year with us, dancing and singing. The rain
fell not upon us; nor did cold, nor heat, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor
fatigue assail us: we neither wore our clothes nor shoes, but we kept
on singing as though we had been insane. First we sank into the ground
up to our knees: next to our thighs; a covering was at length, by the
permission of God, built over us to keep off the rain. When a year had
elapsed, Herbert, bishop of the city of Cologne, released us from the
tie wherewith our hands were bound, and reconciled us before the altar
of St. Magnus. The daughter of the priest, with the other two women,
died immediately; the rest of us slept three whole days and nights:
some died afterwards, and are famed for miracles: the remainder betray
their punishment by the trembling of their limbs. This narrative was
given to us by the lord Peregrine, the successor of Herbert, in the
year of our Lord 1013.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1002.] THE ARCHBISHOP OF COLOGNE.]

In that city, which formerly was called Agrippina, from Agrippa the
son-in-law of Augustus, but afterwards named Colonia by the emperor
Trajan, because being there created emperor he founded in it a colony
of Roman citizens; in this city, I repeat, there was a certain bishop,
famed for piety, though to a degree hideous in his person; of whom I
shall relate one miracle, which he predicted when dying, after having
first recorded what a singular chance elevated him to such an eminent
station. The emperor of that country going to hunt on Quinquagesima
Sunday, came alone, for his companions were dispersed, to the edge
of a wood, where this rural priest, deformed and almost a monster,
had a church. The emperor, feigning himself a soldier, humbly begs a
mass, which the priest immediately begins. The other in the meantime
was revolving in his mind why God, from whom all beautiful things
proceed, should suffer so deformed a man to administer his sacraments.
Presently, when that verse in the tract occurred, “Know ye that the
Lord himself is God,” the priest looked behind him, to chide the
inattention of an assistant, and said with a louder voice, as if in
reply to the emperor’s thoughts, “He made us; and not we ourselves.”
Struck with this expression, the emperor esteeming him a prophet,
exalted him, though unwilling and reluctant, to the archbishopric of
Cologne, which, when he had once assumed, he dignified by his exemplary
conduct; kindly encouraging those who did well, and branding with the
stigma of excommunication such as did otherwise, without respect of
persons. The inhabitants of that place proclaim a multitude of his
impartial acts; one of which the reader will peruse in that abbreviated
form which my work requires. In a monastery of nuns in that city, there
was a certain virgin who had there grown up, more by the kindness of
her parents than through any innate wish for a holy life: this girl,
by the attraction of her beauty and her affable language to all,
allured many lovers; but while others, through fear of God or the
censure of the world, restrained their desires, there was one who,
excited to wantonness by the extent of his wealth and the nobility
of his descent, broke through the bounds of law and of justice, and
despoiled her of her virginity; and carrying her off kept her as his
lawful wife. Much time elapsed while the abbess entreated, and his
friends admonished him not to persevere in so dreadful a crime. Turning
a deaf ear, however, to his advisers, he continued as immoveable as
a rock. By chance at this time the prelate was absent, occupied in
business at Rome; but on his return the circumstance was related to
him. He commands the sheep to be returned to the fold directly; and
after much altercation the woman was restored to the monastery. Not
long after, watching an opportunity when the bishop was absent, she
was again carried away. Excommunication was then denounced against the
delinquent, so that no person could speak to, or associate with him.
This, however, he held in contempt, and retired to one of his estates
afar off, not to put the command in force, but to elude its power:
and there, a turbulent and powerful man, he lived in company with his
excommunicated paramour. But when it pleased God to take the bishop
to himself, and he was lying in extreme bodily pain upon his bed,
the neighbours flocked around him that they might partake the final
benediction of this holy man. The offender alone not daring to appear,
prevailed on some persons to speak for him. The moment the bishop
heard his name he groaned, and then, I add his very words, spoke to
the following effect, “If that wretched man shall desert that accursed
woman, he shall be absolved; but if he persist, let him be ready to
give account before God, the following year, at the very day and hour
on which I shall depart: moreover, you will see me expire when the
bell shall proclaim the sixth hour.” Nor were his words vain; for he
departed at the time which he had predicted; and the other, together
with his mistress, at the expiration of the year, on the same day, and
at the same hour, was killed by a stroke of lightning.

But king Ethelred, after the martyrdom of Elphege, as we have related,
gave his see to a bishop named Living.[211] Moreover, Turkill, the
Dane, who had been the chief cause of the archbishop’s murder, had
settled in England, and held the East Angles in subjection. For the
other Danes, exacting from the English a tribute of eight thousand
pounds, had distributed themselves, as best suited their convenience,
in the towns, or in the country; and fifteen of their ships, with the
crews, had entered into the king’s service. In the meantime Thurkill
sent messengers to Sweyn, king of Denmark, inviting him to come to
England; telling him that the land was rich and fertile, but the king
a driveller; and that, wholly given up to wine and women, his last
thoughts were those of war: that in consequence he was hateful to his
own people and contemptible to foreigners: that the commanders were
jealous of each other, the people weak, and that they would fly the
field, the moment the onset was sounded.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1013.] MASSACRE OF THE DANES.]

Sweyn[212] was naturally cruel, nor did he require much persuasion;
preparing his ships, therefore, he hastened his voyage. Sandwich was
the port he made, principally designing to avenge his sister Gunhilda.
This woman, who possessed considerable beauty, had come over to England
with her husband Palling, a powerful nobleman, and by embracing
Christianity, had made herself a pledge of the Danish peace. In his
ill-fated fury, Edric had commanded her, though proclaiming that the
shedding her blood would bring great evil on the whole kingdom, to be
beheaded with the other Danes. She bore her death with fortitude; and
she neither turned pale at the moment, nor, when dead, and her blood
exhausted, did she lose her beauty; her husband was murdered before
her face, and her son, a youth of amiable disposition, was transfixed
with four spears. Sweyn then proceeding through East Anglia against
the Northumbrians, received their submission without resistance: not
indeed, that the native ardour of their minds, which brooked no master,
had grown cool, but because Utred, their prince, was the first to give
example of desertion. On their submission all the other people who
inhabit England on the north, gave him tribute and hostages. Coming
southward, he compelled those of Oxford and Winchester, to obey his
commands; the Londoners alone, protecting their lawful sovereign
within their walls, shut their gates against him. The Danes, on the
other hand, assailing with greater ferocity, nurtured their fortitude
with the hope of fame; the townsmen were ready to rush on death for
freedom, thinking they ought never to be forgiven, should they desert
their king, who had committed his life to their charge. While the
conflict was raging fiercely on either side, victory befriended the
juster cause; for the citizens made wonderful exertions, every one
esteeming it glorious to show his unwearied alacrity to his prince,
or even to die for him. Part of the enemy were destroyed, and part
drowned in the river Thames, because in their headlong fury, they had
not sought a bridge. With his shattered army Sweyn retreated to Bath,
where Ethelmer, governor of the western district, with his followers,
submitted to him. And, although all England was already bending to
his dominion, yet not even now would the Londoners have yielded, had
not Ethelred withdrawn his presence from among them. For being a man
given up to indolence, and, through consciousness of his own misdeeds,
supposing none could be faithful to him, and at the same time wishing
to escape the difficulties of a battle and a siege, he by his departure
left them to their own exertions. However, they applied the best remedy
they could to their exigencies, and surrendered after the example of
their countrymen. They were men laudable in the extreme, and such as
Mars himself would not have disdained to encounter, had they possessed
a competent leader. Even while they were supported by the mere shadow
of one, they risked every chance of battle, nay even a siege of several
months’ continuance. He in the meantime giving fresh instance of his
constitutional indolence, fled from the city, and by secret journeys
came to Southampton, whence he passed over to the Isle of Wight. Here
he addressed those abbats and bishops who, even in such difficulties,
could not bring themselves to desert their master, to the following
effect: “That they must perceive in what dreadful state his affairs,
and those of his family were; that he was banished from his paternal
throne by the treachery of his generals, and that he, in whose hands
their safety was formerly vested, now required the assistance of
others; that though lately a monarch and a potentate, he was now
an outcast and a fugitive; a melancholy change for him, because it
certainly is more tolerable never to have had power, than to have lost
it when possessed; and more especially disgraceful to the English, as
this instance of deserting their prince would be noised throughout the
world; that through mere regard to him they had exposed their houses
and property to plunderers, and, unprovided, taken to a voluntary
flight; food was matter of difficulty to all; many had not even
clothing; he commended their fidelity indeed, but still could find no
security from it; the country was now so completely subdued, the coast
so narrowly watched, that there was no escape unattended with danger:
that they should, therefore, confer together, what was to be done:
were they to remain, greater peril was to be apprehended from their
countrymen, than from their enemies, for perhaps they might purchase
the favour of their new master by joining to distress them; and
certainly to be killed by an enemy was to be ascribed to fortune, to be
betrayed by a fellow citizen was to be attributed to want of exertion;
were they to fly to distant nations, it would be with the loss of
honour; if to those who knew them, the dread would be, lest their
dispositions should take a tinge from their reverse of fortune; for
many great and illustrious men had been killed on similar occasions;
but, however, he must make the experiment, and sound the inclinations
of Richard, duke of Normandy, who, if he should kindly receive his
sister and nephews, might probably not unwillingly afford him his
protection. His favour shown to my wife and children,” continued he,
“will be the pledge of my own security. Should he oppose me, I am
confident, nay fully confident, I shall not want spirit to die here
with honour, in preference to living there with ignominy. Wherefore
this very month of August, while milder gales are soothing the ocean,
let Emma make a voyage to her brother, and take our children, our
common pledges, to be deposited with him. Let their companions be the
bishop of Durham and the abbat of Peterborough; I myself will remain
here till Christmas, and should he send back a favourable answer, I
will follow directly.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1013.] ETHELRED’S CONFERENCE.]

On the breaking up of the conference, all obeyed; they set sail for
Normandy, while he remained anxiously expecting a favourable report.
Shortly after he learned from abroad, that Richard had received his
sister with great affection, and that he invited the king also to
condescend to become his inmate. Ethelred, therefore, going into
Normandy, in the month of January, felt his distresses soothed by
the attentions of his host. This Richard was son of Richard the
first, and equalled his father in good fortune and good qualities;
though he certainly surpassed him in heavenly concerns. He completed
the monastery at Feschamp, which his father had begun. He was more
intent on prayer and temperance, than you would require in any monk,
or hermit. He was humble to excess, in order that he might subdue by
his patience, the petulance of those who attacked him. Moreover it
is reported, that at night, secretly escaping the observation of his
servants, he was accustomed to go unattended to the matins[213] of
the monks, and to continue in prayer till day-light. Intent on this
practice, one night in particular, at Feschamp, he was earlier than
customary, and finding the door shut, he forced it open with unusual
violence, and disturbed the sleep of the sacristan. He, astonished at
the noise of a person knocking in the dead of night, got up, that he
might see the author of so bold a deed; and finding only a countryman
in appearance, clothed in rustic garb, he could not refrain from laying
hands on him; and, moved with vehement indignation, he caught hold of
his hair, and gave this illustrious man a number of severe blows, which
he bore with incredible patience, and without uttering a syllable.
The next day, Richard laid his complaint before the chapter,[214] and
with counterfeited anger, summoned the monk to meet him at the town of
Argens, threatening that, “he would take such vengeance for the injury,
so that all France should talk of it.” On the day appointed, while the
monk stood by, almost dead with fear, he detailed the matter to the
nobility, largely exaggerating the enormity of the transaction, and
keeping the culprit in suspense, by crafty objections to what he urged
in mitigation. Finally, after he had been mercifully judged by the
nobility, he pardoned him; and to make his forgiveness more acceptable,
he annexed all that town, with its appurtenances, reported to be
abundant in the best wine, to the office of this sacristan: saying,
“That he was an admirable monk, who properly observed his appointed
charge, and did not break silence, though roused with anger.” In the
twenty-eighth year of his dukedom, he died, having ordered his body to
be buried at the door of the church, where it would be subjected to the
feet of such as passed by, and to the spouts of water which streamed
from above. In our time, however, William, third abbat of that place,
regarding this as disgraceful, removed the long-continued reproach, and
taking up the body, placed it before the high altar. He had a brother,
Robert, whom he made archbishop of Rouen, though by this he tarnished
his reputation. For he, cruelly abusing this honour, at first,
committed many crimes and many atrocious acts; but growing in years,
he certainly wiped off some of them by his very liberal almsgiving.
After Richard, his son of the same name obtained the principality, but
lived scarcely a year. A vague opinion indeed has prevailed, that, by
the connivance of his brother Robert, whom Richard the second begat on
Judith, daughter of Conan, earl of Brittany, a certain woman, skilled
in poisons, took the young man off. In atonement for his privity to
this transaction he departed for Jerusalem, after the seventh year of
his earldom; venturing on an undertaking very meritorious at that time,
by commencing, with few followers, a journey, exposed to incursions of
barbarians, and strange, by reason of the customs of the Saracens. He
persevered nevertheless, and did not stop, but safely completed the
whole distance, and purchasing admission at a high price, with bare
feet, and full of tears, he worshipped at that glory of the Christians,
the sepulchre of our Lord. Conciliating the favour of God, as we
believe, by this labour, on his return homewards he ended his days at
Nice, a city of Bithynia; cut off, as it is said, by poison. This was
administered by his servant Ralph, surnamed Mowin, who had wrought
himself up to the commission of this crime, from a hope of obtaining
the dukedom. But on his return to Normandy, the matter becoming known
to all, he was detested as a monster, and retired to perpetual exile.
To Robert succeeded William, his son, then a child, of whom as I shall
have to speak hereafter, I shall now return to my narrative.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1013.] THE DUKES OF NORMANDY.]

In the meantime Sweyn, as I have before related, oppressed England
with rapine and with slaughter: the inhabitants were first plundered
of their property, and then proscribed. In every city it was matter of
doubt what should be done: if revolt was determined on, they had none
to take the lead; if submission was made choice of, they would have
a harsh ruler to deal with. Thus their public and private property,
together with their hostages, was carried to the fleet; as he was not
a lawful sovereign, but a most cruel tyrant. The Deity, however, was
too kind to permit England to fluctuate long in such keen distress, for
the invader died shortly after, on the purification of St. Mary,[215]
though it is uncertain by what death. It is reported, that while
devastating the possessions of St. Edmund,[216] king and martyr, he
appeared to him in a vision, and gently addressed him on the misery of
his people; that on Sweyn’s replying insolently, he struck him on the
head; and that, in consequence of the blow, he died, as has been said,
immediately after. The Danes then elected Canute, the son of Sweyn,
king; while the Angles, declaring that their natural sovereign was
dearer to them, if he could conduct himself more royally than he had
hitherto done, sent for king Ethelred out of Normandy. He despatched
Edward, his son, first, to sound the fidelity of the higher orders
and the inclination of the people, on the spot; who, when he saw the
wishes of all tending in his favour, went back in full confidence for
his father. The king returned, and, being flattered by the joyful
plaudits of the Angles, that he might appear to have shaken off his
constitutional indolence, he hastened to collect an army against
Canute, who was at that time in Lindsey, where his father had left him
with the ships and hostages, and was levying fresh troops and horses,
that, mustering a sufficient force, he might make a vigorous attack
upon his enemies unprepared: vowing most severe vengeance, as he used
to say, on the deserters. But, circumvented by a contrivance similar
to his own, he retreated. Escaping at that time with much difficulty,
and putting to sea with his remaining forces, he coasted the British
ocean from east to south, and landed at Sandwich. Here, setting all
divine and human laws at defiance, he mutilated his hostages, who were
young men of great nobility and elegance, by depriving them of their
ears, and nostrils, and some even of their manhood. Thus tyrannizing
over the innocent, and boasting of the feat, he returned to his own
country. In the same year the sea-flood, which the Greeks call Euripus,
and we Ledo,[217] rose to so wonderful a height, that none like it was
recollected in the memory of man, for it overflowed the villages, and
destroyed their inhabitants, for many miles.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1015.] COUNCIL AT OXFORD.]

The year following a grand council of Danes and English, was assembled
at Oxford, where the king commanded two of the noblest Danes,
Sigeferth, and Morcar, accused of treachery to him by the impeachment
of the traitor Edric, to be put to death. He had lured them, by his
soothing expressions, into a chamber, and deprived them, when drunk
to excess, of their lives, by his attendants who had been prepared
for that purpose. The cause of their murder was said to be, his
unjustifiable desire for their property. Their dependants, attempting
to revenge the death of their lords by arms, were worsted, and driven
into the tower of St. Frideswide’s church at Oxford, where, as they
could not be dislodged, they were consumed by fire: however, shortly
after, the foul stain was wiped out by the king’s penitence, and the
sacred place repaired. I have read the history of this transaction,
which is deposited in the archives of that church. The wife of
Sigeferth, a woman remarkable for her rank and beauty, was carried
prisoner to Malmesbury; on which account, Edmund, the king’s son,
dissembling his intention, took a journey into those parts. Seeing her,
he became enamoured; and becoming enamoured, he made her his wife;
cautiously keeping their union secret from his father, who was as
much an object of contempt to his family as to strangers. This Edmund
was not born of Emma, but of some other person, whom fame has left in
obscurity. With that exception, he was a young man in every respect of
noble disposition; of great strength both of mind and person, and, on
this account, by the English, called “Ironside:” he would have shrouded
the indolence of his father, and the meanness of his mother, by his own
conspicuous virtue, could the fates have spared him. Soon after, at
the instigation of his wife, he asked of his father the possessions
of Sigeferth, which were of large extent among the Northumbrians, but
could not obtain them; by his own exertions, however, he procured them
at last, the inhabitants of that province willingly submitting to his

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1016.] DEATH OF ETHELRED.]

The same summer Canute, having settled his affairs in Denmark, and
entered into alliance with the neighbouring kings, came to England,
determined to subdue it or perish in the attempt. Proceeding from
Sandwich into Kent, and thence into West Saxony, he laid every thing
waste with fire and slaughter, while the king was lying sick at
Cosham.[218] Edmund indeed attempted to oppose him, but being thwarted
by Edric, he placed his forces in a secure situation. Edric, however,
thinking it unnecessary longer to dissemble, but that he might, now,
openly throw off the mask, revolted to Canute with forty ships, and
all West Saxony following his example, delivered hostages, and gave up
their arms. Yet the Mercians repeatedly assembling stood forward to
resist: and if the king would but come, and command whither they were
to march, and bring with him the leading men of London, they were ready
to shed their blood for their country. But he, accustomed to commit
his safety to fortifications, and not to attack the enemy, remained
in London; never venturing out, for fear, as he said, of traitors.
On the contrary, Canute was gaining towns and villages over to his
party; and was never unemployed; for he held consultations by night,
and fought battles by day. Edmund, after long deliberation, esteeming
it best, in such an emergency, to recover, if possible, the revolted
cities by arms, brought over Utred, an earl, on the other side of the
Humber, to the same sentiments. They imagined too, that such cities
as were yet doubtful which side to take, would determine at once, if
they would only inflict signal vengeance on those which had revolted.
But Canute, possessed of equal penetration, circumvented them by a
similar contrivance. Giving over the West Saxons and that part of
Mercia which he had subjugated, to the custody of his generals, he
proceeded himself against the Northumbrians; and, by depopulating the
country, compelled Utred to retire, to defend his own possessions; and
notwithstanding he surrendered himself, yet with inhuman levity he
ordered him to be put to death. His earldom was given to Eric, whom
Canute afterwards expelled England, because he pretended to equal power
with himself. Thus all being subdued, he ceased not pursuing Edmund,
who was gradually retreating, till he heard that he was at London with
his father. Canute then remained quiet till after Easter, that he might
attack the city with all his forces. But the death of Ethelred preceded
the attempt: for in the beginning of Lent, on St. Gregory’s day,[219]
he breathed out a life destined only to labours and misery: he lies
buried at St. Paul’s in London. The citizens immediately proclaimed
Edmund king, who, mustering an army, routed the Danes at Penn,[220]
near Gillingham, about Rogation-day. After the festival of St. John,
engaging them again at Sceorstan,[221] he retired from a drawn-battle.
The English had begun to give way, at the instance of Edric; who being
on the adversaries’ side, and holding in his hand a sword stained
with the blood of a fellow whom he had dexterously slain, exclaimed,
“Fly, wretches! fly! behold, your king was slain by this sword!” The
Angles would have fled immediately, had not the king, apprised of this
circumstance, proceeded to an eminence, and taking off his helmet,
shown his face to his comrades. Then brandishing a dart with all his
forces, he launched it at Edric; but being seen, and avoided, it missed
him, and struck a soldier standing near; and so great was its violence,
that it even transfixed a second. Night put a stop to the battle, the
hostile armies retreating as if by mutual consent, though the English
had well-nigh obtained the victory.

After this the sentiments of the West Saxons changed, and they
acknowledged their lawful sovereign. Edmund proceeded to London,
that he might liberate those deserving citizens whom a party of the
enemy had blocked up immediately after his departure; moreover they
had surrounded the whole city, on the parts not washed by the river
Thames, with a trench; and many men lost their lives on both sides in
the skirmishes. Hearing of the king’s approach, they precipitately
took to flight; while he pursuing directly, and passing the ford called
Brentford, routed them with great slaughter. The remaining multitude
which were with Canute, while Edmund was relaxing a little and getting
his affairs in order, again laid siege to London both on the land and
river side; but being nobly repulsed by the citizens, they wreaked
their anger on the neighbouring province of Mercia, laying waste the
towns and villages, with plunder, fire, and slaughter. The best of the
spoil was conveyed to their ships assembled in the Medway; which river
flowing by the city of Rochester, washes its fair walls with a strong
and rapid current. They were attacked and driven hence also by the king
in person; who suddenly seizing the ford, which I have before mentioned
at Brentford,[222] dispersed them with signal loss.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1016.] BATTLE OF ASSINGDON.]

While Edmund was preparing to pursue, and utterly destroy the last
remains of these plunderers, he was prevented by the crafty and
abandoned Edric, who had again insinuated himself into his good graces;
for he had come over to Edmund, at the instigation of Canute, that he
might betray his designs. Had the king only persevered, this would have
been the last day for the Danes; but misled by the insinuations of a
traitor, who affirmed that the enemy would make no farther attempt,
he brought swift destruction upon himself, and the whole of England.
Being thus allowed to escape, they again assembled; attacked the East
Angles, and, at Assandun,[223] compelled the king himself, who came to
their assistance, to retreat. Here again, the person I am ashamed to
mention so frequently, designedly gave the first example of flight. A
small number, who, mindful of their former fame, and encouraging each
other, had formed a compact body, were cut off to a man. On this field
of battle Canute gained the kingdom; the glory of the Angles fell; and
the whole flower of the country withered. Amongst these was Ulfkytel,
earl of East Anglia, who had gained immortal honour in the time of
Sweyn, when first attacking the pirates, he showed that they might
be overcome: here fell, too, the chief men of the day, both bishops
and abbats. Edmund flying hence almost alone, came to Gloucester,
in order that he might there re-assemble his forces, and attack the
enemy, indolent, as he supposed, from their recent victory. Nor was
Canute wanting in courage to pursue the fugitive. When everything
was ready for battle, Edmund demanded a single combat; that two
individuals might not, for the lust of dominion, be stained with the
blood of so many subjects, when they might try their fortune without
the destruction of their faithful adherents: and observing, that it
must redound greatly to the credit of either to have obtained so vast a
dominion at his own personal peril. But Canute refused this proposition
altogether; affirming that his courage was surpassing, but that he was
apprehensive of trusting his diminutive person against so bulky an
antagonist: wherefore, as both had equal pretensions to the kingdom,
since the father of either of them had possessed it, it was consistent
with prudence that they should lay aside their animosity, and divide
England.[224] This proposition was adopted by either army, and
confirmed with much applause, both for its equity and its beneficent
regard to the repose of the people who were worn out with continual
suffering. In consequence, Edmund, overcome by the general clamour,
made peace, and entered into treaty with Canute, retaining West Saxony
himself and giving Mercia to the other. He died soon after on the
festival of St. Andrew,[225] though by what mischance is not known, and
was buried at Glastonbury near his grandfather Edgar. Fame asperses
Edric, as having, through regard for Canute, compassed his death by
means of his servants: reporting that there were two attendants on the
king to whom he had committed the entire care of his person, and, that
Edric seducing them by promises, at length made them his accomplices,
though at first they were struck with horror at the enormity of the
crime; and that, at his suggestion, they drove an iron hook into his
posteriors, as he was sitting down for a necessary purpose. Edwin,
his brother on the mother’s side, a youth of amiable disposition, was
driven from England by Edric, at the command of Canute, and suffering
extremely for a considerable time, “both by sea and land,” his body, as
is often the case, became affected by the anxiety of his mind, and he
died in England, where he lay concealed after a clandestine return, and
lies buried at Tavistock. His sons, Edwy and Edward, were sent to the
king of Sweden to be put to death; but being preserved by his mercy,
they went to the king of Hungary, where, after being kindly treated
for a time, the elder died; and the younger married Agatha, the sister
of the queen. His brothers by Emma, Alfred and Edward, lay securely
concealed in Normandy for the whole time that Canute lived.

I find that their uncle Richard took no steps to restore them to their
country: on the contrary, he married his sister Emma to the enemy
and invader; and it may be difficult to say, whether to the greater
ignominy of him who bestowed her, or of the woman who consented to
share the nuptial couch of that man who had so cruelly molested her
husband, and had driven her children into exile. Robert, however, whom
we have so frequently before mentioned as having gone to Jerusalem,
assembling a fleet and embarking soldiers, made ready an expedition,
boasting that he would set the crown on the heads of his grand-nephews;
and doubtlessly he would have made good his assertion, had not, as we
have heard from our ancestors, an adverse wind constantly opposed him:
but assuredly this was by the hidden counsel of God, in whose disposal
are the powers of all kingdoms. The remains of the vessels, decayed
through length of time, were still to be seen at Rouen in our days.


_Of king Canute._ [A.D. 1017-1031.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1017.] OF KING CANUTE.]

Canute began to reign in the year of our Lord 1017, and reigned twenty
years. Though he obtained the sovereignty unjustly, yet he conducted
himself with great affability and firmness. At his entrance on the
government, dividing the kingdom into four parts, himself took the
West Saxons, Edric the Mercians, Thurkill the East Angles, and Eric
the Northumbrians. His first care was to punish the murderers of
Edmund, who had, under expectation of great recompence, acknowledged
the whole circumstances: he concealed them for a time, and then brought
them forward in a large assembly of the people, where they confessed
the mode of their attack upon him, and were immediately ordered to
execution. The same year, Edric, whom words are wanting to stigmatize
as he deserved, being, by the king’s command, entrapped in the same
snare which he had so frequently laid for others, breathed out his
abominable spirit to hell. For a quarrel arising, while they were
angrily discoursing, Edric, relying on the credit of his services, and
amicably, as it were, reproaching the king, said, “I first deserted
Edmund for your sake, and afterwards even despatched him in consequence
of my engagements to you.” At this expression the countenance of Canute
changed with indignation, and he instantly pronounced this sentence:
“Thou shalt die,” said he, “and justly; since thou art guilty of
treason both to God and me, by having killed thy own sovereign, and
my sworn brother; thy blood be upon thy head, because thy mouth hath
spoken against thee, and thou hast lifted thy hand against the Lord’s
anointed:” and immediately, that no tumult might be excited, the
traitor was strangled in the chamber where they sat, and thrown out
of the window into the river Thames: thus meeting the just reward of
his perfidy. In process of time, as opportunities occurred, Thurkill
and Eric were driven out of the kingdom, and sought their native land.
The first, who had been the instigator of the murder of St. Elphege,
was killed by the chiefs the moment he touched the Danish shore.[226]
When all England, by these means, became subject to Canute alone, he
began to conciliate the Angles with unceasing diligence; allowing
them equal rights with the Danes, in their assemblies, councils, and
armies: on which account, as I have before observed, he sent for the
wife of the late king out of Normandy, that, while they were paying
obedience to their accustomed sovereign, they should the less repine
at the dominion of the Danes. Another design he had in view by this,
was, to acquire favour with Richard; who would think little of his
nephews, so long as he supposed he might have others by Canute. He
repaired, throughout England, the monasteries, which had been partly
injured, and partly destroyed by the military incursions of himself,
or of his father; he built churches in all the places where he had
fought, and more particularly at Assingdon, and appointed ministers
to them, who, through the succeeding revolutions of ages, might pray
to God for the souls of the persons there slain. At the consecration
of this edifice, himself was present, and the English and Danish
nobility made their offerings: it is now, according to report, an
ordinary church, under the care of a parish priest. Over the body of
the most holy Edmund, whom the Danes of former times had killed, he
built a church with princely magnificence, appointed to it an abbat,
and monks: and conferred on it many large estates. The greatness of
his donation, yet entire, stands proudly eminent at the present day;
for that place surpasses almost all the monasteries of England. He
took up, with his own hands, the body of St. Elphege, which had been
buried at St. Paul’s in London, and sending it to Canterbury, honoured
it with due regard. Thus anxious to atone for the offences of himself
or of his predecessors, perhaps he wiped away the foul stain of his
former crimes with God: certainly he did so with man. At Winchester,
he displayed all the magnificence of his liberality: here he gave so
largely, that the quantity of precious metals astonished the minds
of strangers; and the glittering of jewels dazzled the eyes of the
beholders: this was at Emma’s suggestion, who with pious prodigality
exhausted his treasures in works of this kind, while he was meditating
fierce attacks on foreign lands. For his valour, incapable of rest, and
not contented with Denmark, which he held from his father, and England,
which he possessed by right of war, transferred its rage against the
Swedes. These people are contiguous to the Danes, and had excited the
displeasure of Canute by their ceaseless hostility. At first he fell
into an ambush, and lost many of his people, but afterwards recruiting
his strength, he routed his opponents, and brought the kings of that
nation, Ulf and Eglaf, to terms of peace. The English, at the instance
of earl Godwin, behaved nobly in this conflict. He exhorted them, not
to forget their ancient fame, but clearly to display their valour to
their new lord: telling them, that it must be imputed to fortune,
that they had formerly been conquered by him, but it would be ascribed
to their courage, if they overcame those who had overcome him. In
consequence, the English put forth all their strength, and gaining
the victory, obtained an earldom for their commander, and honour for
themselves. Thence, on his return home, he entirely subdued the kingdom
of Norway, putting Olave, its king, to flight; who, the year following,
returning with a small party into his kingdom, to try the inclinations
of the inhabitants, found them faithless, and was slain with his

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1030, 1031.] CANUTE’S EPISTLE.]

In the fifteenth year of his reign, Canute went to Rome, and after
remaining there some time, and atoning for his crimes by giving alms to
the several churches, he sailed back to England.[227] Soon after, with
little difficulty, he subdued Scotland, then in a state of rebellion,
and Malcolm her king, by leading an army thither. I trust it will not
appear useless, if I subjoin the epistle, which he transmitted to the
English, on his departure from Rome, by the hands of Living, abbat
of Tavistock, and afterwards bishop of Crediton, to exemplify his
reformation of life, and his princely magnificence.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1031.] CANUTE’S EPISTLE.]

“_Canute, king of all England, Denmark, Norway, and part of the Swedes,
to Ethelnoth, metropolitan, and Elfric archbishop of York, and to
all bishops, nobles, and to the whole nation of the English high and
low, health._ I notify to you, that I have lately been to Rome, to
pray for the forgiveness of my sins; for the safety of my dominions,
and of the people under my government. I had long since vowed such a
journey to God, but, hitherto hindered by the affairs of my kingdom,
and other causes preventing, I was unable to accomplish it sooner. I
now return thanks most humbly to my Almighty God, for suffering me,
in my lifetime, to approach the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all
the holy saints within and without the city of Rome, wherever I could
discover them, and there, present, to worship and adore according to
my desire. I have been the more diligent in the performance of this,
because I have learned from the wise, that St. Peter, the apostle,
has received from God, great power in binding and in loosing: that
he carries the key of the kingdom of heaven; and consequently I have
judged it matter of special importance to seek his influence with God.
Be it known to you, that at the solemnity of Easter, a great assembly
of nobles was present with pope John, and the emperor Conrad, that
is to say, all the princes of the nations from mount Garganus[228]
to the neighbouring sea. All these received me with honour, and
presented me with magnificent gifts. But more especially was I
honoured by the emperor, with various gifts and offerings, in gold
and silver vessels, and palls and costly garments. Moreover, I spoke
with the emperor himself, and the sovereign pope and the nobles who
were there, concerning the wants of all my people, English as well as
Danes; observing that there ought to be granted to them more equitable
regulations, and greater security on their passage to Rome; that
they should not be impeded by so many barriers[229] on the road, nor
harassed with unjust exactions. The emperor assented to my request, as
did Rodolph the king, who has the chief dominion over those barriers;
and all the princes confirmed by an edict, that my subjects, traders,
as well as those who went on a religious account, should peaceably go
and return from Rome, without any molestation from warders of barriers,
or tax-gatherers. Again I complained before the pope, and expressed my
high displeasure, that my archbishops were oppressed by the immense
sum of money which is demanded from them when seeking, according to
custom, the apostolical residence to receive the pall: and it was
determined that it should be so no longer. Moreover, all things which
I requested for the advantage of my kingdom, from the sovereign pope,
and the emperor, and king Rodolph, and the other princes, through whose
territories our road to Rome is situated, they have freely granted,
and confirmed by oath, under the attestation of four archbishops, and
twenty bishops, and an innumerable multitude of dukes and nobles who
were present. Wherefore I give most hearty thanks to God Almighty, for
having successfully completed all that I had wished, in the manner I
had designed, and fully satisfied my intentions. Be it known then, that
since I have vowed to God himself, henceforward to reform my life in
all things, and justly, and piously to govern the kingdoms and the
people subject to me, and to maintain equal justice in all things;
and have determined, through God’s assistance, to rectify any thing
hitherto unjustly done, either through the intemperance of my youth,
or through negligence; therefore I call to witness, and command my
counsellors, to whom I have entrusted the counsels of the kingdom,
that they by no means, either through fear of myself, or favour to any
powerful person, suffer, henceforth, any injustice, or cause such,
to be done in all my kingdom. Moreover, I command all sheriffs, or
governors throughout my whole kingdom, as they tender my affection,
or their own safety, not to commit injustice towards any man, rich or
poor, but to allow all, noble and ignoble, alike to enjoy impartial
law, from which they are never to deviate, either on account of royal
favour, the person of any powerful man, or for the sake of amassing
money for myself: for I have no need to accumulate money by unjust
exaction. Be it known to you therefore, that returning by the same
way that I went, I am now going to Denmark, through the advice of all
the Danes, to make peace and firm treaty with those nations, who were
desirous, had it been possible, to deprive me both of life and of
sovereignty: this, however, they were not able to perform, God, who by
his kindness preserves me in my kingdom and in my honour, and destroys
the power of all my adversaries, bringing their strength to nought.
Moreover, when I have established peace with the surrounding nations,
and put all our sovereignty here in the East in tranquil order, so that
there shall be no fear of war or enmity on any side, I intend coming
to England, as early in the summer as I shall be able to get my fleet
prepared. I have sent this epistle before me, in order that my people
may rejoice at my prosperity; because, as yourselves know, I have never
spared, nor will I spare, either myself or my pains for the needful
service of my whole people. I now therefore adjure all my bishops, and
governors, throughout my kingdom, by the fidelity they owe to God and
me, to take care that, before I come to England, all dues owing by
ancient custom be discharged: that is to say, plough-alms,[230] the
tenth of animals born in the current year,[231] and the pence owing to
Rome for St. Peter, whether from cities or villages: and in the middle
of August, the tenth of the produce of the earth: and on the festival
of St. Martin, the first fruits of seeds, to the church of the parish
where each one resides, which is called in English ‘Circscet.’[232] If
these and such like things are not paid before I come to England, all
who shall have offended will incur the penalty of a royal mulct,[233]
to be exacted without remission, according to law.” Nor was this
declaration without effect; for he commanded all the laws which had
been enacted by ancient kings, and chiefly by his predecessor Ethelred,
to be observed for ever, under the penalty of a royal mulct: in the
observance of which,[234] the custom even at the present day, in the
time of good kings, is to swear by the name of king Edward, not that he
indeed appointed, but that he observed them.

At that time there were in England very great and learned men, the
principal of whom was Ethelnoth, archbishop after Living. He was
appointed primate from being dean,[235] and performed many works truly
worthy to be recorded: encouraging even the king himself in his good
actions by the authority of his sanctity, and restraining him in his
excesses: he first exalted the archiepiscopal cathedral by the presence
of the body of St. Elphege, and afterwards personally at Rome, restored
it to its pristine dignity.[236] Returning home, he transmitted to
Coventry the arm of St. Augustine[237] the teacher, which he had
purchased at Pavia, for an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of
gold. Moreover, Canute took a journey to the church of Glastonbury,
that he might visit the remains of his brother Edmund, as he used to
call him; and praying over his tomb, he presented a pall, interwoven,
as it appeared, with party-coloured figures of peacocks. Near the
king stood the before-named Ethelnoth, who was the seventh monk of
Glastonbury that had become archbishop of Canterbury: first Berthwald:
second Athelm, first bishop of Wells: third his nephew Dunstan: fourth
Ethelgar, first abbat of the New-minster at Winchester, and then bishop
of Chichester:[238] fifth Siric, who, when he was made archbishop,
gave to this his nursing-mother seven palls, with which, upon his
anniversary, the whole ancient church is ornamented: sixth Elphege,
who from prior of Glastonbury was, first, made abbat of Bath, and then
bishop of Winchester: seventh Ethelnoth, who upon showing to the king
the immunities of predecessors, asked, and obtained from the king’s own
hand a confirmation of them, which was to the following effect.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1031.] CHARTER OF GLASTONBURY.]

“The Lord reigning for evermore, who disposes and governs all things by
his unspeakable power, who wonderfully determines the changes of times
and of men, and justly brings them to an uncertain end, according to
his pleasure; and who from the secret mysteries of nature mercifully
teaches us, how lasting, instead of fleeting and transitory, kingdoms
are to be obtained by the assistance of God: wherefore I Canute king
of England, and governor and ruler of the adjacent nations, by the
counsel and decree of our archbishop Ethelnoth, and of all the priests
of God, and by the advice of our nobility, do, for the love of heaven,
and the pardon of my sins, and the remission of the transgressions of
my brother, king Edmund, grant to the church of the holy mother of God,
Mary, at Glastonbury, its rights and customs throughout my kingdom, and
all forfeitures throughout its possessions, and that its lands shall
be free from all claim and vexation as my own are. Moreover, I inhibit
more especially, by the authority of the Almighty Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, and the curse of the eternal Virgin, and so command it to
be observed by the judges and primates of my kingdom as they tender
their safety, every person, be they of what order or dignity they may,
from entering, on any account, that island;[239] but all causes,
ecclesiastical as well as secular, shall await the sole judgment of
the abbat and convent, in like manner as my predecessors have ratified
and confirmed by charters; that is to say, Kentwin, Ina, Cuthred,
Alfred, Edward, Ethelred, Athelstan, the most glorious Edmund, and the
equally glorious Edgar. And should any one hereafter endeavour, on any
occasion, to break in upon, or make void the enactment of this grant,
let him be driven from the communion of the righteous by the fan of
the last judgment; but should any person endeavour diligently, with
benevolent intention, to perform these things, to approve, and defend
them, may God increase his portion in the land of the living, through
the intercession of the most holy mother of God, Mary, and the rest of
the saints. The grant of this immunity was written and published in the
Wooden Church, in the presence of king Canute, in the year of our Lord
1032, the second indiction.”

By the advice of the said archbishop also, the king, sending money
to foreign churches, very much enriched Chartres, where at that time
flourished bishop Fulbert, most renowned for sanctity and learning.
Who, among other demonstrations of his diligence, very magnificently
completed the church of our lady St. Mary, the foundations of which he
had laid: and which moreover, in his zeal to do every thing he could
for its honour, he rendered celebrated by many musical modulations. The
man who has heard his chants, breathing only celestial vows, is best
able to conceive the love he manifested in honour of the Virgin. Among
his other works, a volume of epistles is extant; in one of which,[240]
he thanks that most magnificent king Canute, for pouring out the bowels
of his generosity in donations to the church of Chartres.

In the fifteenth year of Canute’s reign, Robert king of France, of
whom we have before briefly spoken, departed this life: a man so much
given to alms, that when, on festival days, he was either dressing, or
putting off the royal robes, if he had nothing else at hand, he would
give even these to the poor, if his attendants did not purposely drive
away the needy who were importuning him. He had two sons, Odo, and
Henry: the elder, Odo,[241] was dull: the other crafty and impetuous.
Each parent had severally divided their affections on their children:
the father loved the first-born, often saying that he should succeed
him: the mother regarded the younger, to whom the sovereignty was
justly due, if not for his age, yet certainly for his ability. It
happened, as women are persevering in their designs, that she did
not cease until, by means of presents, and large promises, she had
gotten to her side all the chief nobility who are subject to the power
of France. In consequence, Henry, chiefly through the assistance of
Robert the Norman, was crowned ere his father had well breathed his
last. Mindful of this kindness, when, as I before related, Robert went
to Jerusalem, Henry most strenuously espoused the cause of William,
his son, then a youth, against those who attempted to throw off his
yoke. In the meantime Canute, finishing his earthly career, died at
Shaftesbury, and was buried at Winchester.


_Of king Harold and Hardecanute._ [A.D. 1036-1042.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1036.] HAROLD AND HARDECANUTE.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1041.] EXPULSION OF A BISHOP.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1036,[242] Harold, whom fame[243]
reported to be the son of Canute, by the daughter of earl Elfelm,
succeeded, and reigned four years and as many months. He was elected
by the Danes and the citizens of London, who, from long intercourse
with these barbarians, had almost entirely adopted their customs. The
English resisted for a long time, rather wishing to have one of the
sons of Ethelred, who were then in Normandy, or else Hardecanute, the
son of Canute by Emma, at that time in Denmark, for their king. The
greatest stickler for justice, at this juncture, was earl Godwin; who
professing himself the defender of the fatherless, and having queen
Emma and the royal treasures in his custody, for some time restrained
his opponents by the power of his name: but at last, overcome by
numbers and by violence, he was obliged to give way. Harold, secure in
his sovereignty, drove his mother-in-law into exile. Not thinking she
should be safe in Normandy, where, her brother and nephews being dead,
disgust at the rule of a deserted orphan created great disorders, she
passed over into Flanders, to earl Baldwin, a man of tried integrity:
who afterwards, when king Henry died leaving a young son, Philip,
for some years nobly governed the kingdom of France, and faithfully
restored it to him, for he had married his aunt, when he came of age.
Emma passed three years securely under the protection of this man,
at the expiration of which, Harold dying at Oxford, in the month of
April,[244] was buried at Westminster. The Danes and the English
then uniting in one common sentiment of sending for Hardecanute, he
came, by way of Normandy, into England in the month of August. For
Ethelred’s sons were held in contempt nearly by all, more from the
recollection of their father’s indolence, than the power of the Danes.
Hardecanute, reigning two years except ten days, lost his life amid
his cups at Lambeth nigh London, and was buried near his father at
Winchester: a young man who evinced great affection towards his brother
and sister. For his brother, Edward, wearied with continual wandering,
revisiting his native land in the hope of fraternal kindness, was
received by him with open arms, and entertained most affectionately.
He was rash, however, in other respects, and at the instigation of
Elfric, archbishop of York, and of others whom I am loath to name, he
ordered the dead body of Harold to be dug up, the head to be cut off,
and thrown into the Thames, a pitiable spectacle to men! but it was
dragged up again in a fisherman’s net, and buried in the cemetery of
the Danes at London. He imposed a rigid, and intolerable tribute upon
England, in order that he might pay, according to his promise, twenty
marks to the soldiers of each of his vessels. While this was harshly
levied throughout the kingdom, two of the collectors, discharging
their office rather too rigorously, were killed by the citizens of
Worcester; upon which, burning and depopulating the city by means of
his commanders, and plundering the property of the citizens, he cast a
blemish on his fame and diminished the love of his subjects. But here
I will not pass over in silence, what tattlers report of Alfred the
first-born of Ethelred. Doubtful what to do between Harold’s death and
the arrival of Hardecanute, he came into the kingdom, and was deprived
of his eyes by the treachery of his countrymen, and chiefly of Godwin,
at Gillingham: from thence being sent to the monastery of Ely, he
supported, for a little time, a wretched subsistence upon homely food;
all his companions, with the exception of the tenth, being beheaded:
for by lot every tenth man was saved.[245] I have mentioned these
circumstances, because such is the report; but as the Chronicles are
silent, I do not assert them for fact. For this reason, Hardecanute,
enraged against Living, bishop of Crediton, whom public opinion pointed
out as author of the transaction, expelled him from his see: but,
soothed with money, he restored him within the year. Looking angrily
too upon Godwin, he obliged him to clear himself by oath; but he, to
recover his favour entirely, added to his plighted oath a present of
the most rich and beautiful kind; it was a ship beaked with gold,
having eighty soldiers on board, who had two bracelets on either arm,
each weighing sixteen ounces of gold; on their heads were gilt helmets;
on their left shoulder they carried a Danish axe, with an iron spear in
their right hand; and, not to enumerate everything, they were equipped
with such arms, as that splendour vying with terror, might conceal
the steel beneath the gold. But farther, as I had begun to relate,
his sister Gunhilda, the daughter of Canute by Emma, a young woman of
exquisite beauty, who was sighed for, but not obtained, by many lovers
in her father’s time, was by Hardecanute given in marriage to Henry,
emperor of the Germans. The splendour of the nuptial pageant was very
striking, and is even in our times frequently sung in ballads about
the streets: where while this renowned lady was being conducted to the
ship, all the nobility of England were crowding around and contributing
to her charges whatever was contained in the general purse, or royal
treasury. Proceeding in this manner to her husband, she cherished for
a long time the conjugal tie; at length being accused of adultery,
she opposed in single combat to her accuser, a man of gigantic size,
a young lad of her brother’s[246] establishment, whom she had brought
from England, while her other attendants held back in cowardly
apprehension. When, therefore, they engaged, the impeacher, through
the miraculous interposition of God, was worsted, by being ham-strung.
Gunhilda, exulting at her unexpected success, renounced the marriage
contract with her husband; nor could she be induced either by threats
or by endearments again to share his bed: but taking the veil of a nun,
she calmly grew old in the service of God.

This emperor possessed many and great virtues; and nearly surpassed
in military skill all his predecessors: so much so, that he subdued
the Vindelici and the Leutici,[247] and the other nations bordering
on the Suevi, who alone, even to the present day, lust after pagan
superstitions: for the Saracens and Turks worship God the Creator,
looking upon Mahomet not as God, but as his prophet. But the Vindelici
worship fortune, and putting her idol in the most eminent situation,
they place a horn in her right hand, filled with that beverage, made
of honey and water, which by a Greek term we call “hydromel.” St.
Jerome proves, in his eighteenth book on Isaiah, that the Egyptians
and almost all the eastern nations do the same. Wherefore on the last
day of November, sitting round in a circle, they all taste it; and if
they find the horn full, they applaud with loud clamours: because in
the ensuing year, plenty with her brimming horn will fulfil their
wishes in everything: but if it be otherwise, they lament. Henry made
these nations in such wise tributary to him, that upon every solemnity
on which he wore his crown, four of their kings were obliged to carry
a cauldron in which flesh was boiled, upon their shoulders, to the
kitchen, by means of levers passed through rings.


Frequently, when disengaged from the turmoils of his empire, Henry
gave himself up to good fellowship and merriment, and was replete with
humour; this may be sufficiently proved by two instances. He was so
extremely fond of his sister, who was a nun, that he never suffered
her to be from his side, and her chamber was always next his own. As
he was on a certain time, in consequence of a winter remarkable for
severe frost and snow, detained for a long while in the same place, a
certain clerk[248] about the court, became too familiar with the girl,
and often passed the greatest part of the night in her chamber. And
although he attempted to conceal his crime by numberless subterfuges,
yet some one perceived it, for it is difficult not to betray guilt
either by look or action, and the affair becoming notorious, the
emperor was the only person in ignorance, and who still believed
his sister to be chaste. On one particular night, however, as they
were enjoying their fond embraces, and continuing their pleasures
longer than usual, the morning dawned upon them, and behold snow
had completely covered the ground. The clerk fearing that he should
be discovered by his track in the snow, persuades his mistress to
extricate him from his difficulty by carrying him on her back. She,
regardless of modesty so that she might escape exposure, took her
paramour on her back, and carried him out of the palace. It happened at
that moment, that the emperor had risen for a necessary purpose, and
looking through the window of his chamber, beheld the clerk mounted. He
was stupified at the first sight, but observing still more narrowly,
he became mute with shame and indignation. While he was hesitating
whether he should pass over the crime unpunished, or openly reprehend
the delinquents, there happened an opportunity for him to give a vacant
bishopric to the clerk, which he did: but at the same time whispered in
his ear, “Take the bishopric, but be careful you do not let women carry
you any more.” At the same time he gave his sister the rule over a
company of nuns, “Be an abbess,” said he, “but carry clerks no longer.”
Both of them were confused, and feeling themselves grievously stricken
by so grave an injunction, they desisted from a crime which they
thought revealed by God.

He had also a clergyman about his palace, who abused the depth of his
learning and the melody of his voice by the vicious propensities of
the flesh, being extremely attached to a girl of bad character, in the
town; with whom having passed one festival night, he stood next morning
before the emperor at mass, with countenance unabashed. The emperor
concealing his knowledge of the transaction, commanded him to prepare
himself to read the gospel, that he might be gratified with the melody
of his voice: for he was a deacon. Conscious of his crime, he made use
of a multitude of subterfuges, while the emperor, to try his constancy,
still pressed him with messages. Refusing, however, to the very last,
the emperor said, “Since you will not obey me in so easy a command, I
banish you from the whole of my territories.” The deacon, yielding to
the sentence, departed directly. Servants were sent to follow him, and
in case he should persist in going, to bring him back after he had left
the city. Gathering, therefore, immediately all his effects together,
and packing them up, he had already gone a considerable distance,
when he was brought back, not without extreme violence, and placed in
the presence of Henry, who smiled and said: “You have done well, and
I applaud your integrity for valuing the fear of God more than your
country, and regarding the displeasure of heaven more than my threats.
Accept, therefore, the first bishopric, which shall be vacant in my
empire; only renounce your dishonourable amour.”

As nothing however is lasting in human enjoyments, I shall not pass
over in silence a certain dreadful portent which happened in his time.
The monastery of Fulda, in Saxony, is celebrated for containing the
body of St. Gall, and is enriched with very ample territories. The
abbat of this place furnishes the emperor with sixty thousand warriors
against his enemies; and possesses from ancient times the privilege
of sitting at his right hand on the most distinguished festivals.
This Henry we are speaking of was celebrating Pentecost at Mentz. A
little before mass, while the seats were preparing in the church, a
quarrel arose between the attendants of the abbat, and those of the
archbishop, which of their masters should sit next the sovereign: one
party alleging the dignity of the prelate, the other ancient usage.
When words made but little for peace, as the Germans and Teutonians
possess untractable spirits, they came to blows. Some snatched up
staves, others threw stones, while the rest unsheathed their swords:
finally each used the weapon that his anger first supplied. Thus
furiously contending in the church, the pavement soon streamed with
blood: but the bishops hastening forward, peace was restored amid
the remains of the contending parties. The church was cleansed, and
mass performed with joyful sound. But now comes the wonder: when
the sequence was chanted, and the choir paused at that verse, “Thou
hast made this day glorious:” a voice in the air replied aloud, “I
have made this day contentious.” All the others were motionless with
horror, but the emperor the more diligently attended to his occupation,
and perceiving the satisfaction of the enemy: “You,” said he, “the
inventor and also the instigator of all wickedness, have made this day
contentious and sorrowful to the proud; but we, by the grace of God,
who made it glorious, will make it gracious to the poor.” Beginning the
sequence afresh, they implored the grace of the Holy Spirit by solemn
lamentation. You might suppose he had come upon them, for some were
singing, others weeping, and all beating their breasts. When mass was
over, assembling the poor by means of his officers, he gave them the
whole of the entertainment which had been prepared for himself and his
courtiers: the emperor placing the dishes before them, standing at a
distance according to the custom of servants, and clearing away the

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1042.] HENRY’S BENEFICENCE.]

In the time of his father, Conrad, he had received a silver pipe, such
as boys in sport spirt water with, from a certain clerk, covenanting to
give him a bishopric, when he should become emperor. This, when he was
of man’s estate, on his application he readily gave to him. Soon after
he was confined to his bed with severe sickness: his malady increasing,
he lay for three days insensible and speechless, while the vital breath
only palpitated in his breast: nor was there any other sign of life,
than the perception of a small degree of breathing, on applying the
hand to his nostrils. The bishops being present, enjoined a fast for
three days, and entreated heaven with tears and vows, for the life of
the king. Recovering by these remedies, as it is right to think, he
sent for the bishop whom he had so improperly appointed, and deposed
him by the judgment of a council: confessing, that for three whole days
he saw malignant demons blowing fire upon him through a pipe; fire so
furious that ours in comparison would be deemed a jest, and have no
heat: that afterwards there came a young man half scorched, bearing a
golden cup of immense size, full of water; and that being soothed by
the sight of him, and bathed by the water, the flame was extinguished,
and he recovered his health: that this young man was St. Laurence, the
roof of whose church he had restored when gone to decay; and, among
other presents, had honoured it with a golden chalice.

Here many extraordinary things occur, which are reported of this man;
for instance, of a stag, which took him on its back, when flying from
his enemies, and carried him over an unfordable river: and some others
which I pass by because I am unwilling to go beyond the reader’s
belief. He died when he had completed the eighteenth year of his
empire, and was buried at Spires, which he re-built, and called by that
name, on the site of the very ancient and ruined Nemetum: his epitaph
is as follows:

  Cæsar, as was the world once great,
  Lies here, confin’d in compass straight.
  Hence let each mortal learn his doom;
  No glory can escape the tomb.
  The flower of empire, erst so gay,
  Falls with its Cæsar to decay,
  And all the odours which it gave
  Sink prematurely to the grave.
  The laws which sapient fathers made,
  A listless race had dared evade,
  But thou reforming by the school
  Of Rome, restor’dst the ancient rule.
  Nations and regions, wide and far,
  Whom none could subjugate by war,
  Quell’d by thy sword’s resistless strife,
  Turn’d to the arts of civil life.
  What grief severe must Rome engross,
  Widow’d at first by Leo’s loss,
  And next by Cæsar’s mournful night,
  Reft of her other shining light;
  Living, what region did not dread,
  What country not lament thee, dead?
  So kind to nations once subdued,
  So fierce to the barbarians rude,
  That, those who fear’d not, must bewail,
  And such as griev’d not, fears assail.
  Rome, thy departed glory moan,
  And weep thy luminaries gone.

This Leo, of whom the epitaph speaks, had been Roman pontiff, called to
that eminence from being Bruno bishop of Spires. He was a man of great
and admirable sanctity; and the Romans celebrate many of his miracles.
He died before Henry, when he had been five years pope.


_Of St. Edward, son of king Ethelred._ [A.D. 1042-1066.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1042, 1043.] EDWARD THE CONFESSOR.]

In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1042, St. Edward, the son of
Ethelred, assumed the sovereignty, and held it not quite twenty-four
years; he was a man from the simplicity of his manners little
calculated to govern; but devoted to God, and in consequence directed
by him. For while he continued to reign, there arose no popular
commotions, which were not immediately quelled; no foreign war; all was
calm and peaceable both at home and abroad; which is the more an object
of wonder, because he conducted himself so mildly, that he would not
even utter a word of reproach to the meanest person. For when he had
once gone out to hunt, and a countryman had overturned the standings by
which the deer are driven into the toils, struck with noble indignation
he exclaimed, “By God and his mother, I will serve you just such a
turn, if ever it come in my way.” Here was a noble mind, who forgot
that he was a king, under such circumstances, and could not think
himself allowed to injure a man even of the lowest condition. In the
meantime, the regard his subjects entertained for him was extreme,
as was also the fear of foreigners; for God assisted his simplicity,
that he might be feared, for he knew not how to be angry. But however
indolent or unassuming himself might be esteemed, he had nobles capable
of elevating him to the highest pitch: for instance, Siward, earl of
the Northumbrians; who, at his command, engaging with Macbeth, the
Scottish king, deprived him both of life and of his kingdom, and placed
on the throne Malcolm, who was the son of the king of Cumbria:[249]
again, Leofric, of Hereford; he, with liberal regard, defended him
against the enmity of Godwin, who trusting to the consciousness of his
own merits, paid little reverence to the king. Leofric and his wife
Godifa, generous in their deeds towards God, built many monasteries,
as, Coventry, St. Mary’s at Stow, Wenlock, Leon, and some others; to
the rest he gave ornaments and estates; to Coventry he consigned his
body, with a very large donation of gold and silver. Harold too, of
the West Saxons, the son of Godwin; who by his abilities destroyed
two brothers, kings of the Welsh, Rees and Griffin; and reduced all
that barbarous country to the state of a province under fealty to the
king. Nevertheless, there were some things which obscured the glory of
Edward’s times: the monasteries were deprived of their monks; false
sentences were passed by depraved men; his mother’s property, at his
command, was almost entirely taken from her. But the injustice of these
transactions was extenuated by his favourers in the following manner:
the ruin of the monasteries, and the iniquity of the judges, are said
to have taken place without his knowledge, through the insolence of
Godwin and his sons, who used to laugh at the easiness of the king:
but afterwards, on being apprised of this, he severely avenged it by
their banishment: his mother had for a long time mocked at the needy
state of her son, nor ever assisted him; transferring her hereditary
hatred of the father to the child; for she had both loved Canute more
when living, and more commended him when dead: besides, accumulating
money by every method, she had hoarded it, regardless of the poor,
to whom she would give nothing, for fear of diminishing her heap.
Wherefore that which had been so unjustly gathered together, was not
improperly taken away, that it might be of service to the poor, and
replenish the king’s exchequer. Though much credit is to be attached
to those who relate these circumstances, yet I find her to have been
a religiously-disposed woman, and to have expended her property on
ornaments for the church of Winchester, and probably upon others.[250]
But to return: Edward receiving the mournful intelligence of the death
of Hardecanute, was lost in uncertainty what to do, or whither to
betake himself. While he was revolving many things in his mind, it
occurred as the better plan to submit his situation to the opinion
of Godwin. To Godwin therefore he sent messengers, requesting, that
he might in security have a conference with him. Godwin, though for
a long time hesitating and reflecting, at length assented, and when
Edward came to him and endeavoured to fall at his feet, he raised
him up; and when relating the death of Hardecanute, and begging his
assistance to effect his return to Normandy, Godwin made him the
greatest promises. He said, it was better for him to live with credit
in power, than to die ingloriously in exile: that he was the son of
Ethelred, the grandson of Edgar: that the kingdom was his due: that
he was come to mature age, disciplined by difficulties, conversant in
the art of well-governing from his years, and knowing, from his former
poverty, how to feel for the miseries of the people: if he thought
fit to rely on him, there could be no obstacle; for his authority so
preponderated in England, that wherever he inclined, there fortune was
sure to favour: if he assisted him, none would dare to murmur; and just
so was the contrary side of the question: let him then only covenant a
firm friendship with himself; undiminished honours for his sons, and a
marriage with his daughter, and he who was now shipwrecked almost of
life and hope, and imploring the assistance of another, should shortly
see himself a king.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1043.] EARL GODWIN.]

There was nothing which Edward would not promise, from the exigency of
the moment: so, pledging fidelity on both sides, he confirmed by oath
every thing which was demanded. Soon after convening an assembly at
Gillingham, Godwin, unfolding his reasons, caused him to be received
as king, and homage was paid to him by all. He was a man of ready
wit, and spoke fluently in the vernacular tongue; powerful in speech,
powerful in bringing over the people to whatever he desired. Some
yielded to his authority; some were influenced by presents; others
admitted the right of Edward; and the few who resisted in defiance of
justice and equity, were carefully marked, and afterwards driven out of

Edward was crowned with great pomp at Winchester, on Easter-day, and
was instructed by Eadsine,[251] the archbishop, in the sacred duties
of governing. This, at the time, he treasured up with readiness in
his memory, and afterwards displayed in the holiness of his conduct.
The above-mentioned Eadsine, in the following year, falling into
an incurable disease, appointed as his successor Siward, abbat of
Abingdon; communicating his design only to the king and the earl, lest
any improper person should aspire to so great an eminence, either by
solicitation or by purchase. Shortly after the king took Edgitha, the
daughter of Godwin, to wife; a woman whose bosom was the school of
every liberal art, though little skilled in earthly matters: on seeing
her, if you were amazed at her erudition, you must absolutely languish
for the purity of her mind, and the beauty of her person. Both in her
husband’s life-time, and afterwards, she was not entirely free from
suspicion of dishonour; but when dying, in the time of king William,
she voluntarily satisfied the by-standers of her unimpaired chastity,
by an oath. When she became his wife, the king acted towards her so
delicately, that he neither removed her from his bed, nor knew her
after the manner of men. I have not been able to discover, whether he
acted thus from dislike to her family, which he prudently dissembled
from the exigency of the times, or out of pure regard to chastity: yet
it is most notoriously affirmed, that he never violated his purity by
connexion with any woman.

But since I have gotten thus far, I wish to admonish my reader, that
the track of my history is here but dubious, because the truth of
the facts hangs in suspense. It is to be observed, that the king had
sent for several Normans, who had formerly slightly ministered to
his wants when in exile. Among these was Robert, whom, from being a
monk of Jumièges, he had appointed bishop of London, and afterwards
archbishop of Canterbury. The English of our times vilify this person,
together with the rest, as being the impeacher of Godwin and his sons;
the sower of discord; the purchaser of the archbishopric: they say
too, that Godwin and his sons were men of liberal mind, the stedfast
promoters and defenders of the government of Edward; and that it was
not to be wondered at, if they were hurt at seeing men of yesterday,
and strangers, preferred to themselves: still, that they never uttered
even a harsh word against the king, whom they had formerly exalted to
the throne. On the opposite hand the Normans thus defended themselves:
they allege, that both himself and his sons acted with the greatest
want of respect, as well as fidelity, to the king and his party; aiming
at equal sovereignty with him; often ridiculing his simplicity; often
hurling the shafts of their wit against him: that the Normans could not
endure this, but endeavoured to weaken their power as much as possible;
and that God manifested, at last, with what kind of purity Godwin had
served him. For, after his piratical ravages, of which we shall speak
hereafter, when he had been reinstated in his original favour, and was
sitting with the king at table, the conversation turning on Alfred,
the king’s brother, “I perceive,” said he, “O king, that on every
recollection of your brother, you regard me with angry countenance; but
God forbid that I should swallow this morsel, if I am conscious of any
thing which might tend, either to his danger or your disadvantage.” On
saying this, he was choked with the piece he had put into his mouth,
and closed his eyes in death: being dragged from under the table by
Harold his son, who stood near the king, he was buried in the cathedral
of Winchester.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1044-1052.] PARTIES AND FEUDS.]

On account of these feuds, as I have observed, my narrative labours
under difficulties, for I cannot precisely ascertain the truth, by
reason either of the natural dislike of these nations for each other,
or because the English disdainfully bear with a superior, and the
Normans cannot endure an equal. In the following book, however, when
the opportunity occurs for relating the arrival of the Normans in
England, I shall proceed to speak of their habits; at present I shall
glance, with all possible truth, at the grudge of the king against
Godwin and his sons.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1050.] GODWIN BANISHED.]

Eustace,[252] earl of Boulogne, the father of Godfrey and Baldwin, who,
in our times, were kings of Jerusalem, had married the king’s sister,
Goda, who had borne a son, named Ralph, to her former husband, Walter
of Mantes. This son, at that time earl of Hereford, was both indolent
and cowardly; he had been beaten in battle by the Welsh, and left his
county and the city, together with the bishop, to be consumed with fire
by the enemy; the disgrace of which transaction was wiped off by the
valour of Harold, who arrived opportunely. Eustace, therefore, crossing
the channel, from Whitsand to Dover, went to king Edward on some
unknown business. When the conference was over, and he had obtained his
request, he was returning through Canterbury,[253] where one of his
harbingers, dealing too fiercely with a citizen, and demanding quarters
with blows, rather than entreaty or remuneration, irritated him to
such a degree, that he put him to death. Eustace, on being informed
of the fact, proceeded with all his retinue to revenge the murder of
his servant, and killed the perpetrator of the crime, together with
eighteen others: but the citizens flying to arms, he lost twenty-one
of his people, and had multitudes wounded; himself and one more with
difficulty making their escape during the confusion. Thence returning
to court and procuring a secret audience, he made the most of his own
story, and excited the anger of the king against the English. Godwin,
being summoned by messengers, arrived at the palace. When the business
was related, and the king was dwelling more particularly on the
insolence of the citizens of Canterbury, this intelligent man perceived
that sentence ought not to be pronounced, since the allegations had
only been heard on one side of the question. In consequence, though the
king ordered him directly to proceed with an army into Kent, to take
signal vengeance on the people of Canterbury, still he refused: both
because he saw with displeasure, that all foreigners were gaining fast
upon the favour of the king; and because he was desirous of evincing
his regard to his countrymen. Besides, his opinion was more accordant,
as it should seem, with equity, which was, that the principal people
of that town should be mildly summoned to the king’s court, on account
of the tumult; if they could exculpate themselves, they should depart
unhurt; but if they could not, they must make atonement, either by
money, or by corporal punishment, to the king, whose peace they had
broken, and to the earl, whom they had injured: moreover, that it
appeared unjust to pass sentence on those people unheard, who had a
more especial right to protection. After this the conference broke
up; Godwin paying little attention to the indignation of the king, as
merely momentary. In consequence of this, the nobility of the whole
kingdom were commanded to meet at Gloucester, that the business might
there be canvassed in full assembly. Thither came those, at that time,
most renowned Northumbrian earls, Siward and Leofric, and all the
nobility of England. Godwin and his sons alone, who knew that they
were suspected, not deeming it prudent to be present unarmed, halted
with a strong force at Beverstone, giving out that they had assembled
an army to restrain the Welsh, who, meditating independence on the
king, had fortified a town in the county of Hereford, where Sweyn,
one of the sons of Godwin, was at that time in command. The Welsh,
however, who had come beforehand to the conference, had accused them of
a conspiracy, and rendered them odious to the whole court; so that a
rumour prevailed, that the king’s army would attack them in that very
place. Godwin, hearing this, sounded the alarm to his party; told them
that they should not purposely withstand their sovereign lord; but
if it came to hostilities, they should not retreat without avenging
themselves. And, if better counsels had not intervened, a dreadful
scene of misery, and a worse than civil war, would have ensued. Some
small share of tranquillity, however, being restored, it was ordered
that the council should be again assembled at London; and that Sweyn,
the son of Godwin, should appease the king’s anger by withdrawing
himself: that Godwin and Harold should come as speedily as possible to
the council, with this condition: that they should be unarmed, bring
with them only twelve men, and deliver up to the king the command of
the troops which they had throughout England. This on the other hand
they refused; observing, that they could not go to a party-meeting
without sureties and pledges; that they would obey their lord in the
surrender of the soldiers, as well as in every thing else, except
risking their lives and reputation: should they come unarmed, the loss
of life might be apprehended; if attended with few followers, it would
detract from their glory. The king had made up his mind too firmly, to
listen to the entreaties of those who interceded with him; wherefore an
edict was published, that they should depart from England within five
days. Godwin and Sweyn retired to Flanders, and Harold to Ireland. His
earldom was given to Elgar, the son of Leofric, a man of active habits;
who, receiving, governed it with ability, and readily restored it to
him on his return; and afterwards, on the death of Godwin, when Harold
had obtained the dukedom of his father, he boldly reclaimed it, though,
by the accusation of his enemies, he was banished for a time. All
the property of the queen was seized, and herself delivered into the
custody of the king’s sister at Wherwell, lest she alone should be void
of care, whilst all her relations were sighing for their country.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1051.] RETURN OF GODWIN.]

The following year, the exiles, each emerging from his station,
were now cruising the British sea, infesting the coast with piracy,
and carrying off rich booty from the substance of their countrymen.
Against these, on the king’s part, more than sixty sail lay at anchor.
Earls Odo and Ralph, relations of the king, were commanders of the
fleet. Nor did this emergency find Edward himself inactive; since
he would pass the night on ship-board, and watch the sallies of the
plunderers; diligently compensating, by the wisdom of his counsel,
for that personal service which age and infirmity denied. But when
they had approached each other, and the conflict was on the eve of
commencing, a very thick mist arose, which in a moment obscured the
sight of the opponents, and repressed the pitiable audacity of men.
At last Godwin and his companions were driven, by the impetuosity of
the wind, to the port they had left; and not long after returning to
their own country with pacific dispositions, they found the king at
London, and were received by him on soliciting pardon. The old man,
skilled in leading the minds of his audience by his reputation and his
eloquence, dexterously exculpated himself from every thing laid to
his charge; and in a short time prevailed so far, as to recover his
honours, undiminished, for himself and for his children; to drive all
the Normans, branded with ignominy, from England; and to get sentence
passed on Robert, the archbishop, and his accomplices, for disturbing
the order of the kingdom and stimulating the royal mind against his
subjects. But he, not waiting for violent measures, had fled of his
own accord while the peace was in agitation, and proceeding to Rome,
and appealing to the apostolical see on his case, as he was returning
through Jumièges, he died there, and was buried in the church of St.
Mary, which he chiefly had built at vast expense. While he was yet
living, Stigand, who was bishop of Winchester, forthwith invaded the
archbishopric of Canterbury: a prelate of notorious ambition, who
sought after honours too keenly, and who, through desire of a higher
dignity, deserting the bishopric of the South Saxons, had occupied
Winchester, which he held with the archbishopric. For this reason he
was never honoured with the pall by the papal see, except that one
Benedict, the usurper, as it were, of the papacy, sent him one; either
corrupted by money to grant a thing of this kind, or else because bad
people are pleased to gratify others of the same description. But
he, through the zeal of the faithful, being expelled by Nicholas,
who legally assumed the papacy from being bishop of Florence, laid
aside the title he so little deserved. Stigand, moreover, in the
time of king William, degraded by the Roman cardinals and condemned
to perpetual imprisonment, could not fill up the measure of his
insatiable avidity even in death. For on his decease, a small key was
discovered among his secret recesses, which on being applied to the
lock of a chamber-cabinet, gave evidence of papers, describing immense
treasures, and in which were noted both the quality and the quantity of
the precious metals which this greedy pilferer had hidden on all his
estates: but of this hereafter: I shall now complete the history of
Godwin which I had begun.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] GODWIN’S FAMILY.]

When he was a young man he had Canute’s sister to wife, by whom he
had a son, who in his early youth, while proudly curveting on a horse
which his grandfather had given him, was carried into the Thames,
and perished in the stream: his mother, too, paid the penalty of her
cruelty; being killed by a stroke of lightning. For it is reported,
that she was in the habit of purchasing companies of slaves in England,
and sending them into Denmark; more especially girls, whose beauty and
age rendered them more valuable, that she might accumulate money by
this horrid traffic. After her death, he married another wife,[254]
whose descent I have not been able to trace; by her he had Harold,
Sweyn, Wulnod, Tosty, Girth, and Leofwine. Harold became king for a few
months after Edward; and being overcome by William at Hastings, there
lost his life and kingdom, together with his two younger brothers.
Wulnod, given by his father as an hostage, was sent over to Normandy
by king Edward, where he remained all that king’s time in inextricable
captivity; and being sent back into England during William’s reign,
grew old in confinement at Salisbury: Sweyn being of an obstinate
disposition, and faithless to the king, frequently revolted from his
father, and his brother Harold, and turning pirate, tarnished the
virtues of his forefathers, by his depredations on the coast: at last
struck with remorse for the murder of Bruno,[255] a relation, or as
some say, his brother, he went to Jerusalem, and returning thence was
surprised by the Saracens, and put to death: Tosty, after the death of
Siward, was preferred to the earldom of Northumbria by king Edward,
and presided over that province for nearly ten years; at the end of
which he impelled the Northumbrians to rebel, by the asperity of his
manners. For finding him unattended, they drove him from the district;
not deeming it proper to kill him, from respect to his dignity: but
they put to death his attendants both English and Danes, appropriating
to their own use, his horses, his arms, and his effects. As soon as
this rumour, and the distracted state of the country reached the king,
Harold set forward to avenge the outrage. The Northumbrians, though not
inferior in point of numbers, yet preferring peace, excused themselves
to him for the transaction; averring, that they were a people
free-born, and freely educated, and unable to put up with the cruelty
of any prince; that they had been taught by their ancestors either to
be free, or to die; did the king wish them to be obedient, he should
appoint Morcar, the son of Elgar, to preside over them, who would
experience how cheerfully they could obey, provided they were treated
with gentleness. On hearing this, Harold, who regarded the quiet of
the country more than the advantage of his brother, recalled his
army, and, after waiting on the king, settled the earldom on Morcar.
Tosty, enraged against every one, retired with his wife and children
to Flanders, and continued there till the death of Edward: but this I
shall delay mentioning, while I record what, as I have learned from
ancient men, happened in his time at Rome.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] CHARACTER OF GREGORY VI.]

Pope Gregory the Sixth,[256] first called Gratian, was a man of equal
piety and strictness. He found the power of the Roman pontificate so
reduced by the negligence of his predecessors, that, with the exception
of a few neighbouring towns, and the offerings of the faithful, he had
scarcely anything whereon to subsist. The cities and possessions at a
distance, which were the property of the church, were forcibly seized
by plunderers; the public roads and highways throughout all Italy were
thronged with robbers to such a degree, that no pilgrim could pass in
safety unless strongly guarded. Swarms of thieves beset every path,
nor could the traveller devise any method of escaping them. Their rage
was equally bent against the poor and the rich; entreaty or resistance
were alike unavailing. The journey to Rome was discontinued by every
nation, as each had much rather contribute his money to the churches in
his own country, than feed a set of plunderers with the produce of his
labours. And what was the state of that city which of old was the only
dwelling-place of holiness? Why there an abandoned set of knaves and
assassins thronged the very forum. If any one by stratagem eluded the
people who lay in wait upon the road, from a desire even at the peril
of destruction to see the church of the apostle; yet then, encountering
these robbers, he was never able to return home without the loss either
of property or of life. Even over the very bodies of the holy apostles
and martyrs, even on the sacred altars were swords unsheathed, and the
offerings of pilgrims, ere well laid out of their hands, were snatched
away and consumed in drunkenness and fornication. By such evils was
the papacy of Gregory beset. At first he began to deal gently with his
subjects; and, as became a pontiff, rather by love than by terror; he
repressed the delinquents more by words than by blows; he entreated
the townsmen to abstain from the molestation of pilgrims, and the
plunder of sacred offerings. The one, he said, was contrary to nature,
that the man who breathed the common air could not enjoy the common
peace; that Christians surely ought to have liberty of proceeding
whither they pleased among Christians, since they were all of the same
household, all united by the tie of the same blood, redeemed by the
same price: the other, he said, was contrary to the command of God,
who had ordained, that “they who served at the altar, should live by
the altar;” moreover, that “the house of God ought to be the house of
prayer, not a den of thieves,” nor an assembly of gladiators; that
they should allow the offerings to go to the use of the priests, or
the support of the poor; that he would provide for those persons whom
want had compelled to plunder, by giving them some honest employment to
procure their subsistence; that such as were instigated by avaricious
desire, should desist immediately for the love of God and the credit of
the world. He invited, by mandates and epistles, those who had invaded
the patrimony of the church, to restore what did not belong to them, or
else to prove in the Roman senate, that they held it justly; if they
would do neither, they must be told that they were no longer members
of the church, since they opposed St. Peter, the head of the church,
and his vicar. Perpetually haranguing to this effect, and little or
nothing profiting by it, he endeavoured to cure the inveterate disorder
by having recourse to harsher remedies. He then separated from the body
of the church, by the brand of excommunication, all who were guilty of
such practices, and even those who associated or conversed with the
delinquents. Though he acted strictly according to his duty, yet his
diligence in this business had well nigh proved his destruction; for
as one says, “He who accuses a mocker, makes himself an enemy,” so the
abandoned crew began to kick against this gentle admonition; to utter
their threats aloud; to clash their arms around the walls of the city,
so as nearly even to kill the pope. Finding it now absolutely necessary
to cut short the evil, he procured arms and horses from every side,
and equipped troops of horse and foot. Taking possession, in the first
place, of the church of St. Peter, he either killed or put to flight
the plunderers of the oblations. As fortune appeared to favour his
designs, he proceeded farther; and despatching all who dared resist,
restored to their original jurisdiction all the estates and towns which
had been for a considerable time lost, In this manner, peace, which
had been long driven into banishment by the negligence of many, was
restored to the country by the exertions of an individual. Pilgrims now
began securely to travel on the public ways, which had been deserted;
they feasted their eyes with pleasure on the ancient wonders within
the city; and, having made their offerings, they returned home with
songs of joy. In the meantime the common people of Rome, who had been
accustomed to live by theft, began to call him sanguinary, and not
worthy to offer sacrifice to God, since he was stained by so many
murders; and, as it generally happens that the contagion of slander
spreads universally, even the cardinals themselves joined in the
sentiments of the people; so that, when this holy man was confined by
the sickness which proved his death, they, after consulting among
themselves, with matchless insolence recommended him not to think of
ordering himself to be buried in the church of St. Peter with the rest
of the popes, since he had polluted his office by being accessory
to the death of so many men. Resuming spirit, however, and sternly
regarding them, he addressed them in the following manner:

“If you possessed either a single spark of human reason, or of the
knowledge of divine truth, you would hardly have approached your
pontiff with so inconsiderate an address; for, throughout my whole
life, I have dissipated my own patrimony for your advantage, and at
last have sacrificed the applause of the world for your rescue. If any
other persons were to allege what you urge in defamation of me, it
would become you to silence them by explaining away the false opinions
of fools. For whom, I pray you, have I laid up treasure? For myself
perhaps? and yet I already possessed the treasures of my predecessors,
which were enough for any man’s covetousness. To whom have I restored
safety and liberty? You will reply, to myself perhaps? And yet I
was adored by the people, and did, without restraint, whatever I
pleased; entire orations teemed with my praises; every day resounded
my applause. These praises and these applauses have been lost to me,
through my concern for your poverty. Towards you I turned my thoughts;
and found that I must adopt severer measures. A sacrilegious robber
fattened on the produce of your property, while your subsistence was
only from day to day. He, from the offerings belonging to you, was clad
in costly silk; while you, in mean and tattered clothing, absolutely
grieved my sight. In consequence, when I could endure this no longer, I
acted with hostility to others, that I might get credit for the clergy,
though at the loss of the citizens. However, I now find I have lavished
my favours on the ungrateful; for you publicly proclaim what others
mutter only in secret. I approve, indeed, your freedom, but I look
in vain for your affection. A dying parent is persecuted by his sons
concerning his burial. Will you deny me the house common to all living?
The harlot, the usurer, the robber, are not forbidden an entrance
to the church, and do you refuse it to the pope? What signifies it
whether the dead or the living enter the sanctuary, except it be, that
the living is subject to many temptations, so that he cannot be free
from spot even in the church; often finding matter of sin in the very
place where he had come to wash it away; whereas the dead knows not
how, nay, he who wants only his last sad office, has not the power to
sin. What savage barbarity then is it to exclude from the house of God
him in whom both the inclination and the power of sinning have ceased!
Repent, then, my sons, of your precipitate boldness, if perchance God
may forgive you this crime, for you have spoken both foolishly and
bitterly even to this present hour. But that you may not suppose me to
rest merely on my own authority, listen to reason. Every act of man
ought to be considered according to the intention of his heart, that
the examination of the deed may proceed to that point whence the design
originated; I am deceived if the Truth does not say the same; ‘If thine
eye be simple thy whole body shall be full of light; if evil, all thy
body shall be dark.’ A wretched pauper hath often come to me to relieve
his distress. As I knew not what was about to happen, I have presented
him with divers pieces of money, and dismissed him. On his departure
he has met with a thief on the public road, has incautiously fallen
into conversation with him, proclaimed the kindness of the apostolical
see, and, to prove the truth of his words, produced the purse. On
their journey the way has been beguiled with various discourse, until
the dissembler, loitering somewhat behind, has felled the stranger
with a club, and immediately despatched him; and, after carrying off
his money, has boasted of a murder which his thirst for plunder had
excited. Can you, therefore, justly accuse me for giving that to a
stranger which was the cause of his death? for even the most cruel
person would not murder a man unless he hoped to fill his pockets with
the money. What shall I say of civil and ecclesiastical laws? By these
is not the self-same fact both punished and approved under different
circumstances? The thief is punished for murdering a man in secret,
whereas the soldier is applauded who destroys his enemy in battle; the
homicide, then, is ignominious in one and laudable in the other, as
the latter committed it for the safety of his country, the former for
the gratification of his desire for plunder. My predecessor Adrian the
First, of renowned memory, was applauded for giving up the investiture
of the churches to Charles the Great; so that no person elected could
be consecrated by the bishop till the king had first dignified him with
the ring and staff: on the other hand the pontiffs of our time have
got credit for taking away these appointments from the princes. What
at that time, then, might reasonably be granted, may at the present
be reasonably taken away. But why so? Because the mind of Charles the
Great was not assailable by avarice, nor could any person easily find
access unless he entered by the door. Besides, at so vast a distance,
it could not be required of the papal see to grant its consent to each
person elected, so long as there was a king at hand who disposed of
nothing through avarice, but always appointed religious persons to
the churches, according to the sacred ordinances of the canons. At
the present time luxury and ambition have beset every king’s palace;
wherefore the spouse of Christ deservedly asserts her liberty, lest
a tyrant should prostitute to an ambitious usurper. Thus, on either
side, may my cause be denied or affirmed; it is not the office of a
bishop either himself to fight, or to command others to do so; but it
belongs to a bishop’s function, if he see innocence made shipwreck of,
to oppose both hand and tongue. Ezekiel accuses the priests for not
strongly opposing and holding forth a shield for the house of Israel in
the day of the Lord. Now there are two persons in the church of God,
appointed for the purpose of repressing crimes; one who can rebuke
sharply; the other, who can wield the sword. I, as you can witness for
me, have not neglected my part; as far as I saw it could profit, I
did rebuke sharply. I sent a message to him whose business it was to
bear the sword; he wrote me word back, that he was occupied in his war
with the Vandals, entreating me not to spare my labour nor his expense
in breaking up the meetings of the plunderers. If I had refused,
what excuse could I offer to God after the emperor had delegated his
office to me? Could I see the murder of the townspeople, the robbery
of the pilgrims, and slumber on? But he who spares a thief, kills the
innocent. Yet it will be objected that it is not the part of a priest
to defile himself with the blood of any one: I grant it. But he does
not defile himself, who frees the innocent by the destruction of the
guilty. Blessed, truly blessed, are they who always keep judgment and
do justice. Phineas and Mattathias were priests most renowned in fame,
both crowned with the sacred mitre, and both habited in sacerdotal
garb; and yet they both punished the wicked with their own hands. The
one transfixed the guilty couple with a javelin: the other mingled the
blood of the sacrificer with the sacrifice. If then those persons,
regarding, as it were, the thick darkness of the law, were, through
divine zeal, transported for mysteries, the shadows only of those which
were to be; shall we, who see the truth with perfect clearness, suffer
our sacred things to be profaned? Azarias the priest drove away king
Ozias, when offering incense, and no doubt would have killed him, had
he not quickly departed; the divine vengeance, however, anticipated
the hand of the priest, for a leprosy preyed on the body of the man
whose mind had coveted unlawful things; the devotion of a king was
disturbed, and shall not the desires of a thief be so? It is not enough
to excuse, I even applaud this my conduct; indeed I have conferred a
benefit on the very persons I seem to have destroyed. I have diminished
their punishment in accelerating their deaths. The longer a wicked man
lives the more he will sin, unless he be such as God hath graciously
reserved for a singular example. Death in general is good for all;
for by it the just man finds repose in heaven,--the unjust ceases
from his crimes,--the bad man puts an end to his guilt,--the good
proceeds to his reward,--the saint approaches to the palm,--the sinner
looks forward to pardon, because death has fixed a boundary to his
transgressions. They then surely ought to thank me, who through my
conduct have been exempted from so many sufferings. I have urged these
matters in my own defence, and to invalidate your assertions: however,
since both your reasoning and mine may be fallacious, let us commit
all to the decision of God. Place my body, when laid out in the manner
of my predecessors, before the gates of the church; and let them be
secured with locks and bars. If God be willing that I should enter, you
will hail a miracle; if not, do with my dead body according to your

Struck by this address, when he had breathed his last, they carried
out the remains of the departed prelate before the doors, which were
strongly fastened; and presently a whirlwind, sent by God, broke every
opposing bolt, and drove the very doors, with the utmost violence,
against the walls. The surrounding people applaud with joy, and the
body of the pontiff was interred, with all due respect, by the side of
the other popes.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] STORY OF THE BERKELEY WITCH.]

At the same time something similar occurred in England, not by divine
miracle, but by infernal craft; which when I shall have related,
the credit of the narrative will not be shaken, though the minds of
the hearers should be incredulous; for I have heard it from a man
of such character, who swore he had seen it, that I should blush to
disbelieve. There resided at Berkeley a woman addicted to witchcraft,
as it afterwards appeared, and skilled in ancient augury: she was
excessively gluttonous, perfectly lascivious, setting no bounds to
her debaucheries, as she was not old, though fast declining in life.
On a certain day, as she was regaling, a jack-daw, which was a very
great favourite, chattered a little more loudly than usual. On hearing
which the woman’s knife fell from her hand, her countenance grew pale,
and deeply groaning, “This day,” said she, “my plough has completed
its last furrow; to-day I shall hear of, and suffer, some dreadful
calamity.” While yet speaking, the messenger of her misfortunes
arrived; and being asked, why he approached with so distressed an air?
“I bring news,” said he, “from that village,” naming the place, “of
the death of your son, and of the whole family, by a sudden accident.”
At this intelligence, the woman, sorely afflicted, immediately took to
her bed, and perceiving the disorder rapidly approaching the vitals,
she summoned her surviving children, a monk, and a nun, by hasty
letters; and, when they arrived, with faltering voice, addressed them
thus: “Formerly, my children, I constantly administered to my wretched
circumstances by demoniacal arts: I have been the sink of every vice,
the teacher of every allurement: yet, while practising these crimes, I
was accustomed to soothe my hapless soul with the hope of your piety.
Despairing of myself, I rested my expectations on you; I advanced
you as my defenders against evil spirits, my safeguards against my
strongest foes. Now, since I have approached the end of my life, and
shall have those eager to punish, who lured me to sin, I entreat you
by your mother’s breasts, if you have any regard, any affection, at
least to endeavour to alleviate my torments; and, although you cannot
revoke the sentence already passed upon my soul, yet you may, perhaps,
rescue my body, by these means: sew up my corpse in the skin of a stag;
lay it on its back in a stone coffin; fasten down the lid with lead
and iron; on this lay a stone, bound round with three iron chains of
enormous weight; let there be psalms sung for fifty nights, and masses
said for an equal number of days, to allay the ferocious attacks of my
adversaries. If I lie thus secure for three nights, on the fourth day
bury your mother in the ground; although I fear, lest the earth, which
has been so often burdened with my crimes, should refuse to receive
and cherish me in her bosom.” They did their utmost to comply with her
injunctions: but alas! vain were pious tears, vows, or entreaties; so
great was the woman’s guilt, so great the devil’s violence. For on
the first two nights, while the choir of priests was singing psalms
around the body, the devils, one by one, with the utmost ease bursting
open the door of the church, though closed with an immense bolt, broke
asunder the two outer chains; the middle one being more laboriously
wrought, remained entire. On the third night, about cock-crow, the
whole monastery seemed to be overthrown from its very foundation, by
the clamour of the approaching enemy. One devil, more terrible in
appearance than the rest, and of loftier stature, broke the gates to
shivers by the violence of his attack. The priests grew motionless with
fear,[257] their hair stood on end, and they became speechless. He
proceeded, as it appeared, with haughty step towards the coffin, and
calling on the woman by name, commanded her to rise. She replying that
she could not on account of the chains: “You shall be loosed,” said he,
“and to your cost:” and directly he broke the chain, which had mocked
the ferocity of the others, with as little exertion as though it had
been made of flax. He also beat down the cover of the coffin with his
foot, and taking her by the hand, before them all, he dragged her out
of the church. At the doors appeared a black horse, proudly neighing,
with iron hooks projecting over his whole back; on which the wretched
creature was placed, and, immediately, with the whole party, vanished
from the eyes of the beholders; her pitiable cries, however, for
assistance, were heard for nearly the space of four miles. No person
will deem this incredible, who has read St. Gregory’s Dialogues;[258]
who tells, in his fourth book, of a wicked man that had been buried
in a church, and was cast out of doors again by devils. Among the
French also, what I am about to relate is frequently mentioned. Charles
Martel, a man of renowned valour, who obliged the Saracens, when they
had invaded France, to retire to Spain, was, at his death, buried in
the church of St. Denys; but as he had seized much of the property of
almost all the monasteries in France for the purpose of paying his
soldiers, he was visibly taken away from his tomb by evil spirits, and
has nowhere been seen to his day. At length this was revealed to the
bishop of Orleans, and by him publicly made known.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1137.] THE PRIEST PALUMBUS.]

But to return to Rome: there was a citizen of this place, youthful,
rich, and of senatorial rank, who had recently married; and, who
calling together his companions, had made a plentiful entertainment.
After the repast, when by moderate drinking they had excited hilarity,
they went out into the field to promote digestion, either by leaping,
or hurling, or some other exercise. The master of the banquet, who was
leader of the game, called for a ball to play with, and in the meantime
placed the wedding ring on the outstretched finger of a brazen statue
which stood close at hand. But when almost all the others had attacked
him alone, tired with the violence of the exercise, he left off playing
first, and going to resume his ring, he saw the finger of the statue
clenched fast in the palm. Finding, after many attempts, that he was
unable either to force it off, or to break the finger, he retired in
silence; concealing the matter from his companions, lest they should
laugh at him at the moment, or deprive him of the ring when he was
gone. Returning thither with some servants in the dead of night, he was
surprised to find the finger again extended, and the ring taken away.
Dissembling his loss, he was soothed by the blandishments of his bride.
When the hour of rest arrived, and he had placed himself by the side
of his spouse, he was conscious of something dense, and cloud-like,
rolling between them, which might be felt, though not seen, and by
this means was impeded in his embraces: he heard a voice too, saying,
“Embrace me, since you wedded me to-day; I am Venus, on whose finger
you put the ring; I have it, nor will I restore it.” Terrified at such
a prodigy, he had neither courage, nor ability to reply, and passed a
sleepless night in silent reflection upon the matter. A considerable
space of time elapsed in this way: as often as he was desirous of the
embraces of his wife, the same circumstance ever occurred; though
in other respects, he was perfectly equal to any avocation, civil
or military. At length, urged by the complaints of his consort, he
detailed the matter to her parents; who, after deliberating for a time,
disclosed it to one Palumbus, a suburban priest. This man was skilled
in necromancy, could raise up magical figures, terrify devils, and
impel them to do anything he chose. Making an agreement, that he should
fill his purse most plentifully, provided he succeeded in rendering
the lovers happy, he called up all the powers of his art, and gave the
young man a letter which he had prepared; saying, “Go, at such an hour
of the night, into the high road, where it divides into four several
ways, and stand there in silent expectation. There will pass by human
figures of either sex, of every age, rank, and condition; some on
horseback, some on foot; some with countenances dejected, others elated
with full-swollen insolence; in short, you will perceive in their
looks and gestures, every symptom both of joy and of grief: though
these should address you, enter into conversation with none of them.
This company will be followed by a person taller, and more corpulent
than the rest, sitting in a chariot; to him you will, in silence, give
the letter to read, and immediately your wish will be accomplished,
provided you act with resolution.” The young man took the road he was
commanded; and, at night, standing in the open air, experienced the
truth of the priest’s assertion by everything which he saw; there
was nothing but what was completed to a tittle. Among other passing
figures, he beheld a woman, in meretricious garb, riding on a mule; her
hair, which was bound above in a golden fillet, floated unconfined on
her shoulders; in her hand was a golden wand, with which she directed
the progress of her beast; she was so thinly clad, as to be almost
naked, and her gestures were wonderfully indecent. But what need of
more? At last came the chief, in appearance, who, from his chariot
adorned with emeralds and pearls, fixing his eyes most sternly on the
young man, demanded the cause of his presence. He made no reply, but
stretching out his hand, gave him the letter. The demon, not daring to
despise the well-known seal, read the epistle, and immediately, lifting
up his hands to heaven, “Almighty God,” said he, “in whose sight every
transgression is as a noisome smell, how long wilt thou endure the
crimes of the priest Palumbus?” The devil then directly sent some of
those about him to take the ring by force from Venus, who restored it
at last, though with great reluctance. The young man thus obtaining his
object, became possessed of his long desired pleasures without farther
obstacle; but Palumbus, on hearing of the devil’s complaint to God
concerning him, understood that the close of his days was predicted. In
consequence, making a pitiable atonement by voluntarily cutting off all
his limbs, he confessed unheard-of crimes to the pope in the presence
of the Roman people.

At that time the body of Pallas, the son of Evander, of whom Virgil
speaks, was found entire at Rome, to the great astonishment of all, for
having escaped corruption so many ages. Such, however, is the nature of
bodies embalmed, that, when the flesh decays, the skin preserves the
nerves, and the nerves the bones. The gash which Turnus had made in the
middle of his breast measured four feet and a half. His epitaph was
found to this effect,

  Pallas, Evander’s son, lies buried here
  In order due, transfix’d by Turnus’ spear.

Which epitaph I should not think made at the time, though Carmentis the
mother of Evander is reported to have discovered the Roman letters, but
that it was composed by Ennius, or some other ancient poet.[259] There
was a burning lamp at his head, constructed by magical art; so that no
violent blast, no dripping of water could extinguish it. While many
were lost in admiration at this, one person, as there are always some
people expert in mischief, made an aperture beneath the flame with an
iron style, which introducing the air, the light vanished. The body,
when set up against the wall, surpassed it in height, but some days
afterwards, being drenched with the drip of the eves, it acknowledged
the corruption common to mortals; the skin and the nerves dissolving.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] PRODIGY NEAR NORMANDY.]

At that time too, on the confines of Brittany and Normandy, a prodigy
was seen in one, or more properly speaking, in two women: there were
two heads, four arms, and every other part two-fold to the navel;
beneath, were two legs, two feet, and all other parts single. While
one was laughing, eating, or speaking, the other would cry, fast, or
remain silent: though both mouths ate, yet the excrement was discharged
by only one passage. At last, one dying, the other survived, and the
living carried about the dead, for the space of three years, till she
died also, through the fatigue of the weight, and the stench of the
dead carcass.[260] Many were of opinion, and some even have written,
that these women represented England and Normandy, which, though
separated by position, are yet united under one master. Whatever wealth
these countries greedily absorb, flows into one common receptacle,
which is either the covetousness of princes, or the ferocity of
surrounding nations. England, yet vigorous, supports with her wealth
Normandy now dead and almost decayed, until she herself perhaps shall
fall through the violence of spoilers. Happy, if she shall ever again
breathe that liberty, the mere shadow of which she has long pursued!
She now mourns, borne down with calamity, and oppressed with exactions;
the causes of which misery I shall relate, after I have despatched some
things pertaining to my subject. For since I have hitherto recorded
the civil and military transactions of the kings of England, I may be
allowed to expatiate somewhat on the sanctity of certain of them; and
at the same time to contemplate what splendour of divine love beamed
on this people, from the first dawning of their faith: since I believe
you can no where find the bodies of so many saints entire after death,
typifying the state of final incorruption. I imagine this to have
taken place by God’s agency, in order that a nation, situated, as it
were, almost out of the world, should more confidently embrace the
hope of a resurrection from the contemplation of the incorruption of
the saints. There are, altogether, five which I have known of, though
the residents in many places boast of more; Saint Etheldrida,[261] and
Werburga, virgins; king Edmund; archbishop Elphege;[262] Cuthbert the
ancient father: who with skin and flesh unwasted, and their joints
flexile, appear to have a certain vital warmth about them, and to be
merely sleeping. Who can enumerate all the other saints, of different
ranks and professions? whose names and lives, singly to describe, I
have neither intention nor leisure: yet oh that I might hereafter have
leisure! But I will be silent, lest I should seem to promise more than
I can perform. In consequence, it is not necessary to mention any of
the commonalty, but merely, not to go out of the path of my subject
history, the male and female scions of the royal stock, most of them
innocently murdered; and who have been consecrated martyrs, not by
human conjecture, but by divine acknowledgment. Hence may be known how
little indulgence they gave to the lust of pleasure, who inherited
eternal glory by means of so easy a death.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1035.] OSWALD, KING AND MARTYR.]

In the former book, my history dwelt for some time on the praises of
the most holy Oswald, king and martyr; among whose other marks of
sanctity, was this, which, according to some copies, is related in the
History of the Angles.[263] In the monastery at Selsey, which Wilfrid
of holy memory had filled with Northumbrian monks, a dreadful malady
broke out, and destroyed numbers; the remainder endeavoured to avert
the pestilence by a fast of three days. On the second day of the fast,
the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, appearing to a youth who was sick
with the disorder, animated him by observing: “That he should not fear
approaching death, as it would be a termination of his present illness,
and an entrance into eternal life; that no other person of that
monastery would die of this disorder, because God had granted this to
the merits of the noble king Oswald, who was that very day supplicating
for his countrymen: for it was on this day that the king, murdered by
the faithless, had in a moment ascended to the heavenly tribunal: that
they should search, therefore, in the scroll, in which the names of
the dead were written, and if they found it so, they should put an end
to the fast, give loose to security and joy, and sing solemn masses
to God, and to the holy king.” This vision being quickly followed by
the death of the boy, and the anniversary of the martyr being found in
the martyrology, and at the same time the cessation of the disorder
being attested by the whole province, the name of Oswald was from that
period inserted among the martyrs, which before, on account of his
recent death, had only been admitted into the list of the faithful.
Deservedly, I say, then, deservedly is he to be celebrated, whose glory
the divine approbation so signally manifested, as to order him to be
dignified with masses, in a manner, as I think, not usual among men.
The undoubted veracity of the historian precludes the possibility of
supposing this matter to be false; as does also the blessed bishop
Acca,[264] who was the friend of the author.

Egbert, king of Kent, the son of Erconbert, whom I have mentioned
before, had some very near relations, descended from the royal line;
their names were Ethelred[265] and Ethelbert, the sons of Ermenred his
uncle. Apprehensive that they might grow up with notions of succeeding
to the kingdom, and fearful for his safety, he kept them about him for
some time, with very homely entertainment: and, at last, grudging them
his regards, he removed them from his court. Soon after, when they had
been secretly despatched by one of his servants named Thunre, which
signifies Thunder, he buried them under heaps of rubbish, thinking
that a murder perpetrated in privacy would escape detection. The eye
of God however, which no secrets of the heart can deceive, brought
the innocents to light, vouchsafing many cures upon the spot; until
the neighbours, being roused, dug up the unsightly heaps of turf
and rubbish cast upon their bodies, and forming a trench after the
manner of a sepulchre, they erected a small church over it. There they
remained till the time of king Edgar, when they were taken up by St.
Oswald, archbishop[266] of Worcester, and conveyed to the monastery of
Ramsey; from which period, granting the petitions of the suppliant,
they have manifested themselves by many miracles.

Offa king of the Mercians murdered many persons of consequence for
the security, as he supposed, of his kingdom, without any distinction
of friend or foe; among these was king Ethelbert;[267] thereby being
guilty of an atrocious outrage against the suitor of his daughter.
His unmerited death, however, is thought to have been amply avenged
by the short reign of Offa’s son. Indeed God signalised his sanctity
by such evident tokens, that at this very day the episcopal church of
Hereford is consecrated to his name. Nor should any thing appear idle
or irrelevant, which our pious and religious ancestors have either
tolerated by their silence, or confirmed by their authority.

What shall my pen here trace worthy of St. Kenelm, a youth of tender
age? Kenulf, king of the Mercians, his father, had consigned him, when
seven years old, to his sister Quendrida, for the purpose of education.
But she, falsely entertaining hopes of the kingdom for herself, gave
her little brother in charge to a servant of her household, with an
order to despatch him. Taking out the innocent, under pretence of
hunting for his amusement or recreation, he murdered and hid him in
a thicket. But strange to tell, the crime which had been so secretly
committed in England, gained publicity in Rome, by God’s agency: for
a dove, from heaven, bore a parchment scroll to the altar of St.
Peter, containing an exact account both of his death and place of
burial. As this was written in the English language it was vainly
attempted to be read by the Romans and men of other nations who were
present. Fortunately, however, and opportunely, an Englishman was at
hand, who translated the writing to the Roman people, into Latin,
and gave occasion to the pope to write a letter to the kings of
England, acquainting them with the martyrdom of their countryman. In
consequence of this the body of the innocent was taken up in presence
of a numerous assembly, and removed to Winchcomb. The murderous woman
was so indignant at the vocal chaunt of the priests and loud applause
of the laity, that she thrust out her head from the window of the
chamber where she was standing, and, by chance, having in her hands a
psalter, she came in course of reading to the psalm “O God my praise,”
which, for I know not what charm, reading backwards, she endeavoured
to drown the joy of the choristers. At that moment, her eyes, torn
by divine vengeance from their hollow sockets, scattered blood upon
the verse which runs, “This is the work of them who defame me to the
Lord, and who speak evil against my soul.” The marks of her blood are
still extant, proving the cruelty of the woman, and the vengeance
of God. The body of the little saint is very generally adored, and
there is hardly any place in England more venerated, or where greater
numbers of persons attend at the festival; and this arising from the
long-continued belief of his sanctity, and the constant exhibition of

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] SAINT WISTAN.]

Nor shall my history be wanting in thy praise, Wistan,[268] blessed
youth, son of Wimund, son of Withlaf king of the Mercians, and of
Elfleda, daughter of Ceolwulf, who was the uncle of Kenelm; I will
not, I say, pass thee over in silence, whom Berfert thy relation so
atrociously murdered. And let posterity know, if they deem this history
worthy of perusal, that there was nothing earthly more praiseworthy
than your disposition; at which a deadly assassin becoming irritated,
despatched you: nor was there any thing more innocent than your purity
towards God; invited by which, the secret Judge deemed it fitting to
honour you: for a pillar of light, sent down from heaven, piercing the
sable robe of night, revealed the wickedness of the deep cavern, and
brought to view the crime of the murderer. In consequence, Wistan’s
venerable remains were taken up, and by the care of his relations
conveyed to Rependun;[269] at that time a famous monastery, now a villa
belonging to the earl of Chester, and its glory grown obsolete with
age; but at present thou dwellest at Evesham, kindly favouring the
petitions of such as regard thee.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] CHARACTER OF ST. EDMUND.]

Bede has related many anecdotes of the sanctity of the kings of the
East Saxons, and East Angles, whose genealogy I have in the first book
of this work traced briefly; because I could no where find a complete
history of the kings. I shall however, dilate somewhat on St. Edmund,
who held dominion in East Anglia, and to whom the time of Bede did
not extend. This province, on the south and east, is surrounded by
the ocean; on the north, by deep lakes, and stagnant pools, which,
stretching out a vast distance in length, with a breadth of two or
three miles, afford abundance of fish for the use of the inhabitants;
on the west it is continuous with the rest of the island, but defended
by the earth’s being thrown up in the form of a rampart.[270] The soil
is admirable for pasture, and for hunting; it is full of monasteries,
and large bodies of monks are settled on the islands of these stagnant
waters; the people are a merry, pleasant, jovial race, though apt
to carry their jokes to excess. Here, then, reigned Edmund; a man
devoted to God, ennobled by his descent from ancient kings, and though
he presided over the province in peace for several years, yet never
through the effeminacy of the times did he relax his virtue. Hingwar
and Hubba, two leaders of the Danes, came over to depopulate the
provinces of the Northumbrians and East Angles. The former of these
seized the unresisting king, who had cast away his arms and was lying
on the ground in prayer, and, after the infliction of tortures,[271]
beheaded him. On the death of this saintly man, the purity of his past
life was evidenced by unheard-of miracles. The Danes had cast away the
head, when severed from the body by the cruelty of the executioners,
and it had been hidden in a thicket. While his subjects, who had
tracked the footsteps of the enemy as they departed, were seeking it,
intending to solemnize with due honour the funeral rites of their
king, they were struck with the pleasing intervention of God: for the
lifeless head uttered a voice, inviting all who were in search of it
to approach. A wolf, a beast accustomed to prey upon dead carcasses,
was holding it in its paws, and guarding it untouched; which animal
also, after the manner of a tame creature, gently followed the bearers
to the tomb, and neither did nor received any injury. The sacred body
was then, for a time, committed to the earth; turf was placed over it,
and a wooden chapel, of trifling cost, erected. The negligent natives,
however, were soon made sensible of the virtue of the martyr, which
excited their listless minds to reverence him, by the miracles which
he performed. And though perhaps the first proof of his power may
appear weak and trivial, yet nevertheless I shall subjoin it. He bound,
with invisible bands, some thieves who had endeavoured to break into
the church by night: this was done in the very attempt; a pleasant
spectacle enough, to see the plunder hold fast the thief, so that he
could neither desist from the enterprise, nor complete the design. In
consequence, Theodred bishop of London, who lies at St. Paul’s, removed
the lasting disgrace of so mean a structure, by building a nobler
edifice over those sacred limbs, which evidenced the glory of his
unspotted soul, by surprising soundness, and a kind of milky whiteness.
The head, which was formerly divided from the neck, is again united to
the rest of the body showing only the sign of martyrdom by a purple
seam. One circumstance indeed surpasses human miracles, which is, that
the hair and nails of the dead man continue to grow: these, Oswen, a
holy woman, used yearly to clip and cut, that they might be objects of
veneration to posterity. Truly this was a holy temerity, for a woman
to contemplate and handle limbs superior to the whole of this world.
Not so Leofstan, a youth of bold and untamed insolence, who, with many
impertinent threats, commanded the body of the martyr to be shown to
him; for he was desirous, as he said, of settling the uncertainty of
report by the testimony of his own eyesight. He paid dearly, however,
for his audacious experiment; for he became insane, and shortly after,
died, swarming with vermin. He felt indeed that Edmund was now capable
of doing, what he before used to do; that is,

  “To spare the suppliant, but confound the proud,”

by which means he so completely engaged the inhabitants of all Britain
to him, that every person looked upon himself as particularly happy,
in contributing either money or gifts to St. Edmund’s monastery:
even kings themselves, who rule others, used to boast of being his
servants, and sent him their royal crown; redeeming it, if they wished
to use it, at a great price. The exactors of taxes also, who, in other
places, gave loose to injustice, were there suppliant, and ceased their
cavilling at St. Edmund’s boundary,[272] admonished thereto by the
punishment of others who had presumed to overpass it.

My commendations shall also glance at the names of some maidens of the
royal race, though I must claim indulgence for being brief upon the
subject, not through fastidiousness, but because I am unacquainted
with their miracles. Anna king of the East Angles had three daughters,
Etheldrida, Ethelberga, and Sexberga. Etheldrida, though married to two
husbands, yet by means of saintly continence, as Bede relates, without
any diminution of modesty, without a single lustful inclination,
triumphantly displayed to heaven the palm of perpetual virginity.
Ethelberga, first a nun, and afterwards abbess, in a monastery in
France called Brigis,[273] was celebrated for unblemished chastity;
and it is well worthy of remark, that as both sisters had subdued the
lusts of the flesh while living, so, when dead, their bodies remained
uncorrupt, the one in England, and the other in France; insomuch, that
their sanctity, which is abundantly resplendent, may suffice

  “To cast its radiance over both the poles.”

Sexberga was married to Erconbert king of Kent, and, after his death,
took the veil in the same monastery where her sister Etheldrida was
proclaimed a saint. She had two daughters by king Erconbert, Earcongota
and Ermenhilda. Of Ercongota, such as wish for information will find
it in Bede;[274] Ermenhilda married Wulfhere, king of the Mercians,
and had a daughter, Werburga, a most holy virgin. Both are saints: the
mother, that is to say, St. Ermenhilda, rests at Ely, where she was
abbess after her mother, Sexberga; and the daughter lies at Chester, in
the monastery of that city, which Hugo earl of Chester, ejecting a few
canons who resided there in a mean and irregular manner, has recently
erected. The praises and miracles of both these women, and particularly
of the younger, are there extolled and held in veneration; and though
they are favourable to all petitions without delay, yet are they more
especially kind and assistant to the supplications of women and youths.


Merewald the brother of Wulfhere, by Ermenburga, the daughter of
Ermenred brother of Erconbert king of Kent, had two daughters:
Mildritha and Milburga. Mildritha, dedicating herself to celibacy,
ended her days in the Isle of Thanet in Kent, which king Egbert
had given to her mother, to atone for the murder of her brothers,
Ethelred and Ethelbert.[275] In after times, being transferred to St.
Augustine’s monastery at Canterbury, she is there honoured by the
marked attention of the monks, and celebrated equally for her kindness
and affability to all, as her name[276] implies. And although almost
every corner of that monastery is filled with the bodies of saints of
great name and merit, any one of which would be of itself sufficient to
irradiate all England, yet no one is there more revered, more loved,
or more gratefully remembered; and she, turning a deaf ear to none who
love her, is present to them in the salvation of their souls.

Milburga reposes at Wenlock:[277] formerly well known to the
neighbouring inhabitants; but for some time after the arrival of
the Normans, through ignorance of the place of her burial, she was
neglected. Lately, however, a convent of Clugniac monks being
established there, while a new church was erecting, a certain boy
running violently along the pavement, broke into the hollow of the
vault, and discovered the body of the virgin; when a balsamic odour
pervading the whole church, she was taken up, and performed so many
miracles, that the people flocked thither in great multitudes. Large
spreading plains could hardly contain the troops of pilgrims, while
rich and poor came side by side, one common faith impelling all. Nor
did the event deceive their expectations: for no one departed, without
either a perfect cure, or considerable abatement of his malady, and
some were even healed of the king’s evil, by the merits of this virgin,
when medical assistance was unavailing.

Edward the Elder, of whom I have before spoken at large, had by his
wife Edgiva, several daughters. Among these was Eadburga, who, when
she was scarcely three years old, gave a singular indication of her
future sanctity. Her father was inclined to try whether the little
girl was inclined to God, or to the world, and had placed in a chamber
the symbols of different professions; on one side a chalice, and the
gospels; on the other, bracelets and necklaces. Hither the child was
brought in the arms of her indulgent attendant, and, sitting on her
father’s knee, was desired to choose which she pleased. Rejecting the
earthly ornaments with stern regard, she instantly fell prostrate
before the chalice and the gospels, and worshipped them with infant
adoration. The company present exclaimed aloud, and fondly hailed
the prospect of the child’s future sanctity; her father embraced the
infant in a manner still more endearing. “Go,” said he, “whither the
Divinity calls thee; follow with prosperous steps the spouse whom thou
hast chosen, and truly blessed shall my wife and myself be, if we are
surpassed in holiness by our daughter.” When clothed in the garb of
a nun, she gained the affection of all her female companions, in the
city of Winchester, by the marked attention she paid them. Nor did the
greatness of her birth elevate her; as she esteemed it noble to stoop
to the service of Christ. Her sanctity increased with her years, her
humility kept pace with her growth; so that she used secretly to steal
away the socks of the several nuns at night, and, carefully washing and
anointing them, lay them again upon their beds. Wherefore, though God
signalized her, while living, by many miracles, yet I more particularly
bring forward this circumstance, to show that charity began all her
works, and humility completed them: and finally, many miracles in her
life-time, and since her death, confirm the devotion of her heart and
the incorruptness of her body, which the attendants at her churches at
Winchester and Pershore relate to such as are unacquainted with them.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] ST. EDITHA’S CHASTITY.]

St. Editha, the daughter of king Edgar, ennobles, with her relics, the
monastery of Wilton, where she was buried, and cherishes that place
with her regard, where, trained from her infancy in the school of
the Lord, she gained his favour by unsullied virginity, and constant
watchings: repressing the pride of her high birth by her humility. I
have heard one circumstance of her, from persons of elder days, which
greatly staggered the opinions of men: for she led them into false
conclusions from the splendour of her costly dress; being always
habited in richer garb than the sanctity of her profession seemed
to require. On this account, being openly rebuked by St. Ethelwold,
she is reported to have answered with equal point and wit, that
the judgment of God was true and irrefragable, while that of man,
alone, was fallible; for pride might exist even under the garb of
wretchedness: wherefore, “I think,” said she, “that a mind may be as
pure beneath these vestments, as under your tattered furs.” The bishop
was deeply struck by this speech; admitting its truth by his silence,
and blushing with pleasure that he had been chastised by the sparkling
repartee of the lady, he held his peace. St. Dunstan had observed her,
at the consecration of the church of St. Denys, which she had built
out of affection to that martyr, frequently stretching out her right
thumb, and making the sign of the cross upon her forehead; and being
extremely delighted at it, “May this finger,” he exclaimed, “never see
corruption:” and immediately, while celebrating mass, he burst into
such a flood of tears, that he alarmed with his faltering voice an
assistant standing near him; who inquiring the reason of it, “Soon,”
said he, “shall this blooming rose wither; soon shall this beloved bird
take its flight to God, after the expiration of six weeks from this
time.” The truth of the prelate’s prophecy was very shortly fulfilled;
for on the appointed day, this noble, firmly-minded lady, expired in
her prime, at the age of twenty-three years. Soon after, the same saint
saw, in a dream, St. Denys kindly taking the virgin by the hand, and
strictly enjoining, by divine command, that she should be honoured by
her servants on earth, in the same manner as she was venerated by her
spouse and master in heaven. Miracles multiplying at her tomb, it was
ordered, that her virgin body should be taken up, and exalted in a
shrine; when the whole of it was found resolved into dust, except the
finger, with the abdomen and parts adjacent. In consequence of which,
some debate arising, the virgin herself appeared, in a dream, to one
of those who had seen her remains, saying, “It was no wonder, if the
other parts of the body had decayed, since it was customary for dead
bodies to moulder to their native dust, and she, perhaps, as a girl,
had sinned with those members; but it was highly just, that the abdomen
should see no corruption which had never felt the sting of lust; as she
had been entirely free from gluttony or carnal copulation.”

Truly both these virgins support their respective monasteries by their
merits; each of them being filled with large assemblies of nuns, who
answer obediently to the call of their mistresses and patronesses,
inviting them to virtue. Happy the man, who becomes partaker of those
virgin orisons which the Lord Jesus favours with kind regard. For, as I
have remarked of the nuns of Shaftesbury, all virtues have long since
quitted the earth, and retired to heaven; or, if any where, (but this I
must say with the permission of holy men,) are to be found only in the
hearts of nuns; and surely those women are highly to be praised, who,
regardless of the weakness of their sex, vie with each other in the
preservation of their continence, and by such means ascend, triumphant,
to heaven.

I think it of importance to have been acquainted with many of the
royal family of either sex; as it may be gathered from thence that
king Edward, concerning whom I was speaking before I digressed, by
no means degenerated from the virtues of his ancestors. In fact he
was famed both for miracles, and for the spirit of prophecy, as I
shall hereafter relate. In the exaction of taxes he was sparing, and
he abominated the insolence of collectors: in eating and drinking he
was free from the voluptuousness which his state allowed: on the
more solemn festivals, though dressed in robes interwoven with gold,
which the queen had most splendidly embroidered, yet still he had such
forbearance, as to be sufficiently majestic, without being haughty;
considering in such matters, rather the bounty of God, than the pomp
of the world. There was one earthly enjoyment in which he chiefly
delighted; which was, hunting with fleet hounds, whose opening in the
woods he used with pleasure to encourage: and again, with the pouncing
of birds, whose nature it is to prey on their kindred species. In these
exercises, after hearing divine service in the morning, he employed
himself whole days. In other respects he was a man by choice devoted
to God, and lived the life of an angel in the administration of his
kingdom. To the poor and to the stranger, more especially foreigners
and men of religious orders, he was kind in invitation, munificent in
his presents, and constantly exciting the monks of his own country to
imitate their holiness. He was of a becoming stature; his beard and
hair milk-white; his countenance florid; fair throughout his whole
person; and his form of admirable proportion.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] ORIGIN OF THE ROYAL TOUCH.]

The happiness of his times had been revealed in a dream to Brithwin
bishop of Wilton, who had made it public. For in the time of Canute,
when, at Glastonbury, he was once intent on heavenly watchings, and
the thought of the near extinction of the royal race of the Angles,
which frequently distressed him, came into his mind, sleep stole upon
him thus meditating; when behold! he was rapt on high, and saw Peter,
the chief of the apostles, consecrating Edward, who at that time was
an exile in Normandy, king; his chaste life too was pointed out, and
the exact period of his reign, twenty-four years, determined; and, when
inquiring about his posterity, it was answered, “The kingdom of the
English belongs to God; after you he will provide a king according to
his pleasure.”

But now to speak of his miracles. A young woman had married a husband
of her own age, but having no issue by the union, the humours
collecting abundantly about her neck, she had contracted a sore
disorder; the glands swelling in a dreadful manner. Admonished in
a dream to have the part affected washed by the king, she entered
the palace, and the king himself fulfilled this labour of love, by
rubbing the woman’s neck with his fingers dipped in water. Joyous
health followed his healing hand: the lurid skin opened, so that worms
flowed out with the purulent matter, and the tumour subsided. But as
the orifice of the ulcers was large and unsightly, he commanded her to
be supported at the royal expense till she should be perfectly cured.
However, before a week was expired, a fair, new skin returned, and
hid the scars so completely, that nothing of the original wound could
be discovered: and within a year becoming the mother of twins, she
increased the admiration of Edward’s holiness. Those who knew him more
intimately, affirm that he often cured this complaint in Normandy:
whence appears how false is their notion, who in our times assert, that
the cure of this disease does not proceed from personal sanctity, but
from hereditary virtue in the royal line.

A certain man, blind from some unknown mischance, had persisted in
asserting about the palace, that he should be cured, if he could touch
his eyes with the water in which the king’s hands had been washed. This
was frequently related to Edward, who derided it, and looked angrily
on the persons who mentioned it; confessing himself a sinner, and that
the works of holy men did not belong to him. But the servants, thinking
this a matter not to be neglected, tried the experiment when he was
ignorant of it, and was praying in church. The instant the blind man
was washed with the water, the long-enduring darkness fled from his
eyes, and they were filled with joyful light; and the king, inquiring
the cause of the grateful clamour of the by-standers, was informed of
the fact. Presently afterwards, when, by thrusting his fingers towards
the eyes of the man he had cured, and perceiving him draw back his
head to avoid them, he had made proof of his sight, he, with uplifted
hands, returned thanks to God. In the same way he cured a blind man at
Lincoln, who survived him many years, a proof of the royal miracle.

That you may know the perfect virtue of this prince, in the power of
healing more especially, I shall add something which will excite your
wonder. Wulwin, surnamed Spillecorn, the son of Wulmar of Nutgareshale,
was one day cutting timber in the wood of Bruelle, and indulging in a
long sleep after his labour, he lost his sight for seventeen years,
from the blood, as I imagine, stagnating about his eyes: at the end of
this time, he was admonished in a dream to go round to eighty-seven
churches, and earnestly entreat a cure of his blindness from the
saints. At last he came to the king’s court, where he remained for a
long time, in vain, in opposition to the attendants, at the vestibule
of his chamber. He still continued importunate, however, without being
deterred, till at last, after much difficulty, he was admitted by order
of the king. When he had heard the dream, he mildly answered, “By my
lady St. Mary, I shall be truly grateful, if God, through my means,
shall choose to take pity upon a wretched creature.” In consequence,
though he had no confidence in himself, with respect to miracles,
yet, at the instigation of his servants, he placed his hand, dipped
in water, on the blind man. In a moment the blood dripped plentifully
from his eyes, and the man, restored to sight, exclaimed with rapture,
“I see you, O king! I see you, O king!” In this recovered state, he
had charge of the royal palace at Windsor, for there the cure had been
performed, for a long time; surviving his restorer several years. On
the same day, from the same water, three blind men, and a man with
one eye, who were supported on the royal arms, received a cure; the
servants administering the healing water with perfect confidence.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] KING EDWARD’S VISIONS.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] POPES AND EMPERORS.]

On Easter-day, he was sitting at table at Westminster, with the crown
on his head, and surrounded by a crowd of nobles. While the rest were
greedily eating, and making up for the long fast of Lent by the newly
provided viands, he, with mind abstracted from earthly things, was
absorbed in the contemplation of some divine matter, when presently he
excited the attention of the guests by bursting into profuse laughter:
and as none presumed to inquire into the cause of his joy, he remained
silent as before, till satiety had put an end to the banquet. After
the tables were removed, and as he was unrobing in his chamber, three
persons of rank followed him; of these earl Harold was one, the second
was an abbat, and the third a bishop, who presuming on their intimacy
asked the cause of his laughter, observing, that it seemed just matter
of astonishment to see him, in such perfect tranquillity both of time
and occupation, burst into a vulgar laugh, while all others were
silent. “I saw something wonderful,” said he, “and therefore I did
not laugh without a cause.” At this, as is the custom of mankind,
they began to inquire and search into the matter more earnestly,
entreating that he would condescend to disclose it to them. After
much reluctance, he yielded to their persevering solicitations, and
related the following wonderful circumstance, saying, that the Seven
Sleepers in mount Cœlius had now lain for two hundred years on their
right side, but that, at the very hour of his laughter, they turned
upon their left; that they would continue to lie in this manner
for seventy-four years, which would be a dreadful omen to wretched
mortals. For every thing would come to pass, in these seventy-four
years, which the Lord had foretold to his disciples concerning the
end of the world; nation would rise against nation, and kingdom
against kingdom; earthquakes would be in divers places; pestilence
and famine, terrors from heaven and great signs; changes in kingdoms;
wars of the gentiles against the Christians, and also victories of the
Christians over the pagans. Relating these matters to his wondering
audience, he descanted on the passion of these sleepers, and the make
of their bodies, though totally unnoticed in history, as readily as
though he had lived in daily intercourse with them. On hearing this
the earl sent a knight; the bishop a clergyman; and the abbat a monk,
to Maniches the Constantinopolitan emperor, to investigate the truth
of his declaration; adding letters and presents from the king. After
being kindly entertained, Maniches sent them to the bishop of Ephesus,
giving them at the same time what is called a holy letter, that the
martyr-relics of the Seven Sleepers should be shown to the delegates of
the king of England.[278] It fell out that the presage of king Edward
was proved by all the Greeks, who could swear they had heard from their
fathers that the men were lying on their right side; but after the
entrance of the English into the vault, they published the truth of
the foreign prophecy to their countrymen. Nor was it long before the
predicted evils came to pass; for the Hagarens, and Arabs, and Turks,
nations averse to Christ, making havoc of the Christians, overran
Syria, and Lycia, and Asia Minor altogether, devastating many cities
too of Asia Major, among which was Ephesus, and even Jerusalem itself.
At the same time, on the death of Maniches emperor of Constantinople,
Diogenes, and Michaelius, and Bucinacius, and Alexius, in turn hurled
each other headlong from the throne; the last of whom, continuing till
our time, left for heir his son John more noted for cunning and deceit
than worth. He contrived many hurtful plots against the pilgrims on
their sacred journey; but venerating the fidelity of the English,
he showed them every civility, and transmitted his regard for them
to his son.[279] In the next seven years were three popes, Victor,
Stephen, Nicholas,[280] who diminished the vigour of the papacy by
their successive deaths. Almost immediately afterwards too died Henry,
the pious emperor of the Romans, and had for successor Henry his son,
who brought many calamities on the city of Rome by his folly and his
wickedness. The same year Henry, king of France, a good and active
warrior, died by poison. Soon after a comet, a star denoting, as they
say, change in kingdoms, appeared trailing its extended and fiery
train along the sky. Wherefore a certain monk of our monastery,[281]
by name Elmer, bowing down with terror at the sight of the brilliant
star, wisely exclaimed, “Thou art come! a matter of lamentation to
many a mother art thou come; I have seen thee long since; but I now
behold thee much more terrible, threatening to hurl destruction on this
country.” He was a man of good learning for those times, of mature age,
and in his early youth had hazarded an attempt of singular temerity.
He had by some contrivance fastened wings to his hands and feet, in
order that, looking upon the fable as true, he might fly like Dædalus,
and collecting the air on the summit of a tower, had flown for more
than the distance of a furlong; but, agitated by the violence of the
wind and the current of air, as well as by the consciousness of his
rash attempt, he fell and broke his legs, and was lame ever after. He
used to relate as the cause of his failure, his forgetting to provide
himself a tail.

Another prophecy similar to this, Edward uttered when dying, which I
shall here anticipate. When he had lain two days speechless, on the
third, sadly and deeply sighing as he awoke from his torpor, “Almighty
God,” said he, “as this shall be a real vision, or a vain illusion,
which I have seen, grant me the power of explaining it, or not, to the
by-standers.” Soon after speaking fluently, “I saw just now,” continued
he, “two monks near me, whom formerly, when a youth in Normandy, I knew
both to have lived in a most religious manner, and to have died like
perfect Christians. These men, announcing themselves as the messengers
of God, spake to the following effect: ‘Since the chiefs of England,
the dukes, bishops, and abbats, are not the ministers of God, but of
the devil, God, after your death, has delivered this kingdom for a year
and a day, into the hand of the enemy, and devils shall wander over all
the land.’ And when I said that I would show these things to my people;
and promised that they should liberate themselves by repentance, after
the old example of the Ninevites; ‘Neither of these,’ said they, ‘shall
take place; for they will not repent, nor will God have mercy on them.’
When then, said I, may cessation from such great calamities be hoped
for? They replied, ‘Whenever a green tree shall be cut through the
middle, and the part cut off, being carried the space of three acres
from the trunk, shall, without any assistance, become again united to
its stem, bud out with flowers, and stretch forth its fruit, as before,
from the sap again uniting; then may a cessation of such evils be at
last expected.’”

Though others were apprehensive of the truth of this prediction, yet
Stigand, at that time archbishop, received it with laughter; saying,
that the old man doted through disease. We, however, find the truth
of the presage experimentally; for England is become the residence of
foreigners, and the property of strangers: at the present time, there
is no Englishman, either earl, bishop, or abbat; strangers all, they
prey upon the riches and vitals of England; nor is there any hope of
a termination to this misery. The cause of which evil, as I have long
since promised, it is now high time that my narrative should endeavour
briefly to disclose.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] DEATH OF EDWARD.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] HAROLD.]

King Edward declining into years, as he had no children himself, and
saw the sons of Godwin growing in power, despatched messengers to the
king of Hungary, to send over Edward, the son of his brother Edmund,
with all his family: intending, as he declared, that either he, or his
sons, should succeed to the hereditary kingdom of England, and that his
own want of issue should be supplied by that of his kindred. Edward
came in consequence, but died almost immediately at St. Paul’s[282]
in London: he was neither valiant, nor a man of abilities. He left
three surviving children; that is to say, Edgar, who, after the death
of Harold, was by some elected king; and who, after many revolutions
of fortune, is now living wholly retired in the country, in extreme
old age: Christina, who grew old at Romsey in the habit of a nun:
Margaret, whom Malcolm king of the Scots espoused. Blessed with a
numerous offspring, her sons were Edgar, and Alexander, who reigned
in Scotland after their father in due succession: for the eldest,
Edward, had fallen in battle with his father; the youngest, David,
noted for his meekness and discretion, is at present king of Scotland.
Her daughters were, Matilda, whom in our time king Henry has married,
and Maria, whom Eustace the younger, earl of Boulogne, espoused. The
king, in consequence of the death of his relation, losing his first
hope of support, gave the succession of England to William earl of
Normandy.[283] He was well worthy of such a gift, being a young man
of superior mind, who had raised himself to the highest eminence by
his unwearied exertion: moreover, he was his nearest relation by
consanguinity, as he was the son of Robert, the son of Richard the
second, whom we have repeatedly mentioned as the brother of Emma,
Edward’s mother. Some affirm that Harold himself was sent into Normandy
by the king for this purpose: others, who knew Harold’s more secret
intentions, say, that being driven thither against his will, by the
violence of the wind, he imagined this device, in order to extricate
himself. This, as it appears nearest the truth, I shall relate. Harold
being at his country-seat at Boseham,[284] went for recreation on
board a fishing boat, and, for the purpose of prolonging his sport,
put out to sea; when a sudden tempest arising, he was driven with his
companions on the coast of Ponthieu. The people of that district, as
was their native custom, immediately assembled from all quarters; and
Harold’s company, unarmed and few in number, were, as it easily might
be, quickly overpowered by an armed multitude, and bound hand and
foot. Harold, craftily meditating a remedy for this mischance, sent a
person, whom he had allured by very great promises, to William, to say,
that he had been sent into Normandy by the king, for the purpose of
expressly confirming, in person, the message which had been imperfectly
delivered by people of less authority; but that he was detained in
fetters by Guy earl of Ponthieu, and could not execute his embassy:
that it was the barbarous and inveterate custom of the country, that
such as had escaped destruction at sea, should meet with perils on
shore: that it well became a man of his dignity, not to let this pass
unpunished: that to suffer those to be laden with chains, who appealed
to his protection, detracted somewhat from his own greatness: and that
if his captivity must be terminated by money, he would gladly give
it to earl William, but not to the contemptible Guy. By these means,
Harold was liberated at William’s command, and conducted to Normandy
by Guy in person. The earl entertained him with much respect, both in
banqueting and in vesture, according to the custom of his country; and
the better to learn his disposition, and at the same time to try his
courage, took him with him in an expedition he at that time led against
Brittany. There, Harold, well proved both in ability and courage, won
the heart of the Norman; and, still more to ingratiate himself, he of
his own accord, confirmed to him by oath the castle of Dover, which was
under his jurisdiction, and the kingdom of England, after the death
of Edward. Wherefore, he was honoured both by having his daughter,
then a child, betrothed to him, and by the confirmation of his ample
patrimony, and was received into the strictest intimacy. Not long after
his return home, the king was crowned[285] at London on Christmas-day,
and being there seized with the disorder of which he was sensible he
should die, he commanded the church of Westminster to be dedicated on
Innocents-day.[286] Thus, full of years and of glory, he surrendered
his pure spirit to heaven, and was buried on the day of the Epiphany,
in the said church, which he, first in England, had erected after that
kind of style which, now, almost all attempt to rival at enormous
expense. The race of the West Saxons, which had reigned in Britain five
hundred and seventy-one years, from the time of Cerdic, and two hundred
and sixty-one from Egbert, in him ceased altogether to rule. For while
the grief for the king’s death was yet fresh, Harold, on the very
day of the Epiphany, seized the diadem, and extorted from the nobles
their consent; though the English say, that it was granted him by the
king: but I conceive it alleged, more through regard to Harold, than
through sound judgment, that Edward should transfer his inheritance to
a man of whose power he had always been jealous. Still, not to conceal
the truth, Harold would have governed the kingdom with prudence and
with courage, in the character he had assumed, had he undertaken it
lawfully. Indeed, during Edward’s lifetime, he had quelled, by his
valour, whatever wars were excited against him; wishing to signalize
himself with his countrymen, and looking forward with anxious hope
to the crown. He first vanquished Griffin king of the Welsh, as I
have before related, in battle; and, afterwards, when he was again
making formidable efforts to recover his power, deprived him of his
head; appointing as his successors, two of his own adherents, that is,
the brothers of this Griffin, Blegent and Rivallo, who had obtained
his favour by their submission. The same year Tosty arrived on the
Humber, from Flanders, with a fleet of sixty ships, and infested with
piratical depredations those parts which were adjacent to the mouth
of the river; but being quickly driven from the province by the joint
force of the brothers, Edwin and Morcar, he set sail towards Scotland;
where meeting with Harold Harfager king of Norway, then meditating an
attack on England with three hundred ships, he put himself under his
command. Both, then, with united forces, laid waste the country beyond
the Humber; and falling on the brothers, reposing after their recent
victory and suspecting no attack of the kind, they first routed, and
then shut them up in York. Harold, on hearing this, proceeded thither
with all his forces, and, each nation making every possible exertion, a
bloody encounter followed: but the English obtained the advantage, and
put the Norwegians to flight. Yet, however reluctantly posterity may
believe it, one single Norwegian for a long time delayed the triumph
of so many, and such great men. For standing on the entrance of the
bridge, which is called Standford Brigge,[287] after having killed
several of our party, he prevented the whole from passing over. Being
invited to surrender, with the assurance that a man of such courage
should experience the amplest clemency from the English, he derided
those who entreated him; and immediately, with stern countenance,
reproached the set of cowards who were unable to resist an individual.
No one approaching nearer, as they thought it unadvisable to come to
close quarters with a man who had desperately rejected every means
of safety, one of the king’s followers aimed an iron javelin at him
from a distance; and transfixed him as he was boastfully flourishing
about, and too incautious from his security, so that he yielded the
victory to the English. The army immediately passing over without
opposition, destroyed the dispersed and flying Norwegians. King
Harfager and Tosty were slain; the king’s son, with all the ships, was
kindly sent back to his own country. Harold, elated by his successful
enterprise, vouchsafed no part of the spoil to his soldiers. Wherefore
many, as they found opportunity, stealing away, deserted the king, as
he was proceeding to the battle of Hastings. For with the exception
of his stipendiary and mercenary soldiers, he had very few of the
people[288] with him; on which account, circumvented by a stratagem of
William’s, he was routed, with the army he headed, after possessing
the kingdom nine months and some days. The effect of war in this
affair was trifling; it was brought about by the secret and wonderful
counsel of God: since the Angles never again, in any general battle,
made a struggle for liberty, as if the whole strength of England had
fallen with Harold, who certainly might and ought to pay the penalty
of his perfidy, even though it were at the hands of the most unwarlike
people. Nor in saying this, do I at all derogate from the valour of
the Normans, to whom I am strongly bound, both by my descent, and for
the privileges I enjoy. Still[289] those persons appear to me to err,
who augment the numbers of the English, and underrate their courage;
who, while they design to extol the Normans, load them with ignominy. A
mighty commendation indeed! that a very warlike nation should conquer
a set of people who were obstructed by their multitude, and fearful
through cowardice! On the contrary, they were few in number and brave
in the extreme; and sacrificing every regard to their bodies, poured
forth their spirit for their country. But, however, as these matters
await a more detailed narrative, I shall now put a period to my second
book, that I may return to my composition, and my readers to the
perusal of it, with fresh ardour.



[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] BATTLE OF HASTINGS.]

Normans and English, incited by different motives, have written of
king William: the former have praised him to excess; extolling to the
utmost both his good and his bad actions: while the latter, out of
national hatred, have laden their conqueror with undeserved reproach.
For my part, as the blood of either people flows in my veins, I shall
steer a middle course: where I am certified of his good deeds, I shall
openly proclaim them; his bad conduct I shall touch upon lightly and
sparingly, though not so as to conceal it; so that neither shall
my narrative be condemned as false, nor will I brand that man with
ignominious censure, almost the whole of whose actions may reasonably
be excused, if not commended. Wherefore I shall willingly and carefully
relate such anecdotes of him, as may be matter of incitement to the
indolent, or of example to the enterprising; useful to the present age,
and pleasing to posterity. But I shall spend little time in relating
such things as are of service to no one, and which produce disgust in
the reader, as well as ill-will to the author. There are always people,
more than sufficient, ready to detract from the actions of the noble:
my course of proceeding will be, to extenuate evil, as much as can be
consistently with truth, and not to bestow excessive commendation even
on good actions. For this moderation, as I imagine, all true judges
will esteem me neither timid, nor unskilful. And this rule too, my
history will regard equally, with respect both to William and his two
sons; that nothing shall be dwelt on too fondly; nothing untrue shall
be admitted. The elder of these did little worthy of praise, if we
except the early part of his reign; gaining, throughout the whole of
his life, the favour of the military at the expense of the people. The
second, more obsequious to his father than to his brother, possessed
his spirit, unsubdued either by prosperity or adversity: on regarding
his warlike expeditions, it is matter of doubt, whether he was more
cautious or more bold; on contemplating their event, whether he was
more fortunate, or unsuccessful. There will be a time, however, when
the reader may judge for himself. I am now about to begin my third
volume; and I think I have said enough to make him attentive, and
disposed to receive instruction: his own feelings will persuade him to
be candid.

_Of William the First._ [A.D. 1066-1087.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] WILLIAM THE FIRST.]

Robert, second son of Richard the Second, after he had, with great
glory, held the duchy of Normandy for seven years, resolved on a
pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He had, at that time, a son seven years of
age, born of a concubine, whose beauty he had accidentally beheld,
as she was dancing, and had become so smitten with it, as to form a
connexion with her: after which, he loved her exclusively, and, for
some time, regarded her as his wife. He had by her this boy, named,
after his great-great-grandfather, William, whose future glory was
portended to his mother by a dream; wherein she imagined her intestines
were stretched out, and extended over the whole of Normandy and
England: and, at the very moment, also, when the infant burst into life
and touched the ground, he filled both hands with the rushes strewed
upon the floor, firmly grasping what he had taken up. This prodigy was
joyfully witnessed by the women, gossipping on the occasion; and the
midwife hailed the propitious omen, declaring that the boy would be a

Every provision being made for the expedition to Jerusalem,[290] the
chiefs were summoned to a council at Feschamp, where, at his father’s
command, all swore fidelity to William: earl Gilbert was appointed his
guardian; and the protection of the earl was assigned to Henry, king of
France. While Robert was prosecuting his journey, the Normans, each in
his several station, united in common for the defence of their country,
and regarded their infant lord with great affection. This fidelity
continued till the report was spread of Robert’s death, upon which
their affection changed with his fortune; and then they began severally
to fortify their towns, to build castles, to carry in provisions, and
to seek the earliest opportunities of revolting from the child. In
the meantime, however, doubtlessly by the special aid of God who had
destined him to the sovereignty of such an extended empire, he grew up
uninjured; while Gilbert, almost alone, defended by arms what was just
and right: the rest being occupied by the designs of their respective
parties. But Gilbert being at this time killed by his cousin Rodulph,
fire and slaughter raged on all sides. The country, formerly most
flourishing, was now torn with intestine broils, and divided at the
pleasure of the plunderers; so that it was justly entitled to proclaim,
“Woe to the land whose sovereign is a child.”[291]

William, however, as soon as his age permitted, receiving the badge
of knighthood from the king of France, inspirited the inhabitants to
hope for quiet. The sower of dissension was one Guy, a Burgundian on
his father’s side, and grandson to Richard the Second by his daughter.
William and Guy had been children together, and at that time were
equally approaching to manhood. Mutual intercourse had produced an
intimacy between them which had ripened into friendship. Moreover,
thinking, as they were related, that he ought to deny him nothing,
he had given him the castles of Briony and Vernon. The Burgundian,
unmindful of this, estranged himself from the earl, feigning sufficient
cause of offence to colour his conduct. It would be tedious, and
useless, to relate what actions were performed on either side, what
castles were taken; for his perfidy had found abettors in Nigel,
viscount of Coutances, Ralph, viscount of Bayeux, and Haimo Dentatus,
grandfather of Robert, who was the occupier of many estates in England
in our time. With these persons, this most daring plunderer, allured
by vain expectation of succeeding to the earldom, was devastating
the whole of Normandy. A sense of duty, however, compelled the
guardian-king to succour the desperate circumstances of his ward.
Remembering, therefore, the kindness of his father, and that he
had, by his influence, exalted him to the kingdom, he rushed on the
revolters at Walesdun. Many thousands of them were there slain; many
drowned in the river Orne, by its rapidity, while, being hard-pressed,
they spurred their horses to ford the current. Guy, escaping with
difficulty, betook himself to Briony; but was driven thence by William,
and unable to endure this disgrace, he retired, of his own accord,
to Burgundy, his native soil. Here too his unquiet spirit found no
rest; for being expelled thence by his brother, William, earl of that
province, against whom he had conceived designs, it appears not what
fate befell him. Nigel and Ralph were admitted to fealty: Haimo fell in
the field of battle; after having become celebrated by his remarkable
daring for having unhorsed the king himself; in consequence of which
he was despatched by the surrounding guards, and, in admiration of his
valour, honourably buried at the king’s command. King Henry received a
compensation for this favour, when the Norman lord actively assisted
him against Geoffrey Martel at Herle-Mill, which is a fortress in
the country of Anjou. For William had now attained his manly vigour;
an object of dread even to his elders, and though alone, a match for
numbers. Unattended he would rush on danger; and when unaccompanied, or
with only a few followers, dart into the thickest ranks of the enemy.
By this expedition he gained the reputation of admirable bravery,
as well as the sincerest regard of the king; so that, with parental
affection, he would often admonish him not to hold life in contempt by
encountering danger so precipitately; a life, which was the ornament of
the French, the safeguard of the Normans, and an example to both.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1047.] GEOFFREY, EARL OF ANJOU.]

At that time Geoffrey[292] was earl of Anjou, who had boastingly
taken the surname of Martel, as he seemed, by a certain kind of good
fortune, to beat down all his opponents. Finally, he had made captive,
in open battle, his liege lord, the earl of Poitou; and, loading
him with chains, had compelled him to dishonourable terms of peace;
namely, that he should yield up Bourdeaux and the neighbouring cities,
and pay an annual tribute for the rest. But he, as it is thought,
through the injuries of his confinement and want of food, was, after
three days, released from eternal ignominy by a timely death. Martel
then, that his effrontery might be complete, married the stepmother
of the deceased; taking his brothers under his protection until they
should be capable of governing the principality. Next entering the
territories of Theobald, earl of Blois, he laid siege to the city of
Tours; and while he was hastening to the succour of his subjects, made
him participate in their afflictions; for being taken, and shut up in
prison, he ceded the city from himself and his heirs for ever. Who
shall dare cry shame on this man’s cowardice, who, for the enjoyment of
a little longer life, defrauded his successors for ever of the dominion
of so great a city? for although we are too apt to be severe judges of
others, yet we must know, that we should consult our own safety, if we
were ever to be placed in similar circumstances. In this manner Martel,
insolent from the accession of so much power, obtained possession of
the castle of Alençon, even from the earl of Normandy; its inhabitants
being faithlessly disposed. Irritated at this outrage, William
retaliated, and invested Danfrunt, which at that time belonged to the
earl of Anjou. Geoffrey, immediately, excited by the complaints of the
besieged, hastily rushed forward with a countless force. Hearing of his
approach, William sends Roger Montgomery[293] and William Fitz-Osberne
to reconnoitre. They, from the activity of youth, proceeding many miles
in a short time, espied Martel on horseback, and apprized him of the
dauntless boldness of their lord. Martel immediately began to rage, to
threaten mightily what he would do; and said that he would come thither
the next day, and show to the world at large how much an Angevin
could excel a Norman in battle: at the same time, with unparalleled
insolence, describing the colour of his horse, and the devices on the
arms he meant to use. The Norman nobles, with equal vanity, relating
the same of William, return and stimulate their party to the conflict.
I have described these things minutely, for the purpose of displaying
the arrogance of Martel. On this occasion, however, he manifested none
of his usual magnanimity, for he retreated without coming to battle; on
hearing which, the inhabitants of Alençon surrendered, covenanting for
personal safety; and, afterwards, those of Danfrunt also, listed under
the more fortunate standard.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1047.] WILLIAM OF ARCHES.]

In succeeding years William, earl of Arches, his illegitimate uncle,
who had always been faithless and fluctuating from his first entrance
on the duchy, rebelled against him; for, even during the siege of
Danfrunt, he had unexpectedly stolen away, and had communicated to
many persons the secrets of his soul. In consequence of this, William
had committed the keeping of his castle to some men, whom he had
erroneously deemed faithful; but the earl, with his usual skill in
deception, had seduced even these people to his party, by giving them
many things, and promising them more. Thus possessed of the fortress,
he declared war against his lord. William, with his customary alacrity,
contrary to the advice of his friends, laid siege to Arches, declaring
publicly, that the miscreants would not dare attempt any thing, if
they came into his sight. Nor was his assertion false: for more than
three hundred soldiers, who had gone out to plunder and forage, the
instant they beheld him, though almost unattended, fled back into
their fortifications. Being inclined to settle this business without
bloodshed, he fortified a castle in front of Arches, and turned to
matters of hostile operation which required deeper attention, because
he was aware that the king of France, who had already become adverse
to him from some unknown cause, was hastening to the succour of the
besieged. He here gave an instance of very laudable forbearance; for
though he certainly appeared to have the juster cause, yet he was
reluctant to engage with that person, to whom he was bound both by oath
and by obligation. He left some of his nobility, however, to repress
the impetuosity of the king; who, falling into an ambush laid by their
contrivance, had most deservedly to lament Isembard, earl of Ponthieu,
who was killed in his sight, and Hugh Bardulf, who was taken prisoner.
Not long after, in consequence of his miscarriage, retiring to his
beloved France, the earl of Arches, wasted with hunger, and worn to a
skeleton, consented to surrender, and was preserved, life and limb, an
example of clemency, and a proof of perseverance. During the interval
of this siege, the people of the fortress called Moulin, becoming
disaffected, at the instigation of one Walter, went over to the king’s
side. An active party of soldiers was placed there, under the command
of Guy, brother of the earl of Poitou, who diligently attended for some
time to his military duties: but on hearing the report of the victory
at Arches, he stole away into France, and contributed, by these means,
considerably to the glory of the duke.

King Henry, however, did not give indulgence to inactivity; but,
muttering that his armies had been a laughing-stock to William,
immediately collected all his forces, and, dividing them into two
bodies, he over-ran the whole of Normandy. He himself headed all
the military power which came from that part of Celtic Gaul which
lies between the rivers Garonne and Seine; and gave his brother Odo
the command over such as came from that part of Belgic Gaul which
is situated between the Rhine and the Seine. In like manner William
divided his army, with all the skill he possessed; approaching by
degrees the camp of the king, which was pitched in the country of
Briony, in such a manner, as neither to come to close engagement,
nor yet suffer the province to be devastated in his presence. His
generals were Robert, earl of Aux; Hugo de Gournay, Hugo de Montfort,
and William Crispin, who opposed Odo at a town called Mortemar. Nor
did he, relying on the numerous army which he commanded, at all delay
coming to action; yet making only slight resistance at the beginning,
and afterwards being unable to withstand the attack of the Normans,
he retreated, and was himself the first to fly. And here, while Guy,
earl of Ponthieu, was anxiously endeavouring to revenge his brother,
he was made captive, and felt, together with many others surpassing
in affluence and rank, the weight of that hand which was so fatal to
his family. When William was informed of this success by messengers,
he took care that it should be proclaimed in the dead of night, near
the king’s tent. On hearing which he retired, after some days spent in
Normandy, into France; and, soon after, ambassadors passing between
them, it was concluded, by treaty, that the king’s partizans should be
set at liberty, and that the earl should become legally possessed of
all that had been, or should hereafter be, taken from Martel.

It would be both tedious and useless, to relate their perpetual
contentions, or how William always came off conqueror. What shall we
say besides, when, magnanimously despising the custom of modern times,
he never condescended to attack him suddenly, or without acquainting
him of the day. Moreover, I pass by the circumstance of king Henry’s
again violating his friendship; his entering Normandy, and proceeding
through the district of Hiesmes to the river Dive, boasting that the
sea was the sole obstacle to his farther progress. But William now
perceiving himself reduced to extremities by the king’s perfidy, at
length brandished the arms of conscious valour, and worsted the royal
forces which were beyond the river--for part of them, hearing of his
arrival, had passed over some little time before--with such entire
loss, that henceforth France had no such object of dread as that
of irritating the ferocity of the Normans. The death of Henry soon
following, and, shortly after, that of Martel, put an end to these
broils. The dying king delegated the care of his son Philip, at that
time extremely young, to Baldwin earl of Flanders. He was a man equally
celebrated for fidelity and wisdom; in the full possession of bodily
strength, and also ennobled by a marriage with the king’s sister. His
daughter, Matilda, a woman who was a singular mirror of prudence in
our time, and the perfection of virtue, had been already married to
William. Hence it arose, that being mediator between his ward, and his
son-in-law, Baldwin restrained, by his wholesome counsels, the feuds of
the chiefs, and of the people.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1058.] FULK, EARL OF ANJOU.]

But since the mention of Martel has so often presented itself, I shall
briefly trace the genealogy of the earls of Anjou,[294] as far as the
knowledge of my informant reaches. Fulk the elder, presiding over that
county for many years, until he became advanced in years, performed
many great and prudent actions. There is only one thing for which I
have heard him branded: for, having induced Herbert earl of Maine
to come to Saintes, under the promise of yielding him that city, he
caused him, in the midst of their conversation, to be surrounded by
his attendants, and compelled him to submit to his own conditions:
in other respects he was a man of irreproachable integrity. In his
latter days, he ceded his principality to Geoffrey his son so often
mentioned. Geoffrey conducted himself with excessive barbarity to the
inhabitants, and with equal haughtiness even to the person who had
conferred this honour upon him: on which, being ordered by his father
to lay down the government and ensigns of authority, he was arrogant
enough to take up arms against him. The blood of the old man, though
grown cold and languid, yet boiled with indignation; and in the course
of a few days, by adopting wiser counsels, he so brought down the proud
spirit of his son, that after carrying his saddle[295] on his back for
some miles, he cast himself with his burden at his father’s feet. He,
fired once more with his ancient courage, rising up and spurning the
prostrate youth with his foot, exclaimed, “You are conquered at last!
you are conquered!” repeating his words several times. The suppliant
had still spirit enough to make this admirable reply, “I am conquered
by you alone, because you are my father; by others I am utterly
invincible.” With this speech his irritated mind was mollified, and
having consoled the mortification of his son by paternal affection,
he restored him to the principality, with admonitions to conduct
himself more wisely: telling him that the prosperity and tranquillity
of the people were creditable to him abroad, as well as advantageous
at home. In the same year the old man, having discharged all secular
concerns, made provision for his soul, by proceeding to Jerusalem;
where compelling two servants by an oath to do whatever he commanded,
he was by them publicly dragged naked, in the sight of the Turks, to
the holy sepulchre. One of them had twisted a withe about his neck, the
other with a rod scourged his bare back, whilst he cried out, “Lord,
receive the wretched Fulk, thy perfidious, thy runagate; regard my
repentant soul, O Lord Jesu Christ.” At this time he obtained not his
request; but, peacefully returning home, he died some few years after.
The precipitate boldness of his son Geoffrey has been amply displayed
in my preceding history. He dying, bequeathed to Geoffrey, his sister’s
son, his inheritance, but his worldly industry he could not leave him.
For being a youth of simple manners, and more accustomed to pray in
church, than to handle arms, he excited the contempt of the people of
that country, who knew not how to live in quiet. In consequence, the
whole district becoming exposed to plunderers, Fulk, his brother, of
his own accord, seized on the duchy. Fulk was called Rhechin, from his
perpetual growling at the simplicity of his brother, whom he finally
despoiled of his dignity, and kept in continual custody. He had a wife,
who, being enticed by the desire of enjoying a higher title, deserted
him and married Philip king of France; who so desperately loved her,
regardless of the adage,

                “Majesty and love
  But ill accord, nor share the self-same seat,”

that he patiently suffered himself to be completely governed by
her, though he was at the same time desirous of ruling over every
other person. Lastly, for several years, merely through regard for
her, he suffered himself to be pointed at like an idiot, and to be
excommunicated from the whole Christian world. The sons of Fulk were
Geoffrey and Fulk. Geoffrey obtaining the hereditary surname of
Martel, ennobled it by his exertions: for he procured such peace and
tranquillity in those parts, as no one ever had seen, or will see in
future. On this account being killed by the treachery of his people,
he forfeited the credit of his consummate worth. Fulk succeeding to
the government, is yet living;[296] of whom as I shall perhaps have
occasion to speak in the times of king Henry, I will now proceed to
relate what remains concerning William.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1058.] GEOFFREY MARTEL.]

When, after much labour, he had quelled all civil dissension, he
meditated an exploit of greater fame, and determined to recover those
countries anciently attached to Normandy, though now disunited by long
custom. I allude to the counties of Maine and Brittany; of which Mans,
long since burnt by Martel and deprived of its sovereign Hugo, had
lately experienced some little respite under Herbert the son of Hugo;
who, with a view to greater security against the earl of Anjou, had
submitted, and sworn fidelity to William: besides, he had solicited
his daughter in marriage, and had been betrothed to her, though he
died by disease ere she was marriageable. He left William his heir,
adjuring his subjects to admit no other; telling them, they might have,
if they chose, a mild and honourable lord; but, should they not, a
most determined assertor of his right. On his decease, the inhabitants
of Maine rather inclined to Walter of Mantes, who had married Hugo’s
sister: but at length, being brought to their senses by many heavy
losses, they acknowledged William. This was the time, when Harold was
unwillingly carried to Normandy by an unpropitious gale; whom, as is
before mentioned, William took with him in his expedition to Brittany,
to make proof of his prowess, and, at the same time, with the deeper
design of showing to him his military equipment, that he might perceive
how far preferable was the Norman sword to the English battle-axe.
Alan, at that time, earl of Brittany, flourishing in youth, and of
transcendent strength, had overcome his uncle Eudo, and performed many
famous actions; and so far from fearing William, had even voluntarily
irritated him. But he, laying claim to Brittany as his hereditary
territory, because Charles had given it with his daughter, Gisla, to
Rollo, shortly acted in such wise, that Alan came suppliantly to him,
and surrendered himself and his possessions. And since I shall have
but little to say of Brittany hereafter, I will here briefly insert an
extraordinary occurrence, which happened about that time in the city of

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] STORY OF TWO CLERKS.]

There were in that city two clerks, who though not yet of legal age,
had obtained the priesthood from the bishop of that place, more by
entreaty than desert: the pitiable death of one of whom, at length
taught the survivor, how near they had before been to the brink of
hell. As to the knowledge of literature, they were so instructed, that
they wanted little of perfection. From their earliest infancy, they
had in such wise vied in offices of friendship, that according to the
expression of the comic writer,[297] “To serve each other they would
not only stir hand and foot, but even risk the loss of life itself.”
Wherefore, one day, when they found their minds more than usually free
from outward cares, they spoke their sentiments, in a secret place,
to the following effect: “That for many years they had given their
attention sometimes to literature, and sometimes to secular cares;
nor had they satisfied their minds, which had been occupied rather
in wrong than proper pursuits; that in the meanwhile, the bitter day
was insensibly approaching, which would burst the bond of union which
was indissoluble while life remained: wherefore they should provide
in time, that the friendship which united them while living should
accompany him who died first to the place of the dead.” They agreed,
therefore, that whichever should first depart, should certainly
appear to the survivor, either waking or sleeping, if possible within
thirty days, to inform him, that, according to the Platonic tenet,
death does not extinguish the spirit, but sends it back again, as
it were from prison, to God its author. If this did not take place,
then they must yield to the sect of the Epicureans, who hold, that
the soul, liberated from the body, vanishes into air, or mingles with
the wind. Mutually plighting their faith, they repeated this oath in
their daily conversation. A short time elapsed, and behold a violent
death suddenly deprived one of them of life. The other remained, and
seriously revolving the promise of his friend, and constantly expecting
his presence, during thirty days, found his hopes disappointed. At
the expiration of this time, when, despairing of seeing him, he had
occupied his leisure in other business, the deceased, with that pale
countenance which dying persons assume, suddenly stood before him,
when awake, and busied on some matter. The dead first addressing the
living man, who was silent: “Do you know me?” said he; “I do,” replied
the other; “nor am I so much disturbed at your unusual presence, as I
wonder at your prolonged absence.” But when he had accounted for the
tardiness of his appearance; “At length,” said he, “at length, having
overcome every impediment, I am present; which presence, if you please,
my friend, will be advantageous to you, but to me totally unprofitable;
for I am doomed, by a sentence which has been pronounced and approved,
to eternal punishment.” When the living man promised to give all his
property to monasteries, and to the poor, and to spend days and nights
in fasting and prayer, for the release of the defunct; he replied,
“What I have said is fixed; for the judgments of God, by which I am
plunged in the sulphureous whirlpool of hell, are without repentance.
There I shall be tossed for my crimes, as long as the pole whirls round
the stars, or ocean beats the shores. The rigour of this irreversible
sentence remains for ever, devising lasting and innumerable kinds of
punishment: now, therefore, let the whole world seek for availing
remedies! And that you may experience some little of my numberless
pains, behold,” said he, stretching out his hand, dripping with a
corrupted ulcer, “one of the very smallest of them; does it appear
trifling to you?” When the other replied, that it did appear so; he
bent his fingers into the palm, and threw three drops of the purulent
matter upon him; two of which touching his temples, and one his
forehead, penetrated the skin and flesh, as if with a burning cautery,
and made holes of the size of a nut. When his friend acknowledged the
acuteness of the pain, by the cry he uttered, “This,” said the dead
man, “will be a strong proof to you, as long as you live, of my pains;
and, unless you neglect it, a singular token for your salvation.
Wherefore, while you have the power; while indignation is suspended
over your head; while God’s lingering mercy waits for you; change
your habit, change your disposition; become a monk at Rennes, in the
monastery of St. Melanius.” When the living man was unwilling to agree
to these words, the other, sternly glancing at him, “If you doubt,
wretched man,” said he, “turn and read these letters;” and with these
words, he stretched out his hand, inscribed with black characters,
in which, Satan, and all the company of infernals sent their thanks,
from hell, to the whole ecclesiastical body; as well for denying
themselves no single pleasure, as for sending, through neglect of their
preaching, so many of their subject-souls to hell, as no former age had
ever witnessed. With these words the speaker vanished; and the hearer
distributing his whole property to the church and to the poor, went to
the monastery; admonishing all, who heard or saw him, of his sudden
conversion, and extraordinary interview, so that they exclaimed, “It
is the right hand of the Almighty that has done this.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1065.] NEGOTIATION OF WILLIAM I.]

I feel no regret at having inserted this for the benefit of my readers:
now I shall return to William. For since I have briefly, but I hope not
uselessly, gone over the transactions in which he was engaged, when
only earl of Normandy, for thirty years, the order of time now requires
a new series of relation; that I may, as far as my inquiries have
discovered, detect fallacy, and declare the truth relating to his regal

When king Edward had yielded to fate, England, fluctuating with
doubtful favour, was uncertain to which ruler she should commit
herself: to Harold, William, or Edgar: for the king had recommended him
also to the nobility, as nearest to the sovereignty in point of birth;
concealing his better judgment from the tenderness of his disposition.
Wherefore, as I have said above, the English were distracted in their
choice, although all of them openly wished well to Harold. He, indeed,
once dignified with the diadem, thought nothing of the covenant between
himself and William: he said, that he was absolved from his oath,
because his daughter, to whom he had been betrothed, had died before
she was marriageable. For this man, though possessing numberless good
qualities, is reported to have been careless about abstaining from
perfidy, so that he could, by any device, elude the reasonings of men
on this matter. Moreover, supposing that the threats of William would
never be put into execution, because he was occupied in wars with
neighbouring princes, he had, with his subjects, given full indulgence
to security. For indeed, had he not heard that the king of Norway was
approaching, he would neither have condescended to collect troops,
nor to array them. William, in the meantime, began mildly to address
him by messengers; to expostulate on the broken covenant; to mingle
threats with entreaties; and to warn him, that ere a year expired, he
would claim his due by the sword, and that he would come to that place,
where Harold supposed he had firmer footing than himself. Harold again
rejoined what I have related, concerning the nuptials of his daughter,
and added, that he had been precipitate on the subject of the kingdom,
in having confirmed to him by oath another’s right, without the
universal consent and edict of the general meeting, and of the people:
again, that a rash oath ought to be broken; for if the oath, or vow,
which a maiden, under her father’s roof, made concerning her person,
without the knowledge of her parents, was adjudged invalid; how much
more invalid must that oath be, which he had made concerning the whole
kingdom, when under the king’s authority, compelled by the necessity
of the time, and without the knowledge of the nation.[298] Besides it
was an unjust request, to ask him to resign a government which he had
assumed by the universal kindness of his fellow subjects, and which
would neither be agreeable to the people, nor safe for the military.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] PREPARATIONS FOR WAR.]

In this way, confounded either by true, or plausible, arguments, the
messengers returned without success. The earl, however, made every
necessary preparation for war during the whole of that year; retained
his own soldiers with increased pay, and invited those of others:
ordered his ranks and battalions in such wise, that the soldiers
should be tall and stout; that the commanders and standard-bearers,
in addition to their military science, should be looked up to for
their wisdom and age; insomuch, that each of them, whether seen in
the field or elsewhere, might be taken for a prince, rather than a
leader. The bishops and abbats of those days vied so much in religion,
and the nobility in princely liberality, that it is wonderful,[299]
within a period of less than sixty[300] years, how either order should
have become so unfruitful in goodness, as to take up a confederate
war against justice: the former, through desire of ecclesiastical
promotion, embracing wrong in preference to right and equity; and the
latter, casting off shame, and seeking every occasion for begging
money as for their daily pay. But at that time the prudence of William,
seconded by the providence of God, already anticipated the invasion
of England; and that no rashness might stain his just cause, he sent
to the pope, formerly Anselm, bishop of Lucca, who had assumed the
name of Alexander, alleging the justice of the war which he meditated
with all the eloquence he was master of. Harold omitted to do this,
either because he was proud by nature, or else distrusted his cause; or
because he feared that his messengers would be obstructed by William
and his partisans, who beset every port. The pope, duly examining
the pretensions of both parties, delivered a standard to William,
as an auspicious presage of the kingdom: on receiving which, he
summoned an assembly of his nobles, at Lillebourne, for the purpose
of ascertaining their sentiments on this attempt. And when he had
confirmed, by splendid promises, all who approved his design, he
appointed them to prepare shipping, in proportion to the extent of
their possessions. Thus they departed at that time; and, in the month
of August, re-assembled in a body at St. Vallery,[301] for so that port
is called by its new name. Collecting, therefore, ships from every
quarter, they awaited the propitious gale which was to carry them to
their destination. When this delayed blowing for several days, the
common soldiers, as is generally the case, began to mutter in their
tents, “that the man must be mad, who wished to subjugate a foreign
country; that God opposed him, who withheld the wind; that his father
purposed a similar attempt, and was in like manner frustrated; that it
was the fate of that family to aspire to things beyond their reach, and
find God for their adversary.” In consequence of these things, which
were enough to enervate the force of the brave, being publicly noised
abroad, the duke held a council with his chiefs, and ordered the body
of St. Vallery to be brought forth, and to be exposed to the open air,
for the purpose of imploring a wind. No delay now interposed, but the
wished-for gale filled their sails. A joyful clamour then arising,
summoned every one to the ships. The earl himself first launching from
the continent into the deep, awaited the rest, at anchor, nearly in
mid-channel. All then assembled round the crimson sail of the admiral’s
ship; and, having first dined, they arrived, after a favourable
passage, at Hastings. As he disembarked he slipped down, but turned the
accident to his advantage; a soldier who stood near calling out to him,
“you hold England,[302] my lord, its future king.” He then restrained
his whole army from plundering; warning them, that they should now
abstain from what must hereafter be their own;[303] and for fifteen
successive days he remained so perfectly quiet, that he seemed to think
of nothing less than of war.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] HAROLD’S SPIES TAKEN.]

In the meantime Harold returned from the battle with the Norwegians;
happy, in his own estimation, at having conquered; but not so in
mine, as he had secured the victory by parricide. When the news of
the Norman’s arrival reached him, reeking as he was from battle, he
proceeded to Hastings, though accompanied by very few forces. No doubt
the fates urged him on, as he neither summoned his troops, nor, had
he been willing to do so, would he have found many ready to obey his
call; so hostile were all to him, as I have before observed, from his
having appropriated the northern spoils entirely to himself. He sent
out some persons, however, to reconnoitre the number and strength of
the enemy: these, being taken within the camp, William ordered to be
led amongst the tents, and, after feasting them plentifully, to be sent
back uninjured to their lord. On their return, Harold inquired what
news they brought: when, after relating at full, the noble confidence
of the general, they gravely added, that almost all his army had the
appearance of priests, as they had the whole face, with both lips,
shaven. For the English leave the upper lip unshorn, suffering the
hair continually to increase; which Julius Cæsar, in his treatise on
the Gallic War,[304] affirms to have been a national custom with the
ancient inhabitants of Britain. The king smiled at the simplicity of
the relators, observing, with a pleasant laugh, that they were not
priests, but soldiers, strong in arms, and invincible in spirit. His
brother, Girth, a youth, on the verge of manhood, and of knowledge and
valour surpassing his years, caught up his words: “Since,” said he,
“you extol so much the valour of the Norman, I think it ill-advised
for you, who are his inferior in strength and desert, to contend with
him. Nor can you deny being bound to him, by oath, either willingly,
or by compulsion. Wherefore you will act wisely, if, yourself
withdrawing from this pressing emergency, you allow us to try the
issue of a battle. We, who are free from all obligation, shall justly
draw the sword in defence of our country. It is to be apprehended, if
you engage, that you will be either subjected to flight or to death:
whereas, if we only fight, your cause will be safe at all events: for
you will be able both to rally the fugitives, and to avenge the dead.”

His unbridled rashness yielded no placid ear to the words of his
adviser, thinking it base, and a reproach to his past life, to turn his
back on danger of any kind; and, with similar impudence, or to speak
more favourably, imprudence, he drove away a monk, the messenger of
William, not deigning him even a complacent look; imprecating only,
that God would decide between him and the earl. He was the bearer of
three propositions: either that Harold should relinquish the kingdom,
according to his agreement, or hold it of William; or decide the matter
by single combat in the sight of either army. For William[305] claimed
the kingdom, on the ground that king Edward, by the advice of Stigand,
the archbishop, and of the earls Godwin and Siward, had granted it
to him, and had sent the son and nephew of Godwin to Normandy, as
sureties of the grant. If Harold should deny this, he would abide by
the judgment of the pope, or by battle: on all which propositions,
the messenger being frustrated by the single answer I have related,
returned, and communicated to his party fresh spirit for the conflict.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] BATTLE OF HASTINGS.]

The courageous leaders mutually prepared for battle, each according
to his national custom. The English, as we have heard, passed the
night without sleep, in drinking and singing, and, in the morning,
proceeded without delay towards the enemy; all were on foot, armed with
battle-axes, and covering themselves in front by the junction of their
shields, they formed an impenetrable body, which would have secured
their safety that day, had not the Normans, by a feigned flight,
induced them to open their ranks, which till that time, according to
their custom, were closely compacted. The king himself on foot, stood,
with his brother, near the standard; in order that, while all shared
equal danger, none might think of retreating. This standard William
sent, after the victory, to the pope; it was sumptuously embroidered,
with gold and precious stones, in the form of a man fighting.

On the other side, the Normans passed the whole night in confessing
their sins, and received the sacrament in the morning: their infantry,
with bows and arrows, formed the vanguard, while their cavalry, divided
into wings, were thrown back. The earl, with serene countenance,
declaring aloud, that God would favour his, as being the righteous
side, called for his arms; and presently, when, through the hurry of
his attendants, he had put on his hauberk the hind part before,[306]
he corrected the mistake with a laugh; saying, “My dukedom shall be
turned into a kingdom.” Then beginning the song of Roland,[307] that
the warlike example of that man might stimulate the soldiers, and
calling on God for assistance, the battle commenced on both sides. They
fought with ardour, neither giving ground, for great part of the day.
Finding this, William gave a signal to his party, that, by a feigned
flight, they should retreat. Through this device, the close body of
the English, opening for the purpose of cutting down the straggling
enemy, brought upon itself swift destruction; for the Normans, facing
about, attacked them thus disordered, and compelled them to fly. In
this manner, deceived by a stratagem, they met an honourable death
in avenging their country; nor indeed were they at all wanting to
their own revenge, as, by frequently making a stand, they slaughtered
their pursuers in heaps: for, getting possession of an eminence, they
drove down the Normans, when roused with indignation and anxiously
striving to gain the higher ground, into the valley beneath, where,
easily hurling their javelins and rolling down stones on them as
they stood below, they destroyed them to a man. Besides, by a short
passage, with which they were acquainted, avoiding a deep ditch, they
trod under foot such a multitude of their enemies in that place, that
they made the hollow level with the plain, by the heaps of carcasses.
This vicissitude of first one party conquering, and then the other,
prevailed as long as the life of Harold continued; but when he fell,
from having his brain pierced with an arrow, the flight of the English
ceased not until night. The valour of both leaders was here eminently

Harold, not merely content with the duty of a general in exhorting
others, diligently entered into every soldier-like office; often would
he strike the enemy when coming to close quarters, so that none could
approach him with impunity; for immediately the same blow levelled both
horse and rider. Wherefore, as I have related, receiving the fatal
arrow from a distance, he yielded to death. One of the soldiers with
a sword gashed his thigh, as he lay prostrate; for which shameful and
cowardly action, he was branded with ignominy by William, and dismissed
the service.

William too was equally ready to encourage by his voice and by his
presence; to be the first to rush forward; to attack the thickest of
the foe. Thus everywhere raging, everywhere furious, he lost three
choice horses, which were that day pierced under him. The dauntless
spirit and vigour of the intrepid general, however, still persisted,
though often called back by the kind remonstrance of his body-guard;
he still persisted, I say, till approaching night crowned him with
complete victory. And no doubt, the hand of God so protected him, that
the enemy should draw no blood from his person, though they aimed so
many javelins at him.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] CUSTOMS OF THE ENGLISH.]

This was a fatal day to England, a melancholy havoc of our dear
country, through its change of masters. For it had long since adopted
the manners of the Angles, which had been very various according to the
times: for in the first years of their arrival, they were barbarians
in their look and manners, warlike in their usages, heathens in their
rites; but, after embracing the faith of Christ, by degrees, and in
process of time, from the peace they enjoyed, regarding arms only
in a secondary light, they gave their whole attention to religion.
I say nothing of the poor, the meanness of whose fortune often
restrains them from overstepping the bounds of justice: I omit men of
ecclesiastical rank, whom sometimes respect to their profession, and
sometimes the fear of shame, suffer not to deviate from the truth: I
speak of princes, who from the greatness of their power might have
full liberty to indulge in pleasure; some of whom, in their own
country, and others at Rome, changing their habit, obtained a heavenly
kingdom, and a saintly intercourse. Many during their whole lives in
outward appearance only embraced the present world, in order that they
might exhaust their treasures on the poor, or divide them amongst
monasteries. What shall I say of the multitudes of bishops, hermits,
and abbats? Does not the whole island blaze with such numerous relics
of its natives, that you can scarcely pass a village of any consequence
but you hear the name of some new saint, besides the numbers of whom
all notices have perished through the want of records? Nevertheless, in
process of time, the desire after literature and religion had decayed,
for several years before the arrival of the Normans. The clergy,
contented with a very slight degree of learning, could scarcely stammer
out the words of the sacraments; and a person who understood grammar,
was an object of wonder and astonishment. The monks mocked the rule
of their order by fine vestments, and the use of every kind of food.
The nobility, given up to luxury and wantonness, went not to church in
the morning after the manner of Christians, but merely, in a careless
manner, heard matins and masses from a hurrying priest in their
chambers, amid the blandishments of their wives. The commonalty, left
unprotected, became a prey to the most powerful, who amassed fortunes,
by either seizing on their property, or by selling their persons into
foreign countries; although it be an innate quality of this people,
to be more inclined to revelling, than to the accumulation of wealth.
There was one custom, repugnant to nature, which they adopted; namely,
to sell their female servants, when pregnant by them and after they
had satisfied their lust, either to public prostitution, or foreign
slavery. Drinking in parties was a universal practice, in which
occupation they passed entire nights as well as days. They consumed
their whole substance in mean and despicable houses; unlike the Normans
and French, who, in noble and splendid mansions, lived with frugality.
The vices attendant on drunkenness, which enervate the human mind,
followed; hence it arose that engaging William, more with rashness,
and precipitate fury, than military skill, they doomed themselves,
and their country to slavery, by one, and that an easy, victory. “For
nothing is less effective than rashness; and what begins with violence,
quickly ceases, or is repelled.” In fine, the English at that time,
wore short garments reaching to the mid-knee; they had their hair
cropped; their beards shaven; their arms laden with golden bracelets;
their skin adorned with punctured designs. They were accustomed to eat
till they became surfeited, and to drink till they were sick. These
latter qualities they imparted to their conquerors; as to the rest,
they adopted their manners. I would not, however, have these bad
propensities universally ascribed to the English. I know that many of
the clergy, at that day, trod the path of sanctity, by a blameless
life; I know that many of the laity, of all ranks and conditions, in
this nation, were well-pleasing to God. Be injustice far from this
account; the accusation does not involve the whole indiscriminately.
“But, as in peace, the mercy of God often cherishes the bad and the
good together; so, equally, does his severity, sometimes, include them
both in captivity.”

Moreover, the Normans, that I may speak of them also, were at that
time, and are even now, proudly apparelled, delicate in their food,
but not excessive. They are a race inured to war, and can hardly live
without it; fierce in rushing against the enemy; and where strength
fails of success, ready to use stratagem, or to corrupt by bribery. As
I have related, they live in large edifices with economy; envy their
equals; wish to excel their superiors; and plunder their subjects,
though they defend them from others; they are faithful to their lords,
though a slight offence renders them perfidious. They weigh treachery
by its chance of success, and change their sentiments with money.
They are, however, the kindest of nations, and they esteem strangers
worthy of equal honour with themselves. They also intermarry with their
vassals. They revived, by their arrival, the observances of religion,
which were everywhere grown lifeless in England. You might see churches
rise in every village, and monasteries in the towns and cities, built
after a style unknown before; you might behold the country flourishing
with renovated rites; so that each wealthy man accounted that day lost
to him, which he had neglected to signalize by some magnificent action.
But having enlarged sufficiently on these points, let us pursue the
transactions of William.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1066.] WILLIAM’S CORONATION.]

When his victory was complete, he caused his dead to be interred with
great pomp; granting the enemy the liberty of doing the like, if
they thought proper. He sent the body of Harold[308] to his mother,
who begged it, unransomed; though she proffered large sums by her
messengers. She buried it, when thus obtained, at Waltham; a church
which he had built at his own expense, in honour of the Holy Cross,
and had endowed for canons. William then, by degrees proceeding,
as became a conqueror, with his army, not after an hostile, but a
royal manner, journeyed towards London, the principal city of the
kingdom; and shortly after, all the citizens came out to meet him with
gratulations. Crowds poured out of every gate to greet him, instigated
by the nobility, and principally by Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury,
and Aldred, of York. For, shortly before, Edwin and Morcar, two
brothers of great expectation, hearing, at London, the news of Harold’s
death, solicited the citizens to exalt one of them to the throne:
failing, however, in the attempt, they had departed for Northumberland,
conjecturing, from their own feelings, that William would never come
thither. The other chiefs would have chosen Edgar, had the bishops
supported them; but, danger and domestic broils closely impending,
neither did this take effect. Thus the English, who, had they united in
one opinion, might have repaired the ruin of their country, introduced
a stranger, while they were unwilling to choose a native, to govern
them. Being now decidedly hailed king, he was crowned on Christmas-day
by archbishop Aldred; for he was careful not to accept this office from
Stigand, as he was not canonically an archbishop.

Of the various wars which he carried on, this is a summary. Favoured by
God’s assistance, he easily reduced the city of Exeter,[309] when it
had rebelled; for part of the wall fell down accidentally, and made
an opening for him. Indeed he had attacked it with the more ferocity,
asserting that those irreverent men would be deserted by God’s favour,
because one of them, standing upon the wall, had bared his posteriors,
and had broken wind, in contempt of the Normans. He almost annihilated
the city of York, that sole remaining shelter for rebellion, and
destroyed its citizens with sword and famine. For there Malcolm, king
of the Scots, with his party; there Edgar, and Morcar, and Waltheof,
with the English and Danes, often brooded over the nest of tyranny;
there they frequently killed his generals; whose deaths, were I
severally to commemorate, perhaps I should not be superfluous, though I
might risk the peril of creating disgust; while I should be not easily
pardoned as an historian, if I were led astray by the falsities of my

Malcolm willingly received all the English fugitives, affording to each
every protection in his power, but more especially to Edgar, whose
sister he had married, out of regard to her noble descent. On his
behalf he burnt and plundered the adjacent provinces of England; not
that he supposed, by so doing, he could be of any service to him, with
respect to the kingdom; but merely to distress the mind of William, who
was incensed at his territories being subject to Scottish incursions.
In consequence, William, collecting a body of foot and horse, repaired
to the northern parts of the island, and first of all received into
subjection the metropolitan city, which English, Danes, and Scots
obstinately defended; its citizens being wasted with continued want.
He destroyed also in a great and severe battle, a considerable number
of the enemy, who had come to the succour of the besieged; though the
victory was not bloodless on his side, as he lost many of his people.
He then ordered both the towns and fields of the whole district to
be laid waste; the fruits and grain to be destroyed by fire or by
water, more especially on the coast, as well on account of his recent
displeasure, as because a rumour had gone abroad, that Canute, king of
Denmark, the son of Sweyn, was approaching with his forces. The reason
of such a command, was, that the plundering pirate should find no booty
on the coast to take with him, if he designed to depart again directly;
or should be compelled to provide against want, if he thought proper
to stay. Thus the resources of a province,[310] once flourishing, and
the nurse of tyrants, were cut off by fire, slaughter, and devastation;
the ground, for more than sixty miles, totally uncultivated and
unproductive, remains bare to the present day. Should any stranger
now see it, he laments over the once-magnificent cities; the towers
threatening heaven itself with their loftiness; the fields abundant
in pasturage, and watered with rivers: and, if any ancient inhabitant
remains, he knows it no longer.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1068.] SURRENDER OF MALCOLM.]

Malcolm surrendered himself, without coming to an engagement, and for
the whole of William’s time passed his life under treaties, uncertain,
and frequently broken. But when in the reign of William, the son of
William, he was attacked in a similar manner, he diverted the king from
pursuing him by a false oath. He was slain soon after, together with
his son, by Robert Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, while, regardless
of his faith, he was devastating the province with more than usual
insolence. For many years, he lay buried at Tynemouth: lately he was
conveyed by Alexander his son, to Dunfermlin, in Scotland.

Edgar, having submitted to the king with Stigand and Aldred the
archbishops, violated his oath the following year, by going over to
the Scot: but after living there some years, and acquiring no present
advantage, no future prospects, but merely his daily sustenance,
being willing to try the liberality of the Norman, who was at that
time beyond the sea, he sailed over to him. They say this was
extremely agreeable to the king, that England should be thus rid of
a fomenter of dissension. Indeed it was his constant practice, under
colour of high honour, to carry over to Normandy all the English he
suspected, lest any disorders should arise in the kingdom during his
absence. Edgar, therefore, was well received, and presented with a
considerable largess: and remaining at court for many years, silently
sunk into contempt through his indolence, or more mildly speaking,
his simplicity. For how great must his simplicity be, who would yield
up to the king, for a single horse, the pound of silver, which he
received as his daily stipend? In succeeding times he went to Jerusalem
with Robert, the son of Godwin,[311] a most valiant knight. This was
the time when the Turks besieged king Baldwin, at Rama; who, unable
to endure the difficulties of a siege, rushed through the midst of
the enemy, by the assistance of Robert alone, who preceded him, and
hewed down the Turks, on either hand, with his drawn sword; but, while
excited to greater ferocity by his success, he was pressing on with
too much eagerness, his sword dropped from his hand, and when stooping
down to recover it, he was surrounded by a multitude, and cast into
chains. Taken thence to Babylon, as they report, when he refused to
deny Christ, he was placed as a mark in the middle of the market-place,
and being transfixed with darts, died a martyr. Edgar, having lost
his companion, returned, and received many gifts from the Greek and
German emperors; who, from respect to his noble descent, would also
have endeavoured to retain him with them; but he gave up every thing,
through regard to his native soil. “For, truly, the love of their
country deceives some men to such a degree, that nothing seems pleasant
to them, unless they can breathe their native air.” Edgar, therefore,
deluded by this silly desire, returned to England; where, as I have
before said, after various revolutions of fortune, he now grows old in
the country in privacy and quiet.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1103.] OF EDWIN AND MORCAR.]

Edwin and Morcar were brothers; the sons of Elfgar, the son of Leofric.
They had received charge of the county of Northumberland, and jointly
preserved it in tranquillity. For, as I have before observed, a few
days previous to the death of St. Edward the king, the inhabitants of
the north had risen in rebellion and expelled Tosty, their governor;
and, with Harold’s approbation, had requested, and received, one of
these brothers, as their lord. These circumstances, as we have heard
from persons acquainted with the affair, took place against the
inclination of the king, who was attached to Tosty; but being languid
through disease, and worn down with age, he become so universally
disregarded, that he could not assist his favourite. In consequence,
his bodily ailments increasing from the anxiety of his mind, he died
shortly after. Harold persisted in his resolution of banishing his
brother: wherefore, first tarnishing the triumphs of his family by
piratical excursions, he was, as I have above written, afterwards
killed with the king of Norway. His body being known by a wart between
the shoulders, obtained burial at York. Edwin and Morcar, by Harold’s
command, then conveyed the spoils of war to London, for he himself was
proceeding rapidly to the battle of Hastings; where, falsely presaging,
he looked upon the victory as already gained. But, when he was there
killed, the brothers, flying to the territories they possessed,
disturbed the peace of William for several years; infesting the woods
with secret robberies, and never coming to close or open engagement.
Often were they taken captive, and as often surrendered themselves,
but were again dismissed with impunity, from pity to their youthful
elegance, or respect to their nobility. At last, murdered, neither by
the force nor craft of their enemies, but by the treachery of their
partisans, their fate drew tears from the king, who would even long
since have granted them matches with his relations, and the honour of
his friendship, would they have acceded to terms of peace.

Waltheof, an earl of high descent, had become extremely intimate with
the new king, who had forgotten his former offences, and attributed
them rather to courage, than to disloyalty. For Waltheof, singly, had
killed many of the Normans in the battle of York; cutting off their
heads, one by one, as they entered the gate. He was muscular in the
arms, brawny in the chest, tall and robust in his whole person; the son
of Siward, a most celebrated earl, whom, by a Danish term, they called
“Digera,” which implies Strong. But after the fall of his party, he
voluntarily surrendered himself, and was honoured by a marriage with
Judith, the king’s niece, as well as with his personal friendship.
Unable however to restrain his evil inclinations, he could not preserve
his fidelity. For all his countrymen, who had thought proper to resist,
being either slain, or subdued, he became a party even in the perfidy
of Ralph de Waher; but the conspiracy being detected,[312] he was
taken; kept in chains for some time, and at last, being beheaded, was
buried at Croyland: though some assert, that he joined the league of
treachery, more through circumvention than inclination. This is the
excuse the English make for him, and those, of the greater credit,
for the Normans affirm the contrary, to whose decision the Divinity
itself appears to assent, showing many and very great miracles at his
tomb: for they declare, that during his captivity, he wiped away his
transgressions by his daily penitence.

On this account perhaps the conduct of the king may reasonably be
excused, if he was at any time rather severe against the English;
for he scarcely found any one of them faithful. This circumstance so
exasperated his ferocious mind, that he deprived the more powerful,
first of their wealth, next of their estates, and finally, some of
them of their lives. Moreover, he followed the device of Cæsar, who
drove out the Germans, concealed in the vast forest of Ardennes,
whence they harassed his army with perpetual irruptions, not by means
of his own countrymen, but by the confederate Gauls; that, while
strangers destroyed each other, he might gain a bloodless victory.
Thus, I say, William acted towards the English. For, allowing the
Normans to be unemployed, he opposed an English army, and an English
commander, to those, who, after the first unsuccessful battle, had
fled to Denmark and Ireland, and had returned at the end of three
years with considerable force: foreseeing that whichever side might
conquer, it must be a great advantage to himself. Nor did this device
fail him; for both parties of the English, after some conflicts
between themselves, without any exertion on his part, left a victory
for the king; the invaders being driven to Ireland, and the royalists
purchasing the empty title of conquest, at their own special loss, and
that of their general. His name was Ednoth,[313] equally celebrated,
before the arrival of the Normans, both at home and abroad. He was the
father of Harding, who yet survives: a man more accustomed to kindle
strife by his malignant tongue, than to brandish arms in the field
of battle. Thus having overturned the power of the laity, he made
an ordinance, that no monk, or clergyman, of that nation, should be
suffered to aspire to any dignity whatever; excessively differing from
the gentleness of Canute the former king, who restored their honours,
unimpaired, to the conquered: whence it came to pass, that at his
decease, the natives easily expelled the foreigners, and reclaimed
their original right. But William, from certain causes, canonically
deposed some persons, and in the place of such as might die, appointed
diligent men of any nation, except English. Unless I am deceived, their
inveterate frowardness towards the king, required such a measure;
since, as I have said before, the Normans are by nature kindly disposed
to strangers who live amongst them.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1074.] RALPH DE WALER.]

Ralph, whom I mentioned before, was, by the king’s gift, earl
of Norfolk and Suffolk; a Breton on his father’s side; of a
disposition foreign to every thing good. This man, in consequence
of being betrothed to the king’s relation, the daughter of William
Fitz-Osberne, conceived a most unjust design, and meditated attack on
the sovereignty. Wherefore, on the very day of his nuptials, whilst
splendidly banqueting, for the luxury of the English had now been
adopted by the Normans, and when the guests had become intoxicated and
heated with wine, he disclosed his intention in a copious harangue. As
their reason was entirely clouded by drunkenness, they loudly applauded
the orator. Here Roger earl of Hereford, brother to the wife of Ralph,
and here Waltheof, together with many others, conspired the death of
the king. Next day, however, when the fumes of the wine had evaporated,
and cooler thoughts influenced the minds of some of the party, the
larger portion, repenting of their conduct, retired from the meeting.
Among these is said to have been Waltheof, who, at the recommendation
of archbishop Lanfranc, sailing to Normandy, related the matter to
the king; concealing merely his own share of the business. The earls,
however, persisted in their design, and each incited his dependents
to rebel. But God opposed them, and brought all their machinations to
nought. For immediately the king’s officers, who were left in charge,
on discovering the affair, reduced Ralph to such distress, that seizing
a vessel at Norwich, he committed himself to the sea. His wife,
covenanting for personal safety, and delivering up the castle, followed
her husband. Roger being thrown into chains by the king, visited, or
rather inhabited, a prison, during the remainder of his life; a young
man of abominable treachery, and by no means imitating his father’s

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1074.] WILLIAM FITZ-OSBERNE.]

His father, indeed, William Fitz-Osberne,[314] might have been
compared, nay, I know not if he might not even have been preferred, to
the very best princes. By his advice, William had first been inspirited
to invade, and next, assisted by his valour, to keep possession of
England. The energy of his mind was seconded by the almost boundless
liberality of his hand. Hence it arose, that by the multitude of
soldiers, to whom he gave extravagant pay, he repelled the rapacity of
the enemy, and ensured the favour of the people. In consequence, by
this boundless profusion, he incurred the king’s severe displeasure;
because he had improvidently exhausted his treasures. The regulations
which he established in his county of Hereford, remain in full force
at the present day; that is to say, that no knight[315] should be
fined more than seven shillings for whatever offence: whereas, in
other provinces, for a very small fault in transgressing the commands
of their lord, they pay twenty or twenty-five. Fortune, however,
closed these happy successes by a dishonourable termination, when the
supporter of so great a government, the counsellor of England and
Normandy, went into Flanders, through fond regard for a woman, and
there died by the hands of his enemies. For the elder Baldwin, of whom
I have before spoken, the father of Matilda, had two sons; Robert, who
marrying the countess of Frisia, while his father yet lived, took the
surname of Friso: Baldwin, who, after his father, presided some years
over Flanders, and died prematurely. His two children by his wife
Richelda surviving he had entrusted the guardianship of them to Philip
king of France, whose aunt was his mother, and to William Fitz-Osberne.
William readily undertook this office, that he might increase his
dignity by an union with Richelda. But she, through female pride,
aspiring to things beyond her sex, and exacting fresh tributes from the
people, excited them to rebellion. Wherefore despatching a messenger to
Robert Friso, they entreat him to accept the government of the country;
and abjure all fidelity to Arnulph, who was already called earl. Nor
indeed were there wanting persons to espouse the party of the minor: so
that for a long time, Flanders was disturbed by intestine commotion.
This, Fitz-Osberne, who was desperately in love with the lady, could
not endure, but entered Flanders with a body of troops; and, being
immediately well received by the persons he came to defend, after some
days, he rode securely from castle to castle, in a hasty manner with
few attendants. On the other hand, Friso, who was acquainted with this
piece of folly, entrapped him unawares by a secret ambush, and killed
him, fighting bravely but to no purpose, together with his nephew

Thus possessed of Flanders, he often irritated king William, by
plundering Normandy. His daughter married Canute king of the Danes,
of whom was born Charles,[316] who now rules in Flanders. He made
peace with king Philip, giving him his daughter-in-law in marriage,
by whom he had Lewis, who at present reigns in France; but not long
after, being heartily tired of the match, because his queen was
extremely corpulent, he removed her from his bed, and in defiance of
law and equity, married the wife of the earl of Anjou. Robert, safe
by his affinity with these princes, encountered nothing to distress
him during his government; though Baldwin, the brother of Arnulph,
who had an earldom in the province of Hainault and in the castle of
Valenciennes, by William’s assistance made many attempts for that
purpose. Three years before his death, when he was now hoary-headed,
he went to Jerusalem, for the mitigation of his transgressions. After
his return he renounced the world, calmly awaiting his dissolution with
Christian earnestness. His son was that Robert so universally famed in
the expedition into Asia, which, in our times, Europe undertook against
the Turks; but through some mischance, after his return home, he
tarnished that noble exploit, being mortally wounded in a tournament,
as they call it. Nor did a happier fate attend his son Baldwin, who,
voluntarily harassing the forces of Henry king of England, in Normandy,
paid dearly for his youthful temerity: for, being struck on the head
with a pole, and deceived by the professions of several physicians, he
lost his life; the principality devolving on Charles, of whom we have
spoken before.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1073.] DEFEAT OF THE DANES.]

Now, king William conducting himself with mildness towards the obedient
but with severity to the rebellious, possessed the whole of England
in tranquillity, holding all the Welsh tributary to him. At this time
too, beyond sea, being never unemployed, he nearly annihilated the
county of Maine, leading thither an expedition composed of English;
who, though they had been easily conquered in their own, yet always
appeared invincible in a foreign country. He lost multitudes of his men
at Dol,[317] a town of Brittany, whither, irritated by some broil, he
had led a military force. He constantly found Philip king of France,
the daughter of whose aunt he had married, unfaithful to him; because
he was envious of the great glory of a man who was vassal both to his
father and to himself. But William did not the less actively resist his
attempts, although his first-born son Robert, through evil counsel,
assisted him in opposition to his father. Whence it happened, that
in an attack at Gerborai, the son became personally engaged with
his father; wounded him and killed his horse: William, the second
son, departed with a hurt also, and many of the king’s party were
slain. In all other respects, during the whole of his life, he was
so fortunate, that foreign and distant nations feared nothing more
than his name. He had subdued the inhabitants so completely to his
will, that without any opposition, he first caused an account to be
taken of every person; compiled a register of the rent of every estate
throughout England;[318] and made all free men, of every description,
take the oath of fidelity to him. Canute, king of the Danes, who was
most highly elevated both by his affinity to Robert Friso and by
his own power, alone menaced his dignity; a rumour being generally
prevalent, that he would invade England, a country due to him from his
relationship to the ancient Canute: and indeed he would have effected
it, had not God counteracted his boldness by an unfavourable wind. But
this circumstance reminds me briefly to trace the genealogy of the
Danish kings, who succeeded after our Canute; adding at the same time,
somewhat concerning the Norwegians.

As it has been before observed, Harold succeeded in England;
Hardecanute, and his sons, in Denmark: for Magnus the son of Olave,
whom I have mentioned in the history of our Canute, as having been
killed by his subjects, had recovered Norway, which Canute had subdued.
Harold dying in England, Hardecanute held both kingdoms for a short
time. On his decease, Edward the Simple succeeded, who, satisfied with
his paternal kingdom, despised his foreign dominions as burdensome and
barbarous. One Sweyn, doubtlessly a most exalted character, was then
made king of the Danes.[319] When his government had prospered for
several years, Magnus, king of the Norwegians, with the consent of some
of the Danes, expelled him by force, and subjected the land to his own
will. Sweyn, thus expelled, went to the king of Sweden, and collecting,
by his assistance, Swedes, Vandals, and Goths, he returned, to regain
the kingdom: but, through the exertions of the Danes, who were attached
to the government of Magnus, he experienced a repetition of his
former ill-fortune. This was a great and memorable battle among those
barbarous people: on no other occasion did the Danes ever experience
severer conflict, or happier success. Indeed, to this very time, they
keep unbroken the vow, by which they had bound themselves, before the
contest, that they would consecrate to future ages the vigil of St.
Lawrence, for on that day the battle was fought, by fasting and alms;
and then also Sweyn fled, but soon after, on the death of Magnus, he
received his kingdom entire.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1069.] DENMARK AND NORWAY.]

To Magnus, in Norway, succeeded one Sweyn, surnamed Hardhand; not
elevated by royal descent, but by boldness and cunning: to him Olave,
the uncle of Magnus, whom they call a saint; to Olave, Harold Harvagre,
the brother of Olave, who had formerly, when a young man, served
under the emperor of Constantinople. Being, at his command, exposed
to a lion, for having debauched a woman of quality, he strangled the
huge beast by the bare vigour of his arms. He was slain in England by
Harold, the son of Godwin. His sons, Olave and Magnus, divided the
kingdom of their father; but Magnus dying prematurely, Olave seized
the whole. To him succeeded his son Magnus, who was lately miserably
slain in Ireland, on which he had rashly made a descent. They relate,
that Magnus, the elder son of Harold, was, after the death of his
father, compassionately sent home by Harold, king of England; and that
in return for this kindness, he humanely treated Harold, the son of
Harold, when he came to him after William’s victory: that he took him
with him, in an expedition he made to England, in the time of William
the younger, when he conquered the Orkney and Mevanian Isles,[320]
and meeting with Hugo, earl of Chester, and Hugo, earl of Shrewsbury,
put the first to flight, and the second to death. The sons of the
last Magnus, Hasten and Siward, yet reign conjointly, having divided
the empire: the latter, a seemly and spirited youth, shortly since
went to Jerusalem, passing through England, and performed many famous
exploits against the Saracens; more especially in the siege of Sidon,
whose inhabitants raged furiously against the Christians through their
connection with the Turks.

But Sweyn, as I have related, on his restoration to the sovereignty
of the Danes, being impatient of quiet, sent his son Canute twice
into England; first with three hundred, and then with two hundred,
ships. His associate in the former expedition was Osbern, the brother
of Sweyn; in the latter, Hacco: but, being each of them bribed, they
frustrated the young man’s designs, and returned home without effecting
their purpose. In consequence, becoming highly disgraced by king
Sweyn for bartering their fidelity for money, they were driven into
banishment. Sweyn, when near his end, bound all the inhabitants by
oath, that, as he had fourteen sons, they should confer the kingdom
on each of them in succession, as long as his issue remained. On his
decease, his son Harold succeeded for three years: to him Canute, whom
his father had formerly sent into England. Remembering his original
failure, he prepared, as we have heard, more than a thousand vessels
against England: his father-in-law, Robert Friso, the possessor of
six hundred more, supporting him. But being detained, for almost
two years, by the adverseness of the wind, he changed his design,
affirming, that it must be by the determination of God, that he
could not put to sea: but afterwards, misled by the suggestions of
some persons, who attributed the failure of their passage to the
conjurations of certain old women, he sentenced the chiefs, whose
wives were accused of this transgression, to an intolerable fine;
cast his brother, Olave, the principal of the suspected faction into
chains, and sent him into exile to his father-in-law. The barbarians,
in consequence, resenting this attack upon their liberty, killed him
while in church, clinging to the altar, and promising reparation.
They say that many miracles were shown from heaven at that place;
because he was a man strictly observant of fasting and almsgiving,
and pursued the transgressors of the divine laws more rigorously than
those who offended against himself; from which circumstance, he was
consecrated a martyr by the pope of Rome. After him, the murderers,
that they might atone for their crime by some degree of good, redeemed
Olave from captivity, for ten thousand marks. After ignobly reigning
during eight years, he left the government to his brother Henry:
who living virtuously for twenty-nine years, went to Jerusalem, and
breathed his last at sea. Nicholas, the fifth in the sovereignty, still

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1085.] ROBERT GUISCARD.]

The king of Denmark then, as I have said, was the only obstacle to
William’s uninterrupted enjoyment: on whose account he enlisted such an
immense multitude of stipendiary soldiers out of every province on this
side the mountains, that their numbers oppressed the kingdom. But he,
with his usual magnanimity, not regarding the expense, had engaged even
Hugo the Great, brother to the king of France, with his bands to serve
in his army. He was accustomed to stimulate and incite his own valour,
by the remembrance of Robert Guiscard; saying it was disgraceful to
yield, in courage, to him whom he surpassed in rank. For Robert, born
of middling parentage in Normandy, that is, neither very low nor very
high, had gone, a few years before William’s arrival in England, with
fifteen knights, into Apulia, to remedy the narrowness of his own
circumstances, by entering into the service of that inactive race
of people. Not many years elapsed, ere, by the stupendous assistance
of God, he reduced the whole country under his power. For where his
strength failed, his ingenuity was alert: first receiving the towns,
and after, the cities into confederacy with him. Thus he became so
successful, as to make himself duke of Apulia and Calabria; his brother
Richard, prince of Capua; and his other brother, Roger, earl of Sicily.
At last, giving Apulia to his son Roger, he crossed the Adriatic with
his other son Boamund, and taking Durazzo, was immediately proceeding
against Alexius, emperor of Constantinople, when a messenger from
pope Hildebrand stopped him in the heat of his career. For Henry,
emperor of Germany, son of that Henry we have before mentioned, being
incensed against the pope, for having excommunicated him on account of
the ecclesiastical investitures, led an army against Rome; besieged
it; expelled Hildebrand, and introduced Guibert of Ravenna. Guiscard
learning this by the letter of the expelled pope, left his son Boamund,
with the army, to follow up his designs, and returned to Apulia; where
quickly getting together a body of Apulians and Normans, he proceeded
to Rome. Nor did Henry wait for a messenger to announce his approach;
but, affrighted at the bare report, fled with his pretended pope. Rome,
freed from intruders, received its lawful sovereign; but soon after
again lost him by similar violence. Then too, Alexius, learning that
Robert was called home by the urgency of his affairs, and hoping to
put a finishing hand to the war, rushed against Boamund, who commanded
the troops which had been left. The Norman youth, however, observant
of his native spirit, though far inferior in number, turned to flight,
by dint of military skill, the undisciplined Greeks and the other
collected nations. At the same time, too, the Venetians, a people
habituated to the sea, attacking Guiscard, who having settled the
object of his voyage was now sailing back, met with a similar calamity:
part were drowned or killed, the rest put to flight. He, continuing his
intended expedition, induced many cities, subject to Alexius, to second
his views. The emperor took off, by crime, the man he was unable to
subdue by arms: falsely promising his wife an imperial match. By her
artifices, he drank poison,[322] which she had prepared, and died;
deserving, had God so pleased, a nobler death: for he was unconquerable
by the sword of an enemy, but fell a victim to domestic treachery. He
was buried at Venusium in Apulia, having the following epitaph:

  Here Guiscard lies, the terror of the world,
  Who from the Capitol Rome’s sovereign hurl’d.
  No band collected could Alexis free,
  Flight only; Venice, neither flight nor sea.

And since mention has been made of Hildebrand, I shall relate some
anecdotes of him, which I have not heard trivially, but from the sober
relation of a person who would swear that he had learned them from the
mouth of Hugo abbat of Clugny; whom I admire and commend to notice,
from the consideration, that he used to declare the secret thoughts of
others by the prophetic intuition of his mind. Pope Alexander, seeing
the energetic bent of his disposition, had made him chancellor[323] of
the holy see. In consequence, by virtue of his office, he used to go
through the provinces to correct abuses. All ranks of people flocked
to him, requiring judgment on various affairs; all secular power was
subject to him, as well out of regard to his sanctity as his office.
Whence it happened, one day, when there was a greater concourse on
horseback than usual, that the abbat aforesaid, with his monks, was
gently proceeding in the last rank; and beholding at a distance the
distinguished honour of this man, that so many earthly rulers awaited
his nod, he was revolving in his mind sentiments to the following
effect: “By what dispensation of God was this fellow, of diminutive
stature and obscure parentage, surrounded by a retinue of so many
rich men? Doubtless, from having such a crowd of attendants, he was
vain-glorious, and conceived loftier notions than were becoming.”
Scarcely, as I have said, had he imagined this in his heart, when the
archdeacon, turning back his horse, and spurring him, cried out from
a distance, beckoning the abbat, “You,” said he, “you have imagined
falsely, wrongly deeming me guilty of a thing of which I am innocent
altogether; for I neither impute this as glory to myself, if glory
that can be called which vanishes quickly, nor do I wish it to be so
imputed by others, but to the blessed apostles, to whose servant it is
exhibited.” Reddening with shame, and not daring to deny a tittle, he
replied only, “My lord, I pray thee, how couldst thou know the secret
thought of my heart which I have communicated to no one?” “All that
inward sentiment of yours,” said he, “was brought from your mouth to my
ears, as though by a pipe.”

Again, entering a country church, in the same province, they prostrated
themselves before the altar, side by side. When they had continued
their supplications for a long period, the archdeacon looked on the
abbat with an angry countenance. After they had prayed some time
longer, he went out, and asking the reason of his displeasure, received
this answer, “If you love me, do not again attack me with an injury of
this kind; my Lord Jesus Christ, beautiful beyond the sons of men, was
visibly present to my entreaties, listening to what I said and kindly
looking assent; but, attracted by the earnestness of your prayer,
he left me and turned to you. I think you will not deny it to be a
species of injury to take from a friend the author of his salvation.
Moreover, you are to know that mortality of mankind and destruction
hang over this place; and the token by which I formed such a conclusion
was my seeing the angel of the Lord standing upon the altar with a
naked sword, and waving it to and fro: I possess a more manifest proof
of the impending ruin, from the thick, cloudy air which, as you see,
already envelopes that province. Let us make haste to escape, then,
lest we perish with the rest.” Having said this, they entered an inn
for refreshment; but, as soon as food was placed before them, the
lamentations of the household took away their famished appetites: for
first one, and then another, and presently many of the family suddenly
lost their lives by some unseen disaster. The contagion then spreading
to the adjoining houses, they mounted their mules, and departed, fear
adding wings to their flight.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1085.] OF POPE GREGORY VII.]

Hildebrand had presided for the pope at a council in Gaul, where many
bishops being degraded, for having formerly acquired their churches by
simony, gave place to better men. There was one, to whom a suspicion
of this apostacy attached, but he could neither be convicted by any
witnesses, nor confuted by any argument. When it was supposed he
must be completely foiled, still like the slippery snake he eluded
detection; so skilled was he in speaking, that he baffled all. Then
said the archdeacon, “Let the oracle of God be resorted to, let man’s
eloquence cease; we know for certain that episcopal grace is the gift
of the Holy Spirit, and that whosoever purchases a bishopric, supposes
the gift of the Holy Ghost may be procured by money. Before you then,
who are assembled by the will of the Holy Ghost, let him say, ‘Glory be
to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,’ and if he shall
speak it articulately, and without hesitation, it will be manifest to
me that he has obtained his office, not by purchase, but legally.”
He willingly accepted the condition, supposing nothing less than any
difficulty in these words; and indeed he perfectly uttered, “Glory be
to the Father, and to the Son,” but he hesitated at the “Holy Ghost.”
A clamour arose on all sides, but he was never able, by any exertion,
either at that time or for the remainder of his life, to name the Holy
Spirit. The abbat so often mentioned was a witness of this miracle;
who taking the deprived bishop with him into different places, often
laughed at the issue of the experiment. Any person doubting the
certainty of this relation, must be confuted by all Europe, which is
aware that the numbers of the Clugniac order were increased by this

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1085.] DESIDERIUS--VICTOR--ODO.]

On the death of Alexander, therefore, Hildebrand, called Gregory the
Seventh, succeeded.[324] He openly asserted what others had whispered,
excommunicating those persons who, having been elected, should receive
the investiture[325] of their churches, by the ring and staff, through
the hands of the laity. On this account Henry, emperor of Germany,
being incensed that he should so far presume without his concurrence,
expelled him from Rome, as I observed, after the expiration of eleven
years, and brought in Guibert. Not long after, the pope, being seized
with that fatal disease which he had no doubt would be mortal, was
requested by the cardinals to appoint his successor; referring him
to the example of St. Peter, who, in the church’s earliest infancy,
had, while yet living, nominated Clement. He refused to follow this
example, because it had anciently been forbidden by councils: he would
advise, however, that if they wished a person powerful in worldly
matters, they should choose Desiderius, abbat of Cassino, who would
quell the violence of Guibert successfully and opportunely by a
military force; but if they wanted a religious and eloquent man, they
should elect Odo bishop of Ostia. Thus died a man, highly acceptable
to God, though perhaps rather too austere towards men. Indeed it is
affirmed, that in the beginning of the first commotion between him
and the emperor, he would not admit him within his doors, though
barefooted, and carrying shears[326] and scourges, despising a man
guilty of sacrilege, and of incest with his own sister. The emperor,
thus excluded, departed, vowing that this repulse should be the death
of many a man. And immediately doing all the injury he was able to the
Roman see, he excited thereby the favourers of the pope, on every side,
to throw off their allegiance to himself; for one Rodulph, revolting at
the command of the pope, who had sent him a crown in the name of the
apostles, he was immersed on all sides in the tumult of war. But Henry,
ever superior to ill fortune, at length subdued him and all others
faithlessly rebelling. At last, driven from his power, not by a foreign
attack, but the domestic hatred of his son, he died miserably. To
Hildebrand succeeded Desiderius, called Victor, who at his first mass
fell down dead, though from what mischance is unknown; the cup, if it
be possible to credit such a thing, being poisoned. The election then
fell upon Odo, a Frenchman by birth, first archdeacon of Rheims, then
prior of Clugny, afterwards bishop of Ostia, lastly pope by the name of

Thus far I shall be pardoned, for having digressed, as from the mention
of William’s transactions, some things occurred which I thought it
improper to omit: now, the reader, who is so inclined, shall learn
the more common habits of his life, and his domestic manners. Above
all then, he was humble to the servants of God; affable to the
obedient; inexorable to the rebellious. He attended the offices of
the Christian religion, as much as a secular was able; so that he
daily was present at mass, and heard vespers and matins. He built
one monastery in England, and another in Normandy; that at Caen[327]
first, which he dedicated to St. Stephen, and endowed with suitable
estates, and most magnificent presents. There he appointed Lanfranc,
afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, abbat: a man worthy to be compared
to the ancients, in knowledge, and in religion: of whom it may be
truly said, “Cato the third is descended from heaven;” so much had an
heavenly savour tinctured his heart and tongue; so much was the whole
Western world excited to the knowledge of the liberal arts, by his
learning; and so earnestly did the monastic profession labour in the
work of religion, either from his example, or authority. No sinister
means profited a bishop in those days; nor could an abbat procure
advancement by purchase. He who had the best report for undeviating
sanctity, was most honoured, and most esteemed both by the king and
by the archbishop. William built another monastery near Hastings,
dedicated to St. Martin, which was also called Battle, because there
the principal church stands on the very spot, where, as they report,
Harold was found in the thickest heaps of the slain. When little more
than a boy, yet gifted with the wisdom of age, he removed his uncle
Malger, from the archbishopric of Rouen. He was a man not ordinarily
learned, but, through his high rank, forgetful of his profession,
he gave too much attention to hunting and hawking; and consumed the
treasures of the church in riotous living. The fame of this getting
abroad, he never, during his whole life-time, obtained the pall,
because the holy see refused the distinction of that honour, to a man
who neglected his sacred office. Wherefore being frequently cited, his
nephew reprehending his offences, and still conducting himself in the
same manner, he was, from the urgency of the case, ultimately degraded.
Some report that there was a secret reason for his being deprived: that
Matilda, whom William had married, was very nearly related to him:
that Malger, in consequence, through zeal for the Christian faith,
could not endure that they should riot in the bed of consanguinity;
and that he hurled the weapon of excommunication against his nephew,
and his consort: that, when the anger of the young man was roused by
the complaints of his wife, an occasion was sought out, through which
the persecutor of their crime might be driven from his see: but that
afterwards, in riper years, for the expiation of their offence, he
built the monastery to St. Stephen at Caen; and she also one, in the
same town, to the Holy Trinity;[328] each of them choosing the inmates
according to their own sex.


To Malger succeeded Maurilius of Feschamp; a monk commendable for
many virtues, but principally for his abstinence. After a holy and
well-spent life, when he came, by the call of God, to his end, bereft
of vital breath, he lay, as it were, dead for almost half a day.
Nevertheless, when preparation was made to carry him into the church,
recovering his breath, he bathed the by-standers in tears of joy, and
comforted them, when lost in amazement, with this address: “Let your
minds be attentive while you hear the last words of your pastor. I have
died a natural death, but I am come back, to relate to you what I have
seen; yet shall I not continue with you long, because it delights me to
sleep in the Lord. The conductors of my spirit were adorned with every
elegance both of countenance and attire; the gentleness of their speech
accorded with the splendour of their garments; so much so, that I
could wish for nothing more than the attentions of such men. Delighted
therefore with their soothing approbation, I went, as it appeared to
me, towards the east. A seat in paradise was promised me, which I was
shortly to enter. In a moment, passing over Europe and entering Asia,
we came to Jerusalem; where, having worshipped the saints, we proceeded
to Jordan. The residents on the hither bank joining company with my
conductors, made a joyful party. I was now hastening to pass over
the river, through longing desire to see what was beyond it, when my
companions informed me, that God had commanded, that I must first be
terrified by the sight of the demons; in order that the venial sins,
which I had not wiped out by confession, might be expiated, by the
dread of terrific forms. As soon as this was said, there came opposite
to me, such a multitude of devils, brandishing pointed weapons, and
breathing out fire, that the plain appeared like steel, and the air
like flame. I was so dreadfully alarmed at them, that had the earth
clave asunder, or the heaven opened, I should not have known whither
to have betaken myself for safety. Thus panic-struck, and doubting
whither to go, I suddenly recovered my life, though instantaneously
about to lose it again, that by this relation I might be serviceable to
your salvation, unless you neglect it:” and almost as soon as he had
so said, he breathed out his soul. His body, then buried under ground,
in the church of St. Mary, is now, by divine miracle, as they report,
raised up more than three feet above the earth.

Moreover, William, following up the design he had formerly begun in
Normandy, permitted Stigand, the pretended and false archbishop, to
be deposed by the Roman cardinals and by Ermenfred bishop of Sion.
Walkelin succeeded him at Winchester, whose good works, surpassing
fame, will resist the power of oblivion, as long as the episcopal see
shall there continue: in Kent succeeded Lanfranc, of whom I have before
spoken, who was, by the gift of God, as resplendent in England,

  As Lucifer, who bids the stars retire,
  Day’s rosy harbinger with purple fire;

so much did the monastic germ sprout by his care, so strongly grew
the pontifical power while he survived. The king was observant of his
advice in such wise, that he deemed it proper to concede whatever
Lanfranc asserted ought to be done. At his instigation also was
abolished the infamous custom of those ill-disposed people who used
to sell their slaves into Ireland. The credit of this action, I know
not exactly whether to attribute to Lanfranc, or to Wulstan bishop of
Worcester; who would scarcely have induced the king, reluctant from the
profit it produced him, to this measure, had not Lanfranc commended it,
and Wulstan, powerful from his sanctity of character, commanded it by
episcopal authority: Wulstan, than whom none could be more just; nor
could any in our time equal him in the power of miracles, or the gift
of prophecy: of which I propose hereafter to relate some particulars,
should it meet his most holy approbation.

But since the die of fortune is subject to uncertain casts, many
adverse circumstances happened during those times. There was a
disgraceful contention[329] between the abbat of Glastonbury and his
monks; so that after altercation they came to blows. The monks being
driven into the church, bewailed their miseries at the holy altar. The
soldiers, rushing in, slew two of them, wounded fourteen, and drove
away the rest. Nay the rage of the military had even bristled the
crucifix with arrows. The abbat, rendered infamous by such a criminal
outrage, was driven into exile during the whole of the king’s life;
but, upon his decease, he was restored to his honours, a sum of money
being paid to such as interceded for him, for the expiation of his

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1080.] BISHOP WALKER MURDERED.]

Again, a cruel and ignominious end overtook Walker bishop of Durham,
whom the Northumbrians, a people ever ripe for rebellion, throwing off
all respect for his holy orders, put to death, after having severely
insulted him. A considerable number of Lorrainers were killed there
also, for the bishop was of that country. The cause of the murder was
this. The bishop, independently of his see, was warder[330] of the
whole county: over public business he had set his relation Gilbert,
and over domestic, the canon Leobin; both men of diligence in their
respective employments, but rash. The bishop endured their want of
moderation in this respect, out of regard to their activity; and,
as he had placed them in office, treated them with great kindness.
“For our nature ever indulges itself, and favourably regards its own
kind works.” This Leobin caused Liwulph, a servant so dearly beloved
by St. Cuthbert that the saint himself used to appear to him, even
when waking, and prescribe his decisions; him, I say, he caused to
be killed by Gilbert; smitten with envy at his holding the higher
place in the prelate’s esteem for his knowledge and equity in legal
determinations. Walker, terrified with this intelligence, offered the
furious family of the deceased the result of a legal inquiry,[331]
affirming that Leobin would be the cause of his death and of that of
his friends. When the matter came to a trial, this ferocious race of
people were not to be soothed by reasons of any kind; on the contrary,
they threw the whole blame on the bishop, because they had seen both
the murderers familiarly entertained in his court after the death of
Liwulph. Hence arose clamour and indignation, and Gilbert, as he was
of his own accord, going out of the church, where he had been sitting
with the bishop, that he might, at his personal peril, save the life of
his master, was impiously slain. The bishop, while making overtures of
peace before the gates, next glutted the rage of the people with his
blood; the fomenter of the crime, too, Leobin, was half-burnt, as he
would not quit the church till it was set on fire, and when he rushed
out he was received on a thousand spears. This had been predicted by
Edgitha, relict of king Edward; for when she had formerly seen Walker,
with his milk-white hair, rosy countenance, and extraordinary stature,
conducted to Winchester to be consecrated; “We have here,” said she, “a
noble martyr:” being led to form such a presage by reflecting on the
mutinous disposition of that people. To him succeeded William, abbat of
St. Carilef, who established monks at Durham.

Moreover, the year before the king’s death, there was a mortality
both among men and cattle, and severe tempests, accompanied with such
thunder and lightning, as no person before had ever seen or heard. And
in the year he died, a contagious fever destroyed more than half the
people; indeed the attack of the disease killed many, and then, from
the unseasonableness of the weather, a famine following, it spread
universally and cut off those whom the fever had spared.

In addition to his other virtues he, more especially in early youth,
was observant of chastity; insomuch that it was very commonly reported
that he was impotent. Marrying, however, at the recommendation of the
nobility, he conducted himself, during many years, in such wise, as
never to be suspected of any criminal intercourse. He had many children
by Matilda, whose obedience to her husband and fruitfulness in children
excited in his mind the tenderest regard for her, although there are
not wanting persons who prate about his having renounced his former
chastity; and that, after he had acceded to the royal dignity, he was
connected with the daughter of a certain priest, whom the queen caused
to be removed, by being hamstrung by one of her servants; on which
account he was exiled, and Matilda was scourged to death with a bridle.
But I esteem it folly to believe this of so great a king; though I
decidedly assert that a slight disagreement arose between them, in
latter times, on account of their son Robert, whom his mother was said
to supply with a military force out of her revenues. Nevertheless, he
proved that his conjugal affection was not in the least diminished by
this circumstance, as he buried her with great magnificence, on her
death, four years before his own; and weeping most profusely for many
days showed how keenly he felt her loss: moreover, from that time, if
we give credit to report, he refrained from every gratification. The
queen[332] was buried at Caen, in the monastery of the Holy Trinity.
The same proof of regard was evident in the care he took of the funeral
of queen Edgitha; who, placed by his attention near her husband at
Westminster, has a tomb richly wrought with gold and silver.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1083.] OF KING WILLIAM’S CHILDREN.]

His sons were Robert, Richard, William, and Henry, The two last reigned
after him successively in England: Robert, irritated that Normandy
was refused him during his father’s life-time, went indignantly to
Italy, that by marrying the daughter of Boniface the marquis, he might
procure assistance in those parts, to oppose the king: but failing of
this connexion, he excited Philip king of France against his father.
Wherefore, disappointed of his paternal blessing and inheritance, at
his death, he missed England, retaining with difficulty the duchy of
Normandy: and pawning even this, at the expiration of nine years, to
his brother William, he joined the expedition into Asia, with the other
Christians. From thence, at the end of four years, he returned with
credit for his military exploits; and without difficulty sat himself
down in Normandy, because his brother William being recently dead,
king Henry, unsettled on account of his fresh-acquired power, deemed
it enough to retain England under his command: but as I must speak of
this in another place, I will here pursue the relation I had begun
concerning the sons of William the Great.

Richard afforded his noble father hopes of his future greatness; a
fine youth and of aspiring disposition, considering his age: but an
untimely death quickly withered the bud of this promising flower.
They relate that while hunting deer in the New-forest, he contracted
a disorder from a stream of infected air. This is the place which
William his father, desolating the towns and destroying the churches
for more than thirty miles, had appropriated for the nurture and refuge
of wild beasts;[333] a dreadful spectacle, indeed, that where before
had existed human intercourse and the worship of God, there deer, and
goats, and other animals of that kind, should now range unrestrained,
and these not subjected to the general service of mankind. Hence it
is truly asserted that, in this very forest, William his son, and
his grandson Richard, son of Robert, earl of Normandy, by the severe
judgment of God, met their deaths, one by a wound in the breast by an
arrow, the other by a wound in the neck, or as some say, from being
suspended by the jaws on the branch of a tree, as his horse passed
beneath it.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] DAUGHTERS OF WILLIAM I.]

His daughters were five; first, Cecilia, abbess of Caen, who still
survives: the second, Constantia, married to Alan Fergant, earl of
Brittany, excited the inhabitants, by the severity of her justice, to
administer a poisonous potion to her: the third, Adela, the wife of
Stephen, earl of Blois, a lady celebrated for secular industry, lately
took the veil at Marcigny. The names of the two others have escaped
me.[334] One of these, as we have said, was betrothed to Harold, and
died ere she was marriageable: the other was affianced, by messengers,
to Alphonso, king of Gallicia, but obtained, from God, a virgin death.
A hard substance, which proved the frequency of her prayers, was found
upon her knees after her decease.

Honouring the memory of his father, by every practicable method, in
the latter part of his life, he caused his bones, formerly interred at
Nicea, to be taken up by means of a person sent for that purpose, in
order to convey them elsewhere; who, successfully returning, stopped
in Apulia, on hearing of the death of William, and there buried this
illustrious man’s remains. He treated his mother, who, before the
death of his father, had married one Herlewin de Conteville, a man
of moderate wealth, with singular indulgence as long as she lived.
William’s brothers, by this match, were Robert, a man of heavy,
sluggish disposition, whom he made earl of Moreton; and Odo, whom,
while he was earl, he made bishop of Bayeux; and when king, created
him earl of Kent. Being of quicker talents than the other, he was
governor of all England, under the king, after the death of William
Fitz-Osberne. He had wonderful skill in accumulating treasure;
possessed extreme craft in dissembling: so that, though absent, yet,
stuffing the scrips of the pilgrims with letters and money, he had
nearly purchased the Roman papacy from the citizens. But when, through
the rumour of his intended journey, soldiers eagerly flocked to him
from all parts of the kingdom, the king, taking offence, threw him
into confinement; saying, that he did not seize the bishop of Bayeux,
but the earl of Kent. His partisans being intimidated by threats,
discovered such quantities of gold, that the heap of precious metal
would surpass the belief of the present age; and, at last, many
sackfuls of wrought gold were also taken out of the rivers, which he
had secretly buried in certain places. When released, at the death of
his brother, he joined Robert’s party, as he was averse to his nephew
William: but then too matters turning out unfavourably, he was banished
England, and went over to his nephew and his bishopric in Normandy.
Afterwards, proceeding with him on his enterprize to Jerusalem, he died
at Antioch while it was besieged by the Christians.

King William kindly admitted foreigners to his friendship; bestowed
honours on them without distinction, and was attentive to almsgiving;
he gave many possessions in England to foreign churches, and scarcely
did his own munificence, or that of his nobility, leave any monastery
unnoticed, more especially in Normandy, so that their poverty was
mitigated by the riches of England. Thus, in his time, the monastic
flock increased on every side; monasteries arose, ancient in their
rule, but modern in building: but here I perceive the muttering of
those who say, it would have been better that the old should have been
preserved in their original state, than that new ones should have been
erected from their plunder.

He was of just stature, extraordinary corpulence, fierce countenance;
his forehead bare of hair: of such great strength of arm, that it
was often matter of surprise, that no one was able to draw his bow,
which himself could bend when his horse was on full gallop: he was
majestic, whether sitting or standing, although the protuberance of
his belly deformed his royal person: of excellent health, so that he
was never confined with any dangerous disorder, except at the last:
so given to the pleasures of the chase, that, as I have before said,
ejecting the inhabitants, he let a space of many miles grow desolate,
that, when at liberty from other avocations, he might there pursue
his pleasures. He gave sumptuous and splendid entertainments, at the
principal festivals; passing, during the years he could conveniently
remain in England, Christmas at Gloucester; Easter at Winchester;
Pentecost at Westminster. At these times a royal edict summoned thither
all the principal persons of every order, that the ambassadors from
foreign nations might admire the splendour of the assemblage, and the
costliness of the banquets. Nor was he at any time more affable or
indulgent; in order that the visitants might proclaim universally,
that his generosity kept pace with his riches. This mode of banqueting
was constantly observed by his first successor; the second omitted it.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] WILLIAM’S LOVE OF MONEY.]

His anxiety for money is the only thing for which he can deservedly be
blamed.[335] This he sought all opportunities of scraping together, he
cared not how; he would say and do some things, and, indeed, almost any
thing, unbecoming such great majesty, where the hope of money allured
him. I have here no excuse whatever to offer, unless it be, as one
has said, that, “Of necessity, he must fear many, whom many fear.”
For, through dread of his enemies, he used to drain the country of
money, with which he might retard or repel their attacks; very often,
as it happens in human affairs, where strength failed, purchasing
the forbearance of his enemies with gold. This disgraceful calamity
is still prevalent, and every day increases; so that both towns
and churches are subjected to contributions: nor is this done with
firm-kept faith on the part of the imposers, but whoever offers more,
carries the prize; all former agreements being disregarded.

Residing in his latter days in Normandy, when enmity had arisen between
him and the king of France, he, for a short period, was confined to the
house: Philip, scoffing at this forbearance, is reported to have said,
“The king of England is lying-in at Rouen, and keeps his bed, like a
woman after her delivery;” jesting on his belly, which he had been
reducing by medicine. Cruelly hurt at this sarcasm, he replied, “When
I go to mass, after my confinement, I will make him an offering of a
hundred thousand candles.”[336] He swore this, “by the Resurrection and
Glory of God:” for he was wont purposely to swear such oaths as, by
the very form of his mouth, would strike terror into the minds of his

Not long after, in the end of the month of August, when the corn was
ripe on the ground, the clusters on the vines, and the orchards laden
with fruit in full abundance, collecting an army, he entered France in
a hostile manner, trampling down, and laying every thing waste: nothing
could assuage his irritated mind, so determined was he to revenge this
injurious taunt at the expense of multitudes. At last he set fire to
the city of Mantes, where the church of St. Mary was burnt, together
with a recluse who did not think it justifiable to quit her cell even
under such an emergency; and the whole property of the citizens was
destroyed. Exhilarated by this success, while furiously commanding his
people to add fuel to the conflagration, he approached too near the
flames, and contracted a disorder from the violence of the fire and
the intenseness of the autumnal heat. Some say, that his horse leaping
over a dangerous ditch, ruptured his rider, where his belly projected
over the front of the saddle. Injured by this accident, he sounded a
retreat, and returning to Rouen, as the malady increased he took to his
bed. His physicians, when consulted, affirmed, from an inspection of
his urine, that death was inevitable. On hearing this, he filled the
house with his lamentations, because death had suddenly seized him,
before he could effect that reformation of life which he had long since
meditated. Recovering his fortitude, however, he performed the duties
of a Christian in confession and receiving the communion. Reluctantly,
and by compulsion, he bestowed Normandy on Robert; to William he gave
England; while Henry received his maternal possessions. He ordered all
his prisoners to be released and pardoned: his treasures to be brought
forth, and distributed to the churches: he gave also a certain sum of
money to repair the church which had been burnt. Thus rightly ordering
all things, he departed on the eighth of the ides of September, [Sept.
6,] in the fifty-ninth year of his age: the twenty-second of his reign:
the fifty-second of his duchy: and in the year of our Lord 1087.
This was the same year, in which Canute, king of Denmark, as we have
before related, was killed; and in which the Spanish Saracens raging
against the Christians, were shortly compelled to retire to their own
territories by Alphonso, king of Gallicia; unwillingly evacuating even
the cities they had formerly occupied.

The body, embalmed after royal custom, was brought down the river
Seine to Caen, and there consigned to the earth, a large assembly of
the clergy attending, but few of the laity. Here might be seen the
wretchedness of earthly vicissitude; for that man who was formerly the
glory of all Europe, and more powerful than any of his predecessors,
could not find a place of everlasting rest, without contention. For
a certain knight, to whose patrimony the place pertained, loudly
exclaiming at the robbery, forbade his burial: saying, that the
ground belonged to himself by paternal right; and that the king had
no claim to rest in a place which he had forcibly invaded. Whereupon,
at the desire of Henry, the only one of his sons who was present, a
hundred pounds of silver[337] were paid to this brawler, and quieted
his audacious claim: for at that time, Robert his elder born was in
France, carrying on a war against his own country: William had sailed
for England, ere the king had well breathed his last; thinking it more
advantageous to look to his future benefit, than to be present at the
funeral of his father. Moreover, in the dispersion of money, neither
slow, nor sparing, he brought forth from its secret hoard, all that
treasure which had been accumulated at Winchester, during a reign of so
many years: to the monasteries he gave a piece of gold; to each parish
church five shillings in silver: to every county a hundred pounds to
be divided to each poor man severally. He also very splendidly adorned
the tomb of his father, with a large mass of gold and silver and the
refulgence of precious stones.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] BERENGAR OF TOURS].

At this time lived Berengar, the heresiarch of Tours, who denied, that
the bread and wine, when placed on the altar and consecrated by the
priest, were, as the holy church affirms, the real and substantial
body of the Lord. Already was the whole of Gaul infected with this
his doctrine, disseminated by means of poor scholars, whom he allured
by daily hire. On this account pope Leo, of holiest memory, alarmed
for the catholic faith, calling a council against him at Vercelli,
dispersed the darkness of this misty error, by the effulgence of
evangelical testimony. But when, after his death, the poison of heresy
again burst forth from the bosoms of some worthless people where it had
long been nurtured, Hildebrand, in councils, when he was archdeacon,
at Tours, and after, when pope, at Rome, compelled him, after being
convicted, to the abjuration of his opinion; which matters, any
person desirous of seeing will find recorded in their proper place.
Archbishop Lanfranc and Guimund, the most eloquent man of our times,
first monk of St. Leofrid, in Normandy, afterwards bishop of Aversa in
Apulia, confuted him; but principally and most forcibly the latter.
And, indeed, though Berengar disgraced the earlier part of his life
by defending certain heresies, yet he came so much to his senses in
riper age, that without hesitation, he was by some esteemed a saint;
admired for innumerable good qualities, but especially for his humility
and almsgiving: showing himself master of his large possessions, by
dispersing, not their slave by hoarding and worshipping them. He was
so guarded with respect to female beauty, that he would never suffer a
woman to appear before him, lest he should seem to enjoy that beauty
with his eye, which he did not desire in his heart. He was used
neither to despise the poor nor flatter the rich: to live by nature’s
rule, “and having food and raiment,” in the language of the apostle,
“therewith to be content.” In consequence, Hildebert, bishop of Mans,
a first-rate poet, highly commends him; whose words I have purposely
inserted, that I may show this celebrated bishop’s regard to his
master; and at the same time his opinion will serve for an example to
posterity, how he thought a man ought to live: although, perhaps, from
the strength of his affection, he may have exceeded the bounds of just

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] PANEGYRIC ON BERENGAR.]

  Fame, which the world allows his due,
  Shall Berengar, when dead, pursue:
  Whom, plac’d on faith’s exalted height
  The fifth day ravish’d with fell spite:
  Sad was that day, and fatal too,
  Where grief and loss united grew,
  Wherein the church’s hope and pride,
  The law, with its supporter, died.
  What sages taught, or poets sung
  Bow’d to his wit, and honey’d tongue.
  Then holier wisdom’s path he trod,
  And fill’d his heart and lips with God.
  His soul, his voice, his action prov’d
  The great Creator’s praise he lov’d,
  So good, so wise, his growing fame
  Shall soar above the greatest name:
  Whose rank preserv’d his honours gain’d,
  Preferr’d the poor to rich: maintain’d
  The sternest justice. Wealth’s wide power
  Ne’er gave to sloth, or waste, an hour,
  Nor could repeated honours, high,
  Seduce him from humility;
  Who ne’er on money set his mind,
  But griev’d he could no object find
  Where he might give: and help’d the poor
  Till poverty assail’d his door.
  His life by nature’s laws to guide,
  His mind from vice, his lips from pride,
  Still was his care: to false, the true
  Prefer, and nothing senseless do:
  Evil to none, but good impart,
  And banish lucre, hand and heart.
  Whose dress was coarse, and temperance just
  Awaited appetite’s keen gust:
  Was chastity’s perpetual guest,
  Nor let rank lust disturb his rest.
  When nature form’d him, “See,” said she,
  “While others fade, one born for me.”
  Ere justice sought her place of rest
  On high, he lock’d her in his breast.
  A saint from boyhood, whose great name
  Surpasses his exceeding fame,
  Which, though the wide world it may fill,
  Shall never reach his merit still.
  Pious and grave, so humble yet,
  That envy ne’er could him beset;
  For envy weeps, whom still before
  She hated, prone now to adore;
  First for his life, but now his fate
  She moans, laments his frail estate.
  Man truly wise and truly blest!
  Thy soul and body both at rest,
  May I, when dead, abide with you,
  And share the self-same portion too.

You may perceive in these verses, that the bishop exceeded the just
measure of praise; but eloquence is apt to recommend itself in such
wise; thus a brilliant style proceeds in graceful strain; thus

  “Bewitching eloquence sheds purple flowers.”

But though Berengar himself changed his sentiments, yet was he unable
to convert all whom he had infected throughout the world; “so dreadful
a thing it is to seduce others from what is right, either by example
or by word; as, perhaps, in consequence, you must bear the sins of
others after having atoned for your own.” Fulbert, bishop of Chartres,
whom Mary, the mother of our Lord, was seen to cure when sick, by the
milk of her breasts, is said to have predicted this; for, when lying in
the last extremity, he was visited by many persons, and the house was
scarcely large enough to hold the company, he darted his eye through
the throng, and endeavoured to drive away Berengar, with all the force
he had remaining; protesting that an immense devil stood near him,
and attempted to seduce many persons to follow him, by beckoning with
his hand, and whispering some enticement. Moreover, Berengar himself,
when about to expire on the day of the Epiphany, sadly sighing, at the
recollection of the wretched people whom, when a very young man, in the
heat of error, he had infected with his opinions, exclaimed, “To-day,
in the day of his manifestation, my Lord Jesus Christ will appear to
me, either to glorify me, as I hope, for my repentance; or to punish
me, as I fear, for the heresy I have propagated on others.”

We indeed believe, that after ecclesiastical benediction, those
mysteries are the very body and blood of the Saviour; induced to
such an opinion, by the authority of the ancient church, and by many
miracles recently manifested. Such as that which St. Gregory exhibited
at Rome; and such as Paschasius relates to have taken place in Germany;
that the priest Plegild visibly touched the form of a boy, upon the
altar, and that after kissing him he partook of him, turned into the
similitude of bread, after the custom of the church: which, they
relate, Berengar used arrogantly to cavil at, and to say, that “it was
the treacherous covenant of a scoundrel, to destroy with his teeth,
him whom he had kissed with his mouth.” Such, too, is that concerning
the Jewish boy, who by chance running playfully into a church, with a
Christian of the same age, saw a child torn to pieces on the altar, and
severally divided to the people; which when, with childish innocence,
he related as truth to his parents, they placed him in a furnace, where
the fire was burning and the door closed: whence, after many hours, he
was snatched by the Christians, without injury to his person, clothes,
or hair; and being asked how he could escape the devouring flames, he
replied, “That beautiful woman whom I saw sitting in the chair, whose
son was divided among the people, always stood at my right hand in the
furnace, keeping off the threatening flames and fiery volumes with her

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] THE TOMB OF WALWIN.]

At that time, in a province of Wales, called Ros, was found the
sepulchre of Walwin, the noble nephew of Arthur; he reigned, a most
renowned knight, in that part of Britain which is still named Walwerth;
but was driven from his kingdom by the brother and nephew of Hengist,
(of whom I have spoken in my first book,) though not without first
making them pay dearly for his expulsion. He deservedly shared, with
his uncle, the praise of retarding, for many years, the calamity of
his falling country. The sepulchre of Arthur is no where to be seen,
whence ancient ballads fable that he is still to come. But the tomb
of the other, as I have suggested, was found in the time of king
William, on the sea-coast, fourteen feet long: there, as some relate,
he was wounded by his enemies, and suffered shipwreck; others say,
he was killed by his subjects at a public entertainment. The truth
consequently is doubtful; though neither of these men was inferior to
the reputation they have acquired.

This, too, was the period in which Germany, for fifty years, bewailed
the pitiable, and almost fatal government of Henry, of whom I have
spoken in the history of William. He was neither unlearned nor
indolent; but so singled out by fate for every person to attack, that
whoever took up arms against him seemed, to himself, to be acting for
the good of religion. He had two sons, Conrad and Henry: the first, not
violating the rights of nature towards his father, having subjugated
Italy, died at Arezzo, a city of Tuscany: the other, in his early
age, attacking his parent when he was somewhat at rest from external
molestation, compelled him to retire from the empire, and when he
died shortly after, honoured him with an imperial funeral. He still
survives, obstinately adhering to those very sentiments, on account of
which he thought himself justified in persecuting his father; for he
grants the investiture of churches by the staff and ring; and looks
upon the pope as not legally elected without his concurrence; although
Calixtus, who now presides over the papal see, has greatly restrained
this man’s inordinate ambition: but let the reader wait my farther
relation of these matters in their proper order.

Moreover, pope Hildebrand dying, as I have said, and Urban being
elected by the cardinals, the emperor persisted in his intention of
preferring Guibert, of proclaiming him pope, and of bringing him
to Rome, by the expulsion of the other. The army, however, of the
marchioness Matilda, a woman, who, forgetful of her sex, and comparable
to the ancient Amazons, used to lead forth her hardy troops to
battle, espoused the juster cause, as it seemed, by her assistance,
in succeeding time, Urban obtaining the papal throne, held quiet
possession of it for eleven years. After him Paschal was appointed
by the Romans, who held Henry’s concurrence in contempt. Guibert yet
burdened the earth with his existence, the only sower of sedition, who
never, during his whole life, laid aside his obstinacy, nor conformed
to justice; saying, that the decision of the emperor ought to be
observed; not that of the assassins, or parchment-mongers of Rome.[338]
In consequence, both of them being excommunicated in several councils,
they treated the sentence with ridicule. Notwithstanding these
circumstances, there were many things praiseworthy in the emperor:
he was eloquent, of great abilities, well read, actively charitable;
had many good qualities, both of mind and person: was ever prepared
for war, insomuch that he was sixty-two times engaged in battle; was
equitable in adjusting differences; and when matters were unsuccessful,
he would prefer his griefs to heaven, and wait for redress from thence.
Many of his enemies perished by untimely deaths.

I have heard a person of the utmost veracity relate, that one of his
adversaries, a weak and factious man, while reclining at a banquet,
was, on a sudden, so completely surrounded by mice, as to be unable to
escape. So great was the number of these little animals, that there
could scarcely be imagined more in a whole province. It was in vain,
that they were attacked with clubs and fragments of the benches which
were at hand: and though they were for a long time assailed by all, yet
they wreaked their deputed curse on no one else; pursuing him only
with their teeth, and with a kind of dreadful squeaking. And although
he was carried out to sea about a javelin’s cast by the servants, yet
he could not by these means escape their violence; for immediately so
great a multitude of mice took to the water, that you would have sworn
the sea was strewed with chaff. But when they began to gnaw the planks
of the ship, and the water, rushing through the chinks, threatened
inevitable shipwreck, the servants turned the vessel to the shore.
The animals, then also swimming close to the ship, landed first. Thus
the wretch, set on shore, and soon after entirely gnawed in pieces,
satiated the dreadful hunger of the mice.

I deem this the less wonderful, because it is well known, that in Asia,
if a leopard bite any person, a party of mice approach directly, to
discharge their urine on the wounded man; and that a filthy deluge
of their water attends his death; but if, by the care of servants
driving them off, the destruction can be avoided during nine days;
then medical assistance, if called in, may be of service. My informant
had seen a person wounded after this manner, who, despairing of safety
on shore, proceeded to sea, and lay at anchor; when immediately more
than a thousand mice swam out, wonderful to relate, in the rinds of
pomegranates, the insides of which they had eaten; but they were
drowned through the loud shouting of the sailors. “For the Creator of
all things has made nothing destitute of sagacity; nor any pest without
its remedy.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] OF MARIANUS SCOTUS.]

During this emperor’s reign flourished Marianus Scotus,[339] first a
monk of Fulda, afterwards a recluse at Mentz, who, by renouncing the
present life, secured the happiness of that which is to come. During
his long continued leisure, he examined the writers on Chronology, and
discovered the disagreement of the cycles of Dionysius the Little with
the evangelical computation. Wherefore reckoning every year from the
beginning of the world, he added twenty-two, which were wanting, to the
above mentioned cycles; but he had few, or no followers of his opinion.
Wherefore I am often led to wonder, why such unhappiness should attach
to the learned of our time, that in so great a number of scholars and
students, pale with watching, scarcely one can obtain unqualified
commendation for knowledge. So much does ancient custom please, and so
little encouragement, though deserved, is given to new discoveries,
however consistent with truth. All are anxious to grovel in the old
track, and everything modern is contemned; and therefore, as patronage
alone can foster genius, when that is withheld, every exertion

But as I have mentioned the monastery of Fulda, I will relate what a
reverend man, Walker, prior of Malvern, whose words if any disbelieve
he offends against holiness, told me had happened there. “Not more
than fifteen years have elapsed,” said he, “since a contagious disease
attacked the abbat of that place, and afterwards destroyed many of
the monks. The survivors, at first, began each to fear for himself,
and to pray, and give alms more abundantly than usual. In process of
time, however, for such is the nature of man, their fear gradually
subsiding, they began to omit them; the cellarer more especially: who
publicly and absurdly exclaimed, that the stock of provision was not
adequate to such a consumption; that he had lately hoped for some
reduction of expense from so many funerals, but that his hopes were at
an end, if the dead consumed what the living could not. It happened
on a certain night, when, from some urgent business, he had deferred
going to rest for a long time, that having at length despatched every
concern, he went towards the dormitory. And now you shall hear a
strange circumstance: he saw in the chapter-house, the abbat, and all
who had died that year, sitting in the order they had departed: when
affrighted and endeavouring to escape, he was detained by force. Being
reproved and corrected, after the monastic manner, with a scourge, he
heard the abbat speak precisely to the following effect: that it was
foolish to look for advantage by another’s death, when all were subject
to one common fate; that it was an impious thing, that a monk who had
passed his whole life in the service of the church should be grudged
the pittance of a single year after his death; that he himself should
die very shortly, but that whatever others might do for him, should
redound only to the advantage of those whom he had defrauded; that he
might now go and correct, by his example, those whom he had corrupted
by his expressions.” He departed, and demonstrated that he had seen
nothing imaginary, as well by his recent stripes, as by his death,
which shortly followed.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] CANTERBURY AND YORK.]

In the meantime, while employed on other subjects, both matter and
inclination have occurred for the relation of what was determined in
William’s time, concerning the controversy still existing between the
archbishops of Canterbury and York. And that posterity may be fully
informed of this business, I will subjoin the opinions of the ancient

_Pope Gregory to Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury._

“Let your jurisdiction not only extend over the bishops you shall have
ordained, or such as have been ordained by the bishop of York, but also
over all the priests of Britain, by the authority of our Lord Jesus

_Boniface to Justus, archbishop of Canterbury._

“Far be it from every Christian, that anything concerning the city
of Canterbury be diminished or changed, in present or future times,
which was appointed by our predecessor pope Gregory, however human
circumstances may be changed: but more especially, by the authority
of St. Peter the prince of apostles, we command and ordain, that the
city of Canterbury shall ever hereafter be esteemed the metropolitan
see of all Britain; and we decree and appoint, immutably, that all
the provinces of the kingdom of England shall be subject to the
metropolitan church of the aforesaid see. And if any one attempt to
injure this church, which is more especially under the power and
protection of the holy Roman church, or to lessen the jurisdiction
conceded to it, may God expunge him from the book of life; and let him
know, that he is bound by the sentence of a curse.”

_Alexander to William, king of England._

“The cause of Alric, formerly called bishop of Chichester, we have
entrusted to our brother bishop, Lanfranc, to be by him diligently
reconsidered and determined. We have also commended to him the labour
of deciding the dispute which has arisen between the archbishop of
York, and the bishop of Dorchester, on matters belonging to their
dioceses; strictly ordering him to examine this cause most diligently
and bring it to a just termination. Besides, we have so fully
committed to him the authority of our personal and pontifical power in
considering and settling causes, that whatever he shall, according to
justice, have determined, shall be regarded as firm and indissoluble
hereafter, as though it had been adjudged in our presence.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1072] CANTERBURY AND YORK.]

“In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ’s incarnation 1072, of the
pontificate of pope Alexander the eleventh, and of the reign of
William, glorious king of England, and duke of Normandy, the sixth;
by the command of the said pope Alexander, and permission of the
same king, in presence of himself, his bishops, and abbats, the
question was agitated concerning the primacy which Lanfranc,[340]
archbishop of Canterbury, claimed in right of his church, over that
of York; and concerning the ordination of certain bishops, of which
it was not clearly evident, to whom they especially pertained; and
at length, after some time it was proved and shown by the distinct
authority of various writings, that the church of York ought to be
subject to that of Canterbury, and to be obedient to the appointments
of its archbishop, as primate of all England, in all such matters as
pertained to the Christian religion. But the homage of the bishop
of Durham, that is of Lindisfarne, and of all the countries beyond
the limits of the bishop of Lichfield, and the great river Humber,
to the farthest boundaries of Scotland, and whatever on this side of
the aforesaid river justly pertains to the diocese of the church of
York, the metropolitan of Canterbury allowed for ever to belong to
the archbishop of York and his successors: in such sort, that if the
archbishop of Canterbury chose to call a council, wherever he deemed
fit, the archbishop of York was bound to be present at his command,
with all his suffragan bishops, and be obedient to his canonical
injunctions. And Lanfranc the archbishop proved from the ancient custom
of his predecessors, that the archbishop of York was bound to make
profession, even with an oath, to the archbishop of Canterbury; but
through regard to the king, he dispensed with the oath from Thomas,
archbishop of York; and received his written profession only: but not
forming a precedent for his successors who might choose to exact the
oath, together with the profession, from Thomas’s successors. If the
archbishop of Canterbury should die, the archbishop of York shall come
to Canterbury; and, with the other bishops of the church aforesaid,
duly consecrate the person elect as his lawful primate. But if the
archbishop of York shall die, his successor, accepting the gift of the
archbishopric from the king, shall come to Canterbury, or where the
archbishop of Canterbury shall appoint, and shall from him receive
canonical ordination. To this ordinance consented the king aforesaid,
and the archbishops, Lanfranc of Canterbury, and Thomas of York; and
Hubert subdeacon of the holy Roman church, and legate of the aforesaid
pope Alexander; and the other bishops and abbats present. This cause
was first agitated at the festival of Easter in the city of Winchester,
in the royal chapel, situated in the castle; afterwards in the royal
town called Windsor, where it received its termination, in the presence
of the king, the bishops, and abbats of different orders, who were
assembled at the king’s court on the festival of Pentecost.

“The signature of William the king: the signature of Matilda the queen.

“I Hubert, subdeacon of the holy Roman church, and legate from pope
Alexander, have signed.

“I Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, have signed.

“I Thomas, archbishop of York, have signed.

“I William, bishop of London, have assented.

“I Herman, bishop of Sherborne, have signed.

“I Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, have signed.

“I Walter, bishop of Hereford, have assented.

“I Giso, bishop of Wells, have assented.

“I Remigius, bishop of Dorchester, have signed.

“I Walkelin, bishop of Winchester, have signed.

“I Herefast, bishop of Helmham, have signed.

“I Stigand, bishop of Chichester, have assented.

“I Siward, bishop of Rochester, have assented.

“I Osberne, bishop of Exeter, have assented.

“I Odo, bishop of Bayeux and earl of Kent, have assented.

“I Gosfrith, bishop of Coutances and one of the nobles of England, have

“I Scotland, abbat of St. Augustine’s monastery, have assented.

“I Thurstan, abbat of the monastery which is situated in the isle of
Ely, have assented.

“I Ailnoth, abbat of Glastonbury, have assented.

“I Elfwin, abbat of the monastery of Ramsey, have assented.

“I Wulnoth, abbat of Chertsey, have assented.

“I Ailwyn, abbat of Evesham, have assented.

“I Frederic, abbat of St. Alban’s, have assented.

“I Goffrid, abbat of the monastery of St. Peter, near London, have

“I Baldwin, abbat of St. Edmund’s monastery, have assented.

“I Turald, abbat of Burgh, have assented.

“I Adelelm, abbat of Abingdon, have assented.

“I Ruald, abbat of the New minster at Winchester, have assented.

“It becomes every Christian to be subject to Christian laws, and by
no means to run counter to those things which have been wholesomely
enacted by the holy fathers. For hence arise strifes, dissensions,
envyings, contentions, and other things, which plunge the lovers of
them into eternal punishment. And the more exalted the rank of any
person is, so much the more exact should be his obedience to divine
commands: wherefore I Thomas, now ordained metropolitan bishop of the
church of York, hearing and knowing your authorities, make unlimited
profession of canonical obedience to you, Lanfranc, archbishop of
Canterbury, and your successors; and I promise to observe whatever
shall be canonically enjoined me, either by you or them. Of this matter
I was doubtful, while I was yet about to be ordained by you: wherefore
I promised obedience unconditionally to you, but conditionally to your

The archbishop of Canterbury, as I remember to have observed in my
first book, originally had subject to him, these bishops: London,
Winchester, Rochester, Sherborne, Worcester, Hereford, Lichfield,
Selsey, Leicester, Helmham, Sidnacester, Dunwich; in the time of king
Edward the Elder were added, Cornwall, Crediton, Wells in West Saxony,
and Dorchester in Mercia, as I noticed in my second book.


The archbishop of York had all the bishops on the farther side of the
Humber subject to him, as Ripon, Hexham, Lindisfarne, Candida Casa,
which is now called Whitherne; and all the bishops of Scotland and
the Orkneys; as the archbishop of Canterbury had those of Ireland and
Wales. The bishoprics of Ripon and Hexham have long since perished by
hostile ravages; Leicester, Sidnacester, and Dunwich, by means that
I cannot account for; and, in the time of king Edward the Simple,
Cornwall and Crediton were united, and the bishopric translated to
Exeter. In king William’s time, at this council, it was determined
that, according to the decrees of the canons, the bishops should quit
the villages, and fix their abode in the cities of their dioceses;
Lichfield therefore migrated to Chester, which was anciently called the
City of Legions; Selsey to Chichester; Helmham first to Thetford, and
now, by bishop Herbert, to Norwich; Sherborne to Salisbury; Dorchester
to Lincoln. For Lindisfarne had long before passed to Durham, and
lately Wells to Bath.

In this assembly Lanfranc, who was yet uninstructed in English matters,
inquired of the elder bishops, what was the order of sitting in
council, as originally appointed. They, alleging the difficulty of the
question, deferred their answer till the next day; when, carefully
calling circumstances to mind, they asserted that they had seen the
arrangement as follows: that the archbishop of Canterbury, presiding at
the council, should have, on the right hand, the archbishop of York,
and next him the bishop of Winchester; and on his left, the bishop of
London. But should it ever happen, through necessity, that the primate
of Canterbury should be absent, or should he be dead, the archbishop of
York, presiding at the council, should have the bishops of London on
his right hand, and of Winchester on his left; and the rest should take
their seats according to the time of their ordination.

At that time, too, the claim of the archbishop of York on the see of
Worcester and Dorchester was decided and set at rest. For he said that
they ought to be subject to his jurisdiction; which, after having
pondered for some time in secret, when he proceeded to Rome with
Lanfranc to receive their palls from the pope, he brought publicly
before the Roman court. Lanfranc, though for the most part unmoved by
injury, could not help betraying, by his countenance, his emotion at
such a wanton and unheard-of attack, though he for some time refrained
from speaking. But pope Alexander, who felt much for Lanfranc’s
distress, for he had even condescendingly risen from his seat when
he approached, professing that he paid him this mark of respect, not
from honour to the archbishop but regard to his learning, removed from
himself the unpleasant task of deciding, and referred the adjudication
of it to an English council. In consequence, as I have related, the
matter, after deep investigation, came to this termination in the
present council; that, as these bishops were on this side of the
Humber, they should belong to Canterbury, but all beyond that river to

Here the pious simplicity of St. Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, and
his noble confidence in God, demand praise and approbation. For when
called in question as well concerning this business, as on his slender
attainments in learning, he had retired to consider more carefully
what answer he should make, his mind undisturbed by tumult: “Believe
me,” said he, “we have not yet sung the service for the sixth hour:
let us sing the service therefore.” And, on his companions suggesting
the necessity of first expediting the business they had met upon; that
there was ample time for singing, and that the king and the nobility
would laugh at them, if they heard of it: “Truly,” said he, “let us
first do our duty towards God, and afterwards settle the disputes
of men.” Having sung the service, he directly proceeded towards the
council-chamber, without devising any subterfuge, or any attempt to
disguise the truth. To his dependents, who were desirous of withholding
him, and who could not be persuaded but their cause was in danger,
he said, “Know for certain, that I here visibly perceive those holy
archbishops, Dunstan of Canterbury, and Oswald of York; who, defending
me this day with their prayers, will darken the understandings of my
gainsayers.” Then giving his benediction to a monk, a man of little
eloquence, but somewhat acquainted with the Norman language, on summing
up his cause, he obtained that he, who was before thought unworthy
of the management of his own diocese, should be humbly entreated by
the archbishop of York, to condescend to visit those parts of his
province, which himself, through dread of enemies, or ignorance of the
language, had refrained from approaching. But I will no longer torture
the patience of my readers, who perhaps do not regard this matter
with pleasure, as they are in expectation of the history of William’s
successors; though, if I am not too partial to myself, a variety of
anecdote can be displeasing to no one, unless he be morose enough to
rival the superciliousness of Cato. But whoever is so inclined, will
find such other matters in the fourth and fifth book, for here the
third shall terminate.[341]



[Sidenote: [A.D. 1072.] PREFACE TO BOOK IV.]

I am aware, that many persons think it unwise in me, to have written
the history of the kings of my own time; alleging, that in such a
work, truth is often made shipwreck of, while falsehood meets with
support: because to relate the crimes of contemporaries, is attended
with danger; their good actions with applause. Whence it arises, say
they, that, as all things have, now, a natural tendency to evil rather
than to good, the historian passes over any disgraceful transaction,
however obvious, through timidity; and, for the sake of approbation,
feigns good qualities, when he cannot find them. There are others,
who, judging of us by their own indolence, deem us unequal to so great
a task, and brand our undertaking with malignant censure. Wherefore,
impelled by the reasoning of the one, or the contempt of the other,
I had long since voluntarily retired to leisure and to silence: but,
after indulging in them for a time, the accustomed inclination for
study again strongly beset me; as it was impossible for me to be
unoccupied, and I knew not how to give myself up to those forensic
avocations, which are beneath the notice of a literary character.
To this was to be added the incitements of my friends, to whose
suggestions, though only implied, I ought to pay regard: and they
indeed gently urged me, already sufficiently disposed, to prosecute
my undertaking. Animated, therefore, by the advice of those whom I
love most affectionately, I advance to give them a lasting pledge of
friendship from the stores of my research. Grateful also to those who
are in fear for me, lest I should either excite hatred, or disguise
the truth, I will, by the help of Christ, make such a return for their
kindness, as neither to become odious, nor a falsifier. For I will
describe, both what has been done well, or otherwise, in such wise, and
so safely steer between Scylla and Charybdis, that my opinions shall
not be concealed, though some matters may be omitted in my history.
Moreover, to those who undervalue the labours of others, I make the
same answer as St. Jerome formerly did to his critics; “Let them read
if they like: if not, let them cast it aside; because I do not obtrude
my work on the fastidious, but I dedicate it, if any think it worth
their notice, to the studious;” which even these men will readily
pronounce to be consonant to equity, unless they are of the number of
those, of whom it is said; “Fools are easy to confute, but not so easy
to restrain.” I will relate, then, in this, the fourth book of my work,
every thing which may be said of William, son of William the Great, in
such manner that neither shall the truth suffer, nor shall the dignity
of the prince be obscured. Some matters also will be inserted in these
pages, which in his time were calamitous in this country, or glorious
elsewhere, as far as my knowledge extends. More especially, the
pilgrimage of the Christians to Jerusalem, which it will be proper to
annex in this place; because an expedition, so famous in these times,
is well worth hearing, and will also be an incitement to valour. Not
indeed that I have any confidence these transactions will be better
treated by me than by others who have written on the subject, but that,
what many write, many may read. Yet, lest so long a preface should
disgust my reader, I will immediately enter on my work.


_Of William the Second._ [A.D. 1087-1100.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1087.] BIRTH OF WILLIAM II.]

William then, the son of William, was born in Normandy many years
before his father came to England; and being educated with extreme care
by his parents, as he had naturally an ambitious mind, he at length
reached the summit of dignity. He would no doubt have been a prince
incomparable in our time, had not his father’s greatness eclipsed him;
and had not the fates cut short his years too early for his maturer
age to correct errors, contracted by the licentiousness of power, and
the impetuosity of youth. When childhood was passed, he spent the
period of youth in military occupations; in riding, throwing the dart,
contending with his elders in obedience, with those of his own age in
action: and he esteemed it injurious to his reputation, if he was not
the foremost to take arms in military commotions; unless he was the
first to challenge the adversary, or when challenged, to overcome him.
To his father he was ever dutiful; always exerting himself in his sight
in battle, ever at his side in peace. His hopes gradually expanding,
he already aspired after the succession, especially on the rejection
of his elder brother, while the tender age of the younger gave him no
uneasiness. Thus, adopted as his successor by his father during his
last illness, he set out to take possession of the kingdom ere the
king had breathed his last: where being gladly received by the people,
and obtaining the keys of the treasury, he by these means subjected
all England to his will. Archbishop Lanfranc, the grand mover of
every thing, had educated him, and made him a knight,[342] and now he
favoured his pretensions to the throne; by his authority and assistance
William was crowned on the day of the saints Cosmas and Damian,[343]
and passed the remainder of the winter quietly and with general favour.

At the expiration of this period, in the beginning of spring, his
first contention was with his uncle, Odo, bishop of Bayeux. For when
Odo, on his release from confinement, as I have related, had firmly
established his nephew, Robert, in the duchy of Normandy, he came to
England, and received from the king the earldom of Kent. But when he
saw every thing in the kingdom managed, not at his own pleasure, as
formerly, for the administration of public affairs was now committed
to William, bishop of Durham, he was moved with envy, and having
revolted from the king, he tainted many others by insinuating, that the
kingdom belonged to Robert, who was of gentler disposition, and whose
youthful follies had been corrected by many adversities; that William,
delicately brought up, and overbearing from that ferocity of mind which
was manifest in his countenance, would dare every thing, in defiance of
right and equity: that it must soon come to pass, that they would lose
the honours they had already obtained with so much difficulty: that
nothing was gained by the father’s death, if those whom he had cast
into prison, were to be killed by the son. To this effect he used, at
first, secretly to mutter, together with Roger Montgomery, Gosfrith,
bishop of Coutances, with his nephew Robert earl of Northumberland, and
others; afterwards they were more open in their clamours, repeating
and disseminating them by letters and by emissaries. Moreover, even
William, bishop of Durham, the confidential minister of the king, had
joined in their treachery. This was matter of great concern to William,
it is said; because, together with the breach of friendship, he was
disappointed of the resources of the distant provinces. Odo now carried
off booty of every kind to Rochester, plundering the king’s revenues
in Kent, and especially the lands of the archbishop; breathing eternal
hatred against him, because, he said, it was by his advice, that his
brother had cast him into chains. Nor was this assertion false: for
when William the elder formerly complained to Lanfranc, that he was
deserted by his brother: “Seize, and cast him into chains,” said he.
“What!” replied the king, “he is a clergyman!” Then the archbishop with
playful archness, as Persius says, “balancing the objection with nice
antithesis,”[344] rejoined, “you will not seize the bishop of Bayeux,
but confine the earl of Kent.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1088.] CONSPIRACY OF THE NOBLES.]

Bishop Gosfrith with his nephew, depopulating Bath, and Berkeley, and
part of the county of Wilts, treasured up their spoils at Bristol.
Roger Montgomery sending out his army with the Welsh from Shrewsbury,
plundered Worcestershire. They had now hostilely approached Worcester,
when the king’s soldiers who guarded it, relying on the blessing of
bishop Wulstan, to whom the custody of the castle was committed, though
few in number, dispersed this multitude; and after wounding and killing
many, took some of them prisoners. Moreover, Roger Bigod at Norwich,
and Hugo de Grentmeisnil at Leicester, each with their party, were
plundering in their respective neighbourhoods. In vain, however, did
the whole power of revolt rage against a man, who was deficient neither
in prudence nor in good fortune. For seeing almost all the Normans
leagued in one furious conspiracy, he sent alluring letters, summoning
to him such brave and honest English as yet remained; and complaining
to them on the subject of his wrongs, he bound them to his party, by
promising them wholesome laws, a diminution of tribute, and free leave
to hunt.[345] With equal cunning he circumvented Roger Montgomery, when
riding with him, with dissembled perfidy; for taking him aside, he
loaded him with odium, saying, that he would willingly retire from the
government, if it seemed meet to him and to the rest whom his father
had left as his guardians; that he could not understand, why they were
so outrageous; if they wanted money, they might have what they pleased;
if an increase of their estates, they might have that also; in short,
they might have whatever they chose; only let them be careful that the
judgment of his father was not called in question: for, if they thought
it ought to be disregarded in the instance of himself, it might be a
bad example for them: for the same person made him king, who had made
them earls. Excited by these words and promises, the earl, who, next to
Odo, had been the chief leader of the faction, was the first to desert.
Proceeding, therefore, immediately against the rebels, he laid siege
to the castles of his uncle at Tunbridge and at Pevensey, and seizing
him in the latter compelled him to swear, as he dictated, that he would
depart England, and deliver up Rochester. To fulfil this promise he
sent him forward with a party he could rely on, intending to follow
at his leisure. At that time almost all the young nobility of England
and Normandy were at Rochester: three sons of earl Roger, Eustace the
younger of Boulogne, and many others not deserving notice. The royal
party, accompanying the bishop, were few and unarmed, for who could
fear treachery where he was present? and going round the walls, they
called the townsmen to open the gates; for so the bishop in person, and
the absent king commanded. Observing from the wall, however, that the
countenance of the bishop ill agreed with the language of the speakers,
they suddenly sallied out, took horse in an instant, and carried off,
together with the bishop, the whole party, captive. The report of this
transaction quickly reached the king. Fierce from the injury, and
smothering his indignation, he calls together his faithful English
subjects, and orders them to summon all their countrymen to the siege,
unless any wished to be branded with the name of “Nidering,”[346] which
implies “abandoned.” The English who thought nothing more disgraceful
than to be stigmatised by such an appellation, flocked in troops to
the king, and rendered his army invincible. Nor could the townsmen
longer delay submission; experiencing, that a party, however noble,
or however numerous, could avail nothing against the king of England.
Odo, now taken a second time, abjured England for ever: the bishop of
Durham of his own accord retired beyond sea, the king allowing him to
escape uninjured out of regard to his former friendship: the rest were
all admitted to fealty. During the interval of this siege, some of the
king’s fleet destroyed a party which the earl of Normandy had sent to
assist the traitors, partly by slaughter, and partly by shipwreck; the
remainder, intent on escaping, endeavoured to make sail; but being soon
after disappointed by its falling calm, they became matter for laughter
to our people, but their own destruction; for, that they might not be
taken alive, they leaped from their vessels into the sea.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1088.] TREATY WITH ROBERT.]

The next year, as the sense of injuries ever grows keener from
reconsideration, the king began carefully to examine, how he might
revenge his griefs, and repay his brother for this insult. In
consequence, by his practices, he bribed the garrison, and obtained
possession of the castle of St. Vallery, the adjoining port, and the
town which is called Albemarle. The earl had not the courage to resist,
but, by means of ambassadors, acquainted his lord, the king of France,
with the violence of his brother, and begged his assistance. The French
king, inactive, and surfeited with daily gluttony, came hiccupping,
through repletion, to the war: but, as he was making great professions,
the money of the king of England met him by the way; with which his
resolution being borne down, he unbuckled his armour, and went back to
his gormandizing. In this manner, Normandy, for a long time, groaned
under intestine war, sometimes one party, sometimes the other being
victorious: the nobility, men of fickle temper, and faithful to neither
brother, exciting their mutual fury. A few, better advised, attentive
to their own advantage, for they had possessions in both countries,
were mediators of a peace: the basis of which was, that the king
should get possession of Maine for the earl; and the earl should cede
to the king those castles which he already held, and the monastery of
Feschamp. The treaty was ratified and confirmed by the oath of the
nobles on both sides.

Not long after the king went abroad to execute these conditions. Each
leader made great efforts to invade Maine; but when they had completed
their preparations, and were just ready to proceed, an obstacle arose,
through the spirit of Henry, the younger brother, loudly remonstrating
against their covetousness, which had shared their paternal possessions
between themselves, and blushed not at having left him almost
destitute. In consequence he took possession of Mount St. Michael, and
harassed, with constant sallies, the besieging forces of his brothers.
During this siege, a noble specimen of disposition was exhibited,
both by the king and by the earl: of compassion in the one, and of
magnanimity in the other. I shall subjoin these instances, for the
information of my readers.

The king, going out of his tent, and observing the enemy at a distance,
proudly prancing, rushed unattended against a large party; spurred
on by the impetuosity of his courage, and at the same time confident
that none would dare resist him. Presently his horse, which he had
that day purchased for fifteen marks of silver, being killed under
him, he was thrown down, and for a long time dragged by his foot; the
strength of his mail, however, prevented his being hurt. The soldier
who had unhorsed him, was at this instant drawing his sword to strike
him, when, terrified at the extremity of his danger, he cried out,
“Hold, rascal, I am the king of England.” The whole troop trembled at
the well-known voice of the prostrate monarch, and immediately raised
him respectfully from the ground, and brought him another horse.
Leaping into the saddle without waiting assistance, and darting a keen
look on the by-standers: “Who unhorsed me?” said he. While the rest
were silent through fear, the bold perpetrator of the deed readily
defended himself, saying, “’Twas I, who took you, not for a king, but
for a soldier.” The king, soothed, and regaining the serenity of his
countenance, exclaimed, “By the crucifix[347] at Lucca,” for such was
his oath, “henceforth thou shalt be mine, and, placed on my roll,
shalt receive the recompence of this gallant service.” Nobly done,
magnanimous king! what encomium shall I pass on this speech! Equal to
Alexander the Great in glory; who, through admiration of his courage,
preserved, unhurt, a Persian soldier, who had attempted to strike him
from behind, but was frustrated in his design by the treachery of his

But now to relate the compassion of the earl. When the blockade had
so far proceeded that the besieged were in want of water, Henry sent
messengers to Robert, to expostulate with him on the thirst he endured,
and to represent, that it was impious to deprive him of water, the
common right of mankind: let him try his courage another way if he
chose; and not employ the violence of the elements, but the valour of
a soldier. On which, wrought upon by the natural tenderness of his
disposition, he ordered his party to be more remiss in their duty where
they kept guard, that his thirsty brother might not be deprived of
water. This circumstance, when related to the king, who was always
inclined to warmth of temper, made him say to the earl, “You well know
how to carry on war indeed, who allow your enemies plenty of water: and
pray, how shall we subdue them, if we indulge them in food and drink?”
But he smiling, uttered this kind and truly laudable expression, “Oh,
shame! should I suffer my brother to die with thirst? and where shall
we find another, if we lose him?” On this the king, deriding the mild
temper of the man, put an end to the war without accomplishing his
design; and as the commotions of the Scots and Welsh required his
presence, he retired with both his brothers to his kingdom.


Immediately he led an expedition, first against the Welsh, and then
against the Scots, in which he performed nothing worthy of his
greatness; but lost many of his soldiers, and had his sumpter-horses
intercepted. And, not only at that time, but frequently, in Wales, was
fortune unfavourable to him; which may seem strange to any one, when
the chance of war was generally on his side in other places. But it
appears to me that the unevenness of the country, and the badness of
the weather, as it assisted their rebellion, was also an impediment
to his valour. But king Henry, who now reigns, a man of excellent
talents, discovered a mode of counteracting their designs: which
was, by stationing in their country the Flemings, to be a barrier to
them, and constantly keep them within bounds. At that time, by the
industry of earl Robert, who had long since gained the good graces of
the Scot, the basis of a peace was laid between Malcolm and William.
But various grounds of difference still existing on both sides, and
justice wavering through their mutual animosity, Malcolm came of his
own accord to Gloucester, a hearty solicitor for peace, so that it
were on equitable conditions. He obtained, however, nothing more than
permission to return uninjured to his kingdom: for the king disdained
to take a man by subtlety, whom he might have conquered by arms. But
the next winter he was dispatched by the party of Robert, earl of
Northumberland, rather through stratagem than force. When his wife,
Margaret, a woman distinguished for almsgiving and for chastity, heard
of his death, disgusted with the continuance of life, she earnestly
entreated of God to die. They were both remarkable for piety, but the
queen more especially. For during her whole life, wherever she might
be, she had twenty-four poor persons whom she supplied with meat and
clothing. In Lent, waiting for the singing of the priests, she used to
watch all night in the church, herself assisting at triple matins, of
the Trinity, of the Cross, of St. Mary, and afterwards repeating the
Psalter; with tears bedewing her garments, and agitating her breast.
Departing from the church, she used to feed the poor; first three, then
nine, then twenty-four, at last three hundred: herself standing by
with the king, and pouring water on their hands. Edgar his son, when
expelled by his uncle, was restored by William; assuredly with a noble
compassion, and worthy of so great a personage, who, forgetting the
injuries of the father, replaced the son, when suppliant, on his throne.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1093.] CHARACTER OF WILLIAM II.]

Greatness of soul was pre-eminent in the king, which, in process of
time, he obscured by excessive severity; vices, indeed, in place
of virtues, so insensibly crept into his bosom, that he could not
distinguish them. The world doubted, for a long time, whither he would
incline; what tendency his disposition would take. At first, as long
as archbishop Lanfranc survived, he abstained from every crime; so
that it might be hoped, he would be the very mirror of kings. After
his death, for a time, he showed himself so variable, that the balance
hung even betwixt vices and virtues. At last, however, in his latter
years, the desire after good grew cold, and the crop of evil increased
to ripeness: his liberality became prodigality; his magnanimity pride;
his austerity cruelty. I may be allowed, with permission of the royal
majesty, not to conceal the truth; for he feared God but little, man
not at all. If any one shall say this is undiscerning, he will not
be wrong; because wise men should observe this rule, “God ought to
be feared at all times; man, according to circumstances.” He was,
when abroad, and in public assemblies, of supercilious look, darting
his threatening eye on the by-stander; and with assumed severity
and ferocious voice, assailing such as conversed with him. From
apprehension of poverty, and of the treachery of others, as may be
conjectured, he was too much given to lucre, and to cruelty. At home
and at table, with his intimate companions, he gave loose to levity
and to mirth. He was a most facetious railer at any thing he had
himself done amiss, in order that he might thus do away obloquy, and
make it matter of jest. But I shall dilate somewhat on that liberality,
in which he deceived himself; and afterwards on his other propensities,
that I may manifest what great vices sprang up in him under the
semblance of virtues.

For, in fact, there are two kinds of givers: the one is denominated
prodigal, the other liberal. The prodigal are such as lavish their
money on those things, of which they will leave either a transient,
or perhaps no memory in this world; neither will they gain mercy by
them from God. The liberal, are those who redeem the captive from the
plunderer, assist the poor, or discharge the debts of their friends.
We must give, therefore, but with discrimination and moderation; for
many persons have exhausted their patrimony by giving inconsiderately.
“For what can be more silly, than to take pains to be no longer able
to do that which you do with pleasure?”[348] Some, therefore, when
they have nothing to give turn to rapine, and get more hatred from
those from whom they take, than good will from those to whom they
give. We lament that thus it happened to this king; for, when in the
very beginning of his reign, through fear of tumults, he had assembled
soldiers, and denied them nothing, promising still greater remuneration
hereafter; the consequence was, that as he had soon exhausted his
father’s treasures, and had then but moderate revenues, his substance
failed, though the spirit of giving remained, which, by habit, had
almost become nature. He was a man who knew not how to take off from
the price of any thing, or to judge of the value of goods; but the
trader might sell him his commodity at whatever rate, or the soldier
demand any pay he pleased. He was anxious that the cost of his clothes
should be extravagant, and angry if they were purchased at a low price.
One morning, indeed, while putting on his new boots, he asked his
chamberlain what they cost; and when he replied, “Three shillings,”
indignantly and in a rage he cried out, “You son of a whore, how long
has the king worn boots of so paltry a price? go, and bring me a pair
worth a mark of silver.” He went, and bringing him a much cheaper
pair, told him, falsely, that they cost as much as he had ordered:
“Aye,” said the king, “these are suitable to royal majesty.” Thus
his chamberlain used to charge him what he pleased for his clothes;
acquiring by these means many things for his own advantage.

The fame of his generosity, therefore, pervaded all the West, and
reached even to the East. Military men came to him out of every
province on this side of the mountains, whom he rewarded most
profusely. In consequence, when he had no longer aught to bestow, poor
and exhausted, he turned his thoughts to rapine. The rapacity of his
disposition was seconded by Ralph, the inciter of his covetousness;
a clergyman of the lowest origin, but raised to eminence by his wit
and subtilty. If at any time a royal edict issued, that England
should pay a certain tribute, it was doubled by this plunderer of the
rich, this exterminator of the poor, this confiscator of other men’s
inheritance. He was an invincible pleader, as unrestrained in his
words as in his actions; and equally furious against the meek or the
turbulent. Wherefore some people used to laugh,[349] and say, that he
was the only man who knew how to employ his talents in this way, and
cared for no one’s hatred, so that he could please his master. At this
person’s suggestion, the sacred honours of the church, as the pastors
died, were exposed to sale: for whenever the death of any bishop or
abbat was announced, directly one of the king’s clerks was admitted,
who made an inventory of every thing, and carried all future rents
into the royal exchequer. In the meantime some person was sought out
fit to supply the place of the deceased; not from proof of morals,
but of money; and, at last, if I may so say, the empty honour was
conferred, and even that purchased, at a great price. These things
appeared the more disgraceful, because, in his father’s time, after
the decease of a bishop or abbat, all rents were reserved entire, to
be given up to the succeeding pastor; and persons truly meritorious,
on account of their religion, were elected. But in the lapse of a very
few years, every thing was changed. There was no man rich except the
money-changer; no clerk, unless he was a lawyer; no priest, unless (to
use a word which is hardly Latin[350]) he was a farmer. Men of the
meanest condition, or guilty of whatever crime, were listened to, if
they could suggest any thing likely to be advantageous to the king: the
halter was loosened from the robber’s neck, if he could promise any
emolument to the sovereign. All military discipline being relaxed, the
courtiers preyed upon the property of the country people, and consumed
their substance, taking the very meat from the mouths of these wretched
creatures.[351] Then was there flowing hair and extravagant dress; and
then was invented the fashion of shoes[352] with curved points; then
the model for young men was to rival women in delicacy of person, to
mince their gait, to walk with loose gesture, and half naked. Enervated
and effeminate, they unwillingly remained what nature had made them;
the assailers of others’ chastity, prodigal of their own. Troops of
pathics, and droves of harlots, followed the court; so that it was
said, with justice, by a wise man, that England would be fortunate if
Henry could reign;[353] led to such an opinion, because he abhorred
obscenity from his youth.

Here, were it necessary, I could add, that archbishop Anselm attempted
to correct these abuses; but failing of the co-operation of his
suffragans, he voluntarily quitted the kingdom, yielding to the
depravity of the times. Anselm, than whom none ever was more tenacious
of right; none in the present time so thoroughly learned; none so
completely spiritual; the father of his country, the mirror of the
world: he, when just about to set sail, after waiting in port for a
wind, was rifled, as though he had been a public robber; all his bags
and packages being brought out and ransacked. Of this man’s injuries I
could speak farther, had the sun witnessed any thing more unjust than
this single transaction, or were it not necessary to omit a relation,
which has been anticipated by the eloquence of the very reverend

Hence may be perceived how fierce a flame of evil burst forth from
what the king conceived to be liberality. In repressing which as he
did not manifest so much diligence as negligence, he incurred a degree
of infamy, not only great, but scarcely to be wiped out. I think
undeservedly, however; because he never could have exposed himself to
such disgrace, had he only recollected the dignity of his station.
I pass over, therefore, these matters slightly, and hasten in my
composition, because I blush to relate the crimes of so great a king;
rather giving my attention to refute and extenuate them.

The Jews in his reign gave proofs of their insolence towards God. At
one time, at Rouen, they endeavoured to prevail, by means of presents,
on some converted Jews, to return to Judaism;[355] at another, at
London, entering into controversy with our bishops; because the
king, in jest, as I suppose, had said, that if they mastered the
Christians in open argument, he would become one of their sect. The
question therefore was agitated with much apprehension on the part
of the bishops and clergy, fearful, through pious anxiety, for the
Christian faith. From this contest, however, the Jews reaped nothing
but confusion: though they used repeatedly to boast that they were
vanquished, not by argument, but by power.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1096.] ROBERT PAWNS NORMANDY.]

In later times, that is, about the ninth year of his reign, Robert,
earl of Normandy, at the admonition of pope Urban, as will be related
hereafter, took the resolution of going to Jerusalem, and pawned
Normandy to his brother, for the sum of ten thousand marks. In
consequence, an edict for an intolerable tax was circulated throughout
England. On this the bishops and abbats, in great numbers, went to
court, to complain of the injury; observing that they could not raise
so great an impost, unless they drove away their wretched husbandmen
altogether. To this the courtiers, with angry countenance, as usual,
replied, “Have you not shrines adorned with gold and silver, full
of dead men’s bones?” deigning the petitioners no other answer. In
consequence, perceiving the drift of the reply, they took off the gold
from the shrines of their saints; robbed their crucifixes; melted their
chalices; not for the service of the poor, but of the king’s exchequer.
For almost every thing, which the holy parsimony of their ancestors had
saved, was consumed by the rapacity of these freebooters.

Just so, too, were their proceedings against their vassals; first
taking their money, then their land: neither the poor man’s poverty,
nor the rich man’s abundance, protecting him. He so restricted the
right of hunting, which he had formerly allowed, that it became a
capital offence to take a stag. This extreme severity, which was
tempered by no affability, was the cause of many conspiracies, among
the nobility, against his safety: one of whom, Robert de Mowbray earl
of Northumberland, in consequence of very high words between him
and the king, retired to his province, with the intention of making
powerful efforts against his lord; but William pursuing him, he was
taken, and doomed to perpetual captivity. Another, William de Hou,
being accused of treachery towards the king, challenged his accuser to
single combat; but being unable to justify himself in the duel, he was
deprived of his sight, and of his manhood. The same accusation involved
many innocent and honourable men; among whom was William de Aldrey, a
man of handsome person, who had stood godfather[356] with the king.
Being sentenced to be hanged, he made his confession to Osmund bishop
of Salisbury, and was scourged at every church of the town. Parting his
garments to the poor, he went naked to the gallows, often making the
blood gush from his delicate flesh by falling on his knees upon the
stones. He satisfied the minds of the bishop, and of the people who
followed him to the place of punishment, by exclaiming, “God help my
soul, and deliver it from evil, as I am free from the charge, of which
I am accused: the sentence, indeed, passed upon me will not be revoked,
but I wish all men to be certified of my innocence.” The bishop then,
commending his soul to heaven, and sprinkling him with holy water,
departed. At his execution, he manifested an admirable degree of
courage; neither uttering a groan before, nor even a sigh, at the
moment of his death.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1096.] WILLIAM’S MAGNANIMITY.]

But still there are some proofs of noble magnanimity in the king, the
knowledge of which, I will not deny posterity. As he was once engaged
in hunting in a certain forest, a foreign messenger acquainted him
that the city of Mans, which he had lately added to his dominions on
the departure of his brother, was besieged. Unprepared as he was, he
turned his horse instantly, and shaped his journey to the sea. When his
nobles reminded him, that it would be necessary to call out his troops,
and put them in array; “I shall see,” said he, “who will follow me: do
you think I shall not have people enough? If I know the temper of the
young men of my kingdom, they will even brave shipwreck to come to me.”
In this manner he arrived, almost unattended, at the sea-coast. The
sky at that time was overcast, the wind contrary, and a tempest swept
the surface of the deep. When he determined to embark directly, the
mariners besought him, to wait till the storm should subside, and the
wind be favourable. “Why,” said William, “I have never heard of a king
perishing by shipwreck: no, weigh anchor immediately, and you shall
see the elements conspire to obey me.” When the report of his having
crossed the sea reached the besiegers, they hastily retreated. One
Helias, the author of the commotion, was taken; to whom, when brought
before him, the king said jocularly, “I have you, master.” But he,
whose haughty spirit, even in such threatening danger, knew not how to
be prudent, or to speak submissively, replied, “You have taken me by
chance; if I could escape, I know what I would do.” At this William,
almost beside himself with rage, and seizing Helias, exclaimed, “You
scoundrel! and what would you do? Begone, depart, fly: I give you leave
to do whatever you can; and by the crucifix at Lucca, if you should
conquer me, I will ask no return for this favour.” Nor did he falsify
his word, but immediately suffered him to escape; rather admiring
than following the fugitive. Who could believe this of an unlettered
man? And perhaps there may be some person, who, from reading Lucan,
may falsely suppose, that William borrowed these examples from Julius
Cæsar;[357] but he had neither inclination, nor leisure to attend
to learning; it was rather the innate warmth of his temper, and his
conscious valour which prompted him to such expressions. And indeed,
if our religion would allow it, as the soul of Euphorbus was formerly
said to have passed into Pythagoras of Samos, so might it equally be
asserted, that the soul of Julius Cæsar had migrated into king William.

He began and completed one very noble edifice, the palace[358] in
London; sparing no expense to manifest the greatness of his liberality.
His disposition therefore the reader will be able to discover from the
circumstances we have enumerated.

Should any one be desirous, however, to know the make of his person,
he is to understand, that he was well set; his complexion florid, his
hair yellow; of open countenance; different-coloured eyes, varying with
certain glittering specks; of astonishing strength, though not very
tall, and his belly rather projecting; of no eloquence, but remarkable
for a hesitation of speech, especially when angry. Many sudden and
sorrowful accidents happened in his time, which I shall arrange singly,
according to the years of his reign; chiefly vouching for their truth
on the credit of the Chronicles.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1092-1100.] ADVERSE EVENTS.]

In the second year of his reign, on the third before the ides of
August, a great earthquake terrified all England with a horrid
spectacle; for all the buildings were lifted up, and then again settled
as before. A scarcity of every kind of produce followed; the corn
ripened so slowly, that the harvest was scarcely housed before the
feast of St. Andrew.

In his fourth year was a tempest of lightning, and a whirlwind:
finally, on the ides of October, at Winchcombe, a stroke of lightning
beat against the side of the tower with such force, that, shattering
the wall where it joined to the roof, it opened a place wide enough to
admit a man; entering there, it struck a very large beam, and scattered
fragments of it over the whole church; moreover it cast down the head
of the crucifix, with the right leg, and the image of St. Mary. A
stench so noisome followed, as to be insufferable to human nostrils.
At length, the monks, with auspicious boldness, entering, defeated
the contrivances of the devil, by the sprinkling of holy water. But
what could this mean? such a thing was unknown to every previous age.
A tempest of contending winds, from the south-east, on the sixteenth
before the kalends of November, destroyed more than six hundred houses
in London. Churches were heaped on houses, and walls on partitions. The
tempest proceeding yet farther, carried off altogether the roof of the
church of St. Mary le Bow, and killed two men. Rafters and beams were
whirled through the air, an object of surprise to such as contemplated
them from a distance; of alarm, to those who stood nigh, lest they
should be crushed by them. For four rafters, six and twenty feet long,
were driven with such violence into the ground, that scarcely four feet
of them were visible. It was curious to see how they had perforated
the solidity of the public street, maintaining there the same position
which they had occupied in the roof from the hand of the workman,
until, on account of their inconvenience to passengers, they were cut
off level with the ground, as they could not be otherwise removed.

In his fifth year, a similar thunder-storm at Salisbury entirely
destroyed the roof of the church-tower, and much injured the wall, only
five days after Osmund, the bishop of famed memory, had consecrated it.

In his sixth year there was such a deluge from rain, and such incessant
showers as none had ever remembered. Afterwards, on the approach of
winter, the rivers were so frozen, that they bore horsemen and waggons;
and soon after, when the frost broke, the bridges were destroyed by the
drifting of the ice.

In his seventh year, on account of the heavy tribute which the king,
while in Normandy, had levied, agriculture failed; of which failure
the immediate consequence was a famine. This also gaining ground a
mortality ensued, so general, that the dying wanted attendance, and the
dead, burial. At that time, too, the Welsh, fiercely raging against the
Normans, and depopulating the county of Chester and part of Shropshire,
obtained Anglesey by force of arms.

In his tenth year, on the kalends of October, a comet appeared for
fifteen days, turning its larger train to the east, and the smaller
to the south-east. Other stars also appeared, darting, as it were, at
each other. This was the year in which Anselm, that light of England,
voluntarily escaping from the darkness of error, went to Rome.

In his eleventh year, Magnus, king of Norway, with Harold, son of
Harold, formerly king of England, subdued the Orkney, Mevanian, and
other circumjacent isles; and was now obstinately bent against England
from Anglesey. But Hugh, earl of Chester, and Hugh, earl of Shrewsbury,
opposed him; and ere he could gain the continent, forced him to retire.
Here fell Hugh of Shrewsbury, being struck from a distance with a fatal

In his twelfth year an excessive tide flowed up the Thames, and
overwhelmed many villages, with their inhabitants.

In his thirteenth year, which was the last of his life, there were many
adverse events; but the most dreadful circumstance was that the devil
visibly appeared to men in woods and secret places, and spoke to them
as they passed by. Moreover in the county of Berks, at the village of
Finchampstead, a fountain so plentifully flowed with blood for fifteen
whole days, that it discoloured a neighbouring pool. The king heard of
it and laughed; neither did he care for his own dreams, nor for what
others saw concerning him.

They relate many visions and predictions of his death, three of which,
sanctioned by the testimony of credible authors, I shall communicate to
my readers. Edmer, the historian of our times, noted for his veracity,
says that Anselm, the noble exile, with whom all religion was also
banished, came to Marcigny that he might communicate his sufferings
to Hugo, abbat of Clugny. There, when the conversation turned upon
king William, the abbat aforesaid observed, “Last night that king
was brought before God; and by a deliberate judgment, incurred the
sorrowful sentence of damnation.” How he came to know this he neither
explained at the time, nor did any of his hearers ask: nevertheless,
out of respect to his piety, not a doubt of the truth of his words
remained on the minds of any present. Hugh led such a life, and had
such a character, that all regarded his discourse and venerated his
advice, as though an oracle from heaven had spoken. And soon after, the
king being slain as we shall relate, there came a messenger to entreat
the archbishop to resume his see.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] DEATH OF WILLIAM II.]

The day before the king died, he dreamed that he was let blood by
a surgeon; and that the stream, reaching to heaven, clouded the
light, and intercepted the day. Calling on St. Mary for protection,
he suddenly awoke, commanded a light to be brought, and forbade his
attendants to leave him. They then watched with him several hours until
daylight. Shortly after, just as the day began to dawn, a certain
foreign monk told Robert Fitz Hamon, one of the principal nobility,
that he had that night dreamed a strange and fearful dream about the
king: “That he had come into a certain church, with menacing and
insolent gesture, as was his custom, looking contemptuously on the
standers by; then violently seizing the crucifix, he gnawed the arms,
and almost tore away the legs: that the image endured this for a long
time, but at length struck the king with its foot in such a manner
that he fell backwards: from his mouth, as he lay prostrate, issued
so copious a flame that the volumes of smoke touched the very stars.”
Robert, thinking that this dream ought not to be neglected, as he
was intimate with him, immediately related it to the king. William,
repeatedly laughing, exclaimed, “He is a monk, and dreams for money
like a monk: give him a hundred shillings.” Nevertheless, being greatly
moved, he hesitated a long while whether he should go out to hunt, as
he had designed: his friends persuading him not to suffer the truth
of the dreams to be tried at his personal risk. In consequence, he
abstained from the chase before dinner, dispelling the uneasiness of
his unregulated mind by serious business. They relate, that, having
plentifully regaled that day, he soothed his cares with a more than
usual quantity of wine. After dinner he went into the forest, attended
by few persons; of whom the most intimate with him was Walter, surnamed
Tirel, who had been induced to come from France by the liberality of
the king. This man alone had remained with him, while the others,
employed in the chase, were dispersed as chance directed. The sun was
now declining, when the king, drawing his bow and letting fly an arrow,
slightly wounded a stag which passed before him; and, keenly gazing,
followed it, still running, a long time with his eyes, holding up his
hand to keep off the power of the sun’s rays. At this instant Walter,
conceiving a noble exploit, which was while the king’s attention was
otherwise occupied to transfix another stag which by chance came near
him, unknowingly, and without power to prevent it, Oh, gracious God!
pierced his breast with a fatal arrow.[359] On receiving the wound,
the king uttered not a word; but breaking off the shaft of the weapon
where it projected from his body, fell upon the wound, by which he
accelerated his death. Walter immediately ran up, but as he found him
senseless and speechless, he leaped swiftly upon his horse, and escaped
by spurring him to his utmost speed. Indeed there was none to pursue
him: some connived at his flight; others pitied him; and all were
intent on other matters. Some began to fortify their dwellings; others
to plunder; and the rest to look out for a new king. A few countrymen
conveyed the body, placed on a cart, to the cathedral at Winchester;
the blood dripping from it all the way. Here it was committed to the
ground within the tower, attended by many of the nobility, though
lamented by few. Next year,[360] the tower fell; though I forbear to
mention the different opinions on this subject, lest I should seem
to assent too readily to unsupported trifles, more especially as the
building might have fallen, through imperfect construction, even though
he had never been buried there. He died in the year of our Lord’s
incarnation 1100, of his reign the thirteenth, on the fourth before the
nones of August, aged above forty years. He formed mighty plans, which
he would have brought to effect, could he have spun out the tissue of
fate, or broken through, and disengaged himself from, the violence of
fortune. Such was the energy of his mind, that he was bold enough to
promise himself any kingdom whatever. Indeed the day before his death,
being asked where he would keep his Christmas, he answered, in Poitou;
because the earl of Poitou, wishing anxiously to go to Jerusalem, was
said to be about to pawn his territory to him. Thus, not content with
his paternal possessions, and allured by expectation of greater glory,
he grasped at honours not pertaining to him. He was a man much to be
pitied by the clergy, for throwing away a soul which they could not
save; to be beloved by stipendiary soldiers, for the multitude of his
gifts; but not to be lamented by the people, because he suffered their
substance to be plundered. I remember no council being held in his
time, wherein the health of the church might be strengthened through
the correction of abuses. He hesitated a long time ere he bestowed
ecclesiastical honours, either for the sake of emolument, or of
weighing desert. So that on the day he died, he held in his own hands
three bishoprics, and twelve vacant abbeys. Besides, seeking occasion
from the schism between Urban in Rome and Guibert at Ravenna, he
forbade the payment of the tribute[361] to the holy see: though he was
more inclined to favour Guibert; because the ground and instigation of
the discord between himself and Anselm was, that this man, so dear to
God, had pronounced Urban to be pope, the other an apostate.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] OF THE CISTERTIAN ORDER.]

In his time began the Cistertian order, which is now both believed and
asserted to be the surest road to heaven.[362] To speak of this does
not seem irrelevant to the work I have undertaken, since it redounds
to the glory of England to have produced the distinguished man who
was the author and promoter of that rule. To us he belonged, and in
our schools passed the earlier part of his life. Wherefore, if we
are not envious, we shall embrace his good qualities the more kindly
in proportion as we knew them more intimately. And, moreover, I am
anxious to extol his praise, “because it is a mark of an ingenuous
mind to approve that virtue in others, of which in yourself you regret
the absence.” He was named Harding, and born in England of no very
illustrious parents. From his early years, he was a monk at Sherborne;
but when secular desires had captivated his youth, he grew disgusted
with the monastic garb, and went first to Scotland, and afterwards
to France. Here, after some years’ exercise in the liberal arts, he
became awakened to the love of God. For, when manlier years had put
away childish things, he went to Rome with a clerk who partook of his
studies; neither the length and difficulty of the journey, nor the
scantiness of their means of subsistence by the way, preventing them,
both as they went and returned, from singing daily the whole psalter.
Indeed the mind of this celebrated man was already meditating the
design which soon after, by the grace of God, he attempted to put in
execution. For returning into Burgundy, he was shorn at Molesmes, a new
and magnificent monastery. Here he readily admitted the first elements
of the order, as he had formerly seen them; but when additional matters
were proposed for his observance, such as he had neither read in the
rule nor seen elsewhere, he began, modestly and as became a monk, to
ask the reason of them, saying: “By reason the supreme Creator has
made all things; by reason he governs all things; by reason the fabric
of the world revolves; by reason even the planets move; by reason the
elements are directed; and by reason, and by due regulation, our
nature ought to conduct itself. But since, through sloth, she too often
departs from reason, many laws were, long ago, enacted for her use;
and, latterly, a divine rule has been promulgated by St. Benedict, to
bring back the deviations of nature to reason. In this, though some
things are contained the design of which I cannot fathom, yet I deem it
necessary to yield to authority. And though reason and the authority of
the holy writers may seem at variance, yet still they are one and the
same. For since God hath created and restored nothing without reason,
how can I believe that the holy fathers, no doubt strict followers of
God, could command anything but what was reasonable, as if we ought to
give credit to their bare authority. See then that you bring reason,
or at least authority, for what you devise; although no great credit
should be given to what is merely supported by human reason, because
it may be combated with arguments equally forcible. Therefore from
that rule, which, equally supported by reason and authority, appears
as if dictated by the spirit of all just persons, produce precedents,
which if you fail to do, in vain shall you profess his rule, whose
regulations you disdain to comply with.”

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

Certainly many of their regulations seem severe, and more particularly
these: they wear nothing made with furs or linen, nor even that finely
spun linen garment, which we call Staminium;[363] neither breeches,
unless when sent on a journey, which at their return they wash and
restore. They have two tunics with cowls, but no additional garment in
winter, though, if they think fit, in summer they may lighten their
garb. They sleep clad and girded, and never after matins return to
their beds: but they so order the time of matins that it shall be light
ere the lauds[364] begin; so intent are they on their rule, that they
think no jot or tittle of it should be disregarded. Directly after
these hymns they sing the prime, after which they go out to work for
stated hours. They complete whatever labour or service they have to
perform by day without any other light. No one is ever absent from the
daily services, or from complines, except the sick. The cellarer and
hospitaller, after complines, wait upon the guests, yet observing the
strictest silence. The abbat allows himself no indulgence beyond the
others,--every where present,--every where attending to his flock;
except that he does not eat with the rest, because his table is with
the strangers and the poor. Nevertheless, be he where he may, he is
equally sparing of food and of speech; for never more than two dishes
are served either to him or to his company; lard and meat never but to
the sick. From the Ides of September till Easter, through regard for
whatever festival, they do not take more than one meal a day, except on
Sunday. They never leave the cloister but for the purpose of labour,
nor do they ever speak, either there or elsewhere, save only to the
abbat or prior. They pay unwearied attention to the canonical[365]
services, making no addition to them except the vigil for the defunct.
They use in their divine service the Ambrosian chants[366] and hymns,
as far as they were able to learn them at Milan. While they bestow care
on the stranger and the sick, they inflict intolerable mortifications
on their own bodies, for the health of their souls.

The abbat, at first, both encountered these privations with much
alacrity himself, and compelled the rest to do the same. In process of
time, however, the man repented;[367] he had been delicately brought
up, and could not well bear such continued scantiness of diet. The
monks, whom he had left at Molesmes, getting scent of this disposition,
either by messages or letters, for it is uncertain which, drew him
back to the monastery, by his obedience to the pope, for such was
their pretext: compelling him to a measure to which he was already
extremely well-disposed. For, as if wearied out by the pertinacity of
their entreaties, he left the narrow confines of poverty, and resought
his former magnificence. All followed him from Citeaux, who had gone
thither with him, except eight. These, few in number but great in
virtue, appointed Alberic, one of their party, abbat, and Stephen
prior. The former not surviving more than eight years was, at the will
of heaven, happily called away. Then, doubtless by God’s appointment,
Stephen though absent was elected abbat; the original contriver of
the whole scheme; the especial and celebrated ornament of our times.
Sixteen abbeys which he has already completed, and seven which he
has begun, are sufficient testimonies of his abundant merit. Thus,
by the resounding trumpet of God, he directs the people around him,
both by word and deed, to heaven; acting fully up to his own precepts;
affable in speech, pleasant in look, and with a mind always rejoicing
in the Lord. Hence, openly, that noble joy of countenance; hence,
secretly, that compunction, coming from above; because, despising
this state of a sojourner, he constantly desires to be in a place
of rest. For these causes he is beloved by all; “For God graciously
imparts to the minds of other men a love for that man whom he loves.”
Wherefore the inhabitant of that country esteems himself happy if,
through his hands, he can transmit his wealth to God. He receives
much, indeed, but expending little on his own wants, or those of his
flock, he distributes the rest to the poor, or employs it immediately
on the building of monasteries; for the purse of Stephen is the public
treasury of the indigent. A proof of his abstinence is that you see
nothing there, as in other monasteries, flaming with gold, blazing with
jewels, or glittering with silver. For as a Gentile says, “Of what use
is gold to a saint?” We think it not enough in our holy vases, unless
the ponderous metal be eclipsed by precious stones; by the flame of
the topaz, the violet of the amethyst, and the green shade of the
emerald: unless the sacerdotal robes wanton with gold; and unless the
walls glisten with various coloured paintings, and throw the reflexion
of the sun’s rays upon the ceiling. These men, however, placing those
things which mortals foolishly esteem the first, only in a secondary
point of view, give all their diligence to improve their morals, and
love pure minds, more than glittering vestments; knowing that the
best remuneration for doing well, is to enjoy a clear conscience.
Moreover, if at any time the laudable kindness of the abbat either
desires, or feigns a desire, to modify aught from the strict letter
of the rule, they are ready to oppose such indulgence, saying, that
they have no long time to live, nor shall they continue to exist so
long as they have already done; that they hope to remain stedfast in
their purpose to the end, and to be an example to their successors, who
will transgress if they should give way. And, indeed, through human
weakness, the perpetual law of which is that nothing attained, even by
the greatest labour, can long remain unchanged, it will be so. But to
comprise, briefly, all things which are or can be said of them,--the
Cistertian monks at the present day are a model for all monks, a mirror
for the diligent, a spur to the indolent.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] HERBERT, BISHOP OF NORWICH.]

At this time three sees in England were transferred from their ancient
situations; Wells to Bath, by John; Chester to Coventry, by Robert;
Thetford to Norwich, by Herbert; all through greater ambition, than
ought to have influenced men of such eminence. Finally, to speak
of the last first: Herbert, from his skill in adulation, surnamed
Losinga,[368] was first abbat of Ramsey, and then purchased the
bishopric of Thetford, while his father, Robert, surnamed as himself,
was intruded on the abbey of Winchester. This man, then, was the great
source of simony in England; having craftily procured by means of his
wealth, both an abbey and a bishopric. For he hood-winked the king’s
solicitude for the church by his money, and whispered great promises
to secure the favour of the nobility: whence a poet of those times
admirably observes,

 “A monster in the church from Losing rose,
  Base Simon’s sect, the canons to oppose.
  Peter, thou’rt slow; see Simon soars on high;
  If present, soon thou’d’st hurl him from the sky.[369]
  Oh grief, the church is let to sordid hire,
  The son a bishop, abbat is the sire.
  All may be hoped from gold’s prevailing sway,
  Which governs all things; gives and takes away;
  Makes bishops, abbats, basely in a day.”

Future repentance, however, atoned for the errors of his youth: he
went to Rome, when he was of a more serious age, and there resigning
the staff and ring which he had acquired by simony, had them restored
through the indulgence of that most merciful see; for the Romans
regard it both as more holy and more fitting, that the dues from each
church should rather come into their own purse, than be subservient
to the use of any king whatever. Herbert thus returning home, removed
the episcopal see, which had formerly been at Helmham, and was then
at Thetford, to a town, celebrated for its trade and populousness,
called Norwich. Here he settled a congregation of monks, famous for
their numbers and their morals; purchasing everything for them out of
his private fortune. For, having an eye to the probable complaints of
his successors, he gave none of the episcopal lands to the monastery,
lest they should deprive the servants of God of their subsistence,
if they found any thing given to them which pertained to their see.
At Thetford, too, he settled Clugniac monks, because the members
of that order, dispersed throughout the world, are rich in worldly
possessions, and of distinguished piety towards God. Thus, by the great
and extensive merit of his virtues, he shrouded the multitude of his
former failings; and by his abundant eloquence and learning, as well as
by his knowledge in secular affairs, he became worthy even of the Roman
pontificate. Herbert thus changed, as Lucan observes of Curio, became
the changer and mover of all things; and, as in the times of this king,
he had been a pleader in behalf of simony, so was he, afterwards, its
most strenuous opposer; nor did he suffer that to be done by others,
which he lamented he had ever himself done through the presumption of
juvenile ardour: ever having in his mouth, as they relate, the saying
of St. Jerome, “We have erred when young; let us amend now we are old.”
Finally, who can sufficiently extol his conduct, who, though not a very
rich bishop, yet built so noble a monastery; in which nothing appears
defective, either in the beauty of the lofty edifice, the elegance of
its ornaments, or in the piety and universal charity of its monks.
These things soothed him with joyful hope while he lived, and when
dead, if repentance be not in vain, conducted him to heaven.[370]

John was bishop of Wells; a native of Touraine, and an approved
physician, by practice, rather than education. On the death of the
abbat of Bath, he easily obtained the abbey from the king, both because
all things at court were exposed to sale, and his covetousness seemed
palliated by some degree of reason, that so famed a city might be still
more celebrated, by becoming the see of a bishop. He at first began to
exercise his severity against the monks, because they were dull, and
in his estimation, barbarians; taking away all the lands ministering
to their subsistence, and furnishing them with but scanty provision
by his lay dependants. In process of time, however, when new monks
had been admitted, he conducted himself with more mildness; and gave a
small portion of land to the prior, by which he might, in some measure,
support himself and his inmates. And although he had begun austerely,
yet many things were there by him both nobly begun and completed, in
decorations and in books; and more especially, in a selection of monks,
equally notable for their learning and kind offices. But still he could
not, even at his death, be softened far enough totally to exonerate
the lands from bondage; leaving, in this respect, an example not to be
followed by his successors.

There was in the diocese of Chester, a monastery, called Coventry,
which, as I have before related, the most noble earl Leofric, with his
lady Godiva, had built; so splendid for its gold and silver, that the
very walls of the church seemed too scanty to receive the treasures,
to the great astonishment of the beholders. This, Robert bishop of
the diocese eagerly seized on, in a manner by no means episcopal;
stealing from the very treasures of the church wherewith he might fill
the hand of the king, beguile the vigilance of the pope, and gratify
the covetousness of the Romans. Continuing there many years, he gave
no proof of worth whatever: for, so far from rescuing the nodding
roofs from ruin, he wasted the sacred treasures, and became guilty
of peculation; and a bishop might have been convicted of illegal
exactions, had an accuser been at hand. He fed the monks on miserable
fare, made no attempts to excite in them a love for their profession,
and suffered them to reach only a very common degree of learning; lest
he should make them delicate by sumptuous living, or strictness of rule
and depth of learning should spirit them up to oppose him. Contented
therefore with rustic fare, and humble literary attainments, they
deemed it enough, if they could only live in peace. Moreover, at his
death, paying little attention to the dictates of the canons, by which
it is enacted, that bishops ought to be buried in their cathedrals,
he commanded himself to be interred, not at Chester, but at Coventry;
leaving to his successors by such a decision, the task, not of claiming
what was not due to them, but as it were, of vindicating their proper

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] JOSCELYN.]

Here, while speaking of the times of William, I should be induced to
relate the translation of the most excellent Augustine, the apostle of
the English and of his companions, had not the talents of the learned
Joscelyn, anticipated me:[371] of Joscelyn, who being a monk of St.
Bertin, formerly came to England with Herman bishop of Salisbury,
skilled equally in literature and music. For a considerable time he
visited the cathedrals and abbeys, and left proofs of uncommon learning
in many places; he was second to none after Bede in the celebration of
the English saints; next to Osberne[372] too, he bore away the palm
in music. Moreover he wrote innumerable lives of modern saints, and
restored, in an elegant manner, such of those of the ancients as had
been lost through the confusion of the times, or had been carelessly
edited. He also so exquisitely wrought the process of this translation,
that he may be said to have realized it to the present race, and given
a view of it to posterity. Happy that tongue, which ministered to so
many saints! happy that voice, which poured forth such melody! more
especially as in his life, his probity equalled his learning. But, as I
have hitherto recorded disgraceful transactions of certain bishops, I
will introduce others of different lives and dispositions, who were in
being at the same time; that our age may not be said to have grown so
negligent as not to produce one single saint. Such as are desirous, may
find this promise completed in a subsequent book, after the narrative
of king Henry’s transactions.


_The Expedition to Jerusalem._ [A.D. 1095-1105.]

I shall now describe the expedition to Jerusalem, relating in my own
words what was seen and endured by others. Besides too, as opportunity
offers, I shall select from ancient writers, accounts of the situation
and riches of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem; in order that he
who is unacquainted with these matters, and meets with this work, may
have something to communicate to others. But for such a relation there
needs a more fervent spirit, in order to complete effectually, what
I begin with such pleasure. Invoking, therefore, the Divinity, as is
usual, I begin as follows.

In the year of the incarnation 1095, pope Urban the second, who then
filled the papal throne, passing the Alps, came into France. The
ostensible cause of his journey, was, that, being driven from home
by the violence of Guibert, he might prevail on the churches on this
side of the mountains to acknowledge him. His more secret intention
was not so well known; this was, by Boamund’s advice, to excite almost
the whole of Europe to undertake an expedition into Asia; that in
such a general commotion of all countries, auxiliaries might easily
be engaged, by whose means both Urban might obtain Rome; and Boamund,
Illyria and Macedonia. For Guiscard, his father, had conquered those
countries from Alexius, and also all the territory extending from
Durazzo to Thessalonica; wherefore Boamund claimed them as his due,
since he obtained not the inheritance of Apulia, which his father had
given to his younger son, Roger. Still nevertheless, whatever might
be the cause of Urban’s journey, it turned out of great and singular
advantage to the Christian world. A council, therefore, was assembled
at Clermont,[373] which is the most noted city of Auvergne. The number
of bishops and abbats was three hundred and ten. Here at first, during
several days, a long discussion was carried on concerning the catholic
faith, and the establishing peace among contending parties.[374] For,
in addition to those crimes in which every one indulged, all, on this
side of the Alps, had arrived at such a calamitous state, as to take
each other captive on little or no pretence; nor were they suffered to
go free, unless ransomed at an enormous price. Again too, the snake of
simony had so reared her slippery crest, and cherished, with poisonous
warmth, her deadly eggs, that the whole world became infected with her
mortal hissing, and tainted the honours of the church. At that time, I
will not say bishops to their sees merely, but none aspired even to any
ecclesiastical degree, except by the influence of money. Then too, many
persons putting away their lawful wives, procured divorces, and invaded
the marriage-couch of others. Wherefore, as in both these cases, there
was a mixed multitude of offenders, the names of some powerful persons
were singled out for punishment. Not to be tedious, I will subjoin
the result of the whole council, abbreviating some parts, in my own

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1095.] COUNCIL OF CLERMONT.]

In a council at Clermont, in the presence of pope Urban, these articles
were enacted. “That the catholic church shall be pure in faith; free
from all servitude: that bishops, or abbats, or clergy of any rank,
shall receive no ecclesiastical dignity from the hand of princes,
or of any of the laity: that clergymen shall not hold prebends in
two churches or cities: that no one shall be bishop and abbat at the
same time: that ecclesiastical dignities shall be bought and sold
by no one: that no person in holy orders shall be guilty of carnal
intercourse: that such as not knowing the canonical prohibition had
purchased canonries, should be pardoned: but that they should be taken
from such as knew they possessed them by their own purchase, or that
of their parents: that no layman from Ash-Wednesday, no clergyman from
Quadragesima, to Easter, shall eat flesh: that, at all times, the first
fast of the Ember Weeks, should be in the first week of Lent: that
orders should be conferred, at all times, on the evening of Saturday,
or on a Sunday, continuing fasting:[375] that on Easter-eve, service
should not be celebrated till after the ninth hour: that the second
fast should be observed in the week of Pentecost: that from our Lord’s
Advent, to the octave of the Epiphany; from Septuagesima to the octaves
of Easter; from the first day of the Rogations to the octaves of
Pentecost; and from the fourth day of the week at sunset, at all times,
to the second day in the following week at sunrise, the Truce of God be
observed:[376] that whoever laid violent hands on a bishop should be
excommunicated; that whoever laid violent hands on clergymen or their
servants should be accursed: that whoever seized the goods of bishops
or clergymen at their deaths, should be accursed: that whoever married
a relation, even in the sixth degree of consanguinity, should be
accursed: that none should be chosen bishop, except a priest, deacon,
or subdeacon who was of noble descent, unless under pressing necessity,
and licence from the pope: that the sons of priests and concubines
should not be advanced to the priesthood, unless they first made their
vow: that whosoever fled to the church, or the cross, should, being
insured from loss of limb, be delivered up to justice; or if innocent,
be released: that every church should enjoy its own tithes, nor pass
them away to another: that laymen should neither buy nor sell tithes;
that no fee should be demanded for the burial of the dead. In this
council the pope excommunicated Philip, king of France, and all who
called him king or lord, and obeyed or spoke to him, unless for the
purpose of correcting him: in like manner too his accursed consort,
and all who called her queen or lady, till they so far reformed as
to separate from each other: and also Guibert of Ravenna, who calls
himself pope: and Henry, emperor of Germany, who supports him.”

Afterwards, a clear and forcible discourse, such as should come from a
priest, was addressed to the people, on the subject of an expedition of
the Christians, against the Turks. This I have thought fit to transmit
to posterity, as I have learned it from those who were present,
preserving its sense unimpaired. For who can preserve the force of that
eloquence? We shall be fortunate, if, treading an adjacent path, we
come even by a circuitous route to its meaning.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1095.] POPE URBAN’S SPEECH.]

“You recollect,”[377] said he, “my dearest brethren, many things which
have been decreed for you, at this time; some matters, in our council,
commanded; others inhibited. A rude and confused chaos of crimes
required the deliberation of many days; an inveterate malady demanded
a sharp remedy. For while we give unbounded scope to our clemency, our
papal office finds numberless matters to proscribe; none to spare.
But it has hitherto arisen from human frailty, that you have erred,
and that, deceived by the speciousness of vice, you have exasperated
the long suffering of God, by too lightly regarding his forbearance.
It has arisen too from human wantonness, that, disregarding lawful
wedlock, you have not duly considered the heinousness of adultery.
From too great covetousness also, it has arisen, that, as opportunity
offered, making captive your brethren, bought by the same great price,
you have outrageously extorted from them their wealth. To you, however,
now suffering this perilous shipwreck of sin, a secure haven of rest
is offered, unless you neglect it. A station of perpetual safety will
be awarded you, for the exertion of a trifling labour against the
Turks. Compare, now, the labours which you underwent in the practice
of wickedness, and those which you will encounter in the undertaking
I advise. The intention of committing adultery, or murder, begets
many fears; for, as Soloman says, ‘There is nothing more timid than
guilt:’ many labours; for what is more toilsome than wickedness?
But, ‘He who walks uprightly, walks securely.’ Of these labours, of
these fears, the end was sin; the wages of sin is death; the death
of sinners is most dreadful. Now the same labours and apprehensions
are required from you, for a better consideration. The cause of these
labours, will be charity; if thus warned by the command of God, you
lay down your lives for the brethren: the wages of charity will be
the grace of God; the grace of God is followed by eternal life. Go
then prosperously: Go, then, with confidence, to attack the enemies of
God. For they long since, oh sad reproach to Christians! have seized
Syria, Armenia, and lastly, all Asia Minor, the provinces of which
are Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lydia, Caria, Pamphylia, Isauria,
Lycia, Cilicia; and, now they insolently domineer over Illyricum, and
all the hither countries, even to the sea which is called the Straits
of St. George. Nay, they usurp even the sepulchre of our Lord, that
singular assurance of our faith; and sell to our pilgrims admissions
to that city, which ought, had they a trace of their ancient courage
left, to be open to Christians only. This alone might be enough to
cloud our brows; but now, who except the most abandoned, or the most
envious of Christian reputation, can endure that we do not divide the
world equally with them? They inhabit Asia, the third portion of the
world, as their native soil, which was justly esteemed by our ancestors
equal, by the extent of its tracts and greatness of its provinces, to
the two remaining parts. There, formerly, sprang up the first germs
of our faith; there, all the apostles, except two, consecrated their
deaths; there, at the present day, the Christians, if any survive,
sustaining life by a wretched kind of agriculture, pay these miscreants
tribute, and even with stifled sighs, long for the participation of
your liberty, since they have lost their own. They hold Africa also,
another quarter of the world, already possessed by their arms for more
than two hundred years; which on this account I pronounce derogatory
to Christian honour, because that country was anciently the nurse of
celebrated geniuses, who, by their divine writings, will mock the rust
of antiquity as long as there shall be a person who can relish Roman
literature:[378] the learned know the truth of what I say. Europe, the
third portion of the world remains; of which, how small a part do we
Christians inhabit? for who can call all those barbarians who dwell in
remote islands of the Frozen Ocean, Christians, since they live after a
savage manner? Even this small portion of the world, belonging to us,
is oppressed by the Turks and Saracens. Thus for three hundred years,
Spain and the Balearic isles have been subjugated to them, and the
possession of the remainder is eagerly anticipated by feeble men, who,
not having courage to engage in close encounter, love a flying mode
of warfare. For the Turk never ventures upon close fight; but, when
driven from his station, bends his bow at a distance, and trusts the
winds with his meditated wound; and as he has poisoned arrows, venom,
and not valour, inflicts the death on the man he strikes. Whatever he
effects, then, I attribute to fortune, not to courage, because he wars
by flight, and by poison. It is apparent too, that every race, born in
that region, being scorched with the intense heat of the sun, abounds
more in reflexion, than in blood; and, therefore, they avoid coming to
close quarters, because they are aware how little blood they possess.
Whereas the people who are born amid the polar frosts, and distant from
the sun’s heat, are less cautious indeed; but, elate from their copious
and luxuriant flow of blood, they fight with the greatest alacrity. You
are a nation born in the more temperate regions of the world; who may
be both prodigal of blood, in defiance of death and wounds; and are not
deficient in prudence. For you equally preserve good conduct in camp,
and are considerate in battle. Thus endued with skill and with valour,
you undertake a memorable expedition. You will be extolled throughout
all ages, if you rescue your brethren from danger. To those present, in
God’s name, I command this; to the absent I enjoin it. Let such as are
going to fight for Christianity, put the form of the cross upon their
garments, that they may, outwardly, demonstrate the love arising from
their inward faith; enjoying by the gift of God, and the privilege of
St. Peter, absolution from all their crimes: let this in the meantime
soothe the labour of their journey; satisfied that they shall obtain,
after death, the advantages of a blessed martyrdom. Putting an end to
your crimes then, that Christians may at least live peaceably in these
countries, go, and employ in nobler warfare, that valour, and that
sagacity, which you used to waste in civil broils: Go, soldiers every
where renowned in fame, go, and subdue these dastardly nations. Let the
noted valour of the French advance, which, accompanied by its adjoining
nations, shall affright the whole world by the single terror of its
name. But why do I delay you longer by detracting from the courage of
the gentiles? Rather bring to your recollection the saying of God,
‘Narrow is the way which leadeth to life.’ Be it so then: the track to
be followed is narrow, replete with death, and terrible with dangers;
still this path will lead to your lost country. No doubt you must, ‘by
much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.’ Place then, before
your imagination, if you shall be made captive, torments and chains;
nay, every possible suffering that can be inflicted. Expect, for the
firmness of your faith, even horrible punishments; that so, if it be
necessary, you may redeem your souls at the expense of your bodies. Do
you fear death? you men of exemplary courage and intrepidity. Surely
human wickedness can devise nothing against you, worthy to be put in
competition with heavenly glory: for the sufferings of the present
time are not worthy to be compared ‘to the glory which shall be
revealed in us.’ Know ye not, ‘that for men to live is wretchedness,
and happiness to die?’ This doctrine, if you remember, you imbibed
with your mother’s milk, through the preaching of the clergy: and this
doctrine your ancestors, the martyrs, held out by example. Death sets
free from its filthy prison the human soul, which then takes flight for
the mansions fitted to its virtues. Death accelerates their country
to the good: death cuts short the wickedness of the ungodly. By means
of death, then, the soul, made free, is either soothed with joyful
hope, or is punished without farther apprehension of worse. So long
as it is fettered to the body, it derives from it earthly contagion;
or to say more truly, is dead. For, earthly with heavenly, and divine
with mortal, ill agree. The soul, indeed, even now, in its state of
union with the body, is capable of great efforts; it gives life to
its instrument, secretly moving and animating it to exertions almost
beyond mortal nature. But when, freed from the clog which drags it to
the earth, it regains its proper station, it partakes of a blessed and
perfect energy, communicating after some measure with the invisibility
of the divine nature. Discharging a double office, therefore, it
ministers life to the body when it is present, and the cause of its
change, when it departs. You must observe how pleasantly the soul wakes
in the sleeping body, and, apart from the senses, sees many future
events, from the principle of its relationship to the Deity. Why then
do ye fear death, who love the repose of sleep, which resembles death?
Surely it must be madness, through lust of a transitory life, to deny
yourselves that which is eternal. Rather, my dearest brethren, should
it so happen, lay down your lives for the brotherhood. Rid God’s
sanctuary of the wicked: expel the robbers: bring in the pious. Let
no love of relations detain you; for man’s chiefest love is towards
God. Let no attachment to your native soil be an impediment; because,
in different points of view, all the world is exile to the Christian,
and all the world his country. Thus exile is his country, and his
country exile. Let none be restrained from going by the largeness of
his patrimony, for a still larger is promised him; not of such things
as soothe the miserable with vain expectation, or flatter the indolent
disposition with the mean advantages of wealth, but of such as are
shewn by perpetual example and approved by daily experience. Yet these
too are pleasant, but vain, and which, to such as despise them, produce
reward a hundred-fold. These things I publish, these I command: and
for their execution I fix the end of the ensuing spring. God will be
gracious to those who undertake this expedition, that they may have
a favourable year, both in abundance of produce, and in serenity of
season. Those who may die will enter the mansions of heaven; while the
living shall behold the sepulchre of the Lord. And what can be greater
happiness, than for a man, in his life-time, to see those places, where
the Lord of heaven was conversant as a man? Blessed are they, who,
called to these occupations, shall inherit such a recompence: fortunate
are those who are led to such a conflict, that they may partake of such

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1095.] EFFECT OF URBAN’S SPEECH.]

I have adhered to the tenor of this address, retaining some few things
unaltered, on account of the truth of the remarks, but omitting many.
The bulk of the auditors were extremely excited, and attested their
sentiments by a shout; pleased with the speech, and inclined to the
pilgrimage. And immediately, in presence of the council, some of the
nobility, falling down at the knees of the pope, consecrated themselves
and their property to the service of God. Among these was Aimar, the
very powerful bishop of Puy, who afterwards ruled the army by his
prudence, and augmented it through his eloquence. In the month of
November, then, in which this council was held, each departed to his
home: and the report of this good resolution soon becoming general,
it gently wafted a cheering gale over the minds of the Christians:
which being universally diffused, there was no nation so remote, no
people so retired, as not to contribute its portion. This ardent love
not only inspired the continental provinces, but even all who had heard
the name of Christ, whether in the most distant islands, or savage
countries. The Welshman left his hunting; the Scot his fellowship with
lice;[379] the Dane his drinking party; the Norwegian his raw fish.
Lands were deserted of their husbandmen; houses of their inhabitants;
even whole cities migrated. There was no regard to relationship;
affection to their country was held in little esteem; God alone was
placed before their eyes. Whatever was stored in granaries, or hoarded
in chambers, to answer the hopes of the avaricious husbandman, or the
covetousness of the miser, all, all was deserted; they hungered and
thirsted after Jerusalem alone. Joy attended such as proceeded; while
grief oppressed those who remained. But why do I say remained? You
might see the husband departing with his wife, indeed, with all his
family; you would smile to see the whole household laden on a carriage,
about to proceed on their journey.[380] The road was too narrow for the
passengers, the path too confined for the travellers, so thickly were
they thronged with endless multitudes. The number surpassed all human
imagination, though the itinerants were estimated at six millions.[381]
Doubtless, never did so many nations unite in one opinion; never did
so immense a population subject their unruly passions to one, and
almost to no, direction. For the strangest wonder to behold was, that
such a countless multitude marched gradually through various Christian
countries without plundering, though there was none to restrain them.
Mutual regard blazed forth in all; so that if any one found in his
possession what he knew did not belong to him, he exposed it everywhere
for several days to be owned; and the desire of the finder was
suspended, till perchance the wants of the loser might be repaired.[382]

The long-looked for month of March was now at hand, when, the hoary
garb of winter being laid aside, the world, clad in vernal bloom,
invited the pilgrims to the confines of the east; nor, such was the
ardour of their minds, did they seek delay. Godfrey, duke of Lorraine,
proceeded by way of Hungary: second to none in military virtue, and,
descended from the ancient lineage of Charles the Great, he inherited
much of Charles both in blood and in mind. He was followed by the
Frisons, Lorrainers, Saxons, and all the people who dwell between the
Rhine and the Garonne.[383] Raimund, earl of St. Giles, and Aimar,
bishop of Puy, nobly matched in valour, and alike noted for spirit
against the enemy and piety to God, took the route of Dalmatia. Under
their standard marched the Goths and Gascons, and all the people
scattered throughout the Pyrenees and the Alps. Before them, by a
shorter route, went Boamund, an Apulian by residence, but a Norman by
descent. For embarking at Brindisi, and landing at Durazzo, he marched
to Constantinople by roads with which he was well acquainted. Under his
command, Italy, and the whole adjacent province, from the Tuscan sea
to the Adriatic, joined in the war. All these assembling at the same
time at Constantinople, partook somewhat of mutual joy. Here, too, they
found Hugh the Great, brother of Philip, king of France: for having
inconsiderately, and with a few soldiers, entered the territories of
the emperor, he was taken by his troops, and detained in free custody.
But Alexius, emperor of Constantinople, alarmed at the arrival of
these chiefs, willingly, but, as it were, induced by their entreaties,
released him. Alexius was a man famed for his duplicity, and never
attempted any thing of importance, unless by stratagem. He had taken
off Guiscard, as I before related, by poison, and had corrupted his
wife by gold; falsely promising by his emissaries to marry her. Again,
too, he allowed William, earl of Poitou, to be led into an ambush of
the Turks, and, after losing sixty thousand soldiers, to escape almost
unattended; being incensed at his reply, when he refused homage to the
Greek. In after time, he laid repeated snares for Boamund, who was
marching against him to avenge the injuries of the crusaders; and when
these failed he bereaved him of his brother Guido, and of almost all
his army; making use of his usual arts either in poisoning the rivers,
or their garments: but of this hereafter. Now, however, removing the
army from the city, and mildly addressing the chiefs, his Grecian
eloquence proved so powerful, that he obtained from them all homage,
and an oath, that they would form no plot against him; and that if they
could subdue the cities pertaining to his empire, they would restore
them to him, thus purchasing another’s advantage at the expense of
their own blood. The credit of maintaining his liberty appeared more
estimable to Raimund alone; so that he neither did homage to him, nor
took the oath. Collecting, then, all their forces, they made an attack
on Nicea, a city of Bithynia: for they chose to assault this first,
both as it was an obstacle to the crusaders, and as they were eager to
revenge the death of those pilgrims who had recently been slain there.
For one Walter, a distinguished soldier, but precipitate, (for you
will scarcely see prudence and valour united in the same person, as
one retards what the other advances,) incautiously roaming around the
walls, had perished with a numerous party, which Peter the hermit had
allured, by his preaching, from their country.

Now, too, in the month of September, Robert earl of Normandy, brother
of king William whose name is prefixed to this book, earnestly desiring
to enter on the expedition, had as his companions Robert of Flanders,
and Stephen of Blois who had married his sister. They were earls of
noble lineage and corresponding valour. Under their command were the
English and Normans, the Western Franks and people of Flanders, and all
the tribes which occupy the continental tract from the British Ocean to
the Alps. Proceeding on their journey, at Lucca they found pope Urban,
who being enraged at Guibert, as I have said, was, by the assistance
of Matilda, carrying war into Italy and around the city of Rome. He had
now so far succeeded that the Roman people, inclining to his party,
were harassing that of Guibert, both by words and blows; nor did the
one faction spare the other, either in the churches or in the streets,
until Guibert, being weakest, left the see vacant for Urban, and fled
to Germany.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1097.] ANCIENT ROME.]

Of Rome, formerly the mistress of the globe, but which now, in
comparison of its ancient state, appears a small town; and of the
Romans, once “Sovereigns over all and the gowned nation,”[384] who are
now the most fickle of men, bartering justice for gold, and dispensing
with the canons for money; of this city and its inhabitants, I say,
whatever I might attempt to write, has been anticipated by the verses
of Hildebert, first, bishop of Mans, and afterwards archbishop of
Tours.[385] Which I insert, not to assume the honour acquired by
another man’s labour, but rather as a proof of a liberal mind, while
not envying his fame, I give testimony to his charming poetry.

    Rome, still thy ruins grand beyond compare,
  Thy former greatness mournfully declare,
  Though time thy stately palaces around
  Hath strewed, and cast thy temples to the ground.
  Fall’n is the power, the power Araxes dire
  Regrets now gone, and dreaded when entire;
  Which arms and laws, and ev’n the gods on high
  Bade o’er the world assume the mastery;
  Which guilty Cæsar rather had enjoyed
  Alone, than e’er a fostering hand employed.
  Which gave to foes, to vice, to friends its care,
  Subdued, restrained, or bade its kindness share
  This growing power the holy fathers reared,
  Where near the stream the fav’ring spot appeared
  From either pole, materials, artists meet,
  And rising walls their proper station greet;
  Kings gave their treasures, fav’ring too was fate,
  And arts and riches on the structure wait.
  Fall’n is that city, whose proud fame to reach,
  I merely say, “Rome was,” there fails my speech.
  Still neither time’s decay, nor sword, nor fire,
  Shall cause its beauty wholly to expire.
  Human exertions raised that splendid Rome,
  Which gods in vain shall strive to overcome.
  Bid wealth, bid marble, and bid fate attend,
  And watchful artists o’er the labour bend,
  Still shall the matchless ruin art defy
  The old to rival, or its loss supply.
  Here gods themselves their sculptur’d forms admire,
  And only to reflect those forms aspire;
  Nature unable such like gods to form,
  Left them to man’s creative genius warm;
  Life breathes within them, and the suppliant falls,
  Not to the God, but statues in the walls.
  City thrice blessed! were tyrants but away,
  Or shame compelled them justice to obey.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1097.] DESCRIPTION OF ROME.]

Are not these sufficient to point out in such a city, both the dignity
of its former advantages, and the majesty of its present ruin? But that
nothing may be wanting to its honour, I will add the number of its
gates, and the multitude of its sacred relics; and that no person may
complain of his being deprived of any knowledge by the obscurity of the
narrative, the description shall run in an easy and familiar style.[386]

The first is the Cornelian gate, which is now called the gate of
St. Peter, and the Cornelian way. Near it is situated the church of
St. Peter, in which his body lies, decked with gold and silver, and
precious stones: and no one knows the number of the holy martyrs who
rest in that church. On the same way is another church, in which lie
the holy virgins Rufina and Secunda. In a third church, are Marius and
Martha, and Audifax and Abacuc, their sons.

The second is the Flaminian gate, which is now called the gate of St.
Valentine,[387] and the Flaminian way, and when it arrives at the
Milvian bridge, it takes the name of the Ravennanian way, because it
leads to Ravenna; and there, at the first stone without the gate, St.
Valentine rests in his church.

The third is called the Porcinian[388] gate, and the way the same; but
where it joins the Salarian, it loses its name, and there, nearly in
the spot which is called Cucumeris, lie the martyrs, Festus, Johannes,
Liberalis, Diogenes, Blastus, Lucina, and in one sepulchre, the Two
Hundred and Sixty,[389] in another, the Thirty.

The fourth is the Salarian[390] gate and way; now called St.
Silvester’s. Here, near the road, lie St. Hermes, and St. Vasella,
and Prothus, and Jacinctus, Maxilian, Herculan, Crispus; and, in
another place, hard by, rest the holy martyrs Pamphilus and Quirinus,
seventy steps beneath the surface. Next is the church of St. Felicity,
where she rests, and Silanus her son; and not far distant, Boniface
the martyr. In another church, there are Crisantus, and Daria, and
Saturninus, and Maurus, and Jason, and their mother Hilaria, and others
innumerable. And in another church, St. Alexander, Vitalis, Martialis,
sons of St. Felicity; and seven holy virgins, Saturnina, Hilarina,
Duranda, Rogantina, Serotina, Paulina, Donata. Next the church of
St. Silvester, where he lies under a marble tomb; and the martyrs,
Celestinus, Philippus, and Felix; and there too, the Three Hundred and
Sixty-five martyrs rest in one sepulchre; and near them lie Paulus and
Crescentianus, Prisca and Semetrius, Praxides and Potentiana.

The fifth is called the Numentan[391] gate. There lies St. Nicomede,
priest and martyr; the way too is called by the same name. Near the
road are the church and body of St. Agnes; in another church, St.
Ermerenciana, and the martyrs, Alexander, Felix, Papias; at the seventh
stone on this road rests the holy pope Alexander, with Euentius and

The sixth is the Tiburtine[392] gate and way, which is now called
St. Lawrence’s: near this way lies St. Lawrence in his church, and
Habundius the martyr: and near this, in another church, rest these
martyrs, Ciriaca, Romanus, Justinus, Crescentianus; and not far from
hence the church of St. Hyppolitus, where he himself rests, and his
family, eighteen in number; there too repose, St. Trifonia, the wife
of Decius, and his daughter Cirilla, and her nurse Concordia. And in
another part of this way is the church of Agapit the martyr.

The seventh is called, at present, the Greater gate,[393] formerly the
Seracusan, and the way the Lavicanian, which leads to St. Helena. Near
this are Peter, Marcellinus, Tyburtius, Geminus, Gorgonius, and the
Forty Soldiers,[394] and others without number; and a little farther
the Four Coronati.[395]

The eighth is the gate of St. John,[396] which by the ancients was
called Assenarica. The ninth gate is called Metrosa;[397] and in
front of both these runs the Latin way. The tenth is called the
Latin gate,[398] and way. Near this, in one church, lie the martyrs,
Gordianus and Epimachus, Sulpicius, Servilianus, Quintinus, Quartus,
Sophia, Triphenus. Near this too, in another spot, Tertullinus, and
not far distant, the church of St. Eugenia, in which she lies, and her
mother Claudia, and pope Stephen, with nineteen of his clergy, and
Nemesius the deacon.

The eleventh is called the Appian gate[399] and way. There lie St.
Sebastian, and Quirinus, and originally the bodies of the apostles
rested there. A little nearer Rome, are the martyrs, Januarius,
Urbanus, Xenon, Quirinus, Agapetus, Felicissimus; and in another
church, Tyburtius, Valerianus, Maximus. Not far distant is the church
of the martyr Cecilia; and there are buried Stephanus, Sixtus,
Zefferinus, Eusebius, Melchiades, Marcellus, Eutychianus, Dionysius,
Antheros, Pontianus, pope Lucius, Optacius, Julianus, Calocerus,
Parthenius, Tharsicius, Politanus, martyrs: there too is the church
and body of St. Cornelius: and in another church, St. Sotheris: and
not far off, rest the martyrs, Hippolytus, Adrianus, Eusebius, Maria,
Martha, Paulina, Valeria, Marcellus, and near, pope Marcus in his
church. Between the Appian and Ostiensian way, is the Ardeatine way,
where are St. Marcus, and Marcellianus. And there lies pope Damasus in
his church; and near him St. Petronilla, and Nereus, and Achilleus, and
many more.

The twelfth gate and way is called the Ostiensian, but, at present, St.
Paul’s,[400] because he lies near it in his church. There too is the
martyr Timotheus: and near, in the church of St. Tecla, are the martyrs
Felix, Audactus, and Nemesius. At the Three Fountains[401] is the head
of the martyr St. Anastasius.

The thirteenth is called the Portuan[402] gate and way; near which in
a church are the martyrs, Felix, Alexander, Abdon and Sennes, Symeon,
Anastasius, Polion, Vincentius, Milex, Candida, and Innocentia.

The fourteenth is the Aurelian[403] gate and way, which now is called
the gate of St. Pancras, because he lies near it in his church, and
the other martyrs, Paulinus, Arthemius, St. Sapientia, with her three
daughters, Faith, Hope, and Charity. In another church, Processus and
Martinianus; and, in a third, two Felixes; in a fourth Calixtus, and
Calepodius; in a fifth St. Basilides. At the twelfth milliary within
the city, on Mount Celius, are the martyrs Johannes, and Paulus, in
their dwelling, which was made a church after their martyrdom: and
Crispin and Crispinianus, and St. Benedicta. On the same mount, is
the church of St. Stephen, the first martyr; and there are buried the
martyrs Primus, and Felicianus; on Mount Aventine St. Boniface; and on
Mount Nola, St. Tatiana rests.

Such are the Roman sanctuaries; such the sacred pledges upon earth: and
yet in the midst of this heavenly treasure, as it were, a people drunk
with senseless fury, even at the very time the crusaders arrived, were
disturbing everything with wild ambition, and, when unable to satisfy
their lust of money, pouring out the blood of their fellow citizens
over the very bodies of the saints.[404] The earls, confiding then in
Urban’s benediction, having passed through Tuscany and Campania, came
by Apulia to Calabria, and would have embarked immediately had not the
seamen, on being consulted, forbade them, on account of the violence
of the southerly winds. In consequence, the earls of Normandy and
Blois passed the winter there; sojourning each among their friends, as
convenient. The earl of Flanders, alone, ventured to sea, experiencing
a prosperous issue to a rash attempt: wherefore part of this assembled
multitude returned home through want; and part of them died from the
unwholesomeness of the climate. The earls who remained however, when
by the vernal sun’s return they saw the sea sufficiently calm for
the expedition, committed themselves to the ocean, and, by Christ’s
assistance, landed safely at two ports. Thence, through Thessaly,
the metropolis of which is Thessalonica, and Thracia, they came to
Constantinople. Many of the lower order perished on the march through
disease and want; many lost their lives at the Devil’s Ford, as it is
called from its rapidity; and more indeed would have perished, had
not the advanced cavalry been stationed in the river, to break the
violence of the current; by which means the lives of some were saved,
and the rest passed over on horseback. The whole multitude then, to
solace themselves for their past labours, indulged in rest for fifteen
days, pitching their camp in the suburbs of the city; of which, as the
opportunity has presented itself, I shall briefly speak.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1097.] CONSTANTINOPLE--ITS ORIGIN.]

Constantinople was first called Byzantium: which name is still
preserved by the imperial money called Bezants. St. Aldhelm, in his
book On Virginity,[405] relates that it changed its appellation by
divine suggestion: his words are as follow. As Constantine was sleeping
in this city, he imagined that there stood before him an old woman,
whose forehead was furrowed with age; but, that presently, clad in an
imperial robe, she became transformed into a beautiful girl, and so
fascinated his eyes, by the elegance of her youthful charms, that he
could not refrain from kissing her: that Helena, his mother, being
present, then said, “She shall be yours for ever; nor shall she die,
till the end of time.” The solution of this dream, when he awoke, the
emperor extorted from heaven, by fasting and almsgiving. And behold,
within eight days, being cast again into a deep sleep, he thought
he saw pope Silvester, who died some little time before, regarding
his convert[406] with complacency, and saying, “You have acted with
your customary prudence, in waiting for a solution, from God, of that
enigma which was beyond the comprehension of man. The old woman you
saw, is this city, worn down by age, whose time-struck walls, menacing
approaching ruin, require a restorer. But you, renewing its walls, and
its affluence, shall signalize it also with your name; and here shall
the imperial progeny reign for ever. You shall not, however, lay the
foundations at your own pleasure; but mounting the horse on which,
when in the novitiate of your faith, you rode round the churches of
the apostles at Rome, you shall give him the rein, and liberty to
go whither he please: you shall have, too, in your hand, your royal
spear,[407] whose point shall describe the circuit of the wall on the
ground. You will be regulated, therefore, in what manner to dispose the
foundations of the wall by the track of the spear on the earth.”

The emperor eagerly obeyed the vision, and built a city equal to
Rome; alleging that the emperor ought not to reign in Rome, where the
martyred apostles, from the time of Christ, held dominion. He built
in it two churches, one of which was dedicated to peace; the other to
the apostles; bringing thither numerous bodies of saints, who might
conciliate the assistance of God against the incursions of its enemies.
He placed in the circus, for the admiration and ornament of the city,
the statues of triumphal heroes, brought from Rome, and the tripods
from Delphi; and the images of heathen deities to excite the contempt
of the beholders. They relate that it was highly gratifying to the mind
of the emperor, to receive a mandate from heaven, to found a city in
that place, where the fruitfulness of the soil, and the temperature
of the atmosphere conduced to the health of its inhabitants: for as
he was born in Britain,[408] he could not endure the burning heat of
the sun. But Thracia is a province of Europe, as the poets observe,
extremely cool, “From Hebrus’ ice, and the Bistonian north;” and near
to Mœsia, where, as Virgil remarks, “With wonder Gargara the harvest
sees.”[409] Constantinople, then, washed by the sea, obtains the
mingled temperature both of Europe and of Asia; because, from a short
distance, the Asiatic east tempers the severity of the northern blast.
The city is surrounded by a vast extent of walls, yet the influx of
strangers is so great, as to make it crowded. In consequence they
form a mole in the sea, by throwing in masses of rock, and loads of
sand; and the space obtained by this new device, straitens the ancient
waters. The sea wonders to see fields unknown before, amid its glassy
waves; and surrounds and supplies its city with all the conveniences of
the earth. The town is encompassed on every side, except the north, by
the ocean, and is full of angles in the circuit of its walls, where it
corresponds with the windings of the sea; which walls contain a space
of twenty miles in circumference. The Danube,[410] which is likewise
called the Ister, flows in hidden channels under ground, into the city;
and on certain days being let out by the removal of a plug, it carries
off the filth of the streets into the sea. All vied with the emperor in
noble zeal to give splendour to this city, each thinking he was bound
to advance the work in hand: one contributing holy relics, another
riches, Constantine all things.


After Constantine the Great, the following emperors reigned here.
Constantine his son; Julian the Apostate; Jovinian, Valens, Theodosius
the Great; Arcadius, Theodosius the Younger; Marchianus, Leo the First;
Zeno, Anastasius, Justin the Great; Justinian, who, famed for his
literature and his wars, built a church in Constantinople to Divine
Wisdom; that is, to the Lord Jesus Christ, which he called Hagia
Sophia; a work, as they report, surpassing every other edifice in
the world, and where ocular inspection proves it superior to its most
pompous descriptions: Justin the Younger; Tiberius, Mauricius, the
first Greek; Focas, Heraclius, Heracleonas, Constans, Constantine, the
son of Heraclius; who, coming to Rome, and purloining all the remains
of ancient decoration, stripped the churches even of their brazen
tiles, anxiously wishing for triumphal honours, at Constantinople,
even from such spoils as these; his covetousness, however, turned out
unfortunately for him, for being shortly after killed at Syracuse, he
left all these honourable spoils to be conveyed to Alexandria by the
Saracens; Constantine, Leo the Second; Justinian, again Justinian,
Tiberius, Anastasius, Philippicus, Theodosius, Leo the Third; all
these reigned both at Constantinople and at Rome: the following in
Constantinople only; Constantine, Leo, Constantine, Nicephorus,
Stauratius, Michael, Theophilus, Michael, Basilius, Leo, Alexander,
Constantine, two Romanuses, Nicephorus, Focas, Johannes, Basilius,
Romanus, Michael, Constantine, Theodora the empress, Michael, Sachius,
Constantine, Romanus, Diogenes, Nicephorus, Buthanus, Michael;[411]
who, driven from the empire by Alexius, secretly fled to Guiscard
in Apulia, and surrendering to him his power, imagined he had done
something prejudicial to Alexius: hence Guiscard’s ambition conceived
greater designs; falsely persuading himself that he might acquire by
industry, what the other had lost by inactivity: how far he succeeded,
the preceding book hath explained. In the same city is the cross of
our Saviour, brought by Helena from Jerusalem. There too rest the
apostles, Andrew, James the brother of our Lord; Matthias: the prophets
Elizeus, Daniel, Samuel, and many others: Luke the Evangelist: martyrs
innumerable: confessors, Johannes Chrysostom, Basilius, Gregorious
Nazianzen, Spiridion: virgins, Agatha, Lucia; and lastly all the saints
whose bodies the emperors were able to collect thither out of every

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1097.] SIEGE OF NICE.]

The earls, then, of Normandy and Blois, did homage to the Greek. For
the earl of Flanders had already passed on, disdaining to perform this
ceremony, from the recollection that he was freely born and educated.
The others, giving and receiving promises of fidelity, proceeded in
the first week of June to Nice, which the rest had already besieged
from the middle of May. Uniting, therefore, their forces, much carnage
ensued on either side; since every kind of weapon could easily be
hurled by the townsmen on those who were beneath them; and the arm
even of the weakest had effect on persons crowded together. Moreover
the Turks dragged up, with iron hooks, numberless dead bodies of our
people, to mangle them in mockery; or to cast them down again when
stripped of their raiment. The Franks were grieved at this: nor did
they cease venting their rage by slaughter, till the Turks, wearied by
extremity of suffering, on the day of the summer solstice, surrendered
themselves to the emperor by means of secret messengers. He, who knew
only how to consult his own advantage, gave orders to the Franks to
depart: choosing rather, that the city should be reserved for the
undisguised disloyalty of the Turks, than the distrusted power of
the Franks. He ordered, however, silver and gold to be distributed
to the chiefs, and copper coin to those of inferior rank, lest they
should complain of being unrewarded. Thus the Turks, who, passing
the Euphrates, had now for the space of fifty years been possessed
of Bithynia, which is a part of Asia Minor that is called Romania,
betook themselves to flight to the eastward. Nevertheless, when the
siege was ended, they attempted, at the instigation of Soliman,[412]
who had been sovereign of all Romania, to harass the army on its
advance. This man collecting, as is computed, three hundred and sixty
thousand archers, attacked our people, expecting anything rather than
hostility, with such violence, that overwhelmed with an iron shower
of arrows, they were terrified and turned their backs. At that time,
by chance, duke Godfrey and Hugh the Great, and Raimund, had taken
another route, that they might plunder the enemies’ country to a wider
extent, and obtain forage with more facility. But the Norman, sensible
of his extreme danger, by means of expeditious messengers on a safe
track, acquainted Godfrey and the rest of the approach of the Turks.
They without a moment’s delay, turned against the enemy, and delivered
their associates from danger. For these were now indiscriminately
slaughtered in their tents, unprepared for resistance, and filling
the air with prayers and lamentations. Nor did the enemy take any
particular aim, but trusting his arrows to the wind, he never, from
the thickness of the ranks, drew his bow in vain. What alone retarded
destruction was, that the attack took place near a thicket of canes,
which prevented the Turks from riding full speed. At length, however,
perceiving the advanced guard of the approaching chiefs, the Christians
left the thicket, and shouting the military watch-word, “It is the
will of God,”[413] they attack the scattered ranks of the enemy,
making a signal to their companions, at the same time to assail them
in the rear. Thus the Turks, pressed on either side, forthwith fled,
shrieking with a dreadful cry, and raising a yell which reached the
clouds. Nor had they recourse to their customary practice of a flying
battle, but throwing down their bows, they manifested, by a flight of
three successive days, something greater than mere human apprehension.
Nor was there, indeed, any person to follow them; for our horses,
scarce able to support life on the barren turf, were unequal to a
vigorous pursuit: showing immediately their want of strength by their
panting sides. Asia was formerly, it is true, a land most fruitful
in corn; but, both in distant and in recent times, it had been so
plundered by the savage Turks, that it could scarcely suffice for the
maintenance of a small army, much less of a multitude, so vast as to
threaten devouring whole harvests and drinking rivers dry. For, when
they departed from Nice, they were still estimated at seven hundred
thousand: of the remainder, part had been wasted by the sword, part by
sickness, and still more had deserted to their homes.

Thence, then, they arrived at Heraclea by the route of Antioch and
Iconium, cities of Pisidia. Here they beheld in the sky a portent
fashioned like a flaming sword; the point of which extended towards the
east. All the period from the kalends of July, when they left Nice,
till the nones of October, had elapsed when they arrived at Antioch
in Syria. The situation of this city, I should describe, had not my
wish in this respect been anticipated by the eloquence of Ambrosius in
Hegesippus:[414] were I not also fearful, that I may be blamed for the
perpetual digressions of my narrative. Still, however, I will relate so
much as the labour I have undertaken seems to require.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1097.] SIEGE OF ANTIOCH.]

Antioch, which was named after his father, Antiochus, by Seleucus,
king of Asia, is surrounded with a vast wall, which even contains a
mountain within it. Next to Rome, and Constantinople, and Alexandria,
it obtains precedence over the cities of the world. It is secure
by its walls, lofty from its situation; and if ever taken, must be
gained more by ingenuity than force. The nearest river to it, which
I learn is now called Fervus, though originally Orontes, falls into
the sea twelve miles from the city; its tide impetuous, and growing
colder from its violence, ministers to the health of the inhabitants
by its effect on the atmosphere. Capable too of receiving supplies by
shipping for the service of its citizens, it can at all times mock the
perseverance of its besiegers. Here the venerable title of Christian
was first conceived: hence, first St. Paul, the spring and spur of this
religion, went forth to preach; here the first pontific seat was filled
by St. Peter; in honour to whom the church there founded remained
uninjured through the whole domination of the Turks: and equally also
did another, consecrated in honour of St. Mary, strike the eyes of
beholders with its beauty, exciting wonder that they should reverence
the church of him whose faith they persecuted.

This city, then, the Franks invested from October till June;[415]
pitching their tents around the walls after they had passed the river.
Foreseeing, however, the difficulty of taking it, and judging it
expedient to provide against the cowardice of certain of their party,
the chiefs, in common, took an oath, that they would not desist from
the siege till the city should be taken by force or by stratagem. And,
that they might more easily complete their design, they built many
fortresses on this side of the river, in which soldiers were placed to
keep guard. Aoxianus, too, the governor of the city, observing that the
Franks acted neither jestingly nor coldly, but set heartily to besiege
it, sent his son Sansadol to the Sultan, emperor of Persia, to make
known the boldness of the Franks, and to implore assistance. Sultan
among the Persians implies the same as Augustus among the Romans:
Commander of all the Saracens, and of the whole east. I imagine this
empire has continued so long, and still increases, because the people,
as I have related, are unwarlike; and being deficient in active blood,
know not how to cast off slavery, when once admitted; not being aware,
as Lucan says,[416] that

  “Arms were bestowed that men should not be slaves.”

But the western nations, bold and fierce, disdain long-continued
subjugation to any people whatever; often delivering themselves from
servitude, and imposing it on others. Moreover, the Roman empire first
declined to the Franks, and after to the Germans: the eastern continues
ever with the Persians.

Sansadol therefore being despatched to the chief of this empire,
hastened his course with youthful ardour, while his father was by no
means wanting to the duties of a commander, in the protection of the
city. The valour of the besieged was not content merely to defend their
own party, but voluntarily harassed ours; frequently and suddenly
attacking them when foraging or marketing: for, making a bridge of the
vessels they found there, they had established a mart beyond the river.
Through Christ’s assistance, therefore, becoming resolute, they seized
their arms, and boldly repelled their enemies, so that they never
suffered them to reap the honour of the day. To revenge this disgrace,
the Turks wreaked their indignation on the Syrian and Armenian
inhabitants of the city; throwing, by means of their balistæ[417] and
petraries, the heads of those whom they had slain into the camp of the
Franks, that by such means they might wound their feelings.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1097.] ANTIOCH SURRENDERED.]

And now, everything which could be procured for food being destroyed
around the city, a sudden famine, which usually makes even fortresses
give way, began to oppress the army; so much so, that the harvest not
having yet attained to maturity, some persons seized the pods of beans
before they were ripe, as the greatest delicacy: others fed on carrion,
or hides soaked in water; others passed parboiled[418] thistles through
their bleeding jaws into their stomachs. Others sold mice, or such
like dainties, to those who required them; content to suffer hunger
themselves, so that they could procure money. Some, too, there were,
who even fed their corpse-like bodies with other corpses, eating human
flesh; but at a distance, and on the mountains, lest others should be
offended at the smell of their cookery. Many wandered through unknown
paths, in expectation of meeting with sustenance, and were killed by
robbers acquainted with the passes. But not long after the city was

For Boamund, a man of superior talents, had, by dint of very great
promises, induced a Turkish chief,[419] who had the custody of the
principal tower, on the side where his station lay, to deliver it up
to him. And he, too, to palliate the infamy of his treachery by a
competent excuse, gave his son as an hostage to Boamund; professing
that he did so by the express command of Christ, which had been
communicated to him in a dream. Boamund, therefore, advanced his troops
to the tower, having first, by a secret contrivance, obtained from the
chiefs the perpetual government of the city, in case he could carry it.
Thus the Franks, in the dead of the night, scaling the walls by rope
ladders, and displaying on the top of the tower the crimson standard
of Boamund, repeated with joyful accents the Christian watchword, “It
is the will of God! It is the will of God!” The Turks awaking, and
heavy from want of rest, took to flight through narrow passages; and
our party, following with drawn swords, made dreadful slaughter of
the enemy. In this flight fell Aoxianus, governor of the city, being
beheaded by a certain Syrian peasant: his head, when brought to the
Franks, excited both their laughter and their joy.

Not long rejoicing in this complete victory, they had the next day to
lament being themselves besieged by the Turks from without. For the
forces which had been solicited by Sansadol were now arrived under the
command of Corbaguath, an eastern satrap, who had obtained from the
emperor of Persia three hundred thousand men,[420] under twenty-seven
commanders. Sixty thousand of these ascended over the rocks to the
citadel, by desire of the Turks, who still remained in possession of
it. These woefully harassed the Christians by frequent sallies: nor
was there any hope left, but from the assistance of God, since want
was now added to the miseries of war--want, the earliest attendant on
great calamities. Wherefore, after a fast of three days, and earnest
supplications, Peter the hermit was sent ambassador to the Turks, who
spake with his usual eloquence to the following effect: “That the Turks
should now voluntarily evacuate the Christian territory, which they had
formerly unjustly invaded; that it was but right, as the Christians
did not attack Persia, that the Turks should not molest Asia; that
they should therefore, either by a voluntary departure, seek their own
country, or expect an attack on the following morning; that they might
try their fortune, by two, or four, or eight, that danger might not
accrue to the whole army.”

Corbaguath condescended not to honour the messenger even with a reply;
but playing at chess and gnashing his teeth, dismissed him as he came;
merely observing, “that the pride of the Franks was at an end.” Hastily
returning, Peter apprised the army of the insolence of the Turk. Each
then animating the other, it was publicly ordered, that every person
should, that night, feed his horse as plentifully as possible, lest
he should falter from the various evolutions of the following day.
And now the morning dawned, when, drawn up in bodies, they proceeded,
with hostile standard, against the enemy. The first band was led by
the two Roberts, of Normandy and Flanders, and Hugh the Great; the
second by Godfrey; the third by the bishop of Puy; the reserve by
Boamund, as a support to the rest. Raimund continued in the city, to
cover the retreat of our party, in case it should be necessary. The
Turks, from a distance, observing their movements, were, at first,
dubious what they could mean. Afterwards, recognizing the standard of
the bishop, for they were extremely afraid of him, as they said he was
the pope of the Christians and the fomenter of the war; and seeing our
people advancing so courageously and quickly, they fled ere they were
attacked. Our party, too, exhilarated with unexpected joy, slew them as
they were flying, as far as the strength of the infantry, or exertion
of the cavalry, would permit. They imagined, moreover, that they saw
the ancient martyrs, who had formerly been soldiers, and who had gained
eternal remuneration by their death, I allude to George and Demetrius,
hastily approaching with upraised banner from the mountainous
districts, hurling darts against the enemy, but assisting the Franks.
Nor is it to be denied, that the martyrs did assist the Christians,
as the angels formerly did the Maccabees, fighting for the self-same
cause. Returning, then, to the spoil, they found in their camp
sufficient to satisfy, or even totally to glut, the covetousness of the
greediest army. This battle took place A.D. 1098, on the fourth before
the kalends of July; for the city had been taken the day before the
nones of June. Soon after, on the kalends of the ensuing August, the
bishop of Puy, the leader of the Christians, and chief author of this
laudable enterprise, joyfully yielded to the common lot of mortals; and
Hugh the Great, by permission of the chiefs, as it is said, returned to
France, alleging as a reason, the perpetual racking of his bowels.

But when, by a long repose of seven months at Antioch, they had
obliterated the memory of their past labours, they began to think of
proceeding on their route. And first of all Raimund, ever unconscious
of sloth, ever foremost in military energy; and next to him the two
Roberts, and Godfrey, proceeded upon the march. Boamund alone, for a
time, deferred his advance, lured by the prospect of a magnificent city
and the love of wealth. A plausible reason, however, lay concealed
beneath his covetousness, when he alleged, that Antioch ought not to be
exposed to the Turks without a chief, as they would directly attack it.
He therefore took up his residence in the city; and this harsh governor
drove Raimund’s followers, who occupied one of the streets, without the

The others, however, passing through Tripoli,[421] and Berith, and
Tyre, and Sidon, and Accaron, and Caiphas, and Cæsarea of Palestine,
where they left the coast to the right hand, came to Ramula; being
kindly received by some of the cities, and signalizing their valour by
the subjugation of others. For their design was to delay no longer,
as it was now the month of April, and the produce of the earth had
become fully ripe. Ramula is a very small city, without walls: if we
credit report, the place of the martyrdom of St. George; whose church,
originally founded there, the Turks had somewhat defaced: but at that
time, through fear of the Franks, they had carried off their property
and retreated to the mountains. The next morning, at early dawn,
Tancred, the nephew of Boamund, a man of undaunted courage, and some
others, taking arms, proceeded to Bethlehem, desirous of exploring
its vicinity. The Syrians of the place, who came out to meet them,
manifested their joy with weeping earnestness, through apprehension
for their safety, on account of the smallness of their numbers; for
few more than a hundred horsemen were of the party. But our people
having suppliantly adored the sacred edifice,[422] immediately stretch
anxiously forward towards Jerusalem. The Turks, confident of their
force, fiercely sallied out, and for some time skirmished with our
troops, for the whole army had now come up; but they were soon
repulsed by the exertions of the Franks, and sought security from their
encircling walls.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] APPROACH TO JERUSALEM.]

The numbers who have already written on the subject, admonish me to
say nothing of the situation and disposition of Jerusalem, nor is it
necessary for my narrative to expatiate on such a field. Almost every
person is acquainted with what Josephus, Eucherius, and Bede, have
said: for who is not aware, that it was called Salem from Melchisedec;
Jebus from the Jebusites; Jerusalem from Solomon? Who has not heard
how often, falling from adverse war, it buried its inhabitants in
its ruins, through the different attacks of Nabugodonosor, of Titus,
or of Adrian? It was this last who rebuilt Jerusalem, called Ælia,
after his surname, enclosing it with a circular wall, of greater
compass, that it might embrace the site of the sepulchre of our Lord,
which originally stood without: Mount Sion, too, added to the city,
stands eminent as a citadel. It possesses no springs;[423] but water,
collected in cisterns, prepared for that purpose, supplies the wants of
the inhabitants: for the site of the city, beginning from the northern
summit of Mount Sion, has so gentle a declivity, that the rain which
falls there does not form any mire, but running like rivulets, is
received into tanks, or flowing through the streets, augments the brook
Kedron. Here is the church of our Lord, and the temple, which they
call Solomon’s, by whom built is unknown, but religiously reverenced
by the Turks; more especially the church of our Lord, where they
daily worshipped, and prohibited the Christians from entering, having
placed there a statue of Mahomet. Here also is a church of elegant
workmanship, containing the holy sepulchre, built by Constantine the
Great, and which has never suffered any injury from the enemies of our
faith, through fear, as I suppose, of being struck by that celestial
fire which brightly shines in lamps, every year, on the Vigil[424]
of Easter. When this miracle had a beginning, or whether it existed
before the times of the Saracens, history has left no trace. I have
read in the writings of Bernard[425] the monk, that about two hundred
and fifty years ago, that is, A.D. 870, he went to Jerusalem and saw
that fire, and was entertained in the Hospital which the most glorious
Charles the Great had there ordered to be built, and where he had
collected a library at great expense. He relates, that both in Egypt
and in that place, the Christians, under the dominion of the Turks,
enjoyed such security, that if any traveller lost a beast of burden by
accident, in the midst of the high road, he might leave his baggage
and proceed to the nearest city for assistance, and without doubt find
every thing untouched at his return. Still, from the suspicion that
they might be spies, no foreign Christian could live there securely,
unless protected by the signet of the emperor of Babylon. The natives
purchased peace from the Turks at the expense of three talents or
bezants annually. But as Bernard mentions the name of Theodosius, the
then patriarch, this gives me an occasion of enumerating the whole of
the patriarchs.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] PATRIARCHS OF JERUSALEM.]

James the brother of our Lord and son of Joseph; Simon son of
Cleophas, the cousin of Christ, for Cleophas was the brother of
Joseph; Justus, Zaccheus, Tobias, Benjamin, Johannes, Maccabæus,
Philip, Seneca, Justus, Levi, Effrem, Jesse, Judas; these fifteen
were circumcised: Mark, Cassian, Publius, Maximus, Julian, Gaius; who
first celebrated Easter and Lent after the Roman manner: Symmachus,
Gaius, Julian, Capito, Maximus, Antonius, Valens, Docilianus,
Narcissus, Dius, Germanio, Gordius, Alexander, Mazabanus, Irmeneus,
Zabdas, Ermon, Macharius; in his time the Holy Cross was found by
St. Helena: Cyriacus, Maximus, Cyrillus, who built the church of the
Holy Sepulchre, and of Mount Calvary, and of Bethlehem, and of the
Valley of Jehosaphat. All these were called bishops. After them arose
the patriarchs: Cyrillus the first patriarch; Johannes, Prailius,
Juvenalis,[426] Zacharias, in whose time came Cosdroe[427] king of
Persia to Jerusalem, and destroyed the churches of Judea and Jerusalem,
and slew with his army six and thirty thousand of the Christians:
Modestus, who was appointed patriarch by the emperor Heraclius, when
he returned victorious from Persia: Sophronius, in whose time the
Saracens came and thrust out all the Christians from Jerusalem, except
the patriarch, whom they suffered to remain out of reverence to his
sanctity: this was the period when the Saracens overran the whole of
Egypt, and Africa, and Judea, and even Spain, and the Balearic Isles.
Part of Spain was wrested from them by Charles the Great, but the
remainder, together with the countries I have enumerated, they have
possessed for nearly five hundred years, down to the present day:
Theodorus,[428] Ilia, Georgius, Thomas, Basilius, Sergius, Salomontes,
Theodosius, whom Bernard relates to have been an abbat, and that he
was torn from his monastery, which was fifteen miles distant from
Jerusalem, and made patriarch of that city: then too they say that
Michael was patriarch in Babylon over Egypt, the patriarchate of
Alexandria being removed thither: Ilia, Sergius, Leonthos, Athanasius,
Christodolus, Thomas, Joseph, Orestes; in his time came Sultan Achim,
the nephew of the patriarch Orestes, from Babylon, who sent his army to
Jerusalem, destroyed all the churches, that is to say, four thousand,
and caused his uncle, the patriarch, to be conveyed to Babylon and
there slain: Theophilus, Nicephorus: he built the present church of the
Holy Sepulchre, by the favour of Sultan Achim: Sophronius; in his time
the Turks, coming to Jerusalem, fought with the Saracens, killed them
all, and possessed the city; but the Christians continued there under
the dominion of the Turks: Cuthimus, Simeon; in whose time came the
Franks and laid siege to Jerusalem, and rescued it from the hands of
the Turks and of the king of Babylon.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] THE SIEGE OF JERUSALEM.]

In the fourth year, then, of the expedition to Jerusalem, the third
after the capture of Nice, and the second after that of Antioch, the
Franks laid siege to Jerusalem,--a city well able to repay the toils of
war, to soothe its labours, and to requite the fondest expectation. It
was now the seventh day of June, nor were the besiegers apprehensive
of wanting food or drink for themselves, as the harvest was on the
ground, and the grapes were ripe upon the vines; the care alone of
their cattle distressed them, which, from the nature of the place and
of the season, had no running stream to support them, for the heat of
the sun had dried up the secret springs of the brook Siloah, which,
at uncertain periods, used to shed abroad its refreshing waters.
This brook, when at any time swollen with rain, increases that of
Kedron; and then passes on, with bubbling current, into the valley
of Jehosaphat. But this is extremely rare; for there is no certain
period of its augmentation or decrease. In consequence, the enemy,
suddenly darting from their caverns, frequently killed our people,
when straggling abroad for the purpose of watering the cattle. In the
meantime the chiefs were each observant at their respective posts,
and Raymond actively employed before the tower of David.[429] This
fortress, defending the city on the west, and strengthened, nearly half
way up, by courses of squared stone soldered with lead, repels every
fear of invaders when guarded by a small party within. As they saw,
therefore, that the city was difficult to carry on account of the steep
precipices, the strength of the walls, and the fierceness of the enemy,
they ordered engines to be constructed. But before this, indeed, on
the seventh day of the siege, they had tried their fortune by erecting
ladders, and hurling swift arrows against their opponents: but, as
the ladders were few, and perilous to those who mounted them, since
they were exposed on all sides and nowhere protected from wounds, they
changed their design. There was one engine which we call the Sow, the
ancients, Vinea; because the machine, which is constructed of slight
timbers, the roof covered with boards and wickerwork, and the sides
defended with undressed hides, protects those who are within it, who,
after the manner of a sow, proceed to undermine the foundations of the
walls. There was another, which, for want of timber, was but a moderate
sized tower, constructed after the manner of houses:[430] they call it
Berefreid: this was intended to equal the walls in height. The making
of this machine delayed the siege, on account of the unskilfulness
of the workmen and the scarcity of the wood. And now the fourteenth
day of July arrived, when some began to undermine the wall with the
sows, others to move forward the tower. To do this more conveniently,
they took it towards the works in separate pieces, and, putting it
together again at such a distance as to be out of bowshot, advanced
it on wheels nearly close to the wall. In the meantime, the slingers
with stones, the archers with arrows, and the cross-bow-men with
bolts, each intent on his own department, began to press forward and
dislodge their opponents from the ramparts; soldiers, too, unmatched in
courage, ascend the tower, waging nearly equal war against the enemy
with missile weapons and with stones. Nor, indeed, were our foes at
all remiss; but trusting their whole security to their valour, they
poured down grease and burning oil upon the tower, and slung stones
on the soldiers, rejoicing in the completion of their desires by the
destruction of multitudes. During the whole of that day the battle was
such that neither party seemed to think they had been worsted; on the
following, which was the fifteenth of July, the business was decided.
For the Franks, becoming more experienced from the event of the attack
of the preceding day, threw faggots flaming with oil on a tower
adjoining the wall, and on the party who defended it, which, blazing by
the action of the wind, first seized the timber and then the stones,
and drove off the garrison. Moreover the beams which the Turks had left
hanging down from the walls in order that, being forcibly drawn back,
they might, by their recoil, batter the tower in pieces in case it
should advance too near, were by the Franks dragged to them, by cutting
away the ropes; and being placed from the engine to the wall, and
covered with hurdles, they formed a bridge of communication from the
ramparts to the tower. Thus what the infidels had contrived for their
defence became the means of their destruction; for then the enemy,
dismayed by the smoking masses of flame and by the courage of our
soldiers, began to give way. These advancing on the wall, and thence
into the city, manifested the excess of their joy by the strenuousness
of their exertions. This success took place on the side of Godfrey
and of the two Roberts; Raymond knew nothing of the circumstance,
till the cry of the fugitives and the alarm of the people, throwing
themselves from the walls, who thus met death while flying from it,
acquainted him that the city was taken. On seeing this, he rushed with
drawn sword on the runaways, and hastened to avenge the injuries of
God, until he had satiated his own animosity. Moreover, adverting to
the advantages of quiet for the moment, he sent unhurt to Ascalon five
hundred Ethiopians, who, retreating to the citadel of David, had given
up the keys of the gates under promise of personal safety. There was no
place of refuge for the Turks, so indiscriminately did the insatiable
rage of the victors sweep away both the suppliant and the resisting.
Ten thousand were slain in the temple of Solomon; more were thrown
from the tops of the churches, and of the citadel. After this, the
dead bodies were heaped and dissolved into the aery fluid by means of
fire; lest putrifying in the open air, they should pour contagion on
the heavy atmosphere. The city being thus expiated by the slaughter of
the infidels, they proceeded with hearts contrite and bodies prostrate
to the sepulchre of the Lord, which they had so long earnestly sought
after, and for which they had undergone so many labours. By what ample
incense of prayer, they propitiated heaven, or by what repentant tears
they once again brought back the favour of God, none, I am confident,
can describe; no, not if the splendid eloquence of the ancients could
revive or Orpheus himself return; who, as it is said, bent e’en the
listening rocks to his harmonious strain. Be it imagined then, rather
than expressed.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM.]

So remarkable was the example of forbearance exhibited by the chiefs,
that, neither on that, nor on the following day, did any of them,
through lust of spoil, withdraw his mind from following up the
victory. Tancred alone, beset with ill-timed covetousness, carried off
some valuable effects from the temple of Solomon; but, afterwards,
reproved by his own conscience, and the address of some other persons,
he restored, if not the same things, yet such as were of equal
value.[431] At that time, if any man, however poor, seized a house, or
riches of any kind, he did not afterwards encounter the brawlings of
the powerful, but held, what he had once possessed, as his hereditary
right. Without delay, then, Godfrey, that brilliant mirror of Christian
nobility, in which, as in a splendid ceiling,[432] the lustre of every
virtue was reflected, was chosen king;[433] all, in lively hope,
agreeing, that they could in no wise better consult the advantage of
the church; deferring, in the meantime, the election of a patriarch,
who was to be appointed by the determination of the Roman Pontiff.[434]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] BATTLE OF ASCALON.]

But the emperor of Babylon, not the city built by Nimrod and enlarged
by Semiramis and now said to be deserted, but that which Cambyses, son
of Cyrus, built in Egypt, on the spot where Taphnis formerly stood:
the emperor of Babylon, I say, venting his long-conceived indignation
against the Franks, sent the commander of his forces, to drive them, as
he said, out of his kingdom. Hastening to fulfil the command, when he
heard that Jerusalem was taken, he redoubled his diligence, though he
had by no means been indolent before. The design of the barbarian was
to besiege the Christians in Jerusalem, and after the victory, which
he, falsely presaging, already obtained in imagination, to destroy
utterly the sepulchre of our Lord. The Christians, who desired nothing
less than again to endure the miseries of a siege, taking courage
through God’s assistance, march out of the city towards Ascalon, to
oppose the enemy; and carry with them part of the cross of Christ,
which a certain Syrian, an inhabitant of Jerusalem, had produced, as
it had been preserved in his house, in succession from father to son.
This truly was a fortunate and a loyal device, that the secret should
be all along kept from the Turks. Obtaining moreover a great booty of
sheep and cattle, near Ascalon, they issued a general order, to leave
the whole of it in the open plain, lest it should be an impediment when
engaging the next morning, as they would have spoil more than enough
if they conquered, so that, free from incumbrance, they might avenge
the injuries of heaven. In the morning, therefore, as the army was on
its march, you might see, I believe by divine instinct, the cattle
with their heads erect, proceeding by the side of the soldiers, and
not to be driven away by any force. The enemy perceiving this at a
distance, and their sight being dazzled by the rays of the sun, lost
their confidence, ere the battle could commence, as they thought the
multitude of their opponents was countless: yet were they, themselves,
by no means deficient in numbers, and by long exercise, trained to
battle. They endeavoured therefore to hem in the Franks, who were
proceeding at a slow rate, by dividing their force into two bodies,
and by curving their wings. But the leaders, and more especially
Robert the Norman, who was in the advanced guard, eluding stratagem
by stratagem, or rather cunning by valour, led on their archers and
infantry, and broke through the centre of the heathens. Moreover the
Lorraine cavalry, which was stationed with its commander in the rear,
advancing by the flanks, prevented their flight, and occupied the whole
plain. Thus the Turks, penetrated in the front, and hemmed in on every
side, were slain at the pleasure of the victors; the remainder escaping
through favour of approaching night. Many golden utensils were found
in their camp; many jewels, which, though from their scarcity unknown
in our country, there shine in native splendour. Nor was there ever a
more joyful victory for the Christians, because they obtained the most
precious spoil without loss.

Returning therefore to Jerusalem, when, by a rest of many days,
they had recruited their strength, some of them, sighing for their
native country, prepared to return by sea. Godfrey and Tancred only
remained; princes, truly noble, and, to whose glory, posterity, if
it judge rightly, never can set limits: men, who, from the intense
cold of Europe, plunged into the insupportable heat of the East:
prodigal of their own lives, so that they could succour suffering
Christianity. Who, besides the fears of barbarous incursions, in
constant apprehension from the unwholesomeness of an unknown climate,
despised the security of rest and of health in their own country; and
although very few in number, kept in subjection so many hostile cities
by their reputation and prowess. They were memorable patterns, too,
of trust in God; not hesitating to remain in that climate, where they
might either suffer from pestilential air, or be slain by the rage of
the Saracens. Let the celebration of the poets then give way; nor let
ancient fiction extol her earliest heroes. No age hath produced aught
comparable to the fame of these men. For, if the ancients had any
merit, it vanished after death with the smoke of their funeral pile;
because it had been spent, rather on the vapour of earthly reputation,
than in the acquisition of substantial good. But the utility of these
men’s valour will be felt, and its dignity acknowledged, as long as
the world shall continue to revolve, or pure Christianity to flourish.
What shall I say of the good order and forbearance of the whole army?
There was no gluttony; no lewdness, which was not directly corrected
by the authority of the commanders, or the preaching of the bishops.
There was no wish to plunder as they passed through the territories
of the Christians; no controversy among themselves, which was not
easily settled by the examination of mediators. Wherefore, since the
commendation of an army so well-ordered redounds to the glory of its
conductors, I will signalize, in my narrative, the exploits and the
adventures of each respective chief; nor will I subtract any thing from
the truth, as I received it on the faith of my relators. But let no
one who has had a fuller knowledge of these events, accuse me of want
of diligence, since we, who are secluded on this side of the British
ocean, hear but the faint echo of Asiatic transactions.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] GODFREY OF BOUILLON.]

King Godfrey takes the lead in my commendation: he was the son of
Eustace count of Boulogne, of whom I have spoken in the time of king
Edward, but more ennobled maternally, as by that line he was descended
from Charles the Great. For, his mother, named Ida, daughter of the
ancient Godfrey duke of Lorraine, had a brother called Godfrey after
his father, surnamed Bocard. This was at the time when Robert Friso, of
whom I have spoken above, on the death of Florence, duke of Friesland,
married his widow Gertrude; advancing Theodoric, his son-in-law,
to the succession of the duchy. Bocard could not endure this; but
expelling Friso, subjected the country to his own will. Friso, unable
to revenge himself by war, did it by stratagem; killing Bocard through
the agency of his Flemings, who drove a weapon into his posteriors, as
he was sitting for a natural occasion. In this manner the son-in-law
succeeded to the duchy, by the means of his father-in-law. The wife
of this Godfrey was the marchioness Matilda, mentioned in the former
book, who on her husband’s death spiritedly retained the duchy, in
opposition to the emperor; more especially in Italy, for of Lorraine
and the hither-countries he got possession. Ida then, as I began to
relate, animated her son Godfrey with great expectations of getting
the earldom of Lorraine: for the paternal inheritance had devolved on
Eustace her eldest son; the youngest, Baldwin, was yet a boy. Godfrey
arriving at a sufficient age to bear arms, dedicated his services to
the emperor Henry, who is mentioned in the preceding book. Acquiring
his friendship, therefore, by unremitting exertions, he received
from the emperor’s singular liberality the whole of Lorraine as a
recompence. Hence it arose, that when the quarrel broke out between the
pope and Henry, he went with the latter to the siege of Rome; was the
first to break through that part of the wall which was assigned for
his attack, and facilitated the entrance of the besiegers. Being in
extreme perspiration, and panting with heat, he entered a subterraneous
vault which he found in his way, and when he had there appeased the
violence of his thirst by an excessive draught of wine, he brought on
a quartan fever. Others say that he fell a victim to poisoned wine, as
the Romans, and men of that country, are used to infect whole casks.
Others report, that a portion of the walls fell to his lot, where the
Tiber flowing, exhales destructive vapours in the morning; that by
this fatal pest, all his soldiers, with the exception of ten, lost
their lives; and that himself, losing his nails and his hair, never
entirely recovered. But be it which it might of these, it appears that
he was never free from a slow fever, until hearing the report of the
expedition to Jerusalem, he made a vow to go thither, if God would
kindly restore his health. The moment this vow was made, the strength
of the duke revived; so that, recovering apace, he shook disease from
his limbs, and rising with expanded breast, as it were, from years of
decrepitude, shone with renovated youth. In consequence, grateful for
the mercies of God showered down upon him, he went to Jerusalem the
very first, or among the first; leading a numerous army to the war. And
though he commanded a hardy and experienced band, yet none was esteemed
readier to attack, or more efficient in the combat than himself. Indeed
it is known, that, at the siege of Antioch, with a Lorrainian sword,
he cut asunder a Turk, who had demanded single combat, and that one
half of the man lay panting on the ground, while the horse, at full
speed, carried away the other: so firmly the miscreant sat. Another
also who attacked him he clave asunder from the neck to the groin,
by taking aim at his head with a sword; nor did the dreadful stroke
stop here, but cut entirely through the saddle, and the back-bone of
the horse. I have heard a man of veracity relate, that he had seen
what I here subjoin: during the siege, a soldier of the duke’s had
gone out to forage; and being attacked by a lion, avoided destruction
for some time, by the interposition of his shield. Godfrey, grieved
at this sight, transfixed the ferocious animal with a hunting spear.
Wounded, and becoming fiercer from the pain, it turned against the
prince with such violence as to hurt his leg with the iron which
projected from the wound; and had he not hastened with his sword to
rip it up, this pattern of valour must have perished by the tusk of a
wild beast. Renowned from these successes, he was exalted to be king
of Jerusalem, more especially because he was conspicuous in rank and
courage without being arrogant. His dominion was small and confined,
containing, besides the few surrounding towns, scarcely any cities. For
the king’s bad state of health, which attacked him immediately after
the Babylonish war, caused a cessation of warlike enterprise; so that
he made no acquisitions: yet, by able management, he so well restrained
the avidity of the barbarians for the whole of that year, that nothing
was lost. They report that the king, from being unused to a state of
indolence, fell again into his original fever; but I conjecture,
that God, in his own good time, chose early to translate, to a better
kingdom, a soul rendered acceptable to him and tried by so many
labours, lest wickedness should change his heart, or deceit beguile
his understanding. Revolving time thus completing a reign of one year,
he died placidly, and was buried on Mount Golgotha;[435] a king as
unconquerable in death, as he had formerly been in battle; often kindly
repressing the tears of the by-standers. Being asked who was to succeed
him, he mentioned no person by name, but said merely, “whoever was most
worthy.” He never would wear the ensign of royalty, saying, “it was too
great arrogance for him to be crowned for glory, in that city, in which
God had been crowned in mockery.” He died on the fifteenth before the
kalends of August.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] BALDWIN.]

On Godfrey’s decease, Tancred and the other chiefs declared that
Baldwin, his brother, who was at that time settled in Mesopotamia,
should be king: for Eustace, the elder brother, who came to Jerusalem
with Godfrey, had long since returned to his native land. The acts of
Baldwin shall be related briefly, but with unsullied truth; supported
in their credibility by the narrative of Fulcher[436] of Chartres, who
was his chaplain, and wrote somewhat of him, in a style, not altogether
unpolished, but, as we say, without elegance or correctness, and
which may serve to admonish others to write more carefully. Baldwin,
undertaking the holy pilgrimage with the rest, had for companions
many knights of disposition similar to his own. Confiding in these
associates, he began to levy fresh troops for his purpose; to watch for
brilliant opportunities wherein to manifest his prowess: and, finally,
not content with that commendation which was common to all, leaving the
rest and departing three days’ journey from Antioch, he got possession,
by the consent of its inhabitants, of Tarsus, a noble city of Cilicia:
Tarsus, formerly the nursing-mother of the apostle Paul, in honour
of whom the cathedral there is dedicated. The Tarsians voluntarily
submitted to his protection, as they were Christians, and hoped by his
aid to be defended from the Turks. The Cilicians, therefore, eagerly
yielded to his power, more especially after the surrender of Turbexhel,
a town by situation impregnable, to whose sovereignty the inferior
towns look up. This being yielded, as I have said, the others followed
its decision. And not only Cilicia, but Armenia, and Mesopotamia,
eagerly sought alliance with this chief: for these provinces were
almost free from the domination of the Turks, though infested by their
incursions. Wherefore the prince of the city of Edessa, who was alike
pressed by the hatred of the citizens and the sword of the enemy, sent
letters to Baldwin, descriptive of his difficulties, desiring him to
come with all speed, and receive a compensation for the labour of his
journey, by his adoption, as he had no issue of either sex. This is a
city of Mesopotamia in Syria, very noted for the fruitfulness of its
soil and for the resort of merchants, twenty miles distant from the
Euphrates, and a hundred from Antioch. The Greeks call it Edessa; the
Syrians Rothasia. Baldwin, therefore, exacting an oath of fidelity from
the ambassadors, passed the Euphrates with only sixty-nine horsemen:
a wonderful instance, it may be said, either of fortitude, or of
rashness, in not hesitating to proceed among the surrounding nations of
barbarians, whom any other person, with so small a force, would have
distrusted either for their race or their unbelief. By the Armenians
and Syrians, indeed, coming out to meet him on the road with crosses
and torches, he was received with grateful joy, and kindly entertained.
But the Turks, endeavouring to attack his rear, were frustrated in all
their attempts by the skill of Baldwin: the Samosatians setting the
first example of flight. Samosata is a city beyond the Euphrates, from
which arose Paul of Samosata,[437] the confutation of whose heresy,
whoever is desirous may read in the History of Eusebius. And, if I well
remember, Josephus says, that Antony was laying siege to this city,
when Herod came to him. The Turks inhabiting that city then, who were
the first instigators of outrage against the Franks, were the first
to give way. Thus, Baldwin, coming safely to Edessa, found nothing to
disappoint his expectations: for being received with surpassing favour
by the prince, and soon after, on his being killed by his faithless
citizens, obtaining the lawful sovereignty of the city, for the
whole time during which the Franks were labouring at Antioch and at
Jerusalem, he was not free from hostilities; worsting his opponents in
repeated attacks.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] BALDWIN’S MARCH TO JERUSALEM.]

But in the month of November, being reminded by Boamund, prince of
Antioch, that they should enter on their progress to Jerusalem, he
prepared for marching, and by the single display of the white standard,
which was his ensign in battle, overthrowing the Turks who had broken
the peace on his expected departure, he left Antioch to the right; and
came to Laodicea. Here, by the liberality of earl Raymond, who presided
over the city, getting, at a cheap rate, a sufficiency of supplies
for his people, he passed Gibellum, and followed the recent track of
Boamund, who had encamped and awaited him. Daibert, archbishop of
Pisa, joined them for the march: he had landed his confederate party
at Laodicea, as did also two other bishops. These forces when united
were estimated at five and twenty thousand; many of whom, when they
entered the territories of the Saracens, were, through the scarcity of
commodities, overtaken by famine, and many were dismounted, from their
horses being starved. Their distress was increased by an abundance of
rain; for in that country it pours down like a torrent in the winter
months only. In consequence, these poor wretches, having no change
of garments, died from the severity of the cold; never getting under
cover during several successive days. For this calamity, indeed,
there was no remedy, as there was a deficiency both of tents and of
wood: but they in some measure appeased their hunger, by constantly
chewing the sweet reeds, which they call cannamel;[438] so denominated
from cane and honey. Thus, twice only, obtaining necessaries at an
exorbitant price from the inhabitants of Tripoli and Cæsarea, they came
to Jerusalem on the day of the winter solstice. They were met at the
gates by king Godfrey with his brother Eustace, whom he had detained
till this time, who showed them every degree of respect and generosity.
Having performed in Bethlehem all the accustomed solemnities of our
Lord’s nativity, they appointed Daibert patriarch: to which transaction
I doubt not, that the consent of pope Urban was obtained; for he was
reverend from age, eloquent, and rich. After the circumcision of our
Lord, therefore, assuming palms[439] in Jericho, which antiquity has
made the ensign of pilgrims, each one hastily endeavoured to reach
his home. The cause of their speed was the stench of the unburied
dead bodies, the fumes of which exhaled in such a manner as to infect
the air itself. In consequence, a contagious pestilence spreading in
the atmosphere, consigned to death many who had recently arrived. The
rest quickened their march, by the cities on the coast, that is to
say, Tiberias and Cæsarea Philippi; for they were urged by scantiness
of provision, and the fear of the enemy. Their want, as I have said,
was remedied by the celerity of their march; and to the fury of three
hundred soldiers who harassed them from the town of Baldac, they
opposed a military stratagem. For feigning a flight for a short time,
that by leaving the narrow passes themselves, they might induce the
Turks to enter them, they retreated purposely, and then returning,
routed the straggling enemy at their pleasure. They had supposed our
people unprepared for fight, as their shields and bows were injured by
the excessive rains; not being aware, that among men, victory consists
not in reliance on excellence of arms, or of armour, but in the more
noble power of courage, and of the well-nerved arm.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] BOAMUND TAKEN PRISONER.]

At that time, indeed, Baldwin returned safely to Edessa, and Boamund
to Antioch. But in the beginning of the month of July, a vague report
reached the ears of Baldwin, that the brilliant jewel of our commanders
was dimmed; Boamund being taken, and cast into chains, by one
Danisman, a heathen, and a potentate of that country. In consequence,
collecting a body of the people of Edessa and Antioch, he was in hopes
of revenging this singular disgrace of the Christians. Moreover the
Turk, who had taken this chieftain more by stratagem and chance than
by courage or military force, as he had come with a small party to
get possession of the city of Meletima, aware that the Franks would
use their utmost efforts against him for the disgrace of the thing,
betook himself to his own territories; marshalling his troops, not
as though he intended to retreat, but rather to exhibit a triumph.
Baldwin then proceeding two days’ march beyond Meletima, and seeing
the enemy decline the hazard of a battle, thought fit to return; but
first, with the permission of Gabriel the governor, brought over the
city to his own disposal. In the meantime, intelligence reaching him
of his brother’s death, and of the general consent of the inhabitants
and chiefs to his election, he entrusted Edessa to Baldwin, his
nearest relation by blood, and moreover a prudent and active man, and
prepared for receiving the crown of Jerusalem. Wherefore collecting
two hundred horse, and seven hundred foot, he proceeded on a march
pregnant with death and danger; whence many, who were falsely supposed
faithful, contemplating the boldness of the attempt, clandestinely
deserted. He, with the remainder, marched forward to Antioch, where
from the resources of his sagacious mind, he became the cause of great
future advantage to his distressed people, by advising them to choose
Tancred as their chief. Thence, he came to Tripoli, by the route of
Gibesium and Laodicea. The governor of this city, a Turk by nation,
but, from natural disposition, rich in bowels of mercy, afforded
him the necessary provisions without the walls; at the same time,
kindly intimating, that he should act cautiously, as Ducach, king of
Damascus, had occupied a narrow pass through which he had heard he
was to march. But he, ashamed of being moved by the threats of the
Saracen, resolutely proceeded on his destination. When he came to the
place, he perceived the truth of the governor’s information: for about
five miles on this side the city of Berith, there is a very narrow
passage near the sea, so confined by steep precipices, and narrow
defiles, that were a hundred men to get possession of the entrance,
they might prevent any number, however great, from passing. Such as
travel from Tripoli to Jerusalem have no possible means of avoiding
it. Baldwin, therefore, arriving on the spot, sent out scouts to
examine the situation of the place, and the strength of the enemy. The
party returning, and hardly intelligible through fear, pointed out
the difficulty of the pass, and the confidence of the enemy, who had
occupied it. But Baldwin, who fell little short of the best soldier
that ever existed, feeling no alarm, boldly drew up his army and led
it against them. Ducach then despatched some to make an onset, and
lure the party unguardedly forward; retaining his main body in a more
advantageous position. For this purpose, at first they rushed on with
great impetuosity, and then made a feint to retreat, to entice our
people into the defile. This stratagem could not deceive Baldwin, who,
skilled by long-continued warfare, made a signal to his men to make
show of flight; and to induce a supposition that they were alarmed, he
commanded the bag and baggage which they had cast down, to be again
taken up, and the cattle to be goaded forward, as well as the ranks to
be opened, that the enemy might attack them. The Turks at this began
to exult, and, raging so horribly that you might suppose the Furies
yelling, pursued our party. Some getting into vessels took possession
of the shore, others riding forward began to kill such pilgrims as
were incautiously loitering near the sea. The Franks continued their
pretended flight till they reached a plain which they had before
observed. No confusion deprived these men of their judgment; even the
very emergency by which they had been overtaken nurtured and increased
their daring; and though a small body, they withstood innumerable
multitudes both by sea and land. For the moment it appeared they had
sufficiently feigned alarm, they closed their ranks, turned their
standards, and hemmed in the now-charging enemy on all sides. Thus
the face of affairs was changed, the victors were vanquished, and the
vanquished became victors. The Turks were hewn down with dreadful
carnage; the remainder anxiously fled to their vessels, and when they
had gotten more than a bow-shot out to sea, they still urged them
forward as fiercely with their oars, as though they supposed they
could be drawn back to land by the arm of their adversaries. And that
you may not doubt of this miracle as fanciful, but as evident, feel
it as it were, only four Christian soldiers fell in procuring by
their blood this victory to the survivors. Wherefore I assert, that
the Christians would never be conquered by the pagans, were they to
implore the Divine assistance on their courage, ere they entered the
conflict; and, when in battle, conciliate the friendly powers of heaven
to their arms. But since, in peace they glut themselves in every kind
of vice, and in battle rely only upon their courage; therefore it
justly happens, that their valour is often unsuccessful. The earl then,
rejoicing in his splendid victory, on returning to spoil the slain,
found several Turks alive, whom he dismissed without personal injury,
but despoiled them of their wealth. To avoid any hidden stratagem, he
that night retreated with his party, and rested under the shelter of
some olive trees. Next day, at dawn, he approached the defile, with the
light troops, to be an eye-witness of the nature of the place; and,
finding everything safe, and making a signal by smoke, as had been
agreed upon, he intimated to his associates the departure of the enemy;
for the Turks, who the day before were wantonly galloping around the
hill, perceiving the carnage of their companions, had all fled in the
dead of the night. Laying aside every delay, they instantly followed
their commander. The governor of Berith sent them food on their
march, astonished at the valour of so small a force. The Tyrians and
Sidonians, and Accaronites, who are also called Ptholoamites, acted in
the same manner, venerating with silent apprehension the bravery of the
Franks. Nor were Tancred’s party, in Caiphas, less generous, although
he was absent. The ancient name of this town I am unable to discover;
because all the inland cities, which we read of in Josephus as formerly
existing, are either not in being, or else, changed into inconsiderable
villages, have lost their names; whereas those on the coast remain
entire. In this manner, by Cæsarea of Palestine, and Azotus, they came
to Joppa. Here he was first congratulated on his kingdom, the citizens
with great joy opening the gates to him.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] DEFEAT OF THE TURKS.]

Being afterwards accompanied by the inhabitants of Joppa to Jerusalem,
where he was favourably received, he indulged in a repose of seven
days’ continuance. Then, that the Turks might be convinced that the
spirit of his reign would proceed to their signal disadvantage, he
led his troops towards Ascalon. When at a short distance from that
city, he proudly displayed his forces, and with very little exertion
compelled the attacking Ascalonites to retreat, by waiting a favourable
opportunity for accomplishing his designs. Finally, conceiving his
glory satisfied for that time by their repulse, he drew off to the
mountains to pursue the enemy, and also at their expense to procure
necessaries for his troops, who were famished with hunger from the
barrenness of the land: for a scanty harvest had that year denied
sustenance; deceiving the expectations of the province by a meagre
produce. He ascended therefore the mountainous districts, whither the
Turkish inhabitants of the country had retreated on leaving their
towns, concealing the Syrians with them in sequestered caverns. The
Franks, however, discovered a mode of counteracting the device of
the fugitives, by letting smoke into their hiding-places; by which
the miscreants were dislodged, and came out one by one. The Turks
were killed to a man; the Syrians spared. The army turning aside
thence, and marching towards Arabia, passed by the sepulchres of the
patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and of their three wives, Sarah,
Rebecca, and Leah. The place is in Hebron, thirteen miles distant from
Jerusalem. For the body of Joseph lies at Neapolis, formerly called
Sichem, covered with white marble, and conspicuous to every traveller;
there, too, are seen the tombs of his brothers, but of inferior
workmanship. The army then came into the valley where God formerly
overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, darting fire from heaven on the wicked.
The lake there extends for eighteen miles, incapable of supporting
any living creature, and so horrible to the palate, as to distort the
mouths of such as drink it, and distend their jaws with its bitter
taste. A hill overhangs the valley, emitting, in various places, a salt
scum, and all over transparent, as it were, with congealed glass. Here
is gathered what some call nitre; some call it crystal salt. Passing
the lake, they came to a very opulent town, abundant in those luscious
fruits which they call dates; in devouring which they were hardly able
to fill the cavities of the stomach, or constrain the greediness of
their palates, they were so extremely sweet. Every thing else had
been taken away, through the alarm of the inhabitants, except a few
Ethiopians, the dark wool of whose hair resembled smut. Our people,
thinking it beneath their valour to kill persons of this description,
treated them, not with indignation, but with laughter. Adjacent to
this town is a valley, where to this day is seen the rock which Moses
struck, to give water to the murmuring tribes. The stream yet runs
so plentifully, and with such a current, as to turn the machinery
of mills. On the declivity of the hill stands a church in honour of
the legislator Aaron: where, through the mediation and assistance of
his brother, he used to hold converse with God. Here learning from
guides conversant in the roads, who from Saracens had been converted
to Christianity, that from hence to Babylon was all barren country,
and destitute of every accommodation, they returned to Jerusalem,
to consecrate to God the first fruits of his reign, acquired in the
subjugation of so many hostile countries.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] BALDWIN’S CORONATION.]

The royal insignia being prepared, Baldwin was crowned with great
ceremony, in Bethlehem, on Christmas-day, by Daibert the patriarch;
all wishing him prosperity. For both at that time, and afterwards,
he deserved, by his own exertions, and obtained, through the favour
of others, every degree of royal respect, though sovereign of a very
small, and I had almost said, a despicable kingdom. Wherefore the
Christians ought to regard the mercy of our Lord Christ, and to walk
in the contemplation of his power, through whose assistance they were
objects of apprehension, though unable to do harm. For there were
scarcely, in the whole service, four hundred horsemen and so many foot,
to garrison Jerusalem, Ramula, Caiphas, and Joppa. For those who came
thither by sea, with minds ill at ease, amid so many hostile ports,
after having adored the saints, determined to return home, as there
was no possibility of proceeding by land. Moreover, an additional
difficulty was, that in the month of March Tancred had departed to
assume the government of Antioch, nor could he or the king aid each
other from the length of the journey: indeed, should necessity require
it, he could not, without fear of irreparable loss, march his troops
from one town to another. I pronounce it therefore to be a manifest
miracle, that safe alone, through God’s protection, he was an object of
dread to such a multitude of barbarians.

In this year, which was A.D. 1101, the sacred fire,[440] which used
to signalize the Vigil of Easter, delayed its appearance longer than
usual. For on the Saturday, the lessons being read, alternately in
Greek and Latin, the “Kyrie eleeson”[441] repeated thrice and the
melody of the clarions resounding, still when no fire appeared, and
the setting sun induced the evening and led on the night, then all
departed sorrowful to their homes. It had been determined, after mature
deliberation, that on that night no person should remain in the church
of the Holy Sepulchre, for fear any one of infected conscience should
irritate God still more through his irreverent intrusion. But when
the twilight was proceeding into day, a procession of the Latins was
ordered to go to the Temple of Solomon, that by prayer they might call
down the mercy of God: the same was performed around the Sepulchre
of our Lord, by the Syrians plucking their beards and hair through
violence of grief. The mercy of God could endure no longer, light being
instantly sent into one lamp of the Sepulchre. Which, when a Syrian
perceived glittering through a window, he expressed his joy by the
clapping of his hands, and accelerated the advance of the patriarch.
He, opening the recess of the sepulchral chamber by the keys which he
carried, and lighting a taper, brought forth the celestial gift,[442]
imparting it to all who crowded round him for that purpose; afterwards
the whole of the lamps, throughout the church, were divinely lighted
up, the one which was next to be illumined evincing its approaching
ignition by emitting smoke in a miraculous manner. Thus, doubtless, the
constant manner of Christ has been to terrify those he loved that he
might again kindly soothe them, and that the dread of his power might
redound to his praise. For since even the common gifts of God are
lightly esteemed by men merely from their constant recurrence, he often
enhances the grant of his indulgences by withholding them, that what
was most ardently desired might be more gratefully regarded.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1102.] SIEGE OF CÆSAREA.]

At that time a fleet of Genoese and Pisans had touched at Laodicea,
and thence made a prosperous voyage to Joppa, and the crews, drawing
their vessels on shore, spent Easter with the king at Jerusalem. He,
bargaining for their services, engaged to give them the third of the
spoil of each city they should take, and any particular street they
might choose. Thus he impelled them, inconsiderate and blinded, more
through lust of gold than love of God, to barter their blood, and
lay siege immediately to Azotus, which they constrained to surrender
after three days. Nor did the townspeople yield very reluctantly,
as they feared the anger of the king should they be taken by storm:
for, the preceding year, assisted by the machination of fortune, they
had vigorously repulsed Godfrey when making a similar attempt. For,
indeed, when by means of scaling ladders he had advanced his forces
on the walls, and they, now nearly victorious, had gotten possession
of the parapet, the sudden fall of a wooden tower, which stood close
to the outside of the wall, deprived them of the victory and killed
many, while still more were taken and butchered by the cruelty of the
Saracens. Leaving Azotus, Baldwin laid siege to Cæsarea of Palestine,
with his whole force, and with determined courage; but perceiving the
resolution of its citizens and the difficulty of the enterprise, he
ordered engines to be constructed. Petraries[443] were therefore made,
and a great tower built of twenty cubits in height, surpassing the
altitude of the wall. Our people, however, impatient of delay and of
such lingering expectation, erecting their ladders and attempting to
overtop the wall, arrived at the summit by the energy of their efforts,
with conscious valour indignantly raging, that they had now been
occupied in conflict with the Saracens during fifteen days, and had
lost the whole of that time; and although the Cæsareans resisted with
extreme courage, and rolled down large stones on them as they ascended,
yet despising all danger, they broke through their opponents in a
close body, and fought with an outstretched arm, and a drawn sword.
The Turks, unable longer to sustain the attack and taking to flight,
either cast themselves down headlong, or fell by the hand of their
enemies. Many were reserved for slavery; a few for ransom. Among these
was the governor of the city, and a bishop named Arcadius. The scene
was enough to excite laughter in a by-stander, to see a Turk disgorging
bezants,[444] when struck on the neck by the fist of a Christian.
The wretched males, through fear of extreme indigence, had hid money
in their mouths; the females in parts not to be particularized: you
perceive that my narrative blushes to speak plainly, but the reader
understands what I wish, or rather what I wish not to speak.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1102.] DEFEAT OF THE SARACENS.]

Still, however, the emperor of Babylon could not be at rest, but would
frequently send commanders and armies to attack the Franks. Arriving
at Ascalon on ship-board, they scoured about Ramula, taking advantage
of the king’s occupation, who was then busied in the contest with
Cæsarea. They frequently, therefore, by depopulating the country,
irritated him to engage. But he, with equal subtlety, that their mad
impetuosity might subside, suffered them, when eagerly advancing, to
grow languid by declining battle. By this procrastination he effected
that many, weary of delay, withdrew, while he attacked the remainder,
consisting of eleven thousand horse and twenty-one thousand infantry,
with his own two hundred and fifty cavalry and less than seven hundred
foot. Addressing a few words to his soldiers, to whom he pledged
victory if they persevered, and fame if they fell; and calling to
their recollection that if they fled France was a great way off, he
dashed first against the enemy; and the contest continuing for some
time, when he saw his ranks giving way, he remedied circumstances which
seemed almost bordering on desperation. Thus dismaying the Turks by
his well-known appearance, he laid their leader prostrate with his
lance; on whose death the whole battalions fled. Our soldiers, who in
the onset were so hemmed in as to be unable to see each other, then
exercised their valour in such wise, under the ensign of the Holy Cross
which preceded them, that they killed five thousand. Eighty of the
cavalry and rather more of the infantry were slain on the side of the
Franks. However subsequent successes consoled them, as they despatched
five hundred Arabian horse. These had been traversing before Joppa
for two days, but effecting little, they were returning to Ascalon,
and seeing our troops at a distance, and, hoping they were their own,
were approaching to congratulate them on their victory. But at length
perceiving, by the weapons hurled against them, that they were Franks,
they turned pale and, to use the words of the poet,[445] became like
him who,

  “With unshod foot, had trod upon a snake.”

In consequence, enervated with astonishment, they exposed their backs
to their destroyers. Thus the king coming to Joppa, corrected, by a
true account, the falsity of the letter which had been sent to Tancred
by the people of that city, erroneously declaring that the king had
perished with his army. And, indeed, already had Tancred prepared for
his march to Jerusalem, when a messenger arriving, and showing the
royal signet, dispelled his sorrow, and restored his satisfaction.

It would be tedious, if I were to relate all his contests; to tell
how he subdued Tiberias, Sidon, Accaron, that is, Ptolemais, and,
ultimately, all the cities on the coast; or, how he distinguished
almost each day by the slaughter of the Turks, either through secret
attack or open warfare. The relation of his exploits requires the
exclusive labours of a man who abounds in pompous diction, and
undisturbed leisure: I have neither; and, what chiefly acts as an
obstacle, want clear information on the subject. For it is by no
means the part of an historian of veracity to give entire credit
to flattering reports, or to deceive the credulity of his readers.
Consequently, I shall only subjoin what I have found recorded, whereby
this man’s exalted devotion may be clearly proved, and his good report
live for ever. This I may be bold to assert, that he often, with an
inconsiderable force, engaged in mighty conflicts, and that he never
fled the field, except at Ramula and at Accaron. And indeed signal
victories ensued to each of these flights, because they proceeded more
from rash valour, than from fear; as the reader will discover from the
insertion of a few facts.

In the month of September, on the seventh before the ides of which the
battle aforesaid took place, William, earl of Poitou, proceeded towards
Jerusalem, leading with him troops estimated at sixty thousand horse
and still more foot. There accompanied him, Stephen, earl of Burgundy,
and Hugh de Lusignan, brother of earl Raymond, Hugh the Great, and
Stephen of Blois, anxious to atone for the disgrace of their former
desertion, by renovated and determined valour. Proceeding, therefore,
by Constantinople, after he had by an insolent answer, as I before
related, offended Alexius, he fell into the snares of Solyman; the
emperor rather procuring than preventing his disaster. For Solyman,
aware that the army was suffering from hunger and thirst, as they
had been wandering about the marshes and desolate places for several
days, encountered them with three hundred thousand archers. Never was
there conflict more disastrous to the Franks; as it was impossible
for flight to save the coward, or courage to rescue the bold from
danger: for the battle was fought in a confined situation, and nothing
could prevent the effect of clouds of arrows on men who were crowded
together. More than a hundred thousand were slain; and all the booty
carried off. Thus Solyman, obtaining splendid offerings to the manes
of his countrymen from the spoils of the Franks, revenged the loss of
Nice. But, as they had proceeded by many roads, all were not slain;
nor was every thing plundered. For, except the Poitevin, who lost
nearly whatever he possessed, the other earls had boldly defended
their baggage. All, therefore, except Hugh the Great, who died, and
was entombed in the city of Tarsus, collecting again their soldiers
after the flight, hastened to Antioch. Tancred, a knight of celebrated
kindness, gave them ample proof of his generosity; assisting them all,
as far as he was able, with money: but more especially William, whom
the inconstancy of Fortune had now as deeply depressed as she had
formerly highly exalted, who, in addition to the loss of treasure, by
which he was not so much affected as it was transitory and capable
of reparation, was left almost the sole survivor of so many valorous
soldiers. Proceeding on their march with renovated courage, they sought
every opportunity of giving battle. The city of Tortosa was the first
to feel their rage; by attacking and plundering which, they in some
degree compensated their former losses. Thence they came to the defile,
which I have mentioned above, where the king had long awaited them, in
order to give assistance in case the Turks should oppose their passage.
Defended by his valour, and meeting with kind entertainment at Joppa,
they proceeded the following Easter to Jerusalem, where they joyfully
beheld, and reverently adored the sacred fire. Returning afterwards to
Joppa, they took ship, each designing to revisit his native land. The
Poitevin, from the continued favour of the wind, reached home; the rest
were violently driven back.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] RAMULA BESIEGED.]

But now, in the beginning of May, the Turks and Arabs laid siege to
Ramula; recruiting the losses of their army in the former year, by
making up its original numbers. The bishop of the city, prudently
watching an opportunity, retired from the place and went secretly to
Joppa. Baldwin had already gone out, relying on a false assertion
that the enemy did not exceed five hundred; in consequence of which,
he neither put his forces in order, nor called out his infantry, the
trumpeters merely sounding for the cavalry to follow the king; though
his friends earnestly advised him, to be on his guard against the
subtlety of the Turks. The two Stephens, of Blois and of Burgundy,
followed the king on horseback, that, instead of being branded as
indolent and cowardly, they might return to their respective homes
partakers of the credit of the triumph: far different, however, from
their expectations, were the glory and the victory which the fates
were preparing for them. For Baldwin, perceiving the multitude of the
enemy and finding himself deceived in his opinion, filled with rage,
and fierce in conscious valour, hesitated what was to be done. If he
gave way, he contemplated the tarnish of his ancient glory; if he
fought, the destruction of his followers. Nevertheless, innate courage
prevailed, and fear had already yielded, when, swayed by the advice of
his comrades, he acquiesced in a plan of retiring, through the midst
of the enemy, into a castle. The rest, following with loud clamour,
broke through the thickest ranks, consecrating their souls to God, and
nobly avenging their deaths. The earls, too, so wearied with striking
that their hands grew stiff upon their swords, yielded to fate. The
king escaping to the fortress, had some few companions remaining out of
the two hundred he had led forth; who entreating that he would deign
to protract his life by flight, and observing that their danger was
of little consequence to the world, while his life was of advantage
to many, in as much as he would be an example of valour to every age,
by his singular constancy of mind though in adverse circumstances,
he esteemed himself worthy to live. Wherefore, accompanied by five
knights, he eluded his assailants, and escaped to the mountains. One
of the five was Robert the Englishman, as I said before; the others,
from the great distance, report has not brought to our knowledge:
he, with three more, was taken; the fifth escaped with the king. The
Turks vented the whole of their fury on those who had retired to the
castle, among whom was Hugh de Lusignan and Geoffrey de Vincennes: only
three survivors told their mournful tale to the people of Jerusalem.
The king, concealing himself during the day, and, at night, urging
his jaded courser through untrodden paths, arrived at Azotus, by the
singular and miraculous protection of God; as the Turks had but just
departed, after having been plundering around the city for the space
of two days. Coming thence by sea to Joppa, he despatched an account
of the certainty of his being still living to the people of Jerusalem.
The bearer of the epistle was a low Syrian fellow, who, even had he
been discovered, would have deceived the enemy, from the meanness of
his garb, and his using the common language of the country. Escaping
the hands of the infidels by lone paths with which he was acquainted,
he arrived the third day at Jerusalem. Upon this the cavalry who
garrisoned the city, taking with them the bands of auxiliary infantry,
and purposing to proceed to Joppa, took a route close to the sea;
avoiding the inland districts. The rear, however, of the party, were
cut off, by the Turks pressing on them; as they were left unprotected
either by horse or foot. Thus collecting ninety horse from Jerusalem,
and eighty from Tiberias, which Hugh, that most intrepid commander, had
brought to their assistance, the attendants also, through necessity,
were advanced to the rank of knights. The battle was delayed only
till the next day, the Turks being now so ferocious as to prepare
their engines, and to meditate an attack on the walls of Joppa. This
was prevented by the activity of Baldwin, and by the cross of Christ
preceding them, which had been wanting in the former battle. They then,
with all the force of the kingdom, rushed eagerly on the enemy, and the
contest was fierce: but they, after their usual custom, surrounding
our troops, thought they had completely overcome the Christians, and
shouted with cheerful cry: but the Lord Jesus was present; who, at
length looked down from heaven, and showering courage on the Franks,
put the enemy, driven from the field, to flight. It had happened in the
preceding action, that, though frequently driven from their tents, they
afterwards conquered through their numbers; but now, as the infantry
wounded them from a distance with their arrows, and the cavalry close
at hand with their lances, they placed all their hopes in swiftness,
and continued their flight.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1113.] BALDWIN’S MARRIAGE.]

He fought another battle in later years, in which our soldiers,
pressed by the numbers of the Turks and compelled to fly, lost even
their protecting standard. But after they had fled some distance they
rallied; shame animating the timid to repel such ignominy. Then indeed
the contest was strenuous; fighting foot to foot, and breast to breast.
Our party recovered the cross, routing the enemy, and regaining the
field. Many fell here with whom I had been acquainted; among these was
Godfrey, Baldwin’s bastard-grand-nephew, who, from a boy, manifested
valour in his countenance and truth in his soul. In the beginning,
indeed, both retreats, as it may be said, were the source of ignominy;
but, in the end, true food for glory; the one more celebrated, the
other more advantageous. Finally, to repair his losses, and also to be
united with him in marriage, the countess of Sicily came shortly after
to Jerusalem, pouring such treasures into the royal palace, that it was
matter of surprise, whence a woman could accumulate such endless heaps
of precious utensils:[446] and at this time, indeed, he received her
to his bed, but shortly after he put her away. It is said that she was
afflicted with a cancerous complaint, which preyed upon her womb.[447]
This, however, is well known, that the king had no issue; nor is it
wonderful, that a man, to whom leisure was burdensome, should be averse
to the embraces of a wife, as he passed all his time in war. By these
exertions he effected, that his admirable and nearly godlike valour
should operate as an incitement to the present race, and be matter of
astonishment to posterity. He died, during an expedition into Arabia,
in the month of April, and was publicly buried at Jerusalem, near his
brother, as the fourth month was adding to the seventeenth year of his
reign. He was a man who gained his reputation by repeated labours, and
on whose fame envy hath cast no shade, except it be, that he was too
sparing of his money; though there is a ready and well-founded excuse
for such a fault, if it be considered, that the necessary largesses to
such as remained with him, prevented him from purchasing the favour of
those who departed.

He was succeeded by his kinsman, Baldwin, prince of Edessa, already
celebrated for his former campaigns, whom he had, when dying, named as
king. He bravely defended the kingdom for many years, and augmented it
with the sovereignty of Antioch, which he obtained when Roger,[448] the
son of Richard, was killed. He governed both countries with laudable
conduct; with less presumptuous haughtiness, perhaps, but with great
and consummate prudence, though there are some who wound his fair fame,
accusing him of excessive parsimony. Wherefore, last year, when the
Turks had taken him, while riding a short distance from Jerusalem, his
people grieved but little for him, and for nearly a year it remained
unknown, both to subjects and even to tale-bearers, whither he was
taken, or whether or not he breathed the vital air. However, the people
of Jerusalem, nothing discouraged on account of his absence, refused
either to elect a king or to discontinue the order or command of the
soldiers, till the certainty of the matter could be known. At last, the
place where he lay captive being discovered, some knights of surpassing
boldness, assuming the guise of merchants, and hiding weapons beneath
their garments, entered the town, and rescued the king from jeopardy;
protesting, that they did not act thus through respect for his
niggardliness, but out of gratitude to Gozelin of Turbexhel,[449] who
never hesitated to bestow all he possibly could upon the military.
He has now lived long, a provident man, and subject to no other
imputation.[450] The principality of Antioch pertains to the son of
Boamund, of whom I proceed to speak.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1123.] BOAMUND.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1123.] BOAMUND’S MARRIAGE.]

Boamund[451] was the son of Robert Guiscard by a Norman woman; he had
another son named Roger, born of an Apulian, who was, by his father,
surnamed “Purse,” because his paternal and attentive observation had
discovered, that, from a mere child, he had pleasure in counting money.
As to Boamund, who was somewhat older, he never could retain anything,
but even gave away his childish presents. Roger, therefore, received
Apulia, which seemed to belong to him in right of his mother: Boamund
went with his father to the Durazzian war. And when the townspeople,
through confidence of their walls, boasted, that the city was called
Durachium,[452] because it could endure all sieges undismayed; and “I,”
said Guiscard, “am called Durandus; and I will endure in besieging,
until I take away the name from the city; so that, henceforth it shall
no longer be called Durachium, but Mollucium.” The firmness of this
answer so terrified them, that they immediately opened their gates.
Thus, secure in his rear, he subdued, with the less difficulty, the
other cities as far as Thessalonica. He had now arrived there, and had
already, both by himself and by his son, taught Alexius that he might
be overcome, when, beguiled by the treachery of his wife, he failed,
by death, of a noble enterprise. Boamund, then, returning to Apulia,
possessed some castles through his brother’s indulgence, and acquired
many others by his own courage and prudence. Indeed the dukedom had
fallen to his brother only in appearance; all the most warlike spirits
following him. Nor was this of light importance: for, observant of his
father’s purpose, he was averse to Guibert, and strongly espoused the
cause of Urban; urging him, when hesitating, to proceed into France
to the council of Clermont, whither the letters of Raymond earl of
Provence, and of the bishop of Chorges, invited him. The council being
ended, he readily embraced the opportunity, and transported his forces
into Greece; and thence moving forward his army, he quietly awaited
Raymond and Godfrey. Joining them on their arrival, he possessed great
influence from his military skill and from his courage, which was
never surpassed. But, as what he performed in company with others,
only entitles him to a share in the general praise; and my former
narrative has related how he had been taken prisoner; it may be proper
to mention in what manner he rescued himself from captivity. When
Danisman perceived that no advantage resulted to him, from detaining
so great a man in confinement, he changed his intentions, and began
sedulously to treat of terms of peace; for he was neither inclined
to put him to death, lest he should excite the fierce hatred of the
Christians against himself; nor would he set him at liberty,[453]
without the hope of a lasting peace. Boamund, therefore, promising the
infidel perpetual amity, returned to Antioch, bringing with him the
silver fetters with which he had been confined; and being favourably
received by his people, he took possession of Laodicea, and the other
cities which Tancred, lest he should have been thought slumbering in
indolence, whilst his uncle was sighing in prison, had acquired during
his captivity. Not long after he came into France, offering up, in
honour of St. Leonard, the chains with which he had been burdened;
for this saint[454] is said to be so especially powerful in loosing
fetters, that the captive may freely carry away his chains, even in
the sight of his enemies, who dare not mutter a syllable. He then
married one of the daughters of the king of France, and sending another
to Tancred, went to Apulia, followed by the French nobility, who
deserted their country in hope of greater advantages, as well as to be
eye-witnesses of what could be effected by that energetic valour, which
was so universally extolled by fame. Wherefore arranging his affairs
in Apulia, he again burst forth against Alexius; alleging as a cause
of attacking him, his cruelty to the crusaders, for which he was very
noted. But being deceived by the subtlety of the emperor, who alienated
his commanders from him by bribery, or took them off by poison, he had
little or no success. Dejected at this, he returned to Apulia, where,
in a few days, while purposing to proceed to Antioch, he died, not an
old man, yet equal to any in prudence, leaving a son of tender age.
He was a man firm in adversity, and circumspect in prosperity; for he
had even provided himself an antidote, when apprehensive of poison. It
was a knife, which, placed before him when eating, strange to tell,
indicated, by the moistness of its handle, whenever poison was brought
into the apartment. After him Tancred presided over Antioch; a nephew
worthy of such an uncle. Tancred was removed from this world by an
early death, and Roger the son of Richard succeeded. Though rivalling
the fame of his predecessors in battle, yet he incurred the disgrace
of being avaricious. In consequence of this, when the soldiery avoided
him, he engaged the Turks with a trifling stipendiary, and a small
native force, and fell nobly revenging his death: for being taken by
them, stripped of his armour, and commanded to yield up his sword; he
refused to deliver it to any but the commander, as he considered all
present unworthy to receive the surrender of so dignified a character.
The unhappy chief gave credit to his specious words, and taking off
his helmet, stretched out his hand to receive Roger’s sword. When,
indignant, and mustering all his remaining powers for the effort, he
cut off the Turk’s head, and being immediately stabbed, escaped the
disgrace of slavery by the act his courage had suggested. Baldwin the
second, king of Jerusalem, revenging his death in a signal manner,
faithfully reserved the dominion of the city, and his daughter, for
Boamund the son of Boamund.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] RAYMOND, EARL OF TOULOUSE.]

Raymond was the son of the most noble William,[455] earl of Toulouse,
who, being a man of enterprise and ability, rendered his country,
which had been obscured through the indolence of his predecessors,
illustrious by his own good qualities. His wife Almodis was repeatedly
married to different persons, and had a numerous issue by them all; a
woman of such sad, unbridled lewdness, that, when one husband became
disgusting to her from long intercourse, she would depart and take up
her abode with another: to sum up all, she had been first united to the
earl of Arles; presently, becoming weary of him, she connected herself
with William; and then after bearing him two sons, she lured the earl
of Barcelona to marry her. Moreover, William, when at the point of
death, gave to his son of his own name but not of his own disposition,
the county of Toulouse, because, though he was of slender talents, the
people of Toulouse would attempt no innovation against him, as they
were accustomed to the government of his family. But Raymond, who was
of brighter abilities, received Chorges, and increased it wonderfully
by the addition of Arles, Narbonne, Provence, and Limoges. Again, he
purchased Toulouse of his brother who went to Jerusalem many years
previous to the grand crusade; but these things were achieved by a
considerable lapse of time, and a life expended on the labour. Thus,
ever engaged in war, he had no desire for a legitimate wife, enjoying
himself in unrestrained concubinage. Finally, he condescended to honour
with his adoption and inheritance, Bertrand, his son by one of his
mistresses, as he, in some respects, resembled his father. To this
son he married the niece[456] of Matilda the marchioness, a native of
Lombardy, that by such affinity he might secure his possessions on
that side. In the latter part of his life, too, he himself espoused
the daughter of the king of Tarragona, covenanting for a noble dowry;
namely, the perpetual peace of the adjacent provinces. Soon after this,
on contemplating his grey hairs, he made a vow to go to Jerusalem,
that his bodily powers, though decayed and feeble, might still, though
late, enter into the service of God. The chief promoter of this was
the bishop of Chorges, by whose especial exertions he had always
been thwarted, and in one contest, had even lost an eye, which mark
of deformity, so far from concealing, he was ever anxious to show,
boasting of it as a proof of his gallantry. But now, leagued in mutual
friendship, that they might employ their old age in religious services,
they stimulated Urban, already inclined to preach the crusade, to
pass the Alps and summon a council at Clermont, more especially as it
was a city adjacent to their territories, and convenient for persons
coming from every part of France. The bishop, however, died on his
way to the council. To his influence succeeded the bishop of Puy, of
whom we have before spoken: animated by whose advice, and protected by
whose assistance, Raymond was the first layman who assumed the cross;
making this addition to his vow, “that he would never return to his
country, but endeavour to lessen the weight of his past offences by
perpetual exertion against the Turks.” He had already given many proofs
of his prowess on the way,--the first to labour and the last to rest;
many also of forbearance, as he readily relinquished those places he
had first occupied at Antioch to Boamund, and the tower of David to
Godfrey. But at length, his patience being worn out by the unreasonable
demands of certain persons, he departed from his usual practice on
the subject of the surrender of Ascalon. For, on the first arrival of
the Franks, the townspeople, examining the disposition of our several
commanders, made choice of him for their patron; because many men, who
had come thither before by sea, from Montpelier to trade, had extolled
his sincerity and courage to the skies. In consequence, they delivered
to him their keys, and compelled him to make oath that he would never
give up the command of the city to any other of the Christians, should
he himself be either unwilling or unable to retain it. A murmuring then
arose among the chiefs, who required the surrender of the city to the
king; saying that his kingdom was of little value, unless he could hold
Ascalon, which would be a receptacle for the enemy and an obstacle to
our party. The king, indeed, set forth the matter mildly, as he did
everything else, with a placid countenance consistent with his manners;
the others rather more violently. However, he paid little attention to
their words, obviating their allegations by very substantial reasons;
saying that all his associates had secured a place of retreat; part
of them had returned home; part were occupying the provinces they had
acquired; that he alone, having abjured his native country, could
neither return thither, nor did he possess a place of refuge here;
that he had yielded in other points, but they must allow him to retain
Ascalon, under fealty to the Holy Sepulchre, as he had taken an oath
not to give it up. On hearing this, all began to clamour, and to call
him interested and faithless; indeed they could scarcely abstain from
laying hands on him. The earl, indignant at this reproach, failed in
the duty of a just and upright man, delivering the keys to the enemies
of God, and compensating the fear of perjury by the blood of many a man
in after time; for to this day that city has never been taken either by
force or by stratagem.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1099.] TANCRED’S DEATH.]

Moreover, many of his people, delighted with the unbounded affluence
of the place, obtained the friendship of its citizens by denying
their faith. Thus leaving Jerusalem, he came to Laodicea, and having
subdued it, continued there some little time. Afterwards, when he
had gone to Constantinople, Tancred obtained Laodicea, though it is
dubious whether by force or favour. In the meantime, remaining at
Byzantium, he contrived by his consummate prudence to insinuate himself
into the favour of Alexius. Whence it happened, that, through the
kindness of the emperor, getting a safe passage, he escaped sharing
those calamities which, as we have before related, befell William of
Poitou and the others; with whom he took the city of Tortosa, and,
when the rest proceeded onwards, retained possession of it. To extend
his power, he fortified a town over against Tripoli, called Pilgrim’s
Castle, where he appointed abbat Herbert, bishop. And that the
shattered strength of his followers might recruit by repose, he made a
seven years’ league with the Tripolitans. Nevertheless, ere the time
appointed, the peace was broken, on account of a certain townsman being
found within the castle, with a poisoned dagger concealed beneath his
garments. And now truly would he have put the finishing hand to the
conquest of Tripoli, had not death, approaching almost immediately,
bereft his vital spirit, big with great achievements. On learning his
decease, William of Montpelier, and the other chiefs of the province,
provided that William the Pilgrim, scarcely four years of age, whom he
had begotten on a Spanish woman during the siege, should be conveyed
home, to be educated for the succession, with the anxious wishes of
all. Nor did Bertrand hear of this transaction with displeasure,
although he had never been consulted, as it enabled him to renew his
father’s fame. Wherefore, heading a vast army, and chiefly supported
by the Genoese and Pisans, who were allied to his wife, he attacked
Tripoli by sea and land, and when exhausted by a protracted siege,
reduced it to his dominion. To him succeeded Pontius, his son by the
Lombard; a youth who rivalled the glory of his ancestors, and who
obtained in marriage the relict of Tancred, formerly prince of Antioch.
This, when dying, he had commanded; affirming, that, the youth would
grow up a benefit to the Christians, and an utter destruction to the
Turks. Pontius therefore reigns at Tripoli, professing himself the
servant of the Holy Sepulchre; in this respect following the example of
his grandfather and father.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1105.] FLIGHT OF THE TURKS.]

Robert, son of William the first king of England, was born in Normandy,
and already considered as a youth of excellent courage, when his
father came to England: of tried prowess, though of small stature and
projecting belly. He passed his early years amid the warlike troops of
his father, obedient to him in every respect: but in the vigorous heat
of youth, led by the suggestions of his idle companions, he supposed
he could obtain Normandy from the king, during his lifetime. But when
William refused this, and drove away the youth by the blustering of
his terrific voice, Robert departed indignantly, and harassed his
country by perpetual attacks. His father laughed at first, and then
added, “By the resurrection of God, this little Robin Short-boot will
be a clever fellow;” for such was his appellation, from his small
stature; though there was nothing else to find fault with; as he was
neither ill-made, nor deficient in eloquence, nor was he wanting in
courage or resources of mind. At length, however, the king was so
transported with anger, that he denied him his last blessing and the
inheritance of England; and it was with difficulty, and disgrace, that
he could retain even Normandy. After nine years he gave proof of his
manhood in the labours of the crusade, and in many instances appeared
wonderful, as neither Christian nor pagan could ever unhorse him: but
more especially in the battle of Antioch, where he graced the victory
by a singular achievement. For when the Turks, as we have related, were
suddenly dismayed and fled, and our party vehemently attacked them
in disorder, Corbanach, their leader, mindful of his native valour,
checked his horse, and rallied his people; calling them base slaves,
and forgetful of their ancient conquests, in suffering themselves, the
former conquerors of the east, to be driven from their territories by
a strange, and almost unarmed people. At this reproach, many, resuming
their courage, wheeled round, attacked the Franks, and compelled the
nearest to give way, while Corbanach continued to animate his men, and
to assault the enemy; nobly fulfilling his duty, both as a commander
and a soldier. But now the Norman earl and Philip the clerk, son of
Roger, earl of Montgomery, and Warin de Taney, a castle so named in
Maine, who had before made a feint of retreating, exhorting each other
with mutual spirit, turned round their horses, and each attacking his
man, threw them to the ground. Here Corbanach, though he knew the earl,
yet estimating him merely by his size, and thinking it inglorious to
fly, atoned for the boldness of attacking him, by a speedy exit; being
instantly deprived of life. The Turks, who were already clamouring
with boastful joy, on seeing his fall, now lost their lately-acquired
hopes, and redoubled their flight. In this contest Warin fell: Robert,
with Philip, gained the victory. The latter, who acquired renown by
this service, but afterwards, as they report, closed an honourable
career at Jerusalem, was celebrated for his learning as well as his
military prowess. Robert, thus coming to Jerusalem, tarnished his glory
by an indelible stain, in refusing a kingdom,[457] offered to him, as
a king’s son, by the consent of all; and this, as it is asserted, not
through awe of its dignity, but through the fear of endless labour.
However, returning home, where he had reckoned on giving himself up to
the full indulgence of sensual pleasure, God mercifully visited him,
as I believe, for this transgression; every where thwarting him, and
turning all his enjoyments into bitterness; as will be manifested by
the sequel.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1105.] STATE OF NORMANDY.]

His wife, the daughter of William de Conversano, whom he had married in
Apulia on his return, and whose surpassing beauty, all endeavours to
describe are vain, died after a few years, by disease;[458] misled, as
it is said, by the advice of the midwife, who had ordered her breasts,
when in childbed, to be bound with a tight bandage, on account of the
copious flow of her milk. A great consolation, however, in this extreme
distress, was a son by his consort; who, called William by presage
of his grandfather’s name, gave hope of noble talents hereafter.
The immense sum which his father-in-law had given him, under the
appellation of dowry, that he might with it redeem Normandy,[459] he
lavished so profusely on buffoons, and worthless people, that, in a few
days, he was pennyless. He accelerated his disgrace by his ill-advised
arrival in England, to wrest the kingdom from his brother Henry; but,
failing of the assistance of the traitors who had invited him, he
easily yielded to his brother’s terms of peace: which, by the agreement
of the chiefs of either party, were, that, he should receive an annual
present of three thousand marks from England. These were mere words:
for the king had promised this without any design of fulfilling it;
but, aware of his brother’s easiness, had deluded his soft credulity,
till his warlike passion should subside. And he, too, as if contending
with fortune whether she should give or he squander most, discovering
the mere wish of the queen, silently intreating it, kindly forgave the
payment of this immense sum for ever; thinking it a very great matter,
that female pride should condescend to ask a favour; for he was her
godfather. Moreover he forgot offences, and forgave faults beyond what
he ought to have done: he answered all who applied to him, exactly as
they wished; and that he might not dismiss them in sadness, promised
to give what was out of his power. By this suavity of disposition,
with which he ought to have acquired the commendations and the love
of his subjects, he so excited the contempt of the Normans, that
they considered him as of no consequence whatever. For then, all the
nobility falling at variance, plunder was universal, and the commonalty
were pillaged. Although the inhabitants laid their injuries before the
earl, they gained no kind of redress; for though incensed at first, yet
his anger was soon appeased, either by a trifling present, or the lapse
of time. Roused, however, by the extremity of their distresses, they
determined to implore the assistance of king Henry to their suffering
country. Henry, according to Cæsar’s axiom,[460] “That if justice is
ever to be violated, it ought to be violated in favour of the citizens,
and that you may be observant of duty in other points,” transported his
forces several times into Normandy to succour expiring justice, and
at last was successful enough to subjugate the whole country, with the
exception of Rouen, Falaise, and Caen. Robert was now reduced so low,
as to wander, hardly to be recognised, through these towns, obtaining
a precarious subsistence from the inhabitants. Disgusted at this,
the people of Caen did not long regard their fidelity, but sending
messengers to the king, they closed the gates of their city, with locks
and bolts. Robert learning this, and wishing to escape, was hardly
allowed to depart; his attendant, with the furniture of his chamber,
being detained. Thence flying to Rouen, he had a conference with his
lord, the king of France, and his relation, the earl of Flanders,
on the subject of assistance; but obtaining none, he determined, as
his last resource, to risk a general action. In which, through the
persecution of fate, being taken prisoner, he was kept, by the laudable
affection of his brother, in free custody till the day of his death;
for he endured no evil but solitude, if that can be called solitude
where, by the attention of his keepers, he was provided with abundance
both of amusement and of food. He was confined, however, till he had
survived all his companions in the Crusade, nor was he liberated to
the day of his death.[461] He was so eloquent in his native tongue,
that none could be more pleasant; in other men’s affairs, no counsellor
was more excellent; in military skill equal to any; yet, through the
easiness of his disposition, was he ever esteemed unfit to have the
management of the state. But since I have already said all that I knew
of Hugh the Great, and of the earls of Blois and of Flanders, I think I
may, very properly here conclude my Fourth Book.



Summoned by the progress of events, we have entered on the times of
king Henry; to transmit whose actions to posterity, requires an abler
hand than ours. For, were only those particulars recorded which have
reached our knowledge, they would weary the most eloquent, and might
overload a library. Who, then, will attempt to unfold in detail all
his profound counsels, all his royal achievements? These are matters
too deep for me, and require more leisure than I possess. Scarcely
Cicero himself, whose eloquence is venerated by all the Western world,
would attempt it in prose; and in verse, not even a rival of the
Mantuan Bard. In addition to this, it is to be observed, that while I,
who am a man of retired habits, and far from the secrets of a court,
withhold my assent from doubtful relators, being ignorant of his
greater achievements, I touch only on a few events. Wherefore, it is
to be feared, that where my information falls beneath my wishes, the
hero, whose numerous exploits I omit, may appear to suffer. However,
for this, if it be a fault, I shall have a good excuse with him who
shall recollect that I could not be acquainted with the whole of his
transactions, nor ought I to relate even all that I did know. The
insignificance of my condition effects the one; the disgust of my
readers would be excited by the other. This fifth book, then, will
display some few of his deeds, while fame, no doubt, will blazon
the rest, and lasting memory transmit them to posterity. Nor will
it deviate from the design of the preceding four, but particularise
some things which happened during his time here and elsewhere, which
perchance are either unrecorded, or unknown to many: they will occupy,
indeed, a considerable portion of the volume, while I must claim the
usual indulgence for long digressions, as well in this as in the

_Of Henry the First._ [A.D. 1100-1129.]

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1100.] HENRY I.]

Henry, the youngest son of William the Great, was born in England[462]
the third year after his father’s arrival; a child, even at that
time, fondly cherished by the joint good wishes of all, as being
the only one of William’s sons born in royalty, and to whom the
kingdom seemed to pertain. The early years of instruction he passed
in liberal arts, and so thoroughly imbibed the sweets of learning,
that no warlike commotions, no pressure of business, could ever erase
them from his noble mind: although he neither read much openly, nor
displayed his attainments except sparingly. His learning, however, to
speak the truth, though obtained by snatches, assisted him much in
the science of governing; according to that saying of Plato, “Happy
would be the commonwealth, if philosophers governed, or kings would
be philosophers.” Not slenderly tinctured by philosophy, then, by
degrees, in process of time, he learned how to restrain the people with
lenity; nor did he ever suffer his soldiers to engage but where he saw
a pressing emergency. In this manner, by learning, he trained his early
years to the hope of the kingdom; and often in his father’s hearing
made use of the proverb, that “An illiterate king is a crowned ass.”
They relate, too, that his father, observing his disposition, never
omitted any means of cherishing his lively prudence; and that once,
when he had been ill-used by one of his brothers, and was in tears, he
spirited him up, by saying, “Weep not, my boy, you too will be a king.”

In the twenty-first year,[463] then, of his father’s reign, when he
was nineteen years of age, he was knighted by him at Westminster
during Pentecost; and then accompanying him to Normandy, was, shortly
after, present at his funeral; the other brothers departing whither
their hopes led them, as my former narrative has related. Wherefore,
supported by the blessing of his father, together with his maternal
inheritance and immense treasures, he paid little regard to the
haughtiness of his brothers; assisting or opposing each of them as
they merited. More attached, however, to Robert for his mildness, he
took every means of stimulating his remissness by his own spirit.
Robert, on the other hand, through blameable credulity, trusting to
tale-bearers, injured his innocent brother in a way which it may not be
irrelevant briefly to relate.

At the time when the nobility of England were rebelling against
William the Second, while Robert was waiting a wind to sail over from
Normandy, Henry had, by his command, departed into Brittany; when,
eagerly seizing the opportunity, he expended on his troops all the
large sum of money, amounting to three thousand marks, which had been
bequeathed to the young man by the will of his father. Henry, on his
return, though perhaps he endured this with difficulty, yet observed a
cautious silence on the subject. However, hearing of the restoration
of peace in England, the service was ended, and they laid aside their
arms. The earl retired to his own territories: Henry to those which his
brother had either given, or promised to give him. Indeed he placed
his promises to account, retaining the tower of Rouen under fealty
to Robert. But, by the accusation of some very infamous persons, his
fidelity proved disadvantageous to him; and for no fault on his part,
Henry was, in this very place, detained in free custody, lest he should
escape the vigilance of his keepers. Released at the expiration of
half a year, on the invitation of his brother William he offered him
his services; but he, remunerating the young man no better, put him
off, though in distress, with empty promises for more than a year.
Wherefore, Robert, by his messengers, offering reparation for what had
been done, he came to Normandy; having experienced attempts on his
person from each of his brothers. For the king, angry at his departure,
had in vain commanded him to be detained: and the earl, swayed by the
arts of his accusers, had changed his intention; so that, when lured to
him by soothing measures, he would not easily suffer him to depart. But
he, escaping every danger by the providence of God and his own prudent
caution, compelled his brother gladly to accede to peace, by seizing
Avranches and some other castles. Soon after, William coming into
Normandy to revenge himself on his brother Robert, Henry manifested
his regard to the earl at Rouen. Finally, the king’s party coming
thither in the day time, he spiritedly expelled them, when already,
through the treachery of the citizens, they had over-run the whole
city; sending a message to the earl, to oppose them in front, while he
pressed upon their rear. In consequence of this transaction, one Conan
was accused of treachery to the earl; who designed to cast him into
chains: supposing that no greater calamity could be inflicted on the
wretch, than dooming him to drag out a hated existence in prison. But
Henry requested to have this Conan committed to his care; which being
granted, he led him to the top of the tower at Rouen, and ordering
him carefully to survey the surrounding territory from the heights
of the citadel, ironically declaring it should all be his, he thrust
him suddenly off the ramparts into the Seine below; protesting to his
companions, who at the same time assisted him, that no respite was due
to a traitor; that the injuries of a stranger might be endured in some
manner or other; but that the punishment of a man who with an oath had
done homage, when once convicted of perfidy, never should be deferred.
This action weighed little with Robert, who was a man of changeable
disposition, for he immediately became ungrateful, and compelled his
deserving brother to retire from the city. This was the period in
which, as has been before mentioned, Henry, as well for his security as
for his fame, made a stand against both Robert and William at Mount St.
Michael’s. Thus, though he had been faithful and serviceable to either
brother, they, vouchsafing no establishment to the young man, trained
him up, as he grew in years, to greater prudence, from the scantiness
of his means.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1091.] HENRY ELECTED KING.]

But on the violent death of king William, as before related, after the
solemnization of the royal funeral, he was elected king; though some
trifling dissensions had first arisen among the nobility which were
allayed chiefly through the exertions of Henry earl of Warwick, a man
of unblemished integrity, with whom he had long been in the strictest
intimacy. He immediately promulgated an edict throughout England,
annulling the illegal ordinances[464] of his brother, and of Ranulph;
he remitted taxes; released prisoners; drove the flagitious from court;
restored the nightly use of lights within the palace, which had been
omitted in his brother’s time;[465] and renewed the operation of the
ancient laws,[466] confirming them with his own oath, and that of the
nobility, that they might not be eluded. A joyful day then seemed to
dawn on the people, when the light of fair promise shone forth after
such repeated clouds of distress. And that nothing might be wanting to
the aggregate of happiness, Ranulf, the dregs of iniquity, was cast
into the gloom of a prison, and speedy messengers were despatched
to recall Anselm. Wherefore, all vying in joyous acclamation, Henry
was crowned king at London, on the nones of August, four days after
his brother’s death. These acts were the more sedulously performed,
lest the nobility should be induced to repent their choice; as a
rumour prevailed, that Robert earl of Normandy, returning from
Apulia, was just on the point of arriving. Soon after, his friends,
and particularly the bishops, persuading him to give up meretricious
pleasures and adopt legitimate wedlock, he married, on St. Martin’s
day, Matilda,[467] daughter of Malcolm king of Scotland, to whom he
had long been greatly attached; little regarding the marriage portion,
provided he could possess her whom he so ardently desired. For though
she was of noble descent, being grand-niece of king Edward, by his
brother Edmund, yet she possessed but little fortune, being an orphan,
destitute of either parent; of whom there will be more ample matter of
relation hereafter.

In the meantime, Robert, arriving in Normandy, recovered his earldom
without any opposition; on hearing which, almost all the nobility of
this country violated the fealty which they had sworn to the king: some
without any cause; some feigning slight pretences, because he would
not readily give them such lands as they coveted. Robert Fitz-Haymon,
and Richard de Rivers, and Roger Bigod, and Robert earl of Mellent,
with his brother Henry, alone declared on the side of justice. But all
the others either secretly sent for Robert to make him king, or openly
branded their lord with sarcasms; calling him, Godric,[468] and his
consort, Goddiva. Henry heard these taunts, and, with a terrific grin,
deferring his anger, he repressed the contemptuous expressions cast
on him by the madness of fools, by a studied silence; for he was a
calm dissembler of his enmities, but, in due season, avenged them with
fierceness. This tempest of the times was increased by the subtlety
of Ranulf. For, concerting with his butler, he procured a rope to be
sent him. The deceitful servant, who was water-bearer, carried him a
very long one in a cask; by which he descended from the wall of the
tower, but whether he hurt his arms, or grazed the skin off his hands,
is a matter of no importance.[469] Escaping thence to Normandy, he
stimulated the earl, already indignant and ripe for war, to come to
England without a moment’s delay.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1101.] ROBERT LANDS AT PORTSMOUTH.]

In the second year, then, of Henry’s reign, in the month of August,
arriving at Portsmouth, he landed, divided and posted his forces
over the whole district. Nor did the king give way to indolence, but
collected an innumerable army over against him, to assert his dignity,
should it be necessary. For, though the nobility deserted him, yet
was his party strong; being espoused by archbishop Anselm, with his
brother bishops, and all the English. In consequence, grateful to
the inhabitants for their fidelity, and anxious for their safety, he
frequently went through the ranks, instructing them how to elude the
ferocity of the cavalry by opposing their shields, and how to return
their strokes. By this he made them voluntarily demand the fight,
perfectly fearless of the Normans. Men, however, of sounder counsel
interfering, who observed, that the laws of natural affection must be
violated should brothers meet in battle, they shaped their minds to
peace; reflecting, that, if one fell, the other would be the weaker, as
there was no surviving brother. Besides, a promise of three thousand
marks deceived the easy credulity of the earl; who imagined that,
when he had disbanded his army, he might gratify his inclinations with
such an immense sum of money: which, the very next year, he cheerfully
surrendered to the queen’s pleasure, because she desired it.

The following year Robert de Belesme, eldest son of Roger de
Montgomery, rebelled, fortifying the castles of Bridgenorth and Arundel
against the king; carrying thither corn from all the district round
Shrewsbury, and every necessary which war requires. The castle of
Shrewsbury, too, joined the rebellion, the Welsh being inclined to
evil on every occasion. In consequence, the king, firm in mind and
bearing down every adverse circumstance by valour, collecting an army,
laid siege to Bridgenorth, from whence Robert had already retired to
Arundel; presuming from the plenty of provision and the courage of the
soldiers, that the place was abundantly secure. But, after a few days,
the townsmen, impelled by remorse of conscience and by the bravery of
the king’s army, surrendered: on learning which, Arundel repressed
its insolence; putting itself under the king’s protection, with this
remarkable condition; that its lord, without personal injury, should
be suffered to retire to Normandy. Moreover, the people of Shrewsbury
sent the keys of the castle to the king by Ralph, at that time abbat
of Sees, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, as tokens of present
submission, and pledges of their future obedience. Thus, this fire of
dissension which was expected to become excessive, wasted to ashes
in the course of very few days; and the avidity of the revolters,
perpetually panting after innovation, was repressed. Robert, with his
brothers, Ernulph, who had obtained the surname of his father, and
Roger the Poitevin, so called because he had married his wife from that
country, abjured England for ever; but the strictness of this oath was
qualified with a proviso, “unless he should satisfy the king on some
future occasion, by his obedient conduct.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1102.] TROUBLES IN NORMANDY.]

The torch of war now lighted up in Normandy, receiving fresh fuel by
the arrival of the traitors, blazed forth and seized every thing within
its reach. Normandy, indeed, though not very wide in its extent, is
a convenient and patient fosterer of the abandoned. Wherefore, for a
long time, she well endures intestine broils; and on the restoration
of peace, rises soon to a state more fruitful than before; at her
pleasure ejecting her disturbers, when detected by the province, by
an easy egress into France. Whereas England does not long endure the
turbulent; but when once received to her bosom, either surrenders, or
puts them to death; neither, when laid waste by tumult, does she again
soon rear her recovering head. Belesme, then, arriving in Normandy,
had, both at that time and afterwards, accomplices in his malignity,
and lest this should seem too little, inciters also. Among others was
William earl of Moreton, the son of Robert, the king’s uncle. He, from
a boy, had been envious of Henry’s fame, and had, more especially, on
the arrival of the Norman, manifested his evil disposition. For not
content with the two earldoms, of Moreton in Normandy, and Cornwall
in England, he demanded from the king the earldom of Kent, which Odo
his uncle had held; so troublesome and presumptuous was he, that,
with shameless arrogance, he vowed, that he would not put on his
cloak till he could procure the inheritance derived to him from his
uncle; for such was his expression. But even then the king, with his
characteristic circumspection, beguiled him by the subtlety of an
ambiguous answer. The tumult, however, being allayed and tranquillity
restored, he not only refused assent to his demand, but persisted in
recovering what he unjustly retained; though he did it with moderation,
and the sanction of law, that none of his actions might appear illegal,
or contrary to equity. William, ousted by the sentence of the law,
retired, indignant and furious into Normandy. Here, in addition to his
fruitless attacks upon the royal castles, he assailed Richard earl of
Chester, the son of Hugh; invading, plundering, and destroying some
places which formed part of his possessions: the earl himself being at
that time a minor, and under the protection and guardianship of the

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1102.] BATTLE AT TENERSEBREY.]

These two persons, then, the leaders of faction and fomenters
of rebellion, in conjunction with others whom I am ashamed to
particularize, harassed the country, far and wide, with their
devastations. Complaints from the suffering inhabitants on the subject
of their injuries, though frequent, were lavished upon the earl in
vain. He was moved by them, it is true; but fearing on his own account,
lest they should disturb his ease if offended, he dissembled his
feelings. King Henry, however, felt deeply for his brother’s infamy,
carried to the highest pitch by the sufferings of the country: aware,
that it was the extreme of cruelty, and far from a good king’s duty,
to suffer abandoned men to riot on the property of the poor. In
consequence, he once admonished his brother, whom he had sent for
into England, with fair words; but afterwards, arriving in Normandy,
he severely reminded him, more than once, by arms, to act the prince
rather than the monk. He also despoiled William, the instigator of
these troubles, of every thing he had in England; razing his castles
to the ground. But when he could, even thus, make no progress towards
peace, the royal majesty long anxiously employed its thoughts, whether,
regardless of fraternal affection, it should rescue the country from
danger, or through blind regard, suffer it to continue in jeopardy.
And indeed the common weal, and sense of right, would have yielded to
motives of private affection, had not pope Paschal, as they say,[470]
urged him, when hesitating, to the business by his letters: averring,
with his powerful eloquence, that it would not be a civil war, but a
signal benefit to a noble country. In consequence, passing over,[471]
he, in a short time, took, or more properly speaking, received, the
whole of Normandy; all flocking to his dominion, that he might provide,
by his transcendent power, for the good of the exhausted province. Yet
he achieved not this signal conquest without bloodshed; but lost many
of his dearest associates. Among these was Roger of Gloucester, a tried
soldier, who was struck on the head by a bolt from a cross-bow, at the
siege of Falaise; and Robert Fitz-Haymon, who receiving a blow on the
temple, with a lance, and losing his faculties, survived a considerable
time, almost in a state of idiotcy.[472] They relate, that he was thus
deservedly punished, because, for the sake of liberating him, king
Henry had consumed the city of Bayeux, together with the principal
church, with fire. Still, however, as we hope, they both atoned for
it. For the king munificently repaired the damage of that church: and
it is not easy to relate, how much Robert ennobled, by his favour,
the monastery of Tewkesbury; where the splendour of the edifice, and
the kindness of the monks, attract the eyes, and captivate the minds
of the visitors. Fortune, however, to make up for the loss of these
persons, put a finishing hand to the war, when at its height, and with
little labour, gave his brother, when opposing him with no despicable
force, together with William earl of Moreton, and Robert de Belesme,
into his power. This battle was fought at Tenersebrey, a castle of the
earl of Moreton’s, on Saturday the Vigil of St. Michael. It was the
same day, on which, about forty years before, William had first landed
at Hastings: doubtless by the wise dispensation of God, that Normandy
should be subjected to England on the same day that the Norman power
had formerly arrived to subjugate that kingdom. Here was taken the
earl of Moreton, who came thither to fulfil his promise of strenuous
assistance to the townsmen, as well as in the hope of avenging his
injuries. But, made captive, as I have related, he passed the residue
of his life in the gloom of a prison; meriting some credit from the
vivacity of his mind, and the activity of his youth, but deserving an
unhappy end, from his perfidy. Then, too, Belesme[473] escaped death by
flight at the first onset; but when, afterwards, he had irritated the
king by secret faction, he also was taken; and being involved in the
same jeopardy with the others, he was confined in prison as long as he
lived. He was a man intolerable from the barbarity of his manners, and
inexorable to the faults of others; remarkable besides for cruelty;
and, among other instances, on account of some trifling fault of its
father, he blinded his godchild, who was his hostage, tearing out
the little wretch’s eyes with his accursed nails: full of cunning and
dissimulation, he used to deceive the credulous by the serenity of his
countenance and the affability of his speech; though the same means
terrified those who were acquainted with his malignity; as there was
no greater proof of impending mischief, than his pretended mildness of

The king, thus splendidly successful, returned triumphant to his
kingdom, having established such peace in Normandy as it had never
known before; and such as even his father himself, with all his mighty
pomp of words and actions, had never been able to accomplish. Rivalling
his father also, in other respects, he restrained, by edict,[474] the
exactions of the courtiers, thefts, rapine, and the violation of women;
commanding the delinquents to be deprived of sight, as well as of their
manhood. He also displayed singular diligence against the mintmasters,
commonly called moneyers; suffering no counterfeiter, who had been
convicted of deluding the ignorant by the practice of his roguery, to
escape, without losing his hand.

Adopting the custom of his brother, he soothed the Scottish kings
by his affability. For William made Duncan, the illegitimate son of
Malcolm, a knight; and, on the death of his father, appointed him king
of Scotland. When Duncan was taken off by the wickedness of his uncle
Donald, he promoted Edgar to the kingdom; the above-mentioned Donald
being despatched by the contrivance of David, the youngest brother,
and the power of William. Edgar yielding to fate, Henry made affinity
with Alexander, his successor, giving him his illegitimate daughter in
marriage, by whom he had no issue that I know of; and when she died,
he did not much lament her loss: for there was, as they affirm, some
defect about the lady, either in correctness of manners, or elegance
of person. Alexander resting with his ancestors, David the youngest
of Malcolm’s sons, whom the king had made a knight and honoured with
the marriage of a woman of quality, ascended the throne of Scotland.
A youth more courtly than the rest, and who, polished, from a boy,
by intercourse and familiarity with us, had rubbed off all the rust
of Scottish barbarism. Finally, when he obtained the kingdom, he
released from the payment of taxes, for three years, all such of his
countrymen as would pay more attention to their dwellings, dress more
elegantly, and feed more nicely. No history has ever recorded three
kings, and at the same time brothers, who were of equal sanctity, or
savoured so much of their mother’s piety; for independently of their
abstemiousness, their extensive charity, and their frequency in prayer,
they so completely subdued the domestic vice of kings, that no report,
even, prevailed, that any entered their bed except their legitimate
wives, or that either of them had ever been guilty of any unlawful
intercourse. Edmund was the only degenerate son of Margaret, who,
partaking in his uncle Donald’s crime, and bargaining for half his
kingdom, had been accessary to his brother’s death. But being taken,
and doomed to perpetual imprisonment, he sincerely repented; and, on
his near approach to death, ordered himself to be buried in his chains:
confessing that he suffered deservedly for the crime of fratricide.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1106.] HENRY’S EXPEDITION TO WALES.]

The Welsh, perpetually rebelling, were subjugated by the king in
repeated expeditions, who, relying on a prudent expedient to quell
their tumults, transported thither all the Flemings then resident in
England. For that country contained such numbers of these people, who,
in the time of his father, had come over from national relationship
to his mother, that, from their numbers, they appeared burdensome to
the kingdom. In consequence he settled them, with all their property
and connexions, at Ross, a Welsh province, as in a common receptacle,
both for the purpose of cleansing the kingdom, and repressing the
brutal temerity of the enemy. Still, however, he did not neglect
leading his expeditions thither, as circumstances required: in one of
which, being privily aimed at with an arrow from a distance, though
by whose audacity is unknown, he opportunely and fortunately escaped,
by the interposition of his firmly mailed hauberk, and the counsel of
God at the same time frustrating this treachery. But neither was the
director of the arrow discovered at that time, nor could he ever after
be detected, although the king immediately declared, that it was not
let fly by a Welshman, but by a subject; swearing to it, by the death
of our Lord, which was his customary oath when moved, either by excess
of anger or the importance of the occasion. For at that very time the
army was marching cautiously and slowly upon its own ground, not in
an enemy’s territory, and therefore nothing less was to be expected
than an hostile attack. But, nevertheless, he desisted not from his
purpose through fear of intestine danger, until the Welsh appeased the
commotion of the royal spirit, by giving the sons of their nobility as
hostages, together with some money, and much of their substance.

By dint of gold, too, he brought the inhabitants of Brittany to his
views, whom, when a young man, he had had as neighbours to his castles
of Danfrunt and Mount St. Michael’s; for these are a race of people,
poor at home, and seeking abroad to support a toilsome life by foreign
service. Regardless of right and of affinity, they decline not even
civil war, provided they are paid for it; and, in proportion to the
remuneration, are ready to enter any service that may be offered. Aware
of this custom, if, at any time he had need of stipendiary troops, he
used to lavish money on these Bretons; thereby hiring the faith of a
faithless nation.

In the beginning of his reign he offended Robert, earl of Flanders,
from the following cause: Baldwin the Elder, the grandfather of this
Robert, had powerfully assisted William, when going to England, by
the wisdom of his councils, for which he was famed, and by a supply
of soldiers. William had frequently made splendid returns for this;
giving, every year, as they report, three hundred marks[475] of silver
to his father-in-law, on account of his fidelity and affinity. This
munificence was not diminished towards his son Baldwin; though it was
dropped through the evil disposition of Robert Friso, as my history
has already recorded. Moreover this Robert, the son of Friso, easily
obtained the omitted largess from William the Second, because the one
alleged his relationship, and the other possessed a boundless spirit in
squandering money. But Henry giving the business deeper consideration,
as a man who never desired to obtain money improperly, nor ever
wantonly exhausted it when acquired, gave the following reply to
Robert, on his return from Jerusalem, when imperiously making a demand,
as it were, of three hundred marks of silver. He said, “that the kings
of England were not accustomed to pay tribute to the Flemings; and
that he would not tarnish the liberty of his ancestors by the stain
of his cowardice; therefore, if he would trust to his generosity,
he would willingly give him, as a kinsman and as a friend, whatever
circumstances would permit; but if he thought proper to persist in his
demand, he should refuse it altogether.” Confuted by this reasoning,
he, for a long time, cherished his indignation against Henry; but
getting little or nothing by his enmity, he bent his mind to milder
measures; having discovered that the king might be wrought upon by
intreaty, but not by imperious insolence. But now, the change of times
had given his son, Baldwin, matter of offence against Henry; for,
wishing to place William,[476] the son of Robert the Norman, in his
inheritance, he voluntarily busied himself in the affairs of others,
and frequently made unexpected attacks upon the king’s castles in
Normandy. He threatened extreme trouble to the country, had the fates
permitted; but engaging at Arques with a larger party of soldiers than
he had apprehended, he accelerated his death; for his helmet being
battered with repeated strokes, he received an injury in his brain.
They relate, that his disorder was increased from having that day
eaten garlic with goose, and that he did not even abstain from carnal
intercourse at night. Here let posterity contemplate a noble specimen
of royal attention; for the king sent a most skilful physician to
the patient, bewailing, as we may believe, that person’s perishing
by disease, whom, through admiration of his valour, he had rather
seen survive. Charles, his successor, never annoyed the king; and
first, with a doubtful, but afterwards, a formal treaty, embraced his

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] PHILIP, KING OF FRANCE.]

Philip, king of France, was neither friendly nor hostile to our
king, being more intent on gluttony than business; neither were his
dominions situated in the vicinity of Henry’s castles; for the few
which he possessed at that time in Normandy were nearer to Brittany
than France. Besides, as I have said before, Philip growing in years
was oppressed by lust; and, allured by the beauty of the countess of
Anjou, was enslaved to illicit passion for her. In consequence of his
being excommunicated by the pope, no divine service could be celebrated
in the town where he resided; but on his departure the chiming of the
bells resounded on all sides, at which he expressed his stupid folly by
laughter, saying, “You hear, my fair, how they drive us away.”[477] He
was held in such contempt by all the bishops of his kingdom, that no
one, except William,[478] archbishop of Rouen, would marry them: the
rashness of which deed he atoned for by being many years interdicted,
and was with difficulty, at last, restored to apostolical communion
by archbishop Anselm. In the meanwhile, no space of time could give
satiety to Philip’s mad excess, except that, in his last days, being
seized with sickness, he took the monastic habit at Flory.[479] She
acted with better grace and better success; as she sought the veil of
a nun at Fontevrault, while yet possessed of strength and health, and
undiminished beauty. Soon after she bade adieu to the present life:
God, perhaps, foreseeing that the frame of a delicate woman could not
endure the austerities of a monastery.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] LEWIS, KING OF FRANCE.]

Lewis, the son of Philip, was very changeable; firmly attached to
neither party. At first, extremely indignant against Robert, he
instigated Henry to seize Normandy; seduced by what had been plundered
from the English, and the vast wealth of the king. Not indeed, that the
one offered it, but the other invited him; exhorting him, of his own
accord, not to suffer the nerves of that once most flourishing country,
to be crippled by his forbearance. But an enmity afterwards arose
between them, on account of Theobald, earl of Blois, son of Stephen who
fell at Ramula; Theobald being the son of Stephen by Adala, daughter
of William the Great. For a considerable time, messengers on the part
of the king wasted their labour, entreating that Lewis would condescend
to satisfy Theobald. But he, paying little regard to entreaties, caused
Theobald to be excommunicated by the pope, as arrogant and a rebel to
God; who, in addition to the austerity of his manners, which seemed
intolerable to all, was represented as depriving his lord of his
hereditary possessions. Their quarrel being thus of long continuance,
when, each swollen with pride, neither would vail his consequence to
the other, Lewis entered Normandy, proudly devastating every thing
with overbearing violence. These things were reported to the king, who
shut himself up in Rouen until the common soldiers infested his ears,
by saying, “That he ought to allow Lewis to be driven back; a man who
formerly kept his bed through corpulency, but was now, by Henry’s
forbearance, loading the very air with threats.” The king, mindful
of his father’s example, rather preferred crushing the folly of the
Frenchman by endurance, than repelling it by force. Moreover, he kindly
soothed his soldiers, by addressing them to the following effect, “That
they ought not to wonder if he avoided lavishing the blood of those
whom he had proved to be faithful by repeated trials: that it would be
impious, in achieving power to himself, to glory in the deaths of those
persons who had devoted their lives to voluntary conflicts for his
safety; that they were the adopted of his kingdom, the foster-children
of his affection; wherefore he was anxious to follow the example of a
good king, and by his own moderation to check the impetuosity of those
whom he saw so ready to die for him.” At last, when he beheld his
forbearance wrongly interpreted, and denominated cowardice, insomuch
that Lewis burnt and plundered within four miles of Rouen; he called
up the powers of his soul with greater effort, and, arraying his
troops, gloriously conquered: compensating his past forbearance by a
sanguinary victory. But, however, soon afterwards, peace was concluded,
“Because there is a change in all things, and money, which is capable
of persuading what it lists, extenuates every injury.” In consequence
William, the son of our king, did homage to the king of France for
Normandy, holding that province, in future, by legal right from him.
This was the period when the same youth married the daughter of Fulco,
earl of Anjou, and obtained, by the careful management of his father,
that, through the mediation of money and of affinity, no tumults should
affect the son.

At this time, pope Calixtus,[480] of whom I shall relate much
hereafter, approached the confines of Normandy, where the king of
England, entering into conference with him, compelled the Romans to
admire and proclaim the ingenuity of the Normans. For he had come,
as was reported, ill-disposed towards Henry; intending severely to
expostulate with him, for keeping his brother, the pilgrim of the Holy
Sepulchre, in confinement. But being pressed by the king’s answer,
which was specious, and by his plausible arguments, he had little
to reply. For even common topics may avail, through eloquence of
speech; and, more especially, that oratory cannot be despised, which
is seasoned with valuable presents. And that nothing might be wanting
to the aggregate of glory, he provided some youths of noble family,
the sons of the earl of Mellent, to dispute with the cardinals in
logic. To whose inextricable sophisms, when, from the liveliness of
their arguments, they could make no resistance, the cardinals were not
ashamed to confess, that the Western climes flourished with greater
literary eminence, than they had ever heard of, or imagined, while yet
in their own country. Wherefore, the issue of this conference, was,
that the pope declared, that nothing could be more just than the king
of England’s cause; nothing more conspicuous than his prudence, or more
copious than his eloquence.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] ROBERT, EARL OF MELLENT.]

The father of these youths was Robert, earl of Mellent, as I observed,
the son of Roger de Beaumont, who built the monastery of Preaux in
Normandy; a man of primitive simplicity and sincerity, who, being
frequently invited by William the First, to come to England, and
receive, as a recompence, whatever possessions he chose, always
declined; saying, that he wished to cultivate the inheritance of his
forefathers, rather than covet or invade foreign possessions which
did not belong to him. He had two sons, Robert, of whom we are
speaking, and Henry. Henry earl of Warwick, a man of sweet and placid
disposition, passed and ended his days, in occupations congenial to his
habits. The other, more shrewd, and of a subtler character, in addition
to his paternal inheritance in Normandy and large estates in England,
purchased from the king of France a castle called Mellent, which
Hugh the son of Gualeraun, his mother’s brother, had held. Conducted
gradually by budding hope towards fame in the time of the former
kings, he attained to its full bloom in Henry’s days; and his advice
was regarded as though the oracle of God had been consulted: indeed he
was deservedly esteemed to have obtained it, as he was of ripe age to
counsel; the persuader of peace, the dissuader of strife, and capable
of very speedily bringing about whatever he desired, from the powers
of his eloquence. He possessed such mighty influence in England, as to
change by his single example the long established modes of dress and of
diet. Finally, the custom of one meal a day, is observed[481] in the
palaces of all the nobility through his means; which he, adopting from
Alexius, emperor of Constantinople, on the score of his health, spread,
as I have observed, among the rest by his authority. He is blamed,
as having done, and taught others to do this, more through want of
liberality, than any fear of surfeit, or indigestion; but undeservedly:
since no one, it is said, was more lavish in entertainments to others,
or more moderate in himself. In law, he was the supporter of justice;
in war, the insurer of victory: urging his lord the king to enforce the
rigour of the statutes; himself not only following the existing, but
proposing new ones: free himself from treachery towards the king, he
was the avenger of it in others.[482]

Besides this personage king Henry had among his counsellors, Roger[483]
bishop of Salisbury, on whose advice he principally relied. For,
before his accession, he had made him regulator of his household,
and on becoming king, having had proof of his abilities, appointed
him first chancellor and then a bishop. The able discharge of his
episcopal functions led to a hope that he might be deserving of a
higher office. He therefore committed to his care the administration
of the whole kingdom, whether he might be himself resident in England
or absent in Normandy. The bishop refused to embroil himself in
cares of such magnitude, until the three archbishops of Canterbury,
Anselm, Ralph, William, and lastly the pope, enjoined him the duty
of obedience. Henry was extremely eager to effect this, aware that
Roger would faithfully perform every thing for his advantage. Nor did
he deceive the royal expectation; but conducted himself with so much
integrity and diligence, that not a spark of envy was kindled against
him. Moreover, the king was frequently detained in Normandy, sometimes
for three, sometimes four years, and sometimes for a longer period;
and on his return to his kingdom, he gave credit to the chancellor’s
discretion for finding little or nothing to distress him. Amid all
these affairs, he did not neglect his ecclesiastical duties, but daily
diligently transacted them in the morning, that he might be more ready
and undisturbed for other business. He was a prelate of a great mind,
and spared no expense towards completing his designs, especially in
buildings, which may be seen in other places, but more particularly at
Salisbury and at Malmesbury. For there he erected extensive edifices,
at vast cost, and with surpassing beauty; the courses of stone being so
correctly laid that the joint deceives the eye, and leads it to imagine
that the whole wall is composed of a single block. He built anew the
church of Salisbury, and beautified it in such a manner that it yields
to none in England, but surpasses many, so that he had just cause to
say, “Lord, I have loved the glory of thy house.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] MURCARD, KING OF IRELAND.]

Murcard, king of Ireland, and his successors, whose names have not
reached our notice, were so devotedly attached to our Henry that they
wrote no letters but what tended to soothe him, and did nothing but
what he commanded; although it may be observed that Murcard, from
some unknown cause, acted, for a short time, rather superciliously
towards the English; but soon after on the suspension of navigation
and of foreign trade, his insolence subsided. For of what value could
Ireland be if deprived of the merchandize of England? From poverty, or
rather from the ignorance of the cultivators, the soil, unproductive
of every good, engenders, without the cities, a rustic, filthy swarm
of natives; but the English and French inhabit the cities in a greater
degree of civilization through their mercantile traffic. Paul, earl of
Orkney, though subject by hereditary right to the king of Norway, was
so anxious to obtain the king’s friendship, that he was perpetually
sending him presents; for he was extremely fond of the wonders of
distant countries, begging with great delight, as I have observed,
from foreign kings, lions, leopards, lynxes, or camels,--animals which
England does not produce. He had a park called Woodstock, in which he
used to foster his favourites of this kind. He had placed there also
a creature called a porcupine, sent to him by William of Montpelier;
of which animal, Pliny the Elder, in the eighth book of his Natural
History, and Isodorus, on Etymologies, relate that there is such a
creature in Africa, which the inhabitants call of the urchin kind,
covered with bristly hairs, which it naturally darts against the dogs
when pursuing it: moreover, these are, as I have seen, more than a
span long, sharp at each extremity, like the quills of a goose where
the feather ceases, but rather thicker, and speckled, as it were, with
black and white.

What more particularly distinguished Henry was that though frequently
and long absent from his kingdom on account of the commotions in
Normandy, yet he so restrained the rebellious, by the terror of his
name, that peace remained undisturbed in England. In consequence,
foreigners willingly resorted thither, as to the only haven of secure
tranquillity. Finally, Siward king of Norway, in his early years
comparable to the bravest heroes, having entered on a voyage to
Jerusalem, and asking the king’s permission, wintered in England.
After expending vast sums upon the churches, as soon as the western
breeze opened the gates of spring to soothe the ocean, he regained
his vessels, and proceeding to sea, terrified the Balearic Isles,
which are called Majorca and Minorca, by his arms, leaving them an
easier conquest to the before-mentioned William of Montpelier. He
thence proceeded to Jerusalem with all his ships in safety except one;
she, while delaying to loose her cable from shore, was sucked into
a tremendous whirlpool, which Paul[484] the historian of Lombardy
describes as lying between the coasts of the Seine and Aquitaine,
with such a force of water that its dashing may be heard at thirty
miles’ distance. Arriving at Jerusalem he, for the advancement
of the Christian cause, laid siege to, battered, and subdued the
maritime cities of Tyre and Sidon. Changing his route, and entering
Constantinople, he fixed a ship, beaked with golden dragons, as a
trophy, on the church of Sancta Sophia. His men dying in numbers in
this city, he discovered a remedy for the disorder, by making the
survivors drink wine more sparingly, and diluted with water; and this
with singular sagacity; for pouring wine on the liver of a hog, and
finding that it presently dissolved by the acridity of the liquor, he
immediately conjectured that the same effect took place in men, and
afterwards dissecting a dead body, he had ocular proof of it. Wherefore
the emperor contemplating his sagacity and courage, which promised
something great, was inclined to detain him. But he adroitly deluded
the expectation in which he was already devouring the Norwegian gold;
for, obtaining permission to go to a neighbouring city, he deposited
with him the chests of his treasures, filled with lead and sealed up,
as pledges of a very speedy return; by which contrivance the emperor
was deceived, and the other returned home by land.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] CHARACTER OF HENRY I.]

But my narrative must now return to Henry. He was active in providing
what would be beneficial to his empire;[485] firm in defending
it; abstinent from war, as far as he could with honour; but when
he had determined no longer to forbear, a most severe requiter of
injuries, dissipating every opposing danger by the energy of his
courage; constant in enmity or in affection towards all; giving too
much indulgence to the tide of anger in the one, gratifying his
royal magnanimity in the other; depressing his enemies indeed even
to despair, and exalting his friends and dependants to an enviable
condition. For philosophy propounds this to be the first or greatest
concern of a good king,

  “To spare the suppliant, but depress the proud.”[486]

Inflexible in the administration of justice, he ruled the people with
moderation; the nobility with condescension. Seeking after robbers
and counterfeiters with the greatest diligence, and punishing them
when discovered; neither was he by any means negligent in matters of
lesser importance. When he heard that the tradesmen refused broken
money,[487] though of good silver, he commanded the whole of it to be
broken, or cut in pieces. The measure of his own arm was applied to
correct the false ell of the traders, and enjoined on all throughout
England. He made a regulation for the followers of his court, at
whichever of his possessions he might be resident, stating what they
should accept without payment from the country-folks; and how much,
and at what price, they should purchase; punishing the transgressors
by a heavy pecuniary fine, or loss of life. In the beginning of his
reign, that he might awe the delinquents by the terror of example,
he was more inclined to punish by deprivation of limb; afterwards by
mulct. Thus, in consequence of the rectitude of his conduct, as is
natural to man, he was venerated by the nobility, and beloved by the
common people. If at any time the better sort, regardless of their
plighted oath, wandered from the path of fidelity, he immediately
recalled them to the straight road by the wisdom of his plans, and
his unceasing exertions; bringing back the refractory to soundness
of mind by the wounds he inflicted on their bodies. Nor can I easily
describe what perpetual labour he employed on such persons, while
suffering nothing to go unpunished which the delinquents had committed
repugnant to his dignity. Normandy, as I have said before, was the
chief source of his wars, in which, though principally resident, yet
he took especial care for England; none daring to rebel, from the
consideration of his courage and of his prudence. Nor, indeed, was
he ever singled out for the attack of treachery, by reason of the
rebellion of any of his nobles, through means of his attendants, except
once; the author of which was a certain chamberlain, born of a plebeian
father, but of distinguished consequence, as being keeper of the king’s
treasures; but, detected, and readily confessing his crime, he paid
the severe penalty of his perfidy.[488] With this exception, secure
during his whole life, the minds of all were restrained by fear, their
conversation by regard for him.

He was of middle stature, exceeding the diminutive, but exceeded by
the very tall: his hair was black, but scanty near the forehead; his
eyes mildly bright; his chest brawny; his body fleshy: he was facetious
in proper season, nor did multiplicity of business cause him to be
less pleasant when he mixed in society. Not prone to personal combat,
he verified the saying of Scipio Africanus, “My mother bore me a
commander, not a soldier;” wherefore he was inferior in wisdom to no
king of modern time; and, as I may almost say, he clearly surpassed
all his predecessors in England, and preferred contending by counsel,
rather than by the sword. If he could, he conquered without bloodshed;
if it was unavoidable, with as little as possible. He was free, during
his whole life, from impure desires;[489] for, as we have learned from
those who were well informed, he was led by female blandishments, not
for the gratification of incontinency, but for the sake of issue; nor
condescended to casual intercourse, unless where it might produce that
effect; in this respect the master of his natural inclinations, not the
passive slave of lust. He was plain in his diet, rather satisfying the
calls of hunger, than surfeiting himself by variety of delicacies. He
never drank but to allay thirst; execrating the least departure from
temperance, both in himself and in those about him. He was heavy to
sleep, which was interrupted by frequent snoring. His eloquence was
rather unpremeditated than laboured; not rapid, but deliberate.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] PIETY OF HENRY I.]

His piety towards God was laudable, for he built monasteries in
England and in Normandy: but as he has not yet completed them, I, in
the meantime, should suspend my judgment, did not my affection for
the brotherhood at Reading forbid my silence. He built this monastery
between the rivers Kennet and Thames, in a place calculated for the
reception of almost all who might have occasion to travel to the more
populous cities of England, where he placed monks of the Clugniac
order, who are at this day a noble pattern of holiness, and an example
of unwearied and delightful hospitality. Here may be seen what is
peculiar to this place: for guests arriving every hour, consume
more than the inmates themselves. Perhaps, some person may call me
over-hasty and a flatterer, for so signally celebrating a congregation
yet in its infancy; unconscious what future times may produce: but
they, as I hope, will endeavour, by the grace of God, to continue in
virtue; and I blush not at commending men of holiness, and admiring
that excellence in others which I possess not myself. He yielded up
the investiture[490] of the churches to God and St. Peter, after
much controversy between him and archbishop Anselm, scarcely induced,
even at last, to consent, through the manifold grace of God, by an
inglorious victory over his brother. The tenor of these disputes Edmer
has recorded at great length; I, to give a completer knowledge of
the matter, shall subjoin the letters of the so-often-mentioned pope
Paschal on the subject.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] PASCHAL ON INVESTITURES.]

“Paschal the bishop to king Henry, health. From your letters, lately
transmitted to us by your servant, our beloved son, William the clerk,
we have been certified both of the safety of your person, and of those
prosperous successes which the divine favour hath granted you in the
subjugation of the adversaries of your kingdom. We have heard too,
that you have had the male issue you so much desired, by your noble
and religious consort. As we have derived pleasure from this, we
think it a good opportunity to impress the commands and will of God
more strongly upon you, at a time when you perceive yourself indebted
to his kindness for such ample favours. We also are desirous of
associating our kindness with the benefits of God towards you; but it
is distressing, that you should seem to require what we cannot possibly
grant. For if we consent, or suffer, that investitures be conferred by
your excellence, no doubt it will be to the great detriment both of
ourselves, and of you. In this matter we wish you to consider, what
you lose by not performing, or gain by performing. For we, by such a
prohibition, obtain no increase of influence, or patronage, over the
churches; nor do we endeavour to take away any thing from your just
power and right; but only that God’s anger may be diminished towards
you, and thus every prosperity attend you. God, indeed, hath said,
‘Those that honour me, I will honour; and those that despise me, shall
be lightly esteemed.’ You will say then, ‘It is my right;’ no truly, it
is neither an imperial nor royal, but a divine right; it is His only,
who has said, ‘I am the door:’ wherefore I entreat for his sake, whose
due it is, that you would restore and concede it to him, to whose love
you owe what you possess. But why should we oppose your pleasure, or
run counter to your good will, unless we were aware, that in consenting
to this matter, we should oppose the will of God, and lose his favour?
Why should we deny you any thing, which might be granted to any man
living, when we should receive greater favours in return? Consider, my
dearest son, whether it be an honour, or a disgrace that Anselm, the
wisest, and most religious of the Gallican bishops, on this account,
fears to be familiar with you, or to continue in your kingdom. What
will those persons think, who have hitherto had such favourable
accounts of you? What will they say, when this gets noised abroad? The
very people who, before your face, commend your excess, will, when out
of your presence, be the first more loudly to vilify the transaction.
Return then to your understanding, my dearest son, we entreat you, for
the mercy of God, and the love of his Only-begotten Son: recall your
pastor, recall your father; and if, what we do not imagine, he hath in
anything conducted himself harshly towards you, and hath opposed the
investitures, we will mediate according to your pleasure, as far as God
permits: but nevertheless, remove from your person and your kingdom the
infamy of such an expulsion. If you do this, even although you should
ask very difficult matters of us; still if, with God’s permission, we
can grant, you shall certainly obtain, them: and we will be careful to
entreat the Lord for you, himself assisting, and will grant indulgence
and absolution, as well to your sins, as to those of your consort,
through the merits of the holy apostles. Moreover, we will, together
with you, cherish the son whom you have begotten on your exemplary and
noble consort; and who is, as we have heard, named after your excellent
father, William, with such anxious care, that whosoever shall injure
either you, or him, shall be regarded as having done injury to the
church of Rome. Dated at the palace of Lateran, the ninth before the
kalends of December.”

“Paschal to Anselm. We have received those most gratifying letters of
your affection, written with the pen of charity. In these we recognise
the fervency of your devotion, and considering the strength of your
faith, and the earnestness of your pious care, we rejoice; because, by
the grace of God, neither promises elevate, nor threats depress you. We
lament, however, that after having kindly received our brother bishops,
the ambassadors of the king of England, they should, on their return
home, report what we never uttered, or even thought of. For, we have
heard, that they said, if the king conducted himself well in other
respects, we should neither prohibit the investiture of the churches,
nor anathematize them, when conferred; but that we were unwilling
thus to write, lest from this precedent other princes should exclaim.
Wherefore we call Jesus, who trieth the hearts and reins, as witness to
our soul, if ever such a horrid crime, even entered our imagination,
since we assumed the care of this holy see.” And again below. “If,
therefore, a lay hand present the staff, the sign of the shepherd’s
office, or the ring, the emblem of faith, what have the bishops to
do in the church? Moreover, those bishops who have changed the truth
into a lie, that truth, which is God, being the criterion, we separate
from the favour of St. Peter and our society, until they have made
satisfaction to the church of Rome. Such, therefore, as have received
the investiture,[491] or consecration, during the aforesaid truce,[492]
we regard as aliens to our communion and to the church.”

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1119.] LETTER OF POPE PASCHAL.]

“Paschal to Anselm. Since the condescension of Almighty God hath
inclined the heart of the king of England to obedience to the papal
see, we give thanks to the same God of mercies, in whose hand are
situated the hearts of kings. We believe it indeed to have been
effected through favour to your charity, and the earnestness of
your prayers, that in this respect the heavenly mercy hath regarded
the people over whom your watchfulness presides. But whereas we
so greatly condescend to the king and those who seem culpable, you
must know that this has been done from kindness and compassion, that
we may lift up those that are down. And you, also, reverend and
dearest brother in Christ, we release from the prohibition or, as you
conceive, excommunication, which, you understand, was denounced against
investitures or homage by our predecessor of holy memory pope Urban.
But do you, by the assistance of God, accept those persons who either
receive investitures, or consecrate such as have received them, or
do homage on making that satisfaction which we signify to you by our
common legates William and Baldwin, faithful and true men, and absolve
them by virtue of our authority. These you will either consecrate
yourself, or command to be consecrated by such as you choose; unless
perchance you should discover somewhat in them on account of which they
ought to be deprived of their sacred honours. And if any, hereafter,
in addition to the investitures of the churches, shall have accepted
prelacies, even though they have done homage to the king, yet let them
not, on this account, be denied the office of consecration, until by
the grace of Almighty God, the heart of the king may be softened, by
the dew of your preaching, to omit this. Moreover, against the bishops
who have brought, as you know, a false report from us, our heart is
more vehemently moved, because they have not only injured us, but have
led astray the minds of many simple people, and impelled the king to
want of charity for the papal see. Wherefore, by the help of God, we
suffer not their crime to pass unpunished: but since the earnestness of
our son the king unceasingly entreats for them, you will not deny, even
them, the participation of your communion. Indeed, you will, according
to our promise, absolve from their transgressions and from penance the
king and his consort, and those nobles who for this business, together
with the king, have by our command been under sentence, whose names you
will learn from the information of the aforesaid William. We commit the
cause of the bishop of Rouen to your consideration, and we grant to him
whatsoever you may allow.”

In this manner acted Paschal the supreme pope, anxious for the liberty
of the churches of God. The bishops whom he accuses of falsehood, were
Girard archbishop of York, and Herbert of Norwich, whose errors were
discovered by the more veracious legates, William afterwards bishop of
Exeter, and Baldwin monk of Bec. Anselm[493] the archbishop was now
again, in the time of this king, an exile at Lyons, resident with Hugh,
archbishop of that city, when the first letter which I have inserted
was despatched; for he himself possessed no desire to return, nor did
the king, through the multitude of sycophants, suffer his animosity
to be appeased. He deferred, therefore, for a long time, recalling
him or complying with the papal admonition; not from desire of power,
but through the advice of the nobility, and particularly of the earl
of Mellent, who, in this affair, running counter to reason more from
ancient custom than a sense of right, alleged that the king’s majesty
must be much diminished if, disregarding the usage of his predecessors,
he ceased to invest the elected person with the staff and ring. The
king, however, considering more attentively what the clear reasoning
of the epistles, and the bountiful gift of divine favours, plentifully
showered down upon him, admonished, yielded up the investiture of the
ring and staff for ever, retaining only the privilege of election and
of the temporalities. A great council, therefore, of bishops, nobles,
and abbats, being assembled at London, many points of ecclesiastical
and secular business were settled, many differences adjusted. And
not long after, five bishops were ordained in Kent, on the same day,
by archbishop Anselm: William to the see of Winchester; Roger to
Salisbury; William to Exeter; Reinald to Hereford; Urban to Glamorgan.
In this manner a controversy, agitated by perpetual dissensions, and
the cause of many a journey to and from Rome by Anselm, met with a
commendable termination.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1107.] ACCOUNT OF QUEEN MATILDA.]

Henry’s queen, Matilda, descended from an ancient and illustrious race
of kings, daughter of the king of Scotland, as I have said before,
had also given her attention to literature, being educated, from her
infancy, among the nuns at Wilton and Romsey. Wherefore, in order to
have a colour for refusing an ignoble alliance, which was more than
once offered by her father, she wore the garb indicative of the holy
profession. This, when the king was about to advance her to his bed,
became matter of controversy; nor could the archbishop be induced to
consent to her marriage, but by the production of lawful witnesses,
who swore that she had worn the veil on account of her suitors, but
had never made her vow. Satisfied with a child of either sex, she
ceased having issue, and enduring with complacency, when the king
was elsewhere employed, the absence of the court, she continued many
years at Westminster; yet was no part of royal magnificence wanting
to her; but at all times crowds of visitants and talebearers were, in
endless multitudes, entering and departing from her superb dwelling;
for this the king’s liberality commanded; this her own kindness and
affability attracted. She was singularly holy; by no means despicable
in point of beauty; a rival of her mother’s piety; never committing
any impropriety, as far as herself was concerned; and, with the
exception of the king’s bed, completely chaste and uncontaminated
even by suspicion. Clad in hair cloth beneath her royal habit, in
Lent, she trod the thresholds of the churches barefoot. Nor was
she disgusted at washing the feet of the diseased; handling their
ulcers dripping with corruption, and, finally, pressing their hands,
for a long time together to her lips, and decking their table. She
had a singular pleasure in hearing the service of God; and on this
account was thoughtlessly prodigal towards clerks of melodious voice;
addressed them kindly, gave to them liberally, and promised still
more abundantly. Her generosity becoming universally known, crowds
of scholars, equally famed for verse and for singing, came over; and
happy did he account himself who could soothe the ears of the queen by
the novelty of his song. Nor on these only did she lavish money, but
on all sorts of men, especially foreigners, that through her presents
they might proclaim her celebrity abroad; for the desire of fame is
so rooted in the human mind, that scarcely is any one contented with
the precious fruits of a good conscience, but is fondly anxious, if
he does any thing laudable, to have it generally known. Hence, it was
justly observed, the disposition crept upon the queen to reward all the
foreigners she could, while the others were kept in suspense, sometimes
with effectual, but oftener with empty promises. Hence, too, it arose
that she fell into the error of prodigal givers; bringing many claims
on her tenantry, exposing them to injuries, and taking away their
property; by which obtaining the credit of a liberal benefactress, she
little regarded their sarcasms. But whoso shall judge rightly, will
impute this to the designs of her servants, who, harpy-like, conveyed
everything they could gripe into their purses or wasted it in riotous
living. Her ears being infected with the base insinuations of these
people, she induced this stain on her noble mind, holy and meritorious
in every other respect. Amid these concerns she was snatched away from
her country, to the great loss of the people, but to her own advantage;
for her funeral being splendidly celebrated at Westminster, she entered
into rest; and her spirit manifested, by no trivial indications, that
she was a resident in heaven. She died, willingly leaving the throne,
after a reign of seventeen years and six months, experiencing the fate
of her family, who almost all departed in the flower of their age. To
her, but not immediately, succeeded Adala,[494] daughter of the duke of
Louvain, which is the principal town of Lorraine.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1116.] PRINCE WILLIAM DROWNED.]

By Matilda king Henry had a son named William, educated and destined to
the succession,[495] with the fondest hope, and surpassing care. For
to him, when scarcely twelve years of age, all the free men of England
and Normandy, of every rank and condition, and under fealty to whatever
lord, were obliged to submit themselves by homage, and by oath. When
a boy, too, he was betrothed to and received in wedlock, the daughter
of Fulco[496] earl of Anjou, who was herself scarcely marriageable;
his father-in-law bestowing on him the county of Maine as her dower.
Moreover, Fulco, proceeding to Jerusalem, committed his earldom to the
king, to be restored, should he return, but otherwise, to go to his
son-in-law. Many provinces, then, looked forward to the government of
this boy: for it was supposed that the prediction of king Edward would
be verified in him; and it was said, that now might it be expected,
that the hopes of England, like the tree[497] cut down, would, through
this youth, again blossom and bring forth fruit, and thus put an end
to her sufferings: but God saw otherwise; for this illusion vanished
into air, as an early day was hastening him to his fate. Indeed,
by the exertions of his father-in-law, and of Theobald the son of
Stephen, and of his aunt Adala, Lewis king of France conceded the
legal possession of Normandy to the lad, on his doing him homage. The
prudence of his truly careful father so arranged and contrived, that
the homage, which he, from the extent of his empire, disdained to
perform, should not be refused by his son, a youth of delicate habit,
and not very likely to live. In discussing and peaceably settling
these matters, the king spent the space of four years; continuing
the whole of that time in Normandy. Nevertheless, the calm of this
brilliant, and carefully concerted peace, this anxious, universal hope,
was destroyed in an instant by the vicissitudes of human estate. For,
giving orders for returning to England, the king set sail from Barfleur
just before twilight on the seventh before the kalends of December;
and the breeze which filled his sails conducted him safely to his
kingdom and extensive fortunes. But the young man, who was now somewhat
more than seventeen years of age, and, by his father’s indulgence,
possessed everything but the name of king, commanded another vessel
to be prepared for himself; almost all the young nobility flocking
around him, from similarity of youthful pursuits. The sailors, too,
immoderately filled with wine, with that seaman’s hilarity which their
cups excited, exclaimed, that those who were now a-head must soon be
left astern; for the ship was of the best construction, and recently
fitted with new materials. When, therefore, it was now dark night,
these imprudent youths, overwhelmed with liquor, launched the vessel
from the shore. She flies swifter than the winged arrow, sweeping the
rippling surface of the deep: but the carelessness of the intoxicated
crew drove her on a rock, which rose above the waves not far from
shore. In the greatest consternation, they immediately ran on deck,
and with loud outcry got ready their boat-hooks, endeavouring, for a
considerable time, to force the vessel off: but fortune resisted and
frustrated every exertion. The oars, too, dashing, horribly crashed
against the rock,[498] and her battered prow hung immoveably fixed.
Now, too, the water washed some of the crew overboard, and, entering
the chinks, drowned others; when the boat having been launched, the
young prince was received into it, and might certainly have been saved
by reaching the shore, had not his illegitimate sister, the countess
of Perche, now struggling with death in the larger vessel, implored
her brother’s assistance; shrieking out that he should not abandon
her so barbarously. Touched with pity, he ordered the boat to return
to the ship, that he might rescue his sister; and thus the unhappy
youth met his death through excess of affection: for the skiff,
overcharged by the multitudes who leaped into her, sank, and buried
all indiscriminately in the deep. One rustic[499] alone escaped; who,
floating all night upon the mast, related in the morning, the dismal
catastrophe of this tragedy. No ship was ever productive of so much
misery to England; none ever so widely celebrated throughout the world.
Here also perished with William, Richard, another of the king’s sons,
whom a woman of no rank had borne him, before his accession; a youth
of intrepidity, and dear to his father from his obedience: Richard
earl of Chester, and his brother Otuell, the tutor and preceptor of
the king’s son: the countess of Perche, the king’s daughter, and his
niece the countess of Chester, sister to Theobald: and indeed almost
every person of consequence about court, whether knight, or chaplain,
or young nobleman, training up to arms. For, as I have said, they
eagerly hastened from all quarters, expecting no small addition to
their reputation, if they could either amuse, or show their devotion
to the young prince. The calamity was augmented by the difficulty
of finding the bodies, which could not be discovered by the various
persons who sought them along the shore; but delicate as they were,
they became food for the monsters of the deep. The death of this youth
being known, produced a wonderful change in existing circumstances. His
father renounced the celibacy he had cherished since Matilda’s death,
anxious for future heirs by a new consort: his father-in-law, returning
home from Jerusalem, faithfully espoused the party of William, the
son of Robert earl of Normandy, giving him his other daughter[500]
in marriage, and the county of Maine; his indignation being excited
against the king, by his daughter’s dowry being detained in England
after the death of the prince.

[Sidenote: [A.D. 1120.] PRINCESS MATILDA.]

His daughter Matilda, by Matilda, king Henry gave in marriage to Henry
emperor of Germany,[501] son of that Henry mentioned in the third
book. Henry was the fifth emperor of the Germans of this name; who,
although he had been extremely incensed at his father for his outrages
against the holy see, yet, in his own time, was the rigid follower
of, and stickler for, the same sentiments. For when Paschal, a man
possessed of every virtue, had succeeded pope Urban, the question again
arose concerning the investiture of the churches, together with all
the former contentions and animosities: as neither party would give
way. The emperor had in his favour all the bishops and abbats of his
kingdoms situated on this side of the mountains; because Charles the
Great, to keep in check the ferocity of those nations, had conferred
almost all the country on the churches: most wisely considering, that
the clergy would not so soon cast off their fidelity to their lord as
the laity; and, besides, if the laity were to rebel, they might be
restrained by the authority of their excommunication, and the weight
of their power. The pope had brought over to his side the churches
beyond the mountains, and the cities of Italy scarcely acknowledged
the dominion of Henry; thinking themselves exonerated from servitude
after the death of his brother Conrad, who, being left by his father as
king of Lombardy, had died at Arezzo. But Henry, rivalling the ancient
Cæsars in every noble quality, after tranquillizing his German empire,
extended his thoughts to his Italian kingdom: purposing to quell
the revolt of the cities, and decide the question of investitures,
according to his own pleasure. This progress to Rome, accomplished by
great exertion of mind, and much painful labour of body, hath been
described by David, bishop of Bangor, a Scot; though far more partially
to the king than becomes an historian. Indeed he commends highly even
his unheard-of violence in taking the pope captive, though he held
him in free custody; citing the example of Jacob’s holding the angel
fast till he extorted a blessing. Moreover, he labours to establish,
that the saying of the apostle, “No servant of God embroils himself in
worldly business,” is not repugnant to the desires of those bishops,
who are invested by the laity, because the doing homage to a layman, by
a clergyman, is not a secular business. How frivolous such arguments
are, any person’s consideration may decide. In the meantime, that I
may not seem to bear hard on a good man by my judgment, I determine
to make allowances for him, since he has not written a history, but
a panegyric. I will now therefore faithfully insert the grant and
agreement extorted from the pope, by a forcible detention of three
weeks; and I shall subjoin, in what manner they were soon after made of
none effect, by a holier council.

“The sovereign pope Paschal will not molest the sovereign king, nor
his empire nor kingdom, on account of the investiture of bishoprics
and abbeys, nor concerning the injury suffered by himself and his
party in person and in goods; nor will he return evil to him, or any
other person, on this account; neither, on any consideration, will
he publish an anathema against the person of king Henry; nor will
the sovereign pope delay to cro