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the London folk received him, and sent after the archbishop William Corbeil, and hallowed him king on Mid-winter day. In this king's time all was strife, and evil, and rapine; for against him soon rose the powerful men who were traitors. The first of all Baldwin de Redvers, who held Exeter against him; and the king besieged it, and then Baldwin capitulated. Then the others took and held their castles against him; and David, king of Scotland, took to vex him. Then, notwithstanding that, their messengers passed between them, and they came together and were reconciled; though it was to little purpose.

An. M.C.XXXVII. In this year king Stephen went over sea to Normandy, and was there received because they imagined that he would be such as his uncle was, and because he had got his treasures; but he distributed it and scattered it foolishly. Much had king Henry gathered of gold and silver, and no good was done for his soul thereof. When king Stephen came to England [an. 1139], he held an assembly at Oxford, and there he took the bishop Roger of Salisbury, and Alexander bishop of Lincoln, and the chancellor Roger, his nephew, and put them all into prison, till they gave up their castles. When the traitors perceived that he was a mild man, and soft, and good, and did no justice, then did they all wonder. They had done homage to him, and sworn oaths, but had held no faith; they were all forsworn, and forfeited their troth; for every powerful man made his castles, and held them against him; and they filled the land full of castles. They cruelly oppressed the wretched men of the land with castle-works. When the castles were made, they filled them with devils and evil men. Then took they those men that they imagined

Oxford Castle

(Held during the civil war of Stephen's reign by the Empress Maud and besieged for eight weeks)

I. S. B.


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had any property, both by night and by day, peasant men and women, and put them in prison for their gold and silver, and tortured them with unutterable torture; for never were martyrs so tortured as they were. They hanged them up by the feet, and smoked them with foul smoke; they hanged them by the thumbs, or by the head, and hung fires on their feet; they put knotted strings about their heads, and writhed them so that it went to the brain. They put them in dungeons, in which were adders, and snakes, and toads, and killed them so. Some they put in a crucet hús, that is, in a chest that was short and narrow, and shallow, and put sharp stones therein, and pressed the man therein, so that they break all his limbs. In many of the castles were [instruments called] a "loathly and grim"; these were neck-bonds, of which two or three men had enough to bear one. It was so made, that is, it was fastened to a beam; and they put sharp iron about the man's throat and his neck, so that he could not in any direction sit, or lie, or sleep, but must bear all that iron. Many thousands they killed with hunger; I neither can nor may tell all the wounds or all the tortures which they inflicted on wretched men in this land; and that lasted the nineteen winters while Stephen was king; and ever it was worse and worse. They laid imposts on the towns continually, and called it censerie: when the wretched men had no more to give, they robbed and burned all the towns, so that thou mightest well go all a day's journey and thou shouldst never find a man sitting in a town, or the land tilled. Then was corn dear, and flesh, and cheese, and butter; for there was none in the land. Wretched men died of hunger; some went seeking alms who at one while were rich men; some fled out of the

land. Never yet had more wretchedness been in the land, nor did heathen men ever do worse than they did; for everywhere at times they forbore neither church nor churchyard, but took all the property that was therein, and then burned the church altogether. Nor forbore they a bishop's land, nor an abbot's, nor a priest's, but robbed monks and clerks, and every man another who anywhere could. If two or three men came riding to a town, all the township fled before them, imagining them to be robbers. The bishops and clergy constantly cursed them, but nothing came of it; for they were all accursed, and forsworn, and lost. However a man tilled, the earth bare no corn; for the land was all fordone by such deeds: and they said openly that Christ and his saints slept. Such and more than we can say, we endured nineteen winters for our sins.


[RICHARD OF HEXHAM: Acts of Stephen]

David I, king of Scotland, who was the Empress Maud's uncle, invaded the north of England, partly to make good certain claims of his own, partly on behalf of his niece who was battling with Stephen for the crown of England.

When they had there made private confession, the archbishop enjoined on them and the whole populace a three days' fast with almsgiving, after which he solemnly absolved them, and gave them God's blessing and his own. And although he was himself so greatly reduced by age and infirmity, that he had to be carried on a litter where need was, yet, in order to animate their courage, he would readily have accompanied them

to the field of battle. But they compelled him to stay behind, begging that he would employ himself in in terceding for them by prayers and alms, by vigils and fasts, and other sacred observances; while they (as God would deign to aid them, and as their position demanded) would cheerfully go forth against his enemy, in defence of God's church, and of him who was his minister. So he consigned to them his cross, and the standard of St Peter, and his retainers; and they proceeded to the town called Thirsk, from whence they despatched Robert de Bruce and Bernard de Balliol to the king of Scotland, who was then, as has been said, devastating the territory of St Cuthbert. They very humbly and courteously besought him that he would at least desist from his acts of ferocity; and faithfully promised him that if he would accede to their request, they would obtain from the king of England the earldom of Northumberland, which he claimed for his son Henry. But he, together with his followers, with a hardened heart spurned their solicitations, and disdainfully taunted them. They therefore returned to their associates, Robert abjuring the homage he had rendered him, and Bernard the fealty which he had sworn to him on one occasion when he had been taken prisoner by him. All the nobles, therefore, of that province, and William Peverel and Geoffrey Halsalin from Nottinghamshire, and Robert de Ferrers from Derbyshire, and other eminent and sagacious men, made a compact among themselves, which they confirmed by oaths, that not one of them, in this difficulty, would desert another while he had the power to aid him; and thus all would either perish or conquer together. At the same time the archbishop sent to them Ralph, surnamed Novellus,

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