Page images

cerning the hares, that they should go free. The rich complained and the poor murmured, but he was so sturdy that he recked nought of them; they must will all that the king willed, if they would live; or would keep their lands; or would hold their possessions; or would be maintained in their rights. Alas! that any man should so exalt himself, and carry himself in his pride over all! May Almighty God show mercy to his soul, and grant him the forgiveness of his sins! We have written concerning him these things, both good and bad, that virtuous men might follow after the good, and wholly avoid the evil, and might go in the way that leadeth to the kingdom of heaven.

We may write of many events which happened during this year. In Denmark, the Danes who were formerly accounted the most loyal of people, turned to the greatest possible perfidy and treachery, for they chose king Canute, and submitted to him, and swore oaths of allegiance, and afterwards they shamefully murdered him in a church.* It also came to pass in Spain, that the heathen men went forth, and made war upon the Christians, and brought great part of the country into subjection to themselves. But the Christian king, whose name was Alphonso, sent to all countries and begged assistance. And allies flocked to him from every Christian land, and they went forth, and slew or drove away all the heathens, and they won their land again by the help of God. The same year also many great men died in this land: Stigand bishop of Chichester, and the abbat of St. Augustine's, and the abbats of Bath and of Pershore, and the lord of them all William king of England, concerning whom we have spoken above.

After his death, his son William, of the same name with his father, took to himself the government, and was consecrated king in Westminster by archbishop Lanfranc three days before Michælmas: and all the men of England acknowledged him, and swore oaths of allegiance to him. This done, the king went to Winchester and examined the treasury, and the hoards which his father had amassed; gold end silver, vessels of plate, palls, gems, and many other valu

* A church at Odensee, dedicated to St. Alban, whose relics had been Drought from England by this Canute.

ables that are hard to be numbered. The king did as his father before he died commanded him; he distributed treasures amongst all the monasteries of England, for the sake of his father's soul: to some he gave ten marks of gold, and to others six, and sixty pennies to every country church, and a hundred pounds of money was sent into every county to be divided among the poor for his soul's sake. And before he died he had also desired that all who had been imprisoned during his reign should be released. And the king was at London during midwinter.

A. 1088. This year the land was much disturbed, and filled with treason, so that the principal Frenchmen here would have betrayed their lord the king, and have had his brother Robert instead, who was earl of Normandy. Bishop Odo was the chief man in the conspiracy, together with bishop Gosfrith, and William bishop of Durham. The king esteemed the bishop so highly, that the affairs of all England were directed after his counsel, and according to his pleasure, but the bishop purposed to do by him as Judas Iscariot did by our Lord. And earl Roger was concerned in this conspiracy, and many others with him, all Frenchmen. This plot was concerted during Lent; and as soon as Easter came they marched forth, and plundered, and burned, and laid waste the lands of the crown; and they ruined the estates of those who remained firm in their allegiance. And each of the head conspirators went to his own castle, and manned and victualled it, as best he might. Bishop Gosfrith and Robert the peace-breaker went to Bristol, and having plundered the town, they brought the spoils into the castle; and afterwards they sallied forth and plundered Bath, and all the surrounding country, and they laid waste all the lordship of Berkeley. And the chief men of Hereford and all that county, and the men of Shropshire, with many from Wales, entered Worcestershire, and went on plundering and burning, till they approached the county town, and they were resolved to burn this also, and to plunder the cathedral, and to seize the king's castle for themselves. The worthy bishop Wulstan seeing this, was much distressed in mind, because the castle was committed to his keeping. Nevertheless his retainers, few as they were, marched cut, and through the mercy of God, and the good desert of the bishop, they slew

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


ve had


ether wit

The ki




this c

en. E

aster can



nd each

d man


ing pla


nd allt


[blocks in formation]

or tcok captive five hundred men, and put all the rest to flight. The bishop of Durham did as much harm as he could in all the northern parts one of the conspirators named Roger, threw himself into Norwich castle, and spread devastation throughout that country: Hugo also was in no respect less formidable to Leicestershire and Northampton. Bishop Odo, with whom these commotions originated, departed to his earldom of Kent, which he ravaged, and he wholly laid waste the lands of the king and the archbishop, and brought all the plunder into his castle at Rochester. When the king had heard all this, and with what treason they were acting towards him, he was greatly disturbed in mind; and he sent for the English, and laid his necessities before them, and entreated their assistance. He promised them better laws than had ever been in this land, and forbade all unjust taxes, and guaranteed to his subjects their woods and hunting. But these concessions were soon done away. Howbeit the English came to the aid of their lord the king, and they then marched towards Rochester, desiring to seize bishop Odo, for they thought that if they had him who was the head of the conspiracy in their power, they might with greater ease subdue the others. Then they came to Tunbridge castle, in which were the knights of bishop Odo and many others, who resolved to hold out against William. But the English came on, and stormed the castle, and the garrison capitulated. They then proceeded towards Rochester believing that the bishop was there but the king was told that he was departed to his castle at Pevensey, and the king and his troops went after him, and he besieged that castle full six weeks with a very large army.

In the meantime Robert earl of Normandy, the king's brother, gathered together a great multitude, and thought that he should win England with the aid of the disaffected of this country. And he sent some of his troops to this land, intending to follow them himself. But the English who guarded the sea attacked these men, and slew and drowned more than any one can number. At length provisions became scarce in the castle, on which the insurgents prayed for a truce and surrendered the place to the king, and the bishop took an oath that he would depart from England, and never return unless the king sent for him, and that he would also


give up Rochester castle. After this the bishop proceeded thither that he might deliver up that fortress, and the king sent his men with him, but then the soldiers who were in the castle arose, and seized the bishop, and the king's men, whom they put into confinement. There were very good knights in this castle: Eustace the younger, the three sons of earl Roger, and all the best born of this land, and of Normandy. When the king knew this, he set forth with all the troops then with him, and he sent over all England and commanded that every man of mark, French or English, from town and from country, should come and join him. Many were those who flocked to him, and he marched to Rochester and besieged the castle till the garrison capitulated. Bishop Odo and those who were with him departed over sea, and thus the bishop lost the station he held in this land. The king afterwards sent an army to Durham, and besieged the castle, and the bishop capitulated, and surrendered it, and he gave up his bishopric and went to Normandy. Many Frenchmen also left their lands, and went over sea, and the king gave their estates to those who had held fast to him.

A. 1089. This year the venerable father and patron of monks, archbishop Lanfranc, departed this life, but we trust that he has entered into the kingdom of heaven. There was also a great earthquake throughout England on the 3rd day before the Ides of August.* And it was a very late year both as to the corn, and fruits of all kind, so that many men reaped their corn about Martinmas, and even later.

A. 1090. Things being in the state we have described, as regarding the king, his brother, and his people, William considered how he might take the surest vengeance on his brother Robert, harass him most, and win Normandy from him. To this end, he gained the castle and port of St. Valery by stratagem or bribery, and also Albemarle castle, and he placed his knights in them, and they did much harm, ravaging and burning the country. After this he got possession of more castles in that land, and in these also he stationed his knights. When Robert earl of Normandy found that his sworn liege-men revolted and gave up their castles to his great injury, he sent to his lord Philip king of France, who

The 11th of August.

came into Normandy with a large army; and the king and the earl with an innumerable force besieged a castle defended by the king of England's soldiers: but king William of England sent to Philip king of France, and he, for love of William or for his great bribes, deserted his vassal earl Robert and his land, and returned to France, leaving things as they were. During all these transactions, England was greatly oppressed by unlawful taxes, and many other grievances.

A. 1091. This year king William held his court at Westminster at Christmas, and the following Candlemas he departed from England to Normandy, bent on his brother's ruin: but whilst he was in that country, peace was made between them, on condition that the earl should give up Feschamp, the earldom of Eu, and Cherbourg, to William, and withal that the king's men should be unmolested in those castles of which they had possessed themselves in the earl's despite. And the king, on his side, promised to reduce to their obedience the many castles conquered by their father, which had since revolted from the earl, and also to establish him in the possession of all their father's territories abroad, excepting those places which the earl had then given up to the king. Moreover all who had lost their lands in England on account of the earl were to regain them by this treaty, and the earl also was to receive certain estates in England then specified. It was also agreed that if the earl died leaving no legitimate son the king should be heir of all Normandy, and in like manner if the king died, that the earl should be heir of all England. Twelve of the chief men on the part of the king, and twelve on that of the earl, guaranteed this treaty by oath; yet it was observed but a short time. During this peace Edgar etheling was dispossessed of those lands which the earl had granted him, and he departed and went from Normandy into Scotland, to the king his brother-in-law, and his sister. Whilst king William was out of England, Malcolm king of Scotland invaded this country, and ravaged great part of it, till the good men to whom the keeping of the land was entrusted, sent their troops against him and drove him back. When king William heard this in Normandy, he hastened to return, and he came to England and his brother earl Robert with him. And they called out a fleet and army, but almost all the ships were lost, a few days before Michaelmas, ere they reached Scctland. And

« PreviousContinue »