The Northern Way

Part 6: A.D. 1070 - 1101

Page 1

A.D. 1070. This year Landfranc, who was Abbot of Caen, came to England; and after a few days he became Archbishop of Canterbury. He was invested on the fourth before the calends of September in his own see by eight bishops, his suffragans. The others, who were not there, by messengers and by letter declared why they could not be there. The same year Thomas, who was chosen Bishop of York, came to Canterbury, to be invested there after the ancient custom. But when Landfranc craved confirmation of his obedience with an oath, he refused; and said, that he ought not to do it. Whereupon Archbishop Landfranc was wroth, and bade the bishops, who were come thither by Archbishop Landfranc's command to do the service, and all the monks to unrobe themselves. And they by his order so did. Thomas, therefore, for the time, departed without consecration. Soon after this, it happened that the Archbishop Landfranc went to Rome, and Thomas with him. When they came thither, and had spoken about other things concerning which they wished to speak, then began Thomas his speech: how he came to Canterbury, and how the archbishop required obedience of him with an oath; but he declined it. Then began the Archbishop Landfranc to show with clear distinction, that what he craved he craved by right; and with strong arguments he confirmed the same before the Pope Alexander, and before all the council that was collected there; and so they went home. After this came Thomas to Canterbury; and all that the archbishop required of him he humbly fulfilled, and afterwards received consecration. This year Earl Waltheof agreed with the king; but in the Lent of the same year the king ordered all the monasteries in England to be plundered. In the same year came King Sweyne from Denmark into the Humber; and the landsmen came to meet him, and made a treaty with him; thinking that he would overrun the land. Then came into Ely Christien, the Danish bishop, and Earl Osbern, and the Danish domestics with them; and the English people from all the fen-lands came to them; supposing that they should win all that land. Then the monks of Peterborough heard say, that their own men would plunder the minster; namely Hereward and his gang: because they understood that the king had given the abbacy to a French abbot, whose name was Thorold; -- that he was a very stern man, and was then come into Stamford with all his Frenchmen. Now there was a churchwarden, whose name was Yware; who took away by night all that he could, testaments, mass-hackles, cantel-copes, and reefs, and such other small things, whatsoever he could; and went early, before day, to the Abbot Thorold; telling him that he sought his protection, and informing him how the outlaws were coming to Peterborough, and that he did all by advice of the monks. Early in the morning came all the outlaws with many ships, resolving to enter the minster; but the monks withstood, so that they could not come in. Then they laid on fire, and burned all the houses of the monks, and all the town except one house. Then came they in through fire at the Bull-hithe gate; where the monks met them, and besought peace of them. But they regarded nothing. They went into the minster, climbed up to the holy rood, took away the diadem from our Lord's head, all of pure gold, and seized the bracket that was underneath his feet, which was all of red gold. They climbed up to the steeple, brought down the table that was hid there, which was all of gold and silver, seized two golden shrines, and nine of silver, and took away fifteen large crucifixes, of gold and of silver; in short, they seized there so much gold and silver, and so many treasures, in money, in raiment, and in books, as no man could tell another; and said, that they did it from their attachment to the minster. Afterwards they went to their ships, proceeded to Ely, and deposited there all the treasure. The Danes, believing that they should overcome the Frenchmen, drove out all the monks; leaving there only one, whose name was Leofwine Lang, who lay sick in the infirmary. Then came Abbot Thorold and eight times twenty Frenchmen with him, all full-armed. When he came thither, he found all within and without consumed by fire, except the church alone; but the outlaws were all with the fleet, knowing that he would come thither. This was done on the fourth day before the nones of June. The two kings, William and Sweyne, were now reconciled; and the Danes went out of Ely with all the aforesaid treasure, and carried it away with them. But when they came into the middle of the sea, there came a violent storm, and dispersed all the ships wherein the treasures were. Some went to Norway, some to Ireland, some to Denmark. All that reached the latter, consisted of the table, and some shrines, and some crucifixes, and many of the other treasures; which they brought to a king's town, called ---, and deposited it all there in the church. Afterwards through their own carelessness, and through their drunkenness, in one night the church and all that was therein was consumed by fire. Thus was the minster of Peterborough burned and plundered. Almighty God have mercy on it through his great goodness. Thus came the Abbot Thorold to Peterborough; and the monks too returned, and performed the service of Christ in the church, which had before stood a full week without any kind of rite. When Bishop Aylric heard it, he excommunicated all the men who that evil deed had done. There was a great famine this year: and in the summer came the fleet in the north from the Humber into the Thames, and lay there two nights, and made afterwards for Denmark. Earl Baldwin also died, and his son Arnulf succeeded to the earldom. Earl William, in conjunction with the king of the Franks, was to be his guardian; but Earl Robert came and slew his kinsman Arnulf and the earl, put the king to flight, and slew many thousands of his men.

A.D. 1071. This year Earl Edwin and Earl Morkar fled out, (93) and roamed at random in woods and in fields. Then went Earl Morkar to Ely by ship; but Earl Edwin was treacherously slain by his own men. Then came Bishop Aylwine, and Siward Barn, and many hundred men with them, into Ely. When King William heard that, then ordered he out a naval force and land force, and beset the land all about, and wrought a bridge, and went in; and the naval force at the same time on the sea-side. And the outlaws then all surrendered; that was, Bishop Aylwine, and Earl Morkar, and all that were with them; except Hereward (94) alone, and all those that would join him, whom he led out triumphantly. And the king took their ships, and weapons, and many treasures; (95) and all the men he disposed of as he thought proper. Bishop Aylwine he sent to Abingdon, where he died in the beginning of the winter.

A.D. 1072. This year King William led a naval force and a land force to Scotland, and beset that land on the sea-side with ships, whilst he led his land-force in at the Tweed; (96) but he found nothing there of any value. King Malcolm, however, came, and made peace with King William, and gave hostages, and became his man; whereupon the king returned home with all his force. This year died Bishop Aylric. He had been invested Bishop of York; but that see was unjustly taken from him, and he then had the bishopric of Durham given him; which he held as long as he chose, but resigned it afterwards, and retired to Peterborough minster; where he abode twelve years. After that King William won England, then took he him from Peterborough, and sent him to Westminster; where he died on the ides of October, and he is there buried, within the minster, in the porch of St. Nicholas.

A.D. 1073. This year led King William an army, English and French, over sea, and won the district of Maine; which the English very much injured by destroying the vineyards, burning the towns, and spoiling the land. But they subdued it all into the hand of King William, and afterwards returned home to England.

A.D. 1074. This year King William went over sea to Normandy; and child Edgar came from Flanders into Scotland on St. Grimbald's mass-day; where King Malcolm and his sister Margaret received him with much pomp. At the same time sent Philip, the King of France, a letter to him, bidding him to come to him, and he would give him the castle of Montreuil; that he might afterwards daily annoy his enemies. What then? King Malcolm and his sister Margaret gave him and his men great presents, and many treasures; in skins ornamented with purple, in pelisses made of martin- skins, of grey-skins, and of ermine-skins, in palls, and in vessels of gold and silver; and conducted him and his crew with great pomp from his territory. But in their voyage evil befel them; for when they were out at sea, there came upon them such rough weather, and the stormy sea and the strong wind drove them so violently on the shore, that all their ships burst, and they also themselves came with difficulty to the land. Their treasure was nearly all lost, and some of his men also were taken by the French; but he himself and his best men returned again to Scotland, some roughly travelling on foot, and some miserably mounted. Then King Malcolm advised him to send to King William over sea, to request his friendship, which he did; and the king gave it him, and sent after him. Again, therefore, King Malcolm and his sister gave him and all his men numberless treasures, and again conducted him very magnificently from their territory. The sheriff of York came to meet him at Durham, and went all the way with him; ordering meat and fodder to be found for him at every castle to which they came, until they came over sea to the king. Then King William received him with much pomp; and he was there afterwards in his court, enjoying such rights as he confirmed to him by law.

A.D. 1075. This year King William gave Earl Ralph the daughter of William Fitz-Osborne to wife. This same Ralph was British on his mother's side; but his father, whose name was also Ralph, was English; and born in Norfolk. The king therefore gave his son the earldom of Norfolk and Suffolk; and he then led the bride to Norwich.

          There was that bride-ale
          The source of man's bale.
There was Earl Roger, and Earl Waltheof, and bishops, and abbots; who there resolved, that they would drive the king out of the realm of England. But it was soon told the king in Normandy how it was determined. It was Earl Roger and Earl Ralph who were the authors of that plot; and who enticed the Britons to them, and sent eastward to Denmark after a fleet to assist them. Roger went westward to his earldom, and collected his people there, to the king's annoyance, as he thought; but it was to the great disadvantage of himself. He was however prevented. Ralph also in his earldom would go forth with his people; but the castlemen that were in England and also the people of the land, came against him, and prevented him from doing anything. He escaped however to the ships at Norwich. (97) And his wife was in the castle; which she held until peace was made with her; when she went out of England, with all her men who wished to join her. The king afterwards came to England, and seized Earl Roger, his relative, and put him in prison. And Earl Waltheof went over sea, and bewrayed himself; but he asked forgiveness, and proffered gifts of ransom. The king, however, let him off lightly, until he (98) came to England; when he had him seized. Soon after that came east from Denmark two hundred ships; wherein were two captains, Cnute Swainson, and Earl Hacco; but they durst not maintain a fight with King William. They went rather to York, and broke into St. Peter's minster, and took therein much treasure, and so went away. They made for Flanders over sea; but they all perished who were privy to that design; that was, the son of Earl Hacco, and many others with him. This year died the Lady Edgitha, who was the relict of King Edward, seven nights before Christmas, at Winchester; and the king caused her to be brought to Westminster with great pomp; and he laid her with King Edward, her lord. And the king was then at Westminster, at midwinter; where all the Britons were condemned who were at the bride-ale at Norwich. Some were punished with blindness; some were driven from the land; and some were towed to Scandinavia. So were the traitors of King William subdued.

A.D. 1076. This year died Sweyne, King of Denmark; and Harold his son took to the kingdom. And the king gave the abbacy of Westminster to Abbot Vitalis, who had been Abbot of Bernay. This year also was Earl Waltheof beheaded at Winchester, on the mass- day of St. Petronilla; (99) and his body was carried to Croyland, where he lies buried. King William now went over sea, and led his army to Brittany, and beset the castle of Dol; but the Bretons defended it, until the king came from France; whereupon William departed thence, having lost there both men and horses, and many of his treasures.

A.D. 1077. This year were reconciled the king of the Franks and William, King of England. But it continued only a little while. This year was London burned, one night before the Assumption of St. Mary, so terribly as it never was before, since it was built. This year the moon was eclipsed three nights before Candlemas; and in the same year died Aylwy, the prudent Abbot of Evesham, on the fourteenth day before the calends of March, on the mass-day of St. Juliana; and Walter was appointed abbot in his stead; and Bishop Herman also died, on the tenth day before the calends of March, who was Bishop in Berkshire, and in Wiltshire, and in Dorsetshire. This year also King Malcolm won the mother of Malslaythe.... and all his best men, and all his treasures, and his cattle; and he himself not easily escaped.... This year also was the dry summer; and wild fire came upon many shires, and burned many towns; and also many cities were ruined thereby.

A.D. 1079. This year Robert, the son of King William, deserted from his father to his uncle Robert in Flanders; because his father would not let him govern his earldom in Normandy; which he himself, and also King Philip with his permission, had given him. The best men that were in the land also had sworn oaths of allegiance to him, and taken him for their lord. This year, therefore, Robert fought with his father, without Normandy, by a castle called Gerberoy; and wounded him in the hand; and his horse, that he sat upon, was killed under him; and he that brought him another was killed there right with a dart. That was Tookie Wiggodson. Many were there slain, and also taken. His son William too was there wounded; but Robert returned to Flanders. We will not here, however, record any more injury that he did his father. This year came King Malcolm from Scotland into England, betwixt the two festivals of St. Mary, with a large army, which plundered Northumberland till it came to the Tine, and slew many hundreds of men, and carried home much coin, and treasure, and men in captivity.

ENDNOTES:

(93) i.e. -- threw off their allegiance to the Norman usurper, and became voluntary outlaws. The habits of these outlaws, or, at least, of their imitators and descendants in the next century, are well described in the romance of "Ivanhoe". Back

(94) The author of the Gallo-Norman poem printed by Sparke elevates his diction to a higher tone, when describing the feasts of this same Hereward, whom he calls "le uthlage hardi." Back

(95) Or much "coin"; many "scaettae"; such being the denomination of the silver money of the Saxons. Back

(96) Florence of Worcester and those who follow him say that William proceeded as far as Abernethy; where Malcolm met him, and surrendered to him. Back

(97) Whence he sailed to Bretagne, according to Flor. S. Dunelm, etc.; but according to Henry of Huntingdon he fled directly to Denmark, returning afterwards with Cnute and Hacco, who invaded England With a fleet of 200 sail. Back

(98) i.e. Earl Waltheof. Back

(99) This notice of St. Petronilla, whose name and existence seem scarcely to have been known to the Latin historians, we owe exclusively to the valuable MS. "Cotton Tiberius" B lv. Yet if ever female saint deserved to be commemorated as a conspicuous example of early piety and christian zeal, it must be Petronilla. Back

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