The Northern Way

Part 6: A.D. 1070 - 1101

Page 4

A.D. 1095. In this year was the King William the first four days of Christmas at Whitsand, and after the fourth day came hither, and landed at Dover. And Henry, the king's brother, abode in this land until Lent, and then went over sea to Normandy, with much treasure, on the king's behalf, against their brother, Earl Robert, and frequently fought against the earl, and did him much harm, both in land and in men. And then at Easter held the king his court in Winchester; and the Earl Robert of Northumberland would not come to court. And the king was much stirred to anger with him for this, and sent to him, and bade him harshly, if he would be worthy of protection, that he would come to court at Pentecost. In this year was Easter on the eighth day before the calends of April; and upon Easter, on the night of the feast of St Ambrose, that is, the second before the nones of April, (121) nearly over all this land, and almost all the night, numerous and manifold stars were seen to fall from heaven; not by one or two, but so thick in succession, that no man could tell it. Hereafter at Pentecost was the king at Windsor, and all his council with him, except the Earl of Northumberland; for the king would neither give him hostages, nor own upon truth, that he might come and go with security. And the king therefore ordered his army, and went against the earl to Northumberland; and soon after he came thither, he won many and nearly all the best of the earl's clan in a fortress, and put them into custody; and the castle at Tinemouth he beset until he won it, and the earl's brother therein, and all that were with him; and afterwards went to Bamborough, and beset the earl therein. But when the king saw that he could not win it, then ordered he his men to make a castle before Bamborough, and called it in his speech "Malveisin"; that is in English, "Evil Neighbour". And he fortified it strongly with his men, and afterwards went southward. Then, soon after that the king was gone south, went the earl one night out of Bamborough towards Tinemouth; but they that were in the new castle were aware of him, and went after him, and fought him, and wounded him, and afterwards took him. And of those that were with him some they slew, and some they took alive. Among these things it was made known to the king, that the Welshmen in Wales had broken into a castle called Montgomery, and slain the men of Earl Hugo, that should have held it. He therefore gave orders to levy another force immediately, and after Michaelmas went into Wales, and shifted his forces, and went through all that land, so that the army came all together by All Saints to Snowdon. But the Welsh always went before into the mountains and the moors, that no man could come to them. The king then went homeward; for he saw that he could do no more there this winter. When the king came home again, he gave orders to take the Earl Robert of Northumberland, and lead him to Bamborough, and put out both his eyes, unless they that were therein would give up the castle. His wife held it, and Morel who was steward, and also his relative. Through this was the castle then given up; and Morel was then in the king's court; and through him were many both of the clergy and laity surrendered, who with their counsels had conspired against the king. The king had before this time commanded some to be brought into prison, and afterwards had it very strictly proclaimed over all this country, "That all who held land of the king, as they wished to be considered worthy of protection, should come to court at the time appointed." And the king commanded that the Earl Robert should be led to Windsor, and there held in the castle. Also in this same year, against Easter, came the pope's nuncio hither to this land. This was Bishop Walter, a man of very good life, of the town of Albano; and upon the day of Pentecost on the behalf of Pope Urban he gave Archbishop Anselm his pall, and he received him at his archiepiscopal stall in Canterbury. And Bishop Walter remained afterwards in this land a great part of the year; and men then sent by him the Rome-scot, (122) which they had not done for many years before. This same year also the weather was very unseasonable; in consequence of which throughout all this land were all the fruits of the earth reduced to a moderate crop.

A.D. 1096. In this year held the King William his court at Christmas in Windsor; and William Bishop of Durham died there on new-year's day; and on the octave of the Epiphany was the king and all his councillors at Salisbury. There Geoffry Bainard challenged William of Ou, the king's relative, maintaining that he had been in the conspiracy against the king. And he fought with him, and overcame him in single combat; and after he was overcome, the king gave orders to put out his eyes, and afterwards to emasculate him; and his steward, William by name, who was the son of his stepmother, the king commanded to be hanged on a gibbet. Then was also Eoda, Earl of Champagne, the king's son-in-law, and many others, deprived of their lands; whilst some were led to London, and there killed. This year also, at Easter, there was a very great stir through all this nation and many others, on account of Urban, who was declared Pope, though he had nothing of a see at Rome. And an immense multitude went forth with their wives and children, that they might make war upon the heathens. Through this expedition were the king and his brother, Earl Robert, reconciled; so that the king went over sea, and purchased all Normandy of him, on condition that they should be united. And the earl afterwards departed; and with him the Earl of Flanders, and the Earl of Boulogne, and also many other men of rank (123). And the Earl Robert, and they that went with him, passed the winter in Apulia; but of the people that went by Hungary many thousands miserably perished there and by the way. And many dragged themselves home rueful and hunger-bitten on the approach of winter. This was a very heavy-timed year through all England, both through the manifold tributes, and also through the very heavy-timed hunger that severely oppressed this earth in the course of the year. In this year also the principal men who held this land, frequently sent forces into Wales, and many men thereby grievously afflicted, producing no results but destruction of men and waste of money.

A.D. 1097. In this year was the King William at Christmas in Normandy; and afterwards against Easter he embarked for this land; for that he thought to hold his court at Winchester; but he was weather-bound until Easter-eve, when he first landed at Arundel; and for this reason held his court at Windsor. And thereafter with a great army he went into Wales, and quickly penetrated that land with his forces, through some of the Welsh who were come to him, and were his guides; and he remained in that country from midsummer nearly until August, and suffered much loss there in men and in horses, and also in many other things. The Welshmen, after they had revolted from the king, chose them many elders from themselves; one of whom was called Cadwgan, (124) who was the worthiest of them, being brother's son to King Griffin. And when the king saw that he could do nothing in furtherance of his will, he returned again into this land; and soon after that he let his men build castles on the borders. Then upon the feast of St. Michael, the fourth day before the nones of October, (125) appeared an uncommon star, shining in the evening, and soon hastening to set. It (126) was seen south-west, and the ray that stood off from it was thought very long, shining south-east. And it appeared on this wise nearly all the week. Many men supposed that it was a comet. Soon after this Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury obtained leave (127) of the king (though it was contrary to the wishes of the king, as men supposed), and went over sea; because he thought that men in this country did little according to right and after his instruction. And the king thereafter upon St. Martin's mass went over sea into Normandy; but whilst he was waiting for fair weather, his court in the county where they lay, did the most harm that ever court or army could do in a friendly and peaceable land. This was in all things a very heavy-timed year, and beyond measure laborious from badness of weather, both when men attempted to till the land, and afterwards to gather the fruits of their tilth; and from unjust contributions they never rested. Many counties also that were confined to London by work, were grievously oppressed on account of the wall that they were building about the tower, and the bridge that was nearly all afloat, and the work of the king's hall that they were building at Westminster; and many men perished thereby. Also in this same year soon after Michaelmas went Edgar Etheling with an army through the king's assistance into Scotland, and with hard fighting won that land, and drove out the King Dufnal; and his nephew Edgar, who was son of King Malcolm and of Margaret the queen, he there appointed king in fealty to the King William; and afterwards again returned to England.

A.D. 1098. In this year at Christmas was the King William in Normandy; and Walkelin, Bishop of Winchester, and Baldwin, Abbot of St. Edmund's, within this tide (128) both departed. And in this year also died Turold, Abbot of Peterborough. In the summer of this year also, at Finchamstead in Berkshire, a pool welled with blood, as many true men said that should see it. And Earl Hugh was slain in Anglesey by foreign pirates, (129) and his brother Robert was his heir, as he had settled it before with the king. Before Michaelmas the heaven was of such an hue, as if it were burning, nearly all the night. This was a very troublesome year through manifold impositions; and from the abundant rains, that ceased not all the year, nearly all the tilth in the marsh- lands perished.

A.D. 1099. This year was the King William at midwinter in Normandy, and at Easter came hither to land, and at Pentecost held his court the first time in his new building at Westminster; and there he gave the bishopric of Durham to Ranulf his chaplain, who had long directed and governed his councils over all England. And soon after this he went over sea, and drove the Earl Elias out of Maine, which he reduced under his power, and so by Michaelmas returned to this land. This year also, on the festival of St. Martin, the sea-flood sprung up to such a height, and did so much harm, as no man remembered that it ever did before. And this was the first day of the new moon. And Osmond, Bishop of Salisbury, died in Advent.

A.D. 1100. In this year the King William held his court at Christmas in Glocester, and at Easter in Winchester, and at Pentecost in Westminster. And at Pentecost was seen in Berkshire at a certain town blood to well from the earth; as many said that should see it. And thereafter on the morning after Lammas day was the King William shot in hunting, by an arrow from his own men, and afterwards brought to Winchester, and buried in the cathedral. (130) This was in the thirteenth year after that he assumed the government. He was very harsh and severe over his land and his men, and with all his neighbours; and very formidable; and through the counsels of evil men, that to him were always agreeable, and through his own avarice, he was ever tiring this nation with an army, and with unjust contributions. For in his days all right fell to the ground, and every wrong rose up before God and before the world. God's church he humbled; and all the bishoprics and abbacies, whose elders fell in his days, he either sold in fee, or held in his own hands, and let for a certain sum; because he would be the heir of every man, both of the clergy and laity; so that on the day that he fell he had in his own hand the archbishopric of Canterbury, with the bishopric of Winchester, and that of Salisbury, and eleven abbacies, all let for a sum; and (though I may be tedious) all that was loathsome to God and righteous men, all that was customary in this land in his time. And for this he was loathed by nearly all his people, and odious to God, as his end testified: -- for he departed in the midst of his unrighteousness, without any power of repentance or recompense for his deeds. On the Thursday he was slain; and in the morning afterwards buried; and after he was buried, the statesmen that were then nigh at hand, chose his brother Henry to king. And he immediately (131) gave the bishopric of Winchester to William Giffard; and afterwards went to London; and on the Sunday following, before the altar at Westminster, he promised God and all the people, to annul all the unrighteous acts that took place in his brother's time, and to maintain the best laws that were valid in any king's day before him. And after this the Bishop of London, Maurice, consecrated him king; and all in this land submitted to him, and swore oaths, and became his men. And the king, soon after this, by the advice of those that were about him, allowed men to take the Bishop Ranulf of Durham, and bring him into the Tower of London, and hold him there. Then, before Michaelmas, came the Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury hither to this land; as the King Henry, by the advice of his ministers had sent after him, because he had gone out of this land for the great wrongs that the King William did unto him. And soon hereafter the king took him to wife Maud, daughter of Malcolm, King of Scotland, and of Margaret the good queen, the relative of King Edward, and of the right royal (132) race of England. And on Martinmas day she was publicly given to him with much pomp at Westminster, and the Archbishop Anselm wedded her to him, and afterwards consecrated her queen. And the Archbishop Thomas of York soon hereafter died. During the harvest of this same year also came the Earl Robert home into Normandy, and the Earl Robert of Flanders, Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, from Jerusalem. And as soon as the Earl Robert came into Normandy, he was joyfully received by all his people; except those of the castles that were garrisoned with the King Henry's men. Against them he had many contests and struggles.

A.D. 1101. In this year at Christmas held the King Henry his court in Westminster, and at Easter in Winchester. And soon thereafter were the chief men in this land in a conspiracy against the king; partly from their own great infidelity, and also through the Earl Robert of Normandy, who with hostility aspired to the invasion of this land. And the king afterwards sent ships out to sea, to thwart and impede his brother; but some of them in the time of need fell back, and turned from the king, and surrendered themselves to the Earl Robert. Then at midsummer went the king out to Pevensey with all his force against his brother, and there awaited him. But in the meantime came the Earl Robert up at Portsmouth twelve nights before Lammas; and the king with all his force came against him. But the chief men interceded between them, and settled the brothers on the condition, "that the king should forego all that he held by main strength in Normandy against the earl; and that all then in England should have their lands again, who had lost it before through the earl, and Earl Eustace also all his patrimony in this land; and that the Earl Robert every year should receive from England three thousand marks of silver; and particularly, that whichever of the brothers should survive the other, he should be heir of all England and also of Normandy, except the deceased left an heir by lawful wedlock." And this twelve men of the highest rank on either side then confirmed with an oath. And the earl afterwards remained in this land till after Michaelmas; and his men did much harm wherever they went, the while that the earl continued in this land. This year also the Bishop Ranulf at Candlemas burst out of the Tower of London by night, where he was in confinement, and went into Normandy; through whose contrivance and instigation mostly the Earl Robert this year sought this land with hostility.


(121) The fourth of April. Vid. "Ord. Vit." Back

(122) Commonly called "Peter-pence". Back

(123) Literally "head-men, or chiefs". The term is still retained with a slight variation in the north of Europe, as the "hetman" Platoff of celebrated memory. Back

(124) This name is now written, improperly, Cadogan; though the ancient pronunciation continues. "Cadung", "Ann. Wav." erroneously, perhaps, for "Cadugn". Back

(125) It was evidently, therefore, not on Michaelmas day, but during the continuance of the mass or festival which was celebrated till the octave following. Back

(126) In the original "he"; so that the Saxons agreed with the Greeks and Romans with respect to the gender of a comet. Back

(127) Literally "took leave": hence the modern phrase to signify the departure of one person from another, which in feudal times could not be done without leave or permission formally obtained. Back

(128) That is, within the twelve days after Christmas, or the interval between Christmas day, properly called the Nativity, and the Epiphany, the whole of which was called Christmas-tide or Yule-tide, and was dedicated to feasting and mirth. Back

(129) The King of Norway and his men. "Vid. Flor." Back

(130) His monument is still to be seen there, a plain gravestone of black marble, of the common shape called "dos d'ane"; such as are now frequently seen, though of inferior materials, in the churchyards of villages; and are only one remove from the grassy sod. Back

(131) i.e. before he left Winchester for London; literally "there-right" -- an expression still used in many parts of England. Neither does the word "directly", which in its turn has almost become too vulgar to be used, nor its substitute, "immediately", which has nearly superseded it, appear to answer the purpose so well as the Saxon, which is equally expressive with the French "sur le champ". Back

(132) This expression shows the adherence of the writer to the Saxon line of kings, and his consequent satisfaction in recording this alliance of Henry with the daughter of Margaret of Scotland. Back

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