The Northern Way

Part 7: A.D. 1102 - 1154

Page 1

A.D. 1102. In this year at the Nativity was the King Henry at Westminster, and at Easter in Winchester. And soon thereafter arose a dissention between the king and the Earl Robert of Belesme, who held in this land the earldom of Shrewsbury, that his father, Earl Roger, had before, and much territory therewith both on this side and beyond the sea. And the king went and beset the castle at Arundel; but when he could not easily win it, he allowed men to make castles before it, and filled them with his men; and afterwards with all his army he went to Bridgenorth, and there continued until he had the castle, and deprived the Earl Robert of his land, and stripped him of all that he had in England. And the earl accordingly went over sea, and the army afterwards returned home. Then was the king thereafter by Michaelmas at Westminster; and all the principal men in this land, clerk, and laity. And the Archbishop Anselm held a synod of clergy; and there they established many canons that belong to Christianity. And many, both French and English, were there deprived of their staves and dignity, which they either obtained with injustice, or enjoyed with dishonour. And in this same year, in the week of the feast of Pentecost, there came thieves, some from Auvergne, (133) some from France, and some from Flanders, and broke into the minster of Peterborough, and therein seized much property in gold and in silver; namely, roods, and chalices, and candlesticks.

A.D. 1103. In this year, at midwinter, was the King Henry at Westminster. And soon afterwards departed the Bishop William Giffard out of this land; because he would not against right accept his hood at the hands of the Archbishop Gerard of York. And then at Easter held the king his court at Winchester, and afterwards went the Archbishop Anselm from Canterbury to Rome, as was agreed between him and the king. This year also came the Earl Robert of Normandy to speak with the king in this land; and ere he departed hence he forgave the King Henry the three thousand marks that he was bound by treaty to give him each year. In this year also at Hamstead in Berkshire was seen blood [to rise] from the earth. This was a very calamitous year in this land, through manifold impositions, and through murrain of cattle, and deficiency of produce, not only in corn, but in every kind of fruit. Also in the morning, upon the mass day of St. Laurence, the wind did so much harm here on land to all fruits, as no man remembered that ever any did before. In this same year died Matthias, Abbot of Peterborough, who lived no longer than one year after he was abbot. After Michaelmas, on the twelfth day before the calends of November, he was in full procession received as abbot; and on the same day of the next year he was dead at Glocester, and there buried.

A.D. 1104. In this year at Christmas held the King Henry his court at Westminster, and at Easter in Winchester, and at Pentecost again at Westminster. This year was the first day of Pentecost on the nones of June; and on the Tuesday following were seen four circles at mid-day about the sun, of a white hue, each described under the other as if they were measured. All that saw it wondered; for they never remembered such before. Afterwards were reconciled the Earl Robert of Normandy and Robert de Belesme, whom the King Henry had before deprived of his lands, and driven from England; and through their reconciliation the King of England and the Earl of Normandy became adversaries. And the king sent his folk over sea into Normandy; and the head-men in that land received them, and with treachery to their lord, the earl, lodged them in their castles, whence they committed many outrages on the earl in plundering and burning. This year also William, Earl of Moreton (134) went from this land into Normandy; but after he was gone he acted against the king; because the king stripped and deprived him of all that he had here in this land. It is not easy to describe the misery of this land, which it was suffering through various and manifold wrongs and impositions, that never failed nor ceased; and wheresoever the king went, there was full licence given to his company to harrow and oppress his wretched people; and in the midst thereof happened oftentimes burnings and manslaughter. All this was done to the displeasure of God, and to the vexation of this unhappy people.

A.D. 1105. In this year, on the Nativity, held the King Henry his court at Windsor; and afterwards in Lent he went over sea into Normandy against his brother Earl Robert. And whilst he remained there he won of his brother Caen and Baieux; and almost all the castles and the chief men in that land were subdued. And afterwards by harvest he returned hither again; and that which he had won in Normandy remained afterwards in peace and subjection to him; except that which was anywhere near the Earl William of Moretaine. This he often demanded as strongly as he could for the loss of his land in this country. And then before Christmas came Robert de Belesme hither to the king. This was a very calamitous year in this land, through loss of fruits, and through the manifold contributions, that never ceased before the king went over [to Normandy], or while he was there, or after he came back again.

A.D. 1106. In this year was the King Henry on the Nativity at Westminster, and there held his court; and at that season Robert de Belesme went unreconciled from the king out of his land into Normandy. Hereafter before Lent was the king at Northampton; and the Earl Robert his brother came thither from Normandy to him; and because the king would not give him back that which he had taken from him in Normandy, they parted in hostility; and the earl soon went over sea back again. In the first week of Lent, on the Friday, which was the fourteenth before the calends of March, in the evening appeared an unusual star; and a long time afterwards was seen every evening shining awhile. The star appeared in the south-west; it was thought little and dark; but the train of light which stood from it was very bright, and appeared like an immense beam shining north-east; and some evening this beam was seen as if it were moving itself forwards against the star. Some said that they saw more of such unusual stars at this time; but we do not write more fully about it, because we saw it not ourselves. On the night preceding the Lord's Supper, (135) that is, the Thursday before Easter, were seen two moons in the heavens before day, the one in the east, and the other in the west, both full; and it was the fourteenth day of the moon. At Easter was the king at Bath, and at Pentecost at Salisbury; because he would not hold his court when he was beyond the sea. After this, and before August, went the king over sea into Normandy; and almost all that were in that land submitted to his will, except Robert de Belesme and the Earl of Moretaine, and a few others of the principal persons who yet held with the Earl of Normandy. For this reason the king afterwards advanced with an army, and beset a castle of the Earl of Moretaine, called Tenerchebrai. (136) Whilst the king beset the castle, came the Earl Robert of Normandy on Michaelmas eve against the king with his army, and with him Robert of Belesme, and William, Earl of Moretaine, and all that would be with them; but the strength and the victory were the king's. There was the Earl of Normandy taken, and the Earl of Moretaine, and Robert of Stutteville, and afterwards sent to England, and put into custody. Robert of Belesme was there put to flight, and William Crispin was taken, and many others forthwith. Edgar Etheling, who a little before had gone over from the king to the earl, was also there taken, whom the king afterwards let go unpunished. Then went the king over all that was in Normandy, and settled it according to his will and discretion. This year also were heavy and sinful conflicts between the Emperor of Saxony and his son, and in the midst of these conflicts the father fell, and the son succeeded to the empire.

A.D. 1107. In this year at Christmas was the King Henry in Normandy; and, having disposed and settled that land to his will, he afterwards came hither in Lent, and at Easter held his court at Windsor, and at Pentecost in Westminster. And afterwards in the beginning of August he was again at Westminster, and there gave away and settled the bishoprics and abbacies that either in England or in Normandy were without elders and pastors. Of these there were so many, that there was no man who remembered that ever so many together were given away before. And on this same occasion, among the others who accepted abbacies, Ernulf, who before was prior at Canterbury, succeeded to the abbacy in Peterborough. This was nearly about seven years after the King Henry undertook the kingdom, and the one and fortieth year since the Franks governed this land. Many said that they saw sundry tokens in the moon this year, and its orb increasing and decreasing contrary to nature. This year died Maurice, Bishop of London, and Robert, Abbot of St. Edmund's bury, and Richard, Abbot of Ely. This year also died the King Edgar in Scotland, on the ides of January, and Alexander his brother succeeded to the kingdom, as the King Henry granted him.

A.D. 1108. In this year was the King Henry on the Nativity at Westminster, and at Easter at Winchester, and by Pentecost at Westminster again. After this, before August, he went into Normandy. And Philip, the King of France, died on the nones of August, and his son Louis succeeded to the kingdom. And there were afterwards many struggles between the King of France and the King of England, while the latter remained in Normandy. In this year also died the Archbishop Girard of York, before Pentecost, and Thomas was afterwards appointed thereto.

A.D. 1109. In this year was the King Henry at Christmas and at Easter in Normandy; and before Pentecost he came to this land, and held his court at Westminster. There were the conditions fully settled, and the oaths sworn, for giving his daughter (137) to the emperor. (138) This year were very frequent storms of thunder, and very tremendous; and the Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury died on the eleventh day before the calends of April; and the first day of Easter was on "Litania major".

A.D. 1110. In this year held the King Henry his court at Christmas in Westminster, and at Easter he was at Marlborough, and at Pentecost he held his court for the first time in New Windsor. This year before Lent the king sent his daughter with manifold treasures over sea, and gave her to the emperor. On the fifth night in the month of May appeared the moon shining bright in the evening, and afterwards by little and little its light diminished, so that, as soon as night came, (139) it was so completely extinguished withal, that neither light, nor orb, nor anything at all of it was seen. And so it continued nearly until day, and then appeared shining full and bright. It was this same day a fortnight old. All the night was the firmament very clear, and the stars over all the heavens shining very bright. And the fruits of the trees were this night sorely nipt by frost. Afterwards, in the month of June, appeared a star north-east, and its train stood before it towards the south-west. Thus was it seen many nights; and as the night advanced, when it rose higher, it was seen going backward toward the north-west. This year were deprived of their lands Philip of Braiose, and William Mallet, and William Bainard. This year also died Earl Elias, who held Maine in fee-tail (140) of King Henry; and after his death the Earl of Anjou succeeded to it, and held it against the king. This was a very calamitous year in this land, through the contributions which the king received for his daughter's portion, and through the badness of the weather, by which the fruits of the earth were very much marred, and the produce of the trees over all this land almost entirely perished. This year men began first to work at the new minster at Chertsey.

A.D. 1111. This year the King Henry bare not his crown at Christmas, nor at Easter, nor at Pentecost. And in August he went over sea into Normandy, on account of the broils that some had with him by the confines of France, and chiefly on account of the Earl of Anjou, who held Maine against him. And after he came over thither, many conspiracies, and burnings, and harrowings, did they between them. In this year died the Earl Robert of Flanders, and his son Baldwin succeeded thereto. (141) This year was the winter very long, and the season heavy and severe; and through that were the fruits of the earth sorely marred, and there was the greatest murrain of cattle that any man could remember.

A.D. 1112. All this year remained the King Henry in Normandy on account of the broils that he had with France, and with the Earl of Anjou, who held Maine against him. And whilst he was there, he deprived of their lands the Earl of Evreux, and William Crispin, and drove them out of Normandy. To Philip of Braiose he restored his land, who had been before deprived of it; and Robert of Belesme he suffered to be seized, and put into prison. This was a very good year, and very fruitful, in wood and in field; but it was a very heavy time and sorrowful, through a severe mortality amongst men.

A.D. 1113. In this year was the King Henry on the Nativity and at Easter and at Pentecost in Normandy. And after that, in the summer, he sent hither Robert of Belesme into the castle at Wareham, and himself soon (142) afterwards came hither to this land.

A.D. 1114. In this year held the King Henry his court on the Nativity at Windsor, and held no other court afterwards during the year. And at midsummer he went with an army into Wales; and the Welsh came and made peace with the king. And he let men build castles therein. And thereafter, in September, he went over sea into Normandy. This year, in the latter end of May, was seen an uncommon star with a long train, shining many nights. In this year also was so great an ebb of the tide everywhere in one day, as no man remembered before; so that men went riding and walking over the Thames eastward of London bridge. This year were very violent winds in the month of October; but it was immoderately rough in the night of the octave of St. Martin; and that was everywhere manifest both in town and country. In this year also the king gave the archbishopric of Canterbury to Ralph, who was before Bishop of Rochester; and Thomas, Archbishop of York, died; and Turstein succeeded thereto, who was before the king's chaplain. About this same time went the king toward the sea, and was desirous of going over, but the weather prevented him; then meanwhile sent he his writ after the Abbot Ernulf of Peterborough, and bade that he should come to him quickly, for that he wished to speak with him on an interesting subject. When he came to him, he appointed him to the bishopric of Rochester; and the archbishops and bishops and all the nobility that were in England coincided with the king. And he long withstood, but it availed nothing. And the king bade the archbishop that he should lead him to Canterbury, and consecrate him bishop whether he would or not. (143) This was done in the town called Bourne (144) on the seventeenth day before the calends of October. When the monks of Peterborough heard of this, they felt greater sorrow than they had ever experienced before; because he was a very good and amiable man, and did much good within and without whilst he abode there. God Almighty abide ever with him. Soon after this gave the king the abbacy to a monk of Sieyes, whose name was John, through the intreaty of the Archbishop of Canterbury. And soon after this the king and the Archbishop of Canterbury sent him to Rome after the archbishop's pall; and a monk also with him, whose name was Warner, and the Archdeacon John, the nephew of the archbishop. And they sped well there. This was done on the seventh day before the calends Of October, in the town that is yclept Rowner. And this same day went the king on board ship at Portsmouth.


(133) "Auvergne" at that time was an independent province, and formed no part of France. About the middle of the fourteenth century we find Jane, Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne, and Queen of France, assisting in the dedication of the church of the Carmelites at Paris, together with Queen Jeanne d'Evreux, third wife and widow of Charles IV., Blanche of Navarre, widow of Philip VI., and Jeanne de France, Queen of Navarre. -- Felib. "Histoire de Paris", vol. I, p. 356. Back

(134) A title taken from a town in Normandy, now generally written Moretaine, or Moretagne; de Moreteon, de Moritonio, Flor. Back

(135) "cena Domini" -- commonly called Maundy Thursday. Back

(136) Now Tinchebrai. Back

(137) Matilda, Mathilde, or Maud. Back

(138) Henry V. of Germany, the son of Henry IV. Back

(139) Or, "in the early part of the night," etc. Back

(140) That is, the territory was not a "fee simple", but subject to "taillage" or taxation; and that particular species is probably here intended which is called in old French "en queuage", an expression not very different from that in the text above. Back

(141) i.e. to the earldom of Flanders. Back

(142) "Mense Julio". -- Flor. Back

(143) We have still the form of saying "Nolo episcopari", when a see is offered to a bishop. Back

(144) i.e. East Bourne in Sussex; where the king was waiting for a fair wind to carry him over sea. Back

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