The Northern Way

Part 7: A.D. 1102 - 1154

Page 2

A.D. 1115. This year was the King Henry on the Nativity in Normandy. And whilst he was there, he contrived that all the head men in Normandy did homage and fealty to his son William, whom he had by his queen. And after this, in the month of July, he returned to this land. This year was the winter so severe, with snow and with frost, that no man who was then living ever remembered one more severe; in consequence of which there was great destruction of cattle. During this year the Pope Paschalis sent the pall into this land to Ralph, Archbishop of Canterbury; and he received it with great worship at his archiepiscopal stall in Canterbury. It was brought hither from Rome by Abbot Anselm, who was the nephew of Archbishop Anselm, and the Abbot John of Peterborough.

A.D. 1116. In this year was the King Henry on the Nativity at St. Alban's, where he permitted the consecration of that monastery; and at Easter he was at Odiham. And there was also this year a very heavy-timed winter, strong and long, for cattle and for all things. And the king soon after Easter went over sea into Normandy. And there were many conspiracies and robberies, and castles taken betwixt France and Normandy. Most of this disturbance was because the King Henry assisted his nephew, Theobald de Blois, who was engaged in a war against his lord, Louis, the King of France. This was a very vexatious and destructive year with respect to the fruits of the earth, through the immoderate rains that fell soon after the beginning of August, harassing and perplexing men till Candlemas-day. This year also was so deficient in mast, that there was never heard such in all this land or in Wales. This land and nation were also this year oft and sorely swincked by the guilds which the king took both within the boroughs and without. In this same year was consumed by fire the whole monastery of Peterborough, and all the buildings, except the chapter-house and the dormitory, and therewith also all the greater part of the town. All this happened on a Friday, which was the second day before the nones of August.

A.D. 1117. All this year remained the King Henry, in Normandy, on account of the hostility of the King of France and his other neighbours. And in the summer came the King of France and the Earl of Flanders with him with an army into Normandy. And having stayed therein one night, they returned again in the morning without fighting. But Normandy was very much afflicted both by the exactions and by the armies which the King Henry collected against them. This nation also was severely oppressed through the same means, namely, through manifold exactions. This year also, in the night of the calends of December, were immoderate storms with thunder, and lightning, and rain, and hail. And in the night of the third day before the ides of December was the moon, during a long time of the night, as if covered with blood, and afterwards eclipsed. Also in the night of the seventeenth day before the calends of January, was the heaven seen very red, as if it were burning. And on the octave of St. John the Evangelist was the great earthquake in Lombardy; from the shock of which many minsters, and towers, and houses fell, and did much harm to men. This was a very blighted year in corn, through the rains that scarcely ceased for nearly all the year. And the Abbot Gilbert of Westminster died on the eighth day before the ides of December; and Faritz, Abbot of Abingdon, on the seventh day before the calends of March. And in this same year....

A.D. 1118. All this year abode the King Henry in Normandy on account of the war of the King of France and the Earl of Anjou, and the Earl of Flanders. And the Earl of Flanders was wounded in Normandy, and went so wounded into Flanders. By this war was the king much exhausted, and he was a great loser both in land and money. And his own men grieved him most, who often from him turned, and betrayed him; and going over to his foes surrendered to them their castles, to the injury and disappointment of the king. All this England dearly bought through the manifold guilds that all this year abated not. This year, in the week of the Epiphany, there was one evening a great deal of lightning, and thereafter unusual thunder. And the Queen Matilda died at Westminster on the calends of May; and there was buried. And the Earl Robert of Mellent died also this year. In this year also, on the feast of St. Thomas, was so very immoderately violent a wind, that no man who was then living ever remembered any greater; and that was everywhere seen both in houses and also in trees. This year also died Pope Paschalis; and John of Gaeta succeeded to the popedom, whose other name was Gelasius.

A.D. 1119. All this year continued the King Henry in Normandy; and he was greatly perplexed by the hostility of the King of France, and also of his own men, who with treachery deserted from him, and oft readily betrayed him; until the two kings came together in Normandy with their forces. There was the King of France put to flight, and all his best men taken. And afterwards many of King Henry's men returned to him, and accorded with him, who were before, with their castellans, against him. And some of the castles he took by main strength. This year went William, the son of King Henry and Queen Matilda, into Normandy to his father, and there was given to him, and wedded to wife, the daughter of the Earl of Anjou. On the eve of the mass of St. Michael was much earth-heaving in some places in this land; though most of all in Glocestershire and in Worcestershire. In this same year died the Pope Gelasius, on this side of the Alps, and was buried at Clugny. And after him the Archbishop of Vienna was chosen pope, whose name was Calixtus. He afterwards, on the festival of St. Luke the Evangelist, came into France to Rheims, and there held a council. And the Archbishop Turstin of York went thither; and, because that he against right, and against the archiepiscopal stall in Canterbury, and against the king's will, received his hood at the hands of the pope, the king interdicted him from all return to England. And thus he lost his archbishopric, and with the pope went towards Rome. In this year also died the Earl Baldwin of Flanders of the wounds that he received in Normandy. And after him succeeded to the earldom Charles, the son of his uncle by the father's side, who was son of Cnute, the holy King of Denmark.

A.D. 1120. This year were reconciled the King of England and the King of France; and after their reconciliation all the King Henry's own men accorded with him in Normandy, as well as the Earl of Flanders and the Earl of Ponthieu. From this time forward the King Henry settled his castles and his land in Normandy after his will; and so before Advent came to this land. And in this expedition were drowned the king's two sons, William and Richard, and Richard, Earl of Chester, and Ottuel his brother, and very many of the king's household, stewards, and chamberlains, and butlers. and men of various abodes; and with them a countless multidude of very incomparable folk besides. Sore was their death to their friends in a twofold respect: one, that they so suddenly lost this life; the other, that few of their bodies were found anywhere afterwards. This year came that light to the sepulchre of the Lord in Jerusalem twice; once at Easter, and the other on the assumption of St. Mary, as credible persons said who came thence. And the Archbishop Turstin of York was through the pope reconciled with the king, and came to this land, and recovered his bishopric, though it was very undesirable to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A.D. 1121. This year was the King Henry at Christmas at Bramton, and afterwards, before Candlemas, at Windsor was given him to wife Athelis; soon afterwards consecrated queen, who was daughter of the Duke of Louvain. And the moon was eclipsed in the night of the nones of April, being a fortnight old. And the king was at Easter at Berkley; and after that at Pentecost he held a full court at Westminster; and afterwards in the summer went with an army into Wales. And the Welsh came against him; and after the king's will they accorded with him. This year came the Earl of Anjou from Jerusalem into his land; and soon after sent hither to fetch his daughter, who had been given to wife to William, the king's son. And in the night of the eve of "Natalis Domini" was a very violent wind over all this land, and that was in many things evidently seen.

A.D. 1122. In this year was the King Henry at Christmas in Norwich, and at Easter in Northampton. And in the Lent-tide before that, the town of Glocester was on fire: the while that the monks were singing their mass, and the deacon had begun the gospel, "Praeteriens Jesus", at that very moment came the fire from the upper part of the steeple, and burned all the minster, and all the treasures that were there within; except a few books, and three mass-hackles. That was on the eighth day before the ides of Marcia. And thereafter, the Tuesday after Palm-Sunday, was a very violent wind on the eleventh day before the calends of April; after which came many tokens far and wide in England, and many spectres were both seen and heard. And the eighth night before the calends of August was a very violent earthquake over all Somersetshire, and in Glocestershire. Soon after, on the sixth day before the ides of September, which was on the festival of St. Mary, (145) there was a very violent wind from the fore part of the day to the depth of the night. This same year died Ralph, the Archbishop of Canterbury; that was on the thirteenth day before the calends of November. After this there were many shipmen on the sea, and on fresh water, who said, that they saw on the north-east, level with the earth, a fire huge and broad, which anon waxed in length up to the welkin; and the welkin undid itself in four parts, and fought against it, as if it would quench it; and the fire waxed nevertheless up to the heaven. The fire they saw in the day-dawn; and it lasted until it was light over all. That was on the seventh day before the ides of December.

A.D. 1123. In this year was the King Henry, at Christmastide at Dunstable, and there came to him the ambassadors of the Earl of Anjou. And thence he went to Woodstock; and his bishops and his whole court with him. Then did it betide on a Wednesday, which was on the fourth day before the ides of January, that the king rode in his deer-fold; (146) the Bishop Roger of Salisbury (147) on one side of him, and the Bishop Robert Bloet of Lincoln on the other side of him. And they rode there talking together. Then sank down the Bishop of Lincoln, and said to the king, "Lord king, I die." And the king alighted down from his horse, and lifted him betwixt his arms, and let men bear him home to his inn. There he was soon dead; and they carried him to Lincoln with great worship, and buried him before the altar of St. Mary. And the Bishop of Chester, whose name was Robert Pecceth, buried him. Soon after this sent the king his writ over all England, and bade all his bishops and his abbots and his thanes, that they should come to his wittenmoot on Candlemas day at Glocester to meet him: and they did so. When they were there gathered together, then the king bade them, that they should choose for themselves an Archbishop of Canterbury, whomsoever they would, and he would confirm it. Then spoke the bishops among themselves, and said that they never more would have a man of the monastic order as archbishop over them. And they went all in a body to the king, and earnestly requested that they might choose from the clerical order whomsoever they would for archbishop. And the king granted it to them. This was all concerted before, through the Bishop of Salisbury, and through the Bishop of Lincoln ere he was dead; for that they never loved the rule of monks, but were ever against monks and their rule. And the prior and the monks of Canterbury, and all the other persons of the monastic order that were there, withstood it full two days; but it availed nought: for the Bishop of Salisbury was strong, and wielded all England, and opposed them with all his power and might. Then chose they a clerk, named William of Curboil. He was canon of a monastery called Chiche. (148) And they brought him before the king; and the king gave him the archbishopric. And all the bishops received him: but almost all the monks, and the earls, and the thanes that were there, protested against him. About the same time departed the earl's messengers (149) in hostility from the king, reckless of his favour. During the same time came a legate from Rome, whose name was Henry. He was abbot of the monastery of St. John of Angeli; and he came after the Rome-scot. And he said to the king, that it was against right that men should set a clerk over monks; and therefore they had chosen an archbishop before in their chapter after right. But the king would not undo it, for the love of the Bishop of Salisbury. Then went the archbishop, soon after this, to Canterbury; and was there received, though it was against their will; and he was there soon blessed to bishop by the Bishop of London, and the Bishop Ernulf of Rochester, and the Bishop William Girard of Winchester, and the Bishop Bernard of Wales, and the Bishop Roger of Salisbury. Then, early in Lent, went the archbishop to Rome, after his pall; and with him went the Bishop Bernard of Wales; and Sefred, Abbot of Glastonbury; and Anselm, Abbot of St. Edmund's bury; and John, Archdeacon of Canterbury; and Gifard, who was the king's court-chaplain. At the same time went the Archbishop Thurstan of York to Rome, through the behest of the pope, and came thither three days ere the Archbishop of Canterbury came, and was there received with much worship. Then came the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was there full seven nights ere they could come to a conference with the pope. That was, because the pope was made to understand that he had obtained the archbishopric against the monks of the minster, and against right. But that overcame Rome, which overcometh all the world; that is, gold and silver. And the pope softened, and gave him his pall. And the archbishop (of York) swore him subjection, in all those things, which the pope enjoined him, by the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul; and the pope then sent him home with his blessing. The while that the archbishop was out of the land, the king gave the bishopric of Bath to the Queen's chancellor, whose name was Godfrey. He was born in Louvain. That was on the Annunciation of St. Mary, at Woodstock. Soon after this went the king to Winchester, and was all Easter-tide there. And the while that he was there, gave he the bishopric of Lincoln to a clerk hight Alexander. He was nephew of the Bishop of Salisbury. This he did all for the love of the bishop. Then went the king thence to Portsmouth, and lay there all over Pentecost week. Then, as soon as he had a fair wind, he went over into Normandy; and meanwhile committed all England to the guidance and government of the Bishop Roger of Salisbury. Then was the king all this year (150) in Normandy. And much hostility arose betwixt him and his thanes; so that the Earl Waleram of Mellent, and Hamalric, and Hugh of Montfort, and William of Romare, and many others, went from him, and held their castles against him. And the king strongly opposed them: and this same year he won of Waleram his castle of Pont-Audemer, and of Hugh that of Montfort; and ever after, the longer he stayed, the better he sped. This same year, ere the Bishop of Lincoln came to his bishopric, almost all the borough of Lincoln was burned, and numberless folks, men and women, were consumed: and so much harm was there done as no man could describe to another. That was on the fourteenth day before the calends of June.

ENDNOTES:

(145) The Nativity of the Virgin Mary. Back

(146) i.e. an inclosure or park for deer. This is now called Blenheim Park, and is one of the few old parks which still remain in this country. Back

(147) This may appear rather an anticipation of the modern see of Salisbury, which was not then in existence; the borough of Old Saturn, or "Saresberie", being then the episcopal seat. Back

(148) St. Osythe, in Essex; a priory rebuilt A. 1118, for canons of the Augustine order, of which there are considerable remains. Back

(149) i.e. Of the Earl of Anjou. Back

(150) The writer means, "the remainder of this year"; for the feast of Pentecost was already past, before the king left England. Back

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