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William of Newburgh: Book One

Book One | Book Two | Book Three | Book Four | Book Five | Introduction


  • Prefatory Epistle
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Of William the Bastard, first Norman king of England
  • Chapter 2: Of William Rufus, the second Norman king of England, and of the expedition to Jerusalem
  • Chapter 3: Of Henry, the third Norman king of England, and of certain events which occurred during his reign
  • Chapter 4: In what manner Stephen seized on England, in violation of his oath
  • Chapter 5: Of the auspicious commencement of Stephen's Reign
  • Chapter 6: Of Roger, bishop of Salisbury, and Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, and their capture by King Stephen
  • Chapter 7: How Stephen lost his royal authority, together with Normandy
  • Chapter 8: The capture of King Stephen at Lincoln
  • Chapter 9: How King Stephen was liberated in consequences of the capture of the Earl of Gloucester
  • Chapter 10: Of the flight of the Empress from Oxford, and of the council at London
  • Chapter 11: Of the impious life and correspondent death of Geoffrey de Mandeville
  • Chapter 12: Of Robert Marmiun, and his death
  • Chapter 13: Of the various misfortunes which befell King Stephen
  • Chapter 14: Of Thurstan, archbishop of York, and of the Foundation of the abbeys of Rievaulx and Fountains
  • Chapter 15: Of the foundation of Byland
  • Chapter 16: Of Gilbert of Sempringham, and of the order which he instituted
  • Chapter 17: In what manner William, archbishop of York, was deposed, he not having received the pall, and how Henry succeeded
  • Chapter 18: Of the cause of the Second Crusade to Jerusalem
  • Chapter 19: Of the heresy of Eudo de Stella, and his death
  • Chapter 20: How the emperor Conrad and king Louis led their forces into the East
  • Chapter 21: Of Raymond, prince of Antioch; and of the capture of Ascalon
  • Chapter 22: Of the unsettled state of domestic affairs under king Stephen
  • Chapter 23: Of David, king of Scotland, and his son and grandchildren
  • Chapter 24: Of bishop Wimund, his life unbecoming a bishop, and how he was deprived of his sight
  • Chapter 25: Of Malcolm the most Christian king of the Scots
  • Chapter 26: Of the appointment of Hugh, bishop of Durham, and the restoration of William of York, and his death
  • Chapter 27: Of the Green Children
  • Chapter 28: Of certain prodigies
  • Chapter 29: Of the exploits of Henry II in England, during his dukedom
  • Chapter 30: Of the treaty between king Stephen and prince Henry
  • Chapter 31: Of the divorce of the king of France from his wife, and of her marriage with the future king of England
  • Chapter 32: Of the council at London, and the death of king Stephen



A prefatory and apologetic Epistle to the ensuing work, addressed to the abbot of Rievaulx, by William, canon of Newburgh.

[1] To his reverend father and lord, Ernald, abbot of Rievaulx, William, the least of the servants of Christ, prayeth, that when the Prince of Shepherds shall appear, there may be given to him an unfading crown of glory.

[2] I have received the letters of your holiness, wherein you deign to assign to me the care and labor of writing (for the knowledge and instruction of posterity) a history of the memorable events which have so abundantly occurred in our own times; although there be so many of your own venerable fraternity better qualified to accomplish such a work, and that more elegantly; but this, I perceive, arises from your kind desire to spare, in this respect, the members of your own society, who are so fully occupied in the duties of monastic service, as well as to prevent the leisure hours kindly granted to my infirmity from being unemployed. Indeed, I am so devotedly bound by your kind regard to me, that, even were your commands more difficult, I should not venture to gainsay them; but since your cautious discrimination does not impose upon me any research into profound matters or mystical exposition, but merely to expatiate, for a time, on historic narrative, as it were for mental recreation only (so easy is the work), I have, consequently, no sufficient ground of refusal remaining. Wherefore, by the assistance of God and our Lord, in whose bands both of us and our words are, and relying on the prayers of yourself and your holy brotherhood, who have condescended to unite their repeated entreaties to the command of your holiness, I will attempt the labor you recommend; premising, however, some few necessary matters before I commence my history.



[1] The history of our English nation has been written by the venerable Bede, a priest and monk, who, the more readily to gain the object he had in view, commenced his narrative at a very remote period, though he only glanced, with cautious brevity, at the more prominent actions of the Britons, who are known to have been the aborigines of our island. The Britons, however, had before him a historian of their own, from whose work Bede has inserted an extract; this fact I observed some years since, when I accidentally discovered a copy of the work of Gildas. His history, however, is rarely to be found, for few persons care either to transcribe or possess it, his style being so coarse and unpolished; his impartiality, however, is strong in developing truth, for he never spares even his own countrymen; he touches lightly upon their good qualities, and laments their numerous bad ones: there can be no suspicion that the truth is disguised, when a Briton, speaking of Britons, declares, that they were neither courageous in war, nor faithful in peace.

[2] For the purpose of washing out those stains from the character of the Britons, a writer in our times has started up and invented the most ridiculous fictions concerning them, and with unblushing effrontery, extols them far above the Macedonians and Romans. He is called Geoffrey, surnamed Arthur, from having given, in a Latin version, the fabulous exploits of Arthur, drawn from the traditional fictions of the Britons, with additions of his own, and endeavored to dignify them with the name of authentic history; moreover, he has unscrupulously promulgated the mendacious predictions of one Merlin, as if they were genuine prophecies, corroborated by indubitable truth, to which also he has himself considerably added during the process of translating them into Latin. He further declares that this Merlin was the issue of a demon and woman, and, as participating in his father's nature, attributes to him the most exact and extensive knowledge of futurity; whereas, we are rightly taught, by reason and the holy scriptures, that devils, being excluded from the light of God, can never by meditation arrive at the cognizance of future events; though by the means of some types, more evident to them than to us, they may predict events to come rather by conjecture than by certain knowledge. Moreover, even in their conjectures, subtle though they be, they often deceive themselves as well as others. Nevertheless, they impose on the ignorant by their feigned divinations, and arrogate to themselves a prescience which, in truth, they do not possess. The fallacies of Merlin's prophecies are, indeed, evident in circumstances which are known to have transpired in the kingdom of England after the death of Geoffrey himself, who translated these follies from the British language, to which, as is truly believed, he added much from his own invention.

[3] Besides, he so accommodated his prophetic fancies, as he easily might do, to circumstances occurring previous to, or during, his own times, that they might obtain a suitable interpretation. Moreover, no one but a person ignorant of ancient history, when he meets with that book which he calls the History of the Britons, can for a moment doubt how impertinently and impudently he falsifies in every respect. For he only who has not learnt the truth of history indiscreetly believes the absurdity of fable. I omit this man's inventions concerning the exploits of the Britons previous to the government of Julius Caesar, as well as the fictions of others which he has recorded, as if they were authentic. I make no mention of his fulsome praise of the Britons, in defiance of the truth of history, from the time of Julius Caesar, when they came under the dominion of the Romans, to that of Honorius, when the Romans voluntarily retired from Britain, on account of the more urgent necessities of their own state.

[4] Indeed, the Britons, by the retreat of the Romans, becoming once more at their own disposal -- nay, left to themselves for their own destruction, and exposed to the depredation of the Picts and Scots -- are said to have had Vortigern for king, by whom the Saxons, or Angles, were invited over for the defense of the kingdom: they arrived in Britain under the conduct of Hengist, and repelled the irruptions of the barbarians for a time; but afterward, having discovered the fertility of the land, and the supineness of its inhabitants, they broke their treaty, and turned their arms against those by whom they bad been invited over, and confined the miserable remains of the people, now called the Welsh who had not been dispersed -- within inaccessible woods and mountains. The Saxons, moreover, had, in the course of succession, most valiant and powerful kings; among whom was Ethelberht, great-grandson of Hengist, who, having extended his empire from the Gallic ocean to the Humber, embraced the easy yoke of Christ at the preaching of Augustine. Alfred, too, king of Northumberland, subdued both the Britons and the Scots with excessive slaughter. Edwin, who succeeded Alfred, reigned at the same time over the Angles and Britons; Oswald, his successor, governed all the nations of Britain.

[5] Now, since it is evident that these facts are established with historical authenticity by the venerable Bede, it appears that whatever Geoffrey has written, subsequent to Vortigern, either of Arthur, or his successors, or predecessors, is a fiction, invented either by himself or by others, and promulgated either through an unchecked propensity to falsehood, or a desire to please the Britons, of whom vast numbers are said to be so stupid as to assert that Arthur is yet to come, and who cannot bear to hear of his death. Lastly, he makes Aurelius Ambrosius succeed to Vortigern (the Saxons whom he had sent for being conquered and expelled), and pretends that he governed all England superexcellently; he also mentions Utherpendragon, his brother, as his successor, whom, he pretends, reigned with equal power and glory, adding a vast deal from Merlin, out of his profuse addiction to lying. On the decease of Utherpendragon, he makes his son Arthur succeed to the kingdom of Britain -- the fourth in succession from Vortigern, in like manner as our Bede places Ethelberht, the patron of Augustine, fourth from Hengist in the government of the Angles. Therefore, the reign of Arthur, and the arrival of Augustine in England, ought to coincide.

[6] But how much plain historical truth outweighs concerted fiction may, in this particular, be perceived even by a purblind man through his mind's eye. Moreover, he depicts Arthur himself as great and powerful beyond all men, and as celebrated in his exploits as he chose to feign him. First, he makes him triumph, at pleasure, over Angles, Picts, and Scots; then, he subdues Ireland, the Orkneys, Gothland, Norway, Denmark, partly by war, partly by the single terror of his name. To these he adds Iceland, which, by some, is called the remotest Thule, in order that what a noble poet flatteringly said to the Roman Augustus, "The distant Thule shall confess thy sway," might apply to the British Arthur. Next, he makes him attack, and speedily triumph over, Gaul -- a nation which Julius Caesar, with infinite peril and labor, was scarcely able to subjugate in ten years -- as though the little finger of the British was more powerful than the loins of the mighty Caesar. After this, with numberless triumphs, he brings him back to England, where he celebrates his conquests with a splendid banquet with his subject-kings and princes, in the presence of the three archbishops of the Britons, that is London, Carleon, and York -- whereas, the Britons at that time never had an archbishop. Augustine, having received the pall from the Roman pontiff, was made the first archbishop in Britain; for the barbarous nations of Europe, though long since converted to the Christian faith, were content with bishops, and did not regard the prerogative of the pall. Lastly, the Irish, Norwegians, Danes, and Goths, though confessedly Christians, for a long while possessed only bishops, and had no archbishops until our own time.

[7] Next this fabler, to carry his Arthur to the highest summit, makes him declare war against the Romans, having, however, first vanquished a giant of surprising magnitude in single combat, though since the times of David we never read of giants. Then, with a wider license of fabrication, he brings all the kings of the world in league with the Romans against him; that is to say, the kings of Greece, Africa, Spain, Parthia, Media, Iturea, Libya, Egypt, Babylon, Bithynia, Phrygia, Syria, Boeotia, and Crete, and he relates that all of them were conquered by him in a single battle; whereas, even Alexander the Great, renowned throughout all ages, was engaged for twelve years in vanquishing only a few of the potentates of these mighty kingdoms. Indeed, he makes the little finger of his Arthur more powerful than the loins of Alexander the Great; more especially when, previous to the victory over so many kings, he introduces him relating to his comrades the subjugation of thirty kingdoms by his and their united efforts; whereas, in fact, this romancer will not find in the world so many kingdoms, in addition to those mentioned, which he had not yet subdued. Does he dream of another world possessing countless kingdoms, in which the circumstances he has related took place? Certainly, in our own orb no such events have happened. For how would the elder historians, who were ever anxious to omit nothing remarkable, and even recorded trivial circumstances, pass by unnoticed so incomparable a man, and such surpassing deeds? How could they, I repeat, by their silence, suppress Arthur, the British monarch (superior to Alexander the Great), and his deeds, or Merlin, the British prophet (the rival of Isaiah), and his prophecies? For what less in the knowledge of future events does he attribute to this Merlin than we do to Isaiah, except, indeed, that he durst not prefix to his productions, "Thus saith the Lord" and was ashamed to say, "Thus saith the Devil," though this had been best suited to a prophet the offspring of a demon.

[8] Since, therefore, the ancient historians make not the slightest mention of these matters, it is plain that whatever this man published of Arthur and of Merlin are mendacious fictions, invented to gratify the curiosity of the undiscerning. Moreover, it is to be noted that he subsequently relates that the same Arthur was mortally wounded in battle, and that, after having disposed of his kingdom he retired into the island of Avallon, according to the British fables, to be cured of his wounds; not daring, through fear of the Britons, to assert that he was dead -- he whom these truly silly Britons declare is still to come. Of the successors of Arthur he feigns, with similar effrontery, giving them the monarchy of Britain, even to the seventh generation, making those noble kings of the Angles (whom the venerable Bede declares to have been monarchs of Britain) their slaves and vassals.

[9] Therefore, let Bede, of whose wisdom and integrity none can doubt, possess our unbounded confidence, and let this fabler, with his fictions, be instantly rejected by all.

[10] There were not wanting, indeed, some writers after Bede, but none at all to be compared with him, who detailed from his days the series of times and events of our island until our own recollection; men deserving of praise for their zealous and faithful labors, though their narrative be homely. In our times, indeed, events so great and memorable have occurred, that, if they be not transmitted to lasting memory by written documents, the negligence of the moderns must be deservedly blamed. Perhaps a work of this kind is already begun, or even finished, by one or more persons, but, nevertheless, some venerable characters, to whom we owe obedience, have deigned to enjoin such a labor, even to so insignificant a person as myself, in order that I, who am unable to make my offerings with the rich, may yet be permitted, with the poor widow, to cast somewhat of my poverty into the treasury of the Lord: and, since we are aware that the series of English history has been brought down by some to the decease of king Henry the first, beginning at the arrival of the Normans in England, land, I shall succinctly describe the intermediate time, that, by the permission of God, I may give a more copious narrative from Stephen, Henry's successor, in whose first year I, William, the least of the servants of Christ, was born unto death in the first Adam, and born again unto life in the second.


Chapter 1: Of William the Bastard, first Norman king of England. <to index>

[1] In the year one thousand and sixty-six from the fullness of time, in which the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, William, surnamed the Bastard, duke of Normandy, either through a lawless desire of dominion, or a yearning to avenge the injuries which he had received, waged war against Harold, king of England. The latter falling by the chance of battle, and the English being defeated and subdued, William united the kingdom of England to the duchy of Normandy. On the completion of his victory -- as he abominated the name of an usurper, and was anxious to assume the character of a legitimate sovereign -- he commanded Stigand, at that time archbishop of Canterbury, to consecrate him king in due form. This prelate, however, would not by any means consent to lay hand's on a man who, to use his own expression, was stained with blood, and the invader of another's right. But Aldred, archbishop of York, a worthy and prudent man, wisely foreseeing the necessity of yielding to the times, and observing that God's appointment was not to be resisted, performed the office of consecration. By these means he conciliated William, who was still breathing threatenings and slaughter against the people, and bound him by a sacred oath to preserve and defend the civil and ecclesiastical government. After this, he regarded Aldred in such a parental light, that although he governed others, yet he calmly suffered himself to be ruled by him. Once, indeed, it happened that this pontiff, meeting with a repulse from the king relative to some petition which he had urged, angrily turned his back in retiring, and threatened him with a curse instead of a blessing. The king, unable to bear his displeasure, fell at his feet, entreating forgiveness, and promising amendment; and when the nobles, who stood by, besought the bishop to raise the prostrate monarch, he replied, "Let him lie at the feet of Peter." This circumstance plainly indicates the high respect which this ferocious prince entertained for the prelate, as well as the authority, aid ascendancy which Aldred possessed over him.

[2] The king, moreover, being incensed (as it has been stated already) against Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, on learning the informality of his consecration, and afterwards the immorality of his life, became desirous of taking fitting vengeance upon him; for this purpose, the legate of the apostolic see, being summoned by the king's letter to regulate the church of England, held a council in the kingdom, wherein the crimes of Stigand being in detected, the unfruitful tree was cut down with the axe of canonical censure, and his place was supplied by Lanfranc, formerly a monk of Bec, then abbot of Caen, a Lombard by nation, a man who, in addition to the purity of his religious life, was celebrated for literature, both secular and divine. When Aldred archbishop of York, was gathered to his fathers, he was succeeded by Thomas.

[3] William, however, after honorably holding for twenty-one years the kingdom which he had so bravely acquired, died; and in his last sickness he appointed his three sons to be his heirs. He willed, indeed, that his firstborn, Robert, in consequence of his want of filial duty, and his rebellious disposition, should be content with the duchy of Normandy; but to his son William, with whom he was better pleased, he bequeathed the kingdom of England. Further, he predicted every good thing of Henry, his younger son, whose disposition he fondly commended, and to whom he left a splendid fortune.

[4] Thus William slept with his fathers; a man from childhood enterprising in arms, great in mind, blessed with success, and the ornament of bastardy. He lies buried at Caen, in the monastery of the protomartyr Stephen, which he had entirely built, and splendidly endowed. I learn, moreover, from credible relation, that a remarkable occurrence took place at his funeral. For when the celebration of his obsequies was concluded, and the body was about to be consigned to its destined receptacle, a man approached, and terribly invoking the name of the Almighty, forbade his burial in that place. "That ground," he exclaimed, "is mine by ancestral right, which the king took from me by force, when he was building the monastery; and never afterwards has he made me any compensation for it." All present were astonished at the judgment of God, deeming it done as an express manifestation of the emptiness of transitory domination -- that this most potent prince, whose sway, during life, extended so far, could not, when dead, obtain quiet possession of ground enough for his own body. Finally, all were so moved by this claim, that they first satisfied this living dog, as the better of the two, according to his demands, and then performed all due solemnities to the dead lion. Indeed, whatever degree of glory among men this Christian man obtained, by attacking, in hostile manner, harmless Christians, and gaining to himself a kingdom by Christian blood, the same was his degree of guilt in the sight of God. A proof of this I have heard from credible witnesses. In the place where the vanquished English were slain, a noble monastery, called St. Martin of Battle, was built by the victors, to be a lasting monument, at once to man as a memorial of the Norman conquest, and also to God as a propitiation for the effusion of so much Christian blood. Finally, within this monastery, the spot where the greatest slaughter of the English was made, who were fighting for their country, after every gentle shower, there exudes real, and as it were recent, blood, as though it were evidently proclaiming by this circumstance, that the voice of so much Christian gore still cries to the Lord from the ground, which hath opened her mouth, and drunk in that blood at the hands of Christian brethren.

Chapter 2: Of William Rufus, the second Norman king of England, and of the expedition to Jerusalem <to index>

[1] In the year one thousand and eighty-seven from the fullness of time in which the Truth arose from the earth, Robert, the eldest son, succeeded his father in the duchy of Normandy, and William, surnamed Rufus, in the kingdom of England; this was in inverted order, it is true, but it was so ordained (as has already been said) by the last will of their father. In consequence of this, some of the nobility inclined to Robert, as the lawful heir, who was unjustly deprived, and thus they disturbed the tranquillity of the kingdom. At first, William governed but feebly, and with difficulty; but to conciliate the minds of his subjects, he conducted himself with modesty and mildness; the moment, however, that his empire was firmly established by the subjugation of his enemies, and the indolence of his brother, his heart was elevated. He appeared to be in prosperity (what in adversity he had carefully concealed) a man void of understanding, and inconstant in all his ways, impious towards God and grievous to the church; a disregarder of marriage, thoroughly wanton, draining the resources of the kingdom by the most lavish expenditure, and, when these failed, seizing on the property of his subjects for such like purposes. He was a model of the most consummate pride; and, in disgust at, or even in derision of, divine truth, altogether wallowed in the foulest sensuality of temporal glory.

[2] His elder brother, Robert (to whom, indeed, the succession to the crown pertained in natural order) was of a less haughty and ferocious disposition; but he proved, in the lesser administration of the duchy of Normandy, how incompetent he was for the management of an extensive monarchy. In arms, however, he was so conspicuous, that, in the great and famous expedition to Jerusalem, he was eminently distinguished for military glory among the noblest chieftains of the world. Henry, the younger born, a man of amiable disposition, engaged in war against his unnatural and faithless brothers -- for they, giving him nothing of their own, even defrauded him of what his father bad bequeathed him by will; and whilst they were envious of him, as he was gradually rising into notice, he prudently evaded stratagems, and secured his safety.

[3] About this time, Anselm, abbot of Bec, a holy man and mighty in the word of God, who also was a Lombard by nation, succeeded Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, who now went the way of all flesh; he had formerly been his pupil. Gerard, too, succeeded to the archbishopric of York, on the death of Thomas.

[4] During this king's reign the Lord stirred up the spirit of the Christians against the Saracens, who had, by the hidden decree of God, so long possessed, as it were by hereditary right, the sanctuary of the Lord, that is to say, those holy places where our redemption was consummated. In consequence of this, a vast concourse of Christian people was gathered together by the pious labors of Urban, the Roman pontiff, and other servants of God. The most valiant princes, distinguished by the ensign of Christ, and accompanied by a numerous army, after a most toilsome march, penetrated to the kingdoms of the East; and by their pious and successful exertions, captured those magnificent cities, Nicea in Bithynia, and Antioch in Syria; and, ultimately, the Holy City itself; among those leaders, Robert, duke of Normandy, was signally conspicuous. When preparing for this expedition with the other Christian princes, he, finding his pecuniary resources insufficient, pledged Normandy to his brother William for a considerable sum. He then entered on this meritorious expedition with the other Christian princes, and having finished his career successfully, returned, after many years absence, to his own country.

[5] King William, however, prolonging his iniquitous course, and to his own destruction kicking against the pricks, could not endure the venerable Anselm, who reproved him with meekness, and endeavored to restrain the enormities which were committed either by himself or by his connivance, but expelled him from England, after having robbed him of nearly all his property, and branded him as a rebel. Thus, while matters were conducted valiantly and prosperously by our own princes in the East, the king, hurried on to his own destruction by his vices, met with an end suitable to his unbridled pride. For, while engaged in bunting, this most ferocious of men was struck, instead of a wild beast, by the arrow of a knight of his own, and verified the saying of the Psalmist, "I myself have seen the ungodly in great power, and flourishing like a green bay-tree. I went by, and, lo, he was gone; I sought him, but his place could nowhere be found." [Ps. 37:36, 37.]

Chapter 3: Of Henry, the third Norman king of England, and of certain events which occurred during his reign <to index>

[1] In the eleven hundredth year from the fullness of time in which God sent His Son into the world, king William being lamentably dead, Henry, his brother, succeeded to the throne. He was the last, in point of birth, of the sons of William the Great, but first in dignity; for while the others were born during the dukedom of their father, he alone was his offspring as king. Induced by this reason, and moreover captivated by his amiable disposition, the prelates and nobles of England determined solemnly to consecrate Henry as their king, whom they knew, by evident tokens, to be adequate to the discharge of the office, and not to wait for Robert, who was still occupied in the East, and whose incompetency to govern a kingdom had been manifested by the mal-administration of his duchy.

[2] Henry, following wholesome advice, quickly recalled the venerable Anselm from exile, abolished the pernicious practices which had obtained during his brother's administration, established laws for the preservation of peace and equity, as far as he was permitted, at the commencement of his reign, and for a time prudently connived at many things, lest his subjects should be terrified by sudden rigor. He wisely foresaw, as was really the case, that, whenever his brother Robert should return, there would be no lack of public disturbances: for his brother Robert, on his return from the Holy Land, with his wife, whom he had espoused by the way, recovered Normandy; and, at the instigation of some of the English nobles, to whom Henry had now become an object of alarm, he threatened his brother Henry with a war, unless he would resign the kingdom to him; moreover, he fitted out and commanded an armed fleet against England, which the revolters from the king quickly joined. This weak and irresolute man, however, being deluded by the prudence of his brother, returned to Normandy without effecting his purpose, and left the kingdom and its government unmolested. After some years residence in Normandy, which was being ruined through his own indolence, in not restraining, by the fear of public authority, those lawless persons who ravaged it at their pleasure, Henry, invited by the nobles of that province, proceeded thither, more out of kindness than enmity; and a great portion of it surrendering to him, he at length captured his brother, having routed his forces at Tinchebrai. Thus this man, great and renowned for valorous deeds in distant parts of the world, now betrayed by the malice of fortune, fell into the hands of his younger brother, whom he had formerly incensed, and, after acquiring surpassing fame in arms, spent the remainder of his life ingloriously in the custody of his brother, without experiencing much fraternal commiseration. Thus Henry, by uniting the duchy of Normandy to the kingdom of England, as his father had formerly united the kingdom of England to the duchy of Normandy, obtained a great and noble name among the mighty ones of the earth.

[3] Moreover, the venerable Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, having returned to his see from exile in France, after some years, went the way of all flesh, and obtained a great name among the great who are in heaven. His successor was Ralph, abbot of Seez, a religious and prudent man. Gerard, archbishop of York, deceased, and was succeeded by Thomas the second, green in years, but, in gravity and simplicity of manners, very different from his predecessor. Indeed, this Gerard is allowed to have been an acute and learned man, but immoral in life, for he was skilled in levying contributions on his tenants on improper occasions; and, as many assert, he was also addicted to witchcraft, which made him hateful both to God and man; and this is evidenced by his fearful death, and the denial of pontifical obsequies to his corpse -- for while sleeping after dinner, in the open air, on his pillow in his garden, near his chamber at Southwell, he grew stiff in the sleep of death, while his clerks were amusing themselves close by. His body, accompanied by very few followers, was brought to York and irreverently interred without the church; neither the clergy nor going out to meet the funeral pomp, as was usual, while boys as it is reported, pelted the bier with stones.

[4] His successor, terrified by his example, washed his hands in the blood of this sinner, and conducted himself commendably in his office. He did not, however, live to an advanced age, but was snatched away, as I believe, lest wickedness should pervert his understanding. I learnt, from a person of unimpeachable veracity, a memorable incident connected with this man, which I cannot pass over. When confined by sickness, he was ordered by his physicians, as the sole means of removing his disorder, to partake of sexual intercourse. His friends pressed him to comply, alleging that God could not possibly be offended, as he did it merely as a remedy, and not for sensual gratification. He appeared to assent, that he might not distress them, and a woman of graceful appearance was admitted to his chamber. His physicians, however, afterwards declared, on inspecting his urine, that this compliance was feigned merely to satisfy his friends. On their reproaching him, as being in a measure accessory to his own death, in not obeying the prescription of his physicians, "Be silent," he said, "let no one insinuate the poison of such language to me any further, for I will not lose the immortal honor of chastity for the cure of perishable flesh." Thurstan, a good and prudent man, succeeded this person, who, it is believed, happily died of that disease, for the cure of which he would not offend God. Moreover, Ralph, archbishop of Canterbury, resting with his fathers William, who had been prior of the regular canons at Chiec, succeeded to his see. These were, we know, the successors of metropolitans under king Henry.

[5] This king had by Matilda, his religious queen, two children, a son and a daughter. His daughter (who was named after her mother) he affianced, when marriageable, to Henry the emperor of the Romans, who asked her in marriage. His son, however, who was regarded as his successor, and who was named after his grandfather, met with a melancholy accident when just arrived at manhood, and, with a party of young nobility, was given as a prey to the monsters of the deep.

[6] Matilda, having died, the king, in the hope of progeny, married the daughter of the duke of Lorraine, but had no issue by her; consequently, after the death of the emperor without heirs by his wife, he recalled his daughter from Germany, and gave her in marriage to Geoffrey, the illustrious count of Anjou, that he might have successors through her in his grandchildren. A conference being held, he made the bishops, earls, barons, and all persons of consequence, confirm by oath the kingdom of England, with the duchy of Normandy, to her, and to his grandchildren her issue. Thus Henry reigned, with great felicity and glory, thirty-five years and some months, at the expiration of which he slept with his fathers. He was a man adorned with many princely virtues, though he obscured them greatly by his concupiscence, in imitation of the lustfulness of Solomon. He was, also, immoderately attached to beasts of chase, and, from his ardent love of hunting, used little discrimination in his public punishments between deer killers and murderers. His body, after the extraction of the brains and intestines, was embalmed, sewed up in skins, and brought from Normandy to England, where it was interred at Reading, a monastery of which he had been the pious founder and munificent benefactor. The man, indeed, who had been hired, at great expense, to extract the brain, became infected, as it is said, from the intolerable stench, and died; and thus, as the body of the departed Elisha reanimated the dead, so Henry's dead body gave death to the living.

Chapter 4: In what manner Stephen seized on England, in violation of his oath <to index>

[1] In the one thousand one hundred and thirty-fifth year from the delivery of the Virgin, Henry, the most illustrious king of England, and duke of Normandy, being dead, but not yet buried, Stephen of Boulogne, his nephew on the sister's side, seized on the kingdom of England. Stephen the elder, count of Blois, had married the daughter of William the first, a noble lady, and had issue by her four sons. The count dying in the East, his widow, in her wisdom, setting aside her eldest born, as he was indolent, and appeared to be of degenerate nature, exalted her favorite son, Theobald, to the entire inheritance; she sent Stephen, yet a lad, to the king his uncle, to be educated and advanced; and that she might not seem to have borne children solely for secular purposes, she placed Henry, her fourth son, in the monastery at Cluny. In process of time, king Henry gave the only daughter of the count of Boulogne, to whom the inheritance pertained, to his nephew Stephen in marriage, bestowing upon him also large possessions in England. To his nephew Henry, a monk of Cluny, he gave the abbey of Glastonbury, and, after a time, advanced him to the bishopric of Winchester.

[2] When, therefore, as already said, king Henry died, Stephen, violating the oath, which he had sworn to king Henry's daughter, of preserving his fidelity, seized upon the kingdom; and in this he was aided by the prelates and nobles who were bound by the same oath: William, archbishop of Canterbury, who had sworn first, then consecrated him king, with the help and assistance of Roger, bishop of Salisbury, who was the second who had sworn, and had, moreover, administered the oath to every other individual. The archbishop, however, died in the very year of his apostasy, as a just punishment for his perjury, as it is believed. The bishop, too, ended his life, some years after, by a miserable death, the king himself becoming the minister of God's vengeance against him, as will be more fully detailed in its place. Still, perhaps, they might suppose that they were rendering service to God, whilst providing for the advancement of the church and the state by a perjury; for which a dispensation might be obtained, and also because there were many things which greatly incurred their displeasure, both in the morals and actions of the deceased king; they imagined, possibly, that a monarch, created solely by their favor would the more readily amend such enormities. Stephen, therefore, in order that he might be elevated to the throne equally against right both human and divine -- transgressing the one by not being the legitimate heir, and the other by his perfidy -- promised everything which the prelates and nobles demanded: but his want of faith rendered all these of no avail; for by the judgments of God that good, for the attainment of which those wise and powerful men had resolved on the commission of such an atrocious crime, was not permitted to take effect.

Chapter 5: Of the auspicious commencement of Stephen's Reign <to index>

[1] The first two years, indeed, of king Stephen's reign appeared to be fortunate, as David, king of the Scots, who had made an irruption on Northumberland beyond the river Tyne, was repulsed and vanquished with his forces: Baldwin de Redvers, who had rebelled against him, was subjugated and banished -- his affairs in Normandy were also conducted with spirit and success; but in the third and fourth years of his reign, evils began to multiply upon this perjured man, this breaker of the promises made at his advancement. Many of the most powerful of his barons rebelled; and, having exhausted the treasures of his uncle, he became himself less powerful and efficient.

[2] These were but the beginnings of evils: for while he was unsuccessfully engaged, in the southern parts of England, against those who had revolted and were committing hostilities upon him, the fury of the Scots having revived, they burst forth and obtained possession of Northumberland, which they wasted with the most savage plundering. Having passed the Tyne, they advanced as far as the river Tees, sparing neither sex nor age; nor did they there fix the limit of their ferocity, but confidently hoped to take possession of the whole province of the Deiri, together with the city of York. The inhabitants, despairing of assistance from the king or the provinces beyond the Humber, and animated by the admonitions of archbishop Thurstan, of pious memory, determined to fight for their lives, their wives and their children. They unanimously assembled against a host formidable for its cruelty, and made a stand not far from the river Tees; and though they were very inferior indeed in point of numbers, yet they were greatly superior to their enemies by confidence in the goodness and justice of their cause. The Scots, setting fire to their camp early in the morning, passed the river, and, contemning the paucity of their opponents, rushed boldly to the conflict. The battle was not of long continuance, where little or nothing was done by the sword; for the light-armed troops, galled by arrows from a distance, soon turned their backs, and left the victory and the field to our countrymen. It is related that many thousands of the Scots were slain in the battle, or in the flight, and king David, accompanied by few soldiers, but with much disgrace, fled to his own country. This battle was, by the assistance of God, successfully fought against the Scots, in the month of August, in the fourth year of the reign of king Stephen.

[3] Some months afterward, Alberic, bishop of Ostia, legate of the apostolic see, celebrated a council at London; in which Theobald, abbot of Bec, with the royal assent, took possession of the see of Canterbury.

Chapter 6: Of Roger, bishop of Salisbury, and Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, and their capture by King Stephen <to index>

[1] After this, the king, residing at Oxford, became so depraved by evil counsel, that, through his greediness for money, he laid his impious hands on ecclesiastics, and, paying no deference to holy orders, sullied his royal character with an indelible stain. Although but a short time before he had received, with apparent kindness, Roger of Salisbury, and Alexander of Lincoln, at that time the most noble and powerful bishops in England, yet on a sudden, as though they had been the vilest characters, and guilty of the most heinous crimes, he seized them, shut them up, and confined them with chains, as well as despoiled them of their property and castles.

[2] As the opportunity has here presented itself, I shall relate a few matters connected with the rise and advancement of this Roger; in order that, in his most melancholy end, the depth of the divine counsels may be contemplated. In the reign of William the younger, he was an indigent priest, living by his office, as it is said, in the suburbs of Caen. At the time when Henry the younger was engaged in war against the king his brother, during a journey, he accidentally turned with his companions into the church where Roger was officiating, and entreated him to say mass for him. The priest, granting the request, was as ready to begin as he was quick in getting through the service; in both of which he so pleased the soldiers, that they declared such a suitable chaplain for the military was nowhere else to be found. And when the royal youth said, "Follow me," he stuck as closely to him as Peter formerly did to the Lord of heaven, when he uttered the like command. For, as Peter left his boat and followed the King of kings, so this man quitted his church and followed the noble youth; and, being made chaplain at pleasure to him and his troops, he became a blind leader of the blind; and though he was almost illiterate, yet he was so subtle by nature, that in a short time be became dear to his lord, and managed his most private concerns. Afterwards, when his master became king, he advanced him to the bishopric of Salisbury, as having deserved well of him, both before and during his reign; and, moreover, as to a person approved in many things, faithful and industrious, he entrusted him with the management of public affairs, that he might be not only distinguished in the church, but even the second person in the kingdom.

[3] At last, from his ecclesiastical and secular offices, having obtained ample opportunities for the exercise of his avarice, he accumulated immense wealth, not for the purpose of dispersing abroad and giving to the poor, but of applying it to the most vain-glorious uses. He built, at Devizes and Sherbourn, two noble castles of the costliest workmanship, ostentatiously anxious that they should be beyond comparison in the kingdom, He also obtained from the king, who denied him nothing, the see of Lincoln for his nephew Alexander. This man, being also of a lavish disposition, and emulating his uncle, erected two splendid castles,' at a most profuse expense; but since buildings of this nature seemed ill to accord with the episcopal character, in order to remove the odium incident to such erections, and, as it were, to obliterate the stain, he founded the same number of monasteries, and filled them with religious societies. And when the illustrious king Henry exacted from all the prelates and nobles of the realm the oath to observe fidelity to his daughter in the succession of the kingdom, the bishop of Salisbury (as it is mentioned above) not only readily took the oath himself, but, like a prudent man and second to the king, carefully explained it, as the king required him to do, for the information of those who were about to swear. But on the death of Henry, who had been the author of all his temporal grandeur, he was faithless towards his lawful heirs, in order that he might entice Stephen to join his party, who was bound in the same obligation; and thus not only was he fearless of committing perjury himself, but he gave a memorable example of it to others.

[4] On the advancement of Stephen to the throne, he conducted himself in such a manner towards him, as to prove, by his devotion to his cause, the singular confidence which he reposed in him. Stephen was, however, ungrateful for these benefits, and was appointed God's avenger against this very bishop, whose deeds were never consistent with his dignity; and so did he distress him, as though he had been a person of no importance, first by imprisonment, then by want of food, and lastly by the threat of inflicting punishment upon his nephew (who bad been the king's chancellor), that he gave up the two noble castles, in which his treasures were deposited. The poignancy of his grief at this occurrence manifested bow deeply the poison of worldly love bad infected his heart: for, according to that most just remark of St. Gregory, "The love of temporal things, when possessed, bears exact proportion to the grief which is suffered at their loss." At length, the aged bishop, worn down with grief and driven to madness, was induced both to do and to say things utterly unbecoming, excited thereto by the loss of those things in the building up and accumulating of which he had so extremely offended God; and he concluded a most conspicuous life by a most lamentable death, through divine appointment. Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, who had been made captive with him, was harassed by similar methods to resign the fortresses he had built; and on relinquishing them he was released, though not without difficulty. If he were wise, he must have revered the divine judgments inflicted on him, and resolved on more prudent occupations. These proceedings, however, did not produce favorable results to the king, though he had been the rod of God's fury against these memorable bishops; for, instigated either by personal hatred or anxiety after money, he paid very little deference to the, sacred orders, as the sequel will show.

Chapter 7: How Stephen lost his royal authority, together with Normandy <to index>

After a few days had elapsed, the empress Matilda, daughter of king Henry, came into England, and excited the compunction of many of the nobility, when they remembered the oath of succession which they had formerly taken to her; while others, from their own feelings, had little dread at opposing king Stephen. Thus was the kingdom divided, some favoring and assisting the king, others the empress; and the divine saying was fulfilled "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation." [Luke 11:17] Thus England was by degrees so ravaged and wasted by hostile incursions on all sides, by rapine and by fire, that, from being the most flourishing, she now appeared the most desolate of kingdoms. All terror of regal dignity, all force of public discipline, had already vanished; and the fear of the law being removed, outrage and licentiousness roamed side by side. Evils were daily multiplying, the music of the church was turned into mourning, and the people bewailed their accumulated losses. Such being the posture of affairs in England, the count of Anjou overran Normandy with an army, and in a short space of time reduced it, in the name of his wife and son; no one opposing him who were competent to withstand his attacks. For he had wisely concerted with the king of France, who appeared to be in league with king Stephen, that no impediment on that side should arise to counteract the success of his designs.

Chapter 8: The capture of King Stephen at Lincoln <to index>

In the sixth year of his reign, king Stephen laid siege to the castle of Lincoln, which Ranulph, earl of Chester, had entered by stratagem, and still possessed; and the siege was protracted from Christmas to the Presentation of our Lord. To raise the siege, the earl brought with him the earl of Gloucester (natural son of king Henry), his father-in-law, and some other very intrepid nobles, with considerable forces, and announced to the king, that unless he should desist, they would attack him. The king, however, being aware of their arrival, had collected troops on all sides; and, disposing them without the city to receive their opponents, he prepared for the battle with perfect confidence; for he was himself a most courageous warrior, and was supported by superior numbers. In addition to this, the opposing army, wearied with a long winter's march, seemed more in need of rest to recruit its vigor, than calculated to encounter the perils of war. Still, however, though inferior in numbers and equipment, yet excelling in courage alone, and aware that, such a distance from home, there
could be no place of refuge in a hostile country, they rushed undauntedly to the conflict. Having dismounted, the king himself, with his company, ranged his cavalry in the vanguard, to give or to receive the first assault; but it being vanquished and put to flight by the first charge of the enemy's horse, the whole brunt of the battle fell upon the division in which was the king. Here the conflict raged most desperately, the king himself fighting very courageously amid the foremost; at length being captured, and his company dispersed, the victorious army triumphantly entered the city to plunder, while the royal captive was sent to the empress, and committed to custody at Bristol.

Chapter 9: How King Stephen was liberated in consequences of the capture of the Earl of Gloucester <to index>

[1] The defeat of the king becoming known, the empress gained the highest summit of power, and was honored with the favor of nearly the whole kingdom. But she showed herself to be unwise after she was advanced to that high pitch; for her recent successes made her so elevated in mind and haughty in speech, that, through her intolerable pride of sex, she incensed the yet-hesitating minds of the nobility against her. The citizens of London, also, although at first they had favorably received her, yet, disgusted at her pride, again rejected her. Irritated at this circumstance, she loaded the king with chains, who, by the judgment of God, had fallen into her hands, and had hitherto been indulgently treated; but by these very means she mitigated the severity of the divine dispensation concerning him, and (as appeared afterwards) accelerated his release. For, at the expiration of a few days, laying siege to the castle of the bishop of Winchester, with her uncle, the king of the Scots, and her brother Robert, she experienced the inconstancy of fortune; and, as her unbounded pride deserved, the loss of her former glory.

[2] At last the bishop, who was brother to the king, a man of great power in the kingdom, crafty and opulent beyond measure, and legate also of the apostolic see in England, sent for William of Sprees and the queen from Kent, which had alone remained unchanged by the king's calamity, and numbers out of other counties, who were irritated at the overbearing tyranny of the empress, to raise the siege. Now, when he had collected immense forces, for some days each army kept guard within their respective camps, and, with the exception of those who marched out for exercise, to make a show of their strength, appeared to be inactive. Vast forces, however, arriving from London, increased the party adverse to the empress to such a degree, that, unequal to the conflict, and leaving Winchester exposed to plunder, she made her escape by flight. In this retreat, her brother Robert, earl of Gloucester, with many others, was taken captive. David, king of Scotland, however, escaped from falling into the hands of his hostile pursuers by artifice; and, thanks to certain persons who conducted him cautiously through considerable alarms and perils, he arrived at his own country. Thus an interchange of those noble captives, the king and the earl, was effected; and hostilities still continuing, each was restored to his own party in exchange for the other.

Chapter 10: Of the flight of the Empress from Oxford, and of the council at London <to index>

[1] Perpetual discord still existed between the king and the empress; sometimes parties were equal, at another time one had the ascendancy; but this, in its turn, was subject to the uncertainty of fortune, as the sequel will disclose. For, in the following year, as king Stephen was building a fortress at Wilton, he was worsted by a sudden irruption of the enemy, and put to flight with considerable loss. In this affair William, surnamed Martel, the king's cup-bearer, was made prisoner, who afterwards purchased his liberation by resigning the noble castle of Shireburn. In the same year, by a change of fortune, the king besieged the empress, during some months, at Oxford. Wearied with the length of the siege, and meeting with an opportunity of escape, through the nature of the season, she took advantage of the darkness of the night, and of the whiteness of the snow, and in white garments crossed the river Thames, which was firmly frozen over, and passed to a place of greater security; and the king took possession of Oxford.

[2] By this success, which obliterated, in some measure, the disgrace of past events, after such multiplied proofs of God's chastening, or mercy, the king conducted himself, henceforward, more mildly towards the clergy; and was present, and affably granted his royal concurrence, at the council which was held the following year, at London, by Henry, bishop of Winchester, legate of the apostolic see, for the quiet and privileges of the clergy. For, as in consequence of the increase of evils in England, little deference was paid to the sacred order, and priest and people were nearly alike in every respect, it was ordained in this council, that whoever laid violent hands on an ecclesiastic, or a monk, should be solemnly excommunicated, and sent to the Roman pontiff for absolution. Before the completion of this year, the archbishop of Canterbury having ordinary jurisdiction over the bishop of Winchester, and the bishop of Winchester exercising the power of his legation from Rome over the archbishop, these two persons clashed against each other; and the peace of the churches being disturbed, they repaired to the Roman pontiff, bringing a question grateful to the Roman ear, in proportion to its weight. One of them, indeed, gained the cause; but neither returned with inexhausted purse.

Chapter 11: Of the impious life and correspondent death of Geoffrey de Mandeville <to index>

[1] At this time king Stephen, attending more to what was expedient than what was strictly honorable, seized Geoffrey de Mandeville, in his court at St. Albans, not quite fairly, indeed, and consistently with the law of nations, but according to his deserts and his own fear. For he was a most desperate character, and possessed of equal power and artifice. He was master of the celebrated Tower of London, together with two other considerable fortresses, and he aimed at great things by his consummate craft.

[2] As, therefore, from these circumstances, he was an object of terror to the king, Stephen cautiously dissembled the injury he had received from him, and eagerly watched a seasonable opportunity for revenge. The injury this abandoned man had done to the king was this: Stephen some years before, as I have before said, had seized on the treasures of the bishop of Salisbury, and transmitted a vast sum of the money to Louis, king of France, to whose sister, Constantia, he had affianced his son Eustace; purposing, by an affinity with so great a prince, to strengthen his succession against the count of Anjou and his sons. Constantia was at that time in London with the queen her mother-in-law, but when the queen was desirous of removing with her daughter-in-law to another place, Geoffrey de Mandeville, who at that time commanded the Tower, opposed her, and took the daughter from the protection of the mother; and though she resisted with all her might, yet he detained her, and suffered the queen to depart with ignominy. Afterwards, indeed, he reluctantly yielded up his noble prisoner to the king her father-in-law, who claimed her; and Stephen dissembled for a while his just indignation.

[3] This outrage had appeared to have long since been consigned to oblivion; but, behold, on a meeting of the nobility being summoned by the king's command at St. Albans, this freebooter made his appearance amongst the rest, and the king, seizing this opportunity for exercising his just indignation, threw him into confinement, and deprived him of the Tower of London, with the two other fortresses he possessed. Despoiled of his strongholds, but set at liberty, this restless man -- vast in design, and subtle beyond comparison, as well as wise beyond measure, for the perpetration of evil -- collecting a band of desperadoes, seized the monastery of Ramsey, and, without the least compunction at having expelled the monks, and made so celebrated and holy a place a den of thieves, and converted the sanctuary of God into the habitation of the devil, he infested the neighborhood with perpetual attacks and incursions. Then, gaining confidence from his success, he proceeded further, and harassed and alarmed king Stephen with the most daring aggressions; and, while he was thus continuing his mad career, God seemed to sleep, and to be regardless both of the affairs of men and His own; that is to say, of ecclesiastical affairs; then did the suffering righteous exclaim, "Up, Lord, why sleepest thou?" [Ps. 44:23] but, as the apostle remarks, after God had "endured, with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction," [Romans 9:23] then, as the prophet observes, "the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and smote his enemies in the hinder parts " [Ps. 78:67] -- that is, at the conclusion of the business, although the former part had been successful.

[4] At length, just before the death of this wicked man, as it is asserted by the credible relation of many persons, the walls of the church which he had seized and of the adjoining cloister exuded real blood, by which, as it afterwards appeared, was signified, as well the heinousness of his crime as its impending punishment. Thus, whilst his abandoned partisans -- given up to a reprobate mind -- were in nowise terrified at such a tremendous omen, the wretch himself -- amidst the thickest of his troops -- attacking a fortress of the enemy, was struck on the head with an arrow by a common foot-soldier. Although this ferocious man at first disregarded his wound as trifling, yet he died in consequence of it a few days afterwards, and carried with him to hell the indissoluble bond of an ecclesiastical anathema. Two also of his most savage adherents, one the commander of the cavalry, and the other of the foot, are said to have perished by different accidents: the one died from a fall from his horse, by which his bead was dashed upon the ground, and his brains beat out; but the other, named Rainer, celebrated for destroying and burning churches, while in passing over the sea with his wife, by the weight of his iniquities, caused the ship, in which he had taken his passage, to become immovable in the midst of the sea. This causing the greatest astonishment to the seamen and the other passengers, they resorted to the ancient custom of casting lots, and the lot fell upon Rainer; and, lest this should seem to be the effect of chance, it was tried again, and even a third time, and being found invariable, the decision of God was manifest -- wherefore, lest all should perish with him, or on account of him, he was put into a small boat with his wife and ill-acquired, wealth, and the ship immediately regained her power of moving, and proceeded as usual; but the skiff sunk with the weight of the sinner, and was buried in the deep.

Chapter 12: Of Robert Marmiun, and his death <to index>

It was a notorious fact, that two other usurpers, similar to the above-mentioned, were also resident in England. Robert, surnamed Marmiun, who expelled the monks, and invaded and polluted the church of Coventry; and William Albemarle, who, excluding the regular canons, acted in like manner at Burlington. Robert was crushed by the weight of the divine judgment; but the other, led to repentance by God's mercy, expiated his enormity by munificent and frequent almsgiving to the poor and by the erection of no mean monasteries. Robert Marmiun was a man warlike and ferocious, crafty, bold, and almost without compeer in his day; at length, after gaining notoriety for his wide-extended successes, and profaning that noble church by the introduction of the servants of the devil, he harassed the earl of Chester, to whom he was more particularly inimical, with frequent and dreadful assaults, and went purposely to attack the earl as he was advancing with considerable forces; but while proudly riding on a fiery steed, in the sight of both of the contending parties, forgetful of his own stratagem -- for he had intersected the ground with ditches to keep off or annoy the enemy -- he unconsciously fell, by the judgment of God (I say), into the pitfall which his artifice and labor had made; and being incapable of extricating himself, in consequence of the fracture of his thigh, his head was cut off, in the presence of all, by an obscure soldier of the adverse party, nearly about the same time as the visitation of God overtook Geoffrey de Mandeville, and which was equally exemplified in the death of this man for a similar cause. Notwithstanding this, William de Albemarle was not intimidated by the manifest interposition of God in the death of these persons, and in a few years afterwards meditated a similar outrage; but, as I have said, being set apart for repentance and atonement, he received mercy, instead of punishment, at the hand of Almighty God.

Chapter 13: Of the various misfortunes which befell King Stephen <to index>

[1] In the ninth year of the reign of king Stephen, which was rendered remarkable by the death of these two miscreants, the king laid siege to the castle of Lincoln, which at that time was occupied by the earl of Chester. While the king was there erecting a fortress, the workmen were destroyed by a sudden irruption of the enemy, and the king retired discomfited.

[2] In the following year, however, he wiped out the disgrace of this affair; for when the earl of Gloucester, and others of the hostile party, had erected a fortress at Farringdon for their own advantage, and to annoy the enemy, the king hastily advancing thither with his own army, supported by the forces of the Londoners, the collected body of troops fiercely attacked the fort for some days, and at length got possession of it, by dint of great labor and bloodshed. Thus fortune shifted from side to side; and those upon whom she had lately smiled with success, she now deceived with adverse accidents.

[3] Again the catastrophes of his eleventh year obscured the success which appeared to counterbalance the calamities of the year preceding: for though Ranulph, earl of Chester, with whom he had ratified a truce, and who had become a faithful and attached friend, had rendered him powerful aid at Wallingford, yet the king, very soon after, forgetful of his royal majesty and honor, seized the earl, who was coming to him peaceably and securely, in the court at Northampton, and compelled him to resign the castle of Lincoln, with everything else which he appeared to have usurped. In consequence of this, the earl was liberated, and became the king's irreconcilable enemy ever after.

Chapter 14: Of Thurstan, archbishop of York, and of the Foundation of the abbeys of Rievaulx and Fountains <to index>

[1] While such events were occurring in the kingdom of England, Thurstan of holy memory, archbishop of York, after the laudable discharge of his duty for many years, and singular works of piety, finding the time of his warfare nearly accomplished, relinquished his dignity, and, excusing himself from its burdens, passed his last days with the Cluniac monks at Pontefract, and was gathered to his fathers in a good old age. Among his other commendable labors, the foundation and advancement of the noble monastery of Fountains is chiefly to be attributed to his pious care and holy industry; the cause of which memorable work is related to have been as follows.

[2] There were twelve or thirteen monks of the monastery at York, who were fervent in spirit, and, being of a scrupulous conscience, anxiously desired to lead a religious life, according to the Cluniac order, or some other similar regulations, not exactly according to the letter of the rule of St. Benedict, which they professed; but intending to embark in something better, and more strict; for the fame of the Cistercian order, recently instituted, had already become extremely celebrated. These men desired to quit their monastery. The venerable Thurstan, cherishing the design and zeal of these persons, paternally received them on their departure, fostered them on the bosom of maternal love, domesticated them for a time, until he could provide for them as he had intended; and, at length, he put them in a place of pasture. The situation was named Fountains; where, at that time and afterwards, so many drank of waters springing up to eternal life, as from the fountains of the Savior. Indeed, shortly before, the monks of Clairvaux, who had been invited by a nobleman named Walter Espec and sent by abbot Bernard, of blessed memory, had arrived in the province of York, and had accepted a residence in a place now called Rievaulx (though at that time a horrid and wild desert), a site presented to them by that noble person; and to them the venerable Thurstan extended his pastoral favor with paternal regard. Instigated by their example, and spirited to enter on a stricter life, the monks of York committed themselves to the direction of abbot Bernard, whose memory is blessed; and, though separated in place, yet united in heart, they began, with equal energy and zeal, to enter on the narrow path which leadeth unto life. God blessed them with the blessings of heaven above, and with the blessings of the deep that lieth under, with the blessings of fatness and fleeces; insomuch that they not only collected a copious multitude for the service of Almighty God, but had also very ample means of dispensing charity to the poor. That they served the Lord Christ, like exemplary bees, is known by their fruits; that is, by those numerous companies of saints which they sent out like swarms of wise bees, and dispersed them not only through the provinces of England, but even through barbarous nations.

Chapter 15: Of the foundation of Byland <to index>

[1] As I have made mention of Rievaulx and Fountains, two noble monasteries in our province of York, it is incumbent upon me also to relate the origin of Byland, better known to me from its propinquity, being only a mile distant from the church of Newburgh, where I was educated in Christ from a boy. However, I shall begin at an earlier period. There were, in foreign parts, as I have learnt from men of elder time, three great contemporaries, Robert, surnamed de Arbuscule, Bernard, and Vitalis. These men, not meanly instructed, and fervent in spirit, went through towns and villages, sowing, according to Isaiah, beside all waters, and, from the conversion of numbers, gathered abundant fruit; it being piously determined among them, that Robert should direct his attention more especially to the women who had been converted to a better life by their common labor, while Bernard and Vitalis should take greater concern for the men. In consequence, Robert erected the noble monastery of Fontevraud for females, and appointed there a regular discipline; whilst Bernard at Tyron, and Vitalis at Savigny, instituted regular monks, although each distinguished his own by some peculiar injunctions.

[2] When, from these three budding roots, the servants of God, male and female, sprang up in distant provinces, some of the monks of Savigny founded our Byland. Few in number, and poor at the outset, and seeking a proper situation, where, by the favor of God, they might settle so as to produce fruit, they accepted, from a nobleman named Roger de Mowbray, the founder of the church of Newburgh, a confined situation at first; whence, migrating from different causes, a second, third, and fourth time, they ultimately took root, under the same protection, at Byland. The Lord blessed them; and they advanced, from poverty to great opulence, under father Roger, a man of singular integrity, who still survives in a fruitful old age, having nearly completed the fifty-seventh year of his administration. The foundation of this monastery, however, did not take place until after the decease of the venerable Thurstan, when the before-mentioned abbeys of Rievaulx and Fountains were already in a flourishing condition. And since the monks of Savigny had many years before, at the pious instigation of one of their abbots, adopted the rites of the foundation at Clairvaux, these three monasteries, from the unity of their regular discipline, are also more closely united by the tie of sentiment; and, like the triple light of our province, they blaze forth by the preeminency of their holy religion. What else can be deemed of these and other religious places, which began more abundantly to be erected and to flourish in the days of king Stephen, but that they are the camps of God, where soldiers keep guard, and novices are trained against spiritual wickedness? For, about this time, when all the spirit of royal power had evaporated, the nobles, according to their several abilities, erected fortresses, either to defend their own territories, or infest those of their neighbors. Evils thus springing up, and multiplying from the indolence of king Stephen, or, rather, from the malice of the devil, that constant fomenter of discords, the wise and good providence of the King of kings abounded more and more, and was gloriously conspicuous; and, at that period more particularly, God is known to have erected such fortresses for Himself as became the King of peace, to subdue the prince of pride. Finally, it is remarkable that a much greater number of monasteries, for both sexes, were founded in England, during the short time that Stephen reigned, or, more properly speaking, obtained the title of king, than had been for a century preceding.

Chapter 16: Of Gilbert of Sempringham, and of the order which he instituted <to index>

[1] Neither is the venerable Gilbert to be passed over in silence, from whom the order of Sempringham took its rise, and proceeded rapidly to a flourishing condition. He was certainly an admirable character, and of singular address in the management of women. It is reported that, from his earliest manhood, he was by no means contented with having secured his own individual salvation, but was fired with zeal for gaining other souls to Christ, and began anxiously to stimulate the weaker sex with emulation towards God, grounding his pious purpose on the consciousness of his own chastity and in the confidence of heavenly grace. When the divine favor appeared to smile upon his undertaking, fearing lest he should run, or had run in vain, if he did not season unbridled zeal by sober knowledge, more especially when as yet he was little informed himself, by those who had preceded him, he had undertaken such an anxious task, he thought proper to visit the venerable Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, celebrated for his character in wisdom and in holiness; instructed by whose sagacious counsels, and confirmed in his design, he prosecuted his pious purposes with equal fervency and confidence. His plans prospered; and, as it is said of the noble patriarch, waxed great and went forward [Gen. 26:13]; he became exceeding mighty, not only in a numerous company which had assembled for the service of the Almighty, but also in a supply of things temporal for the necessary support of the body, according to the divine precept, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." [Matt. 6:33]

[2] Lastly, he erected two noble monasteries for the male, and eight for the female, servants of God; and these he filled with numerous inmates, and established by fixed laws, according to the wisdom which was given him. He excelled much in the education of males; but, by the divine grace accorded to him, he far surpassed in his skill in training females to the service to God. In this respect, indeed, according to my judgment, he bears away the palm from all who have applied their religious labors to the education and discipline of women. After some years, laden with spiritual gains, and though infirm, yet the attendant on a heavenly bridegroom, he migrated to Christ. Moreover, the multitude of his sons and daughters yet remains; his seed is powerful upon earth, and his generation shall be blessed for ever.

Chapter 17: In what manner William, archbishop of York, was deposed, he not having received the pall, and how Henry succeeded <to index>

[1] On the decease of the venerable Thurstan, archbishop of York, William, the treasurer of that church, succeeded to the see. He was a man as truly noble, according to the flesh, as he was amiable from the gentleness of his manners. When he had dispatched competent representatives to the Holy See to obtain the pall, according to the usual custom, his adversaries came forward, alleging many things against him, and the honor was withheld. He was commanded to appear personally at Rome, as one being of sufficient age to answer for himself; but, in consequence of serious charges increasing, and his enemies prevailing, and as pope Eugenius, of pious memory, was implacably irritated against him, either justly or unjustly, he was ultimately deposed. On his return to England, he retired to Winchester, where he was honorably entertained and splendidly supported for nearly ten years, by Henry, who had consecrated him: here he lamented either his excesses or his misfortunes, and waited in silence a change of times.

[2] On his deposition, Henry, abbot of Fountains, succeeded to the church of York, chiefly through the exertions of the venerable Eugenius, who had formerly been his companion and fellow-student, under father Bernard at Clairvaux, and who was fully acquainted with his life, his morals, and his industry. Lastly, he most warmly favored his election; and, when he was duly consecrated, honored him with the prerogative of the pall. On his return to England, however, Stephen refused to receive him, unless he made oath to observe his fealty. In consequence, too, of the king's withholding his favor, the citizens of York, who were better disposed towards their deposed prelate, also refused to receive him. The city being placed under an interdict for this contumacy, and the functions of the church being suspended, Eustace, the king's son, came and ordered the celebration of divine service, and commanded such as did not yield to his threats to be put out of the city. The relations of the deposed prelate, inflamed equally by their own fury, and the countenance of the king, became hostile and terrible to all who had appeared to favor his disgrace; insomuch that they had no scruple in putting to death the senior archdeacon, who had accidentally fallen into their hands. However, after some years, the king was appeased, and then the citizens of York received their rightful prelate with joy; and thus the calm of anxiously-desired peace beamed forth after a long-continued discord.

Chapter 18: Of the Cause of the Second Crusade to Jerusalem <to index>

[1] In the twelfth year of his reign, king Stephen having (as before-mentioned) wrested the city of Lincoln from the earl of Chester, was desirous of being solemnly crowned there on Christmas-day, wisely disregarding an ancient superstition, which forbade the kings of England from entering that city. On his proceeding into the town, without the least hesitation, he encountered no sinister omen, as that idle tradition had portended would be the case; but after having solemnized his coronation, he retired from it, after a few days, with joy. and contempt at this superstitious vanity.

[2] In the same year a countless multitude from all Christian nations, tribes, and languages, hearing the ensign of Christ crucified, entered on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The cause of this very celebrated expedition is related as follows. Beyond the great river Euphrates there is a noble city of Mesopotamia -- now commonly called Rohesia, but more properly, by its ancient name, Edessa -- professing the Christian faith from the days of Constantine the Great and famed for possessing the relics of the blessed Thomas the Apostle, brought thither from India. So great was the zeal of this city for the catholic faith under the Arian Emperor Valens, as it is related, that when he sent the prefect to massacre all who assembled to pray at the church of the apostle, not a single individual remained at home, but all, from the least to the greatest, ran thither to die for the truth of their religion, much more eagerly than to a banquet; insomuch that a certain woman, in her haste, dragging with her a little boy, for the purpose of offering both herself and her offspring as victims to Christ, actually interrupted the progress of the officer who was hastening thither with dreadful array. And when the Saracens for many years back, by the hidden counsels of God, had been permitted, beyond measure, to make havoc of Christians, and had taken possession of their noblest cities -- Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Damascus, and, among other eastern provinces, those of Egypt and Syria, where Christ was worshipped -- and had exterminated the Christian name in all these places, this single city, acting as the defender not only of her own walls, but of the adjoining territory, though surrounded by numberless and most inveterate enemies, remained unconquered even to the time of the first Crusade, when Jerusalem and Antioch were gained by the Christians through the expulsion of the Saracens.

[3] Then, indeed, the people of Edessa, suffering by the incursions of the Turks, entreated assistance from our army, and received, as their first commander of Gallic origin, the most courageous Baldwin, brother of the illustrious Godfrey. When this prince had been elevated to the throne of Jerusalem, after his brother Godfrey, the government of Edessa was vigorously administered by other commanders down to Jocelin; this man's wanton inconstancy and lust caused not only that a city, celebrated for its Christian zeal for nearly nine hundred years, should be delivered, by the treachery of a perfidious individual, over to the hands of the Turks, but further, he effected the extirpation of the holy faith. This person was an Armenian by descent, a native of this city, and, by hereditary right, occupied a tower adjoining to the wall. Jocelin was captivated by the beauty of this man's daughter, and, forcibly carrying her off, debauched her. Bewailing his dishonored daughter, and craftily dissembling the magnitude of his grief, in order that he might extend his revenge on one so as to include the destruction of many, on the most sacred eve of our Lord's Nativity, while holy vigils were celebrating in the churches, after the Christian mode, this person introduced the Turks, by secret compact, into the city. Insatiably thirsting after Christian blood, they rushed on the people, who, in security, were watching in the church. They slaughtered the archbishop, as it is reported, while standing at the altar; and put the unresisting people to the sword, who were lost in astonishment at the sudden chance. Thus was Edessa, the early fosterer of the Christian faith, and which had hitherto been unconquered during so many ages, taken and subjugated to the power of the vilest nation upon earth.

[4] Moreover, its furthest boundaries being overrun by the ceaseless fury of the enemy, and compelled to yield to their abominable possession, the worship of the Christian religion was utterly extirpated on the other side of the Euphrates. Excited by the report of this disaster, the noblest princes of the Christian faith -- Conrad, emperor of Italy and Germany, and Louis, king of France -- most readily took up the ensign of Christ; and with them were associated many nobles, and people innumerable, out of almost every Christian province.

Chapter 19: Of the heresy of Eudo de Stella, and his death <to index>

[1] About the same time, pope Eugenius was called to the administration of the holy see of Rome, on account of the strictness of his monastic character. He came into France for the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline, and held a general council at Reims. Here, while he was sitting, fully attended by prelates and nobles, a certain malignant person was brought before him, who, possessed with the spirit of the devil, had led astray so many people by his demoniacal craft, that, relying on the number of his followers, he traversed different places in an alarming manner, manifesting his hostility more especially against churches and monasteries. After a long and successful career, wisdom at length getting the ascendancy of malignity, he was taken by the archbishop of Reims, and presented to this holy synod. Eudo, surnamed de Stella, a Breton by nation, was a man so illiterate and uninformed, and so bewitched by the wiles of the devil, that, because he was called "Eun," in the French language, he imagined that the form used in ecclesiastical exorcisms, namely, "by Him who shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and the world by fire," pertained to himself. So stupid was he, as to be incapable of distinguishing between "eum" and "Eun," and so blindly ignorant as to believe himself to be the ruler and the judge of the living and the dead. So powerful was he, through the cunning of the devil, in catching the souls of the ignorant, that, like flies entangled in the spider's web, he gathered round himself a deluded multitude, which closely followed him as the King of kings. Sometimes he traversed different provinces, with incredible velocity, and sometimes took up his abode, with all his adherents, in wild and desert places. Thence again, at the instigation of the devil, he suddenly sallied out, in the character more especially of the persecutor of churches and monasteries. His friends and relatives frequently attended him, for he was not of the lowest cast, either that they might admonish him in virtue of their relationship, or more certainly discover exactly how circumstances were.

[2] He appeared possessed of considerable dignity; his appointments and attendants were princely; and his adherents, free from anxiety and labor, seemed to be expensively appareled, to banquet splendidly, and to live in perfect joy, insomuch that many of the persons who had come to seize him were deluded, not by his real, but by his imaginary, glory. These circumstances were magically effected by evil spirits, the powers of the air, by whom the wretched multitude were supported in desert places not with real, and substantial, but by aerial, aliments. For as we have since heard from certain persons who were in his party, and who, after his capture, wandered over the world by way of penance, they might have, as often as they pleased, bread, and flesh, and fish, and every other daintier viand. Indeed, that this food was aerial, not substantial, and was supplied invisibly by the demons of air, rather to ensnare their souls than to feed their bodies, is evidenced by this, that the slightest eructation voided the repletion caused by such food, and then such insatiable hunger succeeded, that they were compelled to feed again. Moreover, whosoever approached them accidentally, and tasted even slightly of their food, lost his understanding from having participated in the table of demons, and continued inseparably with this beastly congregation; and whoever received any thing from them, of any kind, was by no means safe from danger.

[3] Finally, it is reported that a certain knight, related to this pestilential fellow, went to him, and honestly admonished him to abjure this impious sect, and to be restored to his own family by the communion of Christian grace. Craftily deceiving the man, he showed him, in vast variety, abundance of magic wealth, in order that he might be captivated by the tempting charm of what he saw. "You are my relation," he said, "take what you please of mine;" but this prudent man, having given his advice in vain, retired immediately to depart; his attendant, nevertheless, conceived a strong desire (though to his own destruction) to possess a hawk of singular beauty which he saw. Asking and obtaining it, he gladly followed his master, who was already departing. "Cast away instantly," said he, "what you are carrying, for it is not a bird, as it appears to be, but a devil so metamorphosed." The truth of his words appeared shortly after: for when the silly man rejected his advice, he first complained that the hawk gripped his fist rather strongly with his talons, presently he was lifted by the hand into the air, and soon after vanished altogether. Indeed, this demoniac proceeded to such a pitch, by the agency of the devil, that it was said that armies were frequently dispatched after him by princes, but in vain, to trace out and pursue him: but when sought he could not be found. At length, he was deprived of the aid of devils, when they were no longer permitted to domineer by means of him (for their power extends no further than the limits granted by superior powers at the discretion of God); he was taken prisoner, with little difficulty, by the archbishop of Reims, and the infatuated people who followed him were dispersed; but such of his disciples who kept closer to him, and were his coadjutors, were taken along with him.

[4] When standing In the presence of the council, and asked by the pontiff who he was, he replied, "I am Eun, who is to come to judge both the quick and the dead, and the world by fire." He held in his hand a staff of uncommon form, and forked at top; and being asked the meaning of this, he said, "It is a matter of great mystery; as long as it points to heaven with its two forks, as you see in its present state, God possesses two parts of the world, and yields the third to me; again, if I incline the two forks of the stick to the earth, and elevate the lower part, which is single, towards heaven, retaining two portions of the world to myself, I shall only leave the third to God." At this the whole assembly laughed, and derided a man so completely given up to a reprobate mind.

[5] Being ordered by a decree of the council to be closely confined, lest his excesses should gain ground again, he survived but a short time. His disciples, however, whom he had signalized with pompous names, calling one Wisdom, another Knowledge, a third Judgment, and the rest in like manner; when they were incapable of sound doctrine, and rather boasted of these false appellations, to such a degree, that he who was called Judgment threatened in vain confidence the severest vengeance on his detainers -- being delivered over first to the law, and then to the flames, preferred the stake to a change of life. I have heard from a venerable character, who was present at those proceedings, that he heard him who was called Judgment, when being conducted to execution, repeatedly exclaim, "Earth, divide thyself," as if at his command the earth would open and swallow up his enemies, like Dathan and Abiram. Such is the power of error, when it once has gotten hold of the heart.

Chapter 20: How the emperor Conrad and king Louis led their forces into the East <to index>

[1] In the one thousand one hundred and forty-seventh year from the delivery of the Virgin, every preparation for so formidable an expedition being made, and their armies divided into two bodies, these princes entered on their march. The emperor departed some days previously, attended by very large bodies of Italians, Germans, and other nations. The king followed with the Franks, Flemings, Normans, Bretons, English, Burgundians, Provencals, and Aquitanians, both horse and foot. On entering Hungary, having conciliated the king of that country so as to afford them supplies of Provisions, they passed the Danube, and, proceeding through Thrace with abundant provision for their march, they arrived safely at the city of Constantinople. Here they pitched their tents without the city, resting the army for several days; and having at length made agreement with the emperor of that city, they passed over the narrow firth, which is called the strait of St. George.

[2] On their arrival in Asia Minor, part of which belongs to Constantinople, and part to the Sultan of Iconium, they experienced the perfidy of the Greek emperor; for our people had excited his indignation by certain excesses, and also called down the anger of Almighty God, by conducting themselves with pride and want of subordination. We read in old time that God's whole immense army was so defiled by the crime of one man sinning, even secretly, and so deserted by the divine favor, as that "the hearts of the people melted, and became as water" [Joshua 7:5]. On consulting the Lord, He replied, that "the people were polluted by a curse;" and added, "There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel. Thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you" [Joshua 7:13]. In like manner in our army such enormities had gained strength, not only against their discipline as Christians, but as soldiers, that it was not surprising if the divine favor did not smile upon them, polluted and corrupted as they were. Camps are called castra, from the castration of impurity; but our camps were not chaste, for there the lusts of many were raging through ill-starred licentiousness. Presuming, therefore, on the multitude and equipment of their forces, and proudly making flesh their arm, they confided too little in the mercy and power of God, in whose cause they would have seemed zealous, and proved the truth of the saying, that "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" [James 4:6]. Besides this, though they now were in the territory of a Christian prince, with whom they were in league, and by whose command they had obtained supplies, yet they abstained not from plunder.

[3] In consequence, the irritated emperor assailed them with famine and with war, and, though a Christian, shuddered not to spill Christian blood. Lastly, prohibiting all supplies, when our party were prevented from foraging by the ambush of the enemy, the army first wasted away by hunger, next, falling into the snares of the adversary, either dyed the swords of the Turks with its blood, or exchanged its state of Christian liberty for the most wretched and ignominious slavery; nor was God's anger withheld from the punishment of these proud and corrupted people; for frequently, as it is said, torrents of unseasonable rain from on high destroyed more of our troops than the sword of the enemy had devoured. Thus, by far the greatest part of two immense armies being annihilated by different accidents and misfortunes, with the remainder, these two great princes, narrowly escaping destruction, reached Jerusalem; and, without having accomplished any one memorable exploit, they returned home inglorious.

Chapter 21: Of Raymond, prince of Antioch; and of the capture of Ascalon <to index>

[1] The Christians having been ignominiously driven back to their quarters, and the Saracens, being enriched with vast spoils of the slain and wounded Christians, greatly increased their fame. So elated were they with success, and so confident of their power, that, at length, they plunged into the territory of the Christians, meditating their entire destruction in the East: this, so to speak, was for them most auspiciously commenced by the death of Raymond, the most Christian prince of Antioch. This prince, the bravest defender of the Christian cause in the East, had earned for himself the fame of the ancient Maccabaeus by his glorious achievements.

[2] I well remember to have seen, in my youth, a venerable monk returning from the East full of information. He had formerly served under that valiant prince, and frequently related this anecdote among other memorable things of him. His bravery had rendered him such an object of terror to the Turks, that, whenever they sent an army against him, they appointed one hundred knights against his sword, and as many against his spear. When, therefore, as I have said, the enemy were so encouraged, by the recent discomfiture of the Christians, as to attack, with their usual boldness, the outposts of Antioch; he, relying on his own courage, attacked them with a handful of men, instead of waiting to assemble a sufficient force; and after many glorious deeds, he fell, overpowered with numbers, like the ancient Maccabaeus. While the enemy, elated by their success, were meditating an attack on the city of Antioch, the news of this defeat reached Baldwin, the magnanimous king of Jerusalem, who at once flew to the assistance of the Christians, with the Knights Templar, under the banner of the Lord's cross; he reached the affrighted city just in time to prevent the entrance of the enemy, who, nevertheless, advanced and blockaded the town. And thus it came to pass that he, who but a short time before had resisted them in their pride, now granted them the fullest grace in their submission: for, by divine favor, they were enabled, after a short breathing time, not only to force the enemy, now swelling with success, to raise the siege, but also to retreat out of the Christian territory. As their strength gradually increased, they marched, in a short time, into the territory of the enemy, and compelled them, who of late had been the assailants, now to defend themselves at home with imminent danger. At length, in a few years, the Knights Templar repaired Gaza, an ancient city of Palestine, and obtained its most fruitful country. Also the famous king Baldwin, with much glory, assaulted and captured Ascalon, the most flourishing and best fortified city in that province, which hitherto could not be taken by the Christians, under whose authority and power the whole of Palestine was reduced.

Chapter 22: Of the unsettled state of domestic affairs under king Stephen <to index>

[1] In the meantime, while these things were, being done around us and by us in the East, England, enfeebled and crippled, was wasted by intestine wars. Truly it has been written of old, of an ancient people, "In those days there was no king in Israel; but every man did that which was right in his own eyes," [Judges 17:6;] but in England, under king Stephen, the matter was worse; for, at that time the law was powerless of necessity, because the king was powerless. Some persons did whatever seemed right to themselves; many of opposite inclinations did what in their own minds they knew to be wrong. Indeed, at first sight, it seemed as if England were cut in twain, some favoring the king, and others the empress; while neither king nor empress had power effectually to curb their adherents; for neither of them was able to exercise complete authority, or maintain rigid discipline over their party, but by denying them nothing they respectively restrained them from revolt. Indeed, (s before it has been observed, frequent contests, attended with varying fortune, continued long between these parties. In process of time, however, as they had both experienced the inconstancy of fortune, their exertions became more languid, though this proved of no advantage to England; for while they became weary of continued conflict, and relaxed in their efforts, commotions raged throughout the provincial districts, among the discordant nobles. Again, from a party spirit, numerous castles had been erected in the several provinces; and there were now in England, in a certain measure, as many kings, or rather tyrants, as there were lords of castles; each coining his own money, and possessing a power, similar to that of kings, in dictating laws to their dependents.

[2] While all, in this manner, were contending with each other, some were unable to endure a superior, others disdained even an equal; their deadly feuds filled the fairest districts with rapine and burnings, and deprived a country, which lately had been most abundant, of nearly its whole staff of bread. But the northern districts, as far as the river Tees, which had fallen under the jurisdiction of David, king of Scotland, was, thanks to his activity, in a state of repose. He received a visit from Henry, who was the son of Matilda his niece, the late empress, by the earl of Anjou, the future king of England, who had been dispatched thither by his mother. He received the badge of knighthood at Lugubalia, commonly called Carlisle, from David, he having first pledged himself, as it is reported, that he would never despoil this king's heirs of any portion of the English territory which was now subject to king David.

Chapter 23: Of David, king of Scotland, and his son and grandchildren

[1] At this period Henry, only son of king David, earl of Northumberland, and, as was anticipated, the successor to the kingdom, died prematurely, to the inexpressible grief of both English and Scots, leaving by his wife, the daughter of the earl of Warren, three sons and as many daughters. He was a most illustrious youth, and, what is rarely to be found in a man treading the broad path of life, conspicuous alike for the suavity and sincerity of his manners. This truly melancholy event gave a dreadful shock to his affectionate father; but the firmness of his mind, for he was a good and wise man, set proper bounds to his grief, and embracing his two grandchildren, (for, unless I am mistaken, their mother was as yet pregnant with the third) and imagining his son to live again in them, he took consolation. Moreover, some years after, when he was about to pay the common debt of all, he declared that Malcolm, his son's firstborn, yet a youth, should be the successor to the kingdom, and assigned the county of Northumberland to his brother William. The elder more resembled his father, as well in manners as in person, while the younger bore a likeness equally striking to his mother in countenance and disposition.

[2] At length, David, king Of Scotland -- a man great and glorious in this world, and of equal glory in Christ -- slept with his fathers. For, as we have heard from credible witnesses, who were acquainted with his life and actions, he was a religious and pious man, of surpassing prudence and discretion in the administration of temporal affairs, and yet of great devotion towards God. He was by no means regardless of heavenly duties on account of the business of his kingdom, nor inattentive to the management of his government, on account of his attendance on spiritual concerns. After an honorable state of wedlock, and a bed undefiled, whence sprang that only son, who so much resembled him, he continued single for many years. He was so liberal in pious gifts that numerous churches of saints, bespeaking his pious magnificence, were either founded, enriched, or adorned by him, independently of his liberal distribution to the poor. And, indeed, as he much resembled, both in name and many things, that person, of whom God had said that He had found a man after his own heart, so also, amidst many distinguishing actions, did the comparison hold good in one remarkable particular; for as the king of Israel, after many eminent proofs of virtue, fell at the same time into adultery and murder, weak in one, and wicked in the other, so did this prince, good and pious in other respects, let loose the Scots, thirsting for blood against the English people, through savage barbarity, and sparing neither sex nor age, though he did his utmost in vain to prevent it; for he was more than reasonably interested for his niece the empress, whose party, as he supposed justly, he favored.

[3] Again, too, as in the one case the exuberant grace of him who had chosen the former David healed his wound, or rather wounds, by pious humility; so also we believe that this other David wiped away the guilt of such an enormity by fruits meet for repentance. Not only, indeed, in the completion of holy works, but in the exercise of fruitful penitence, did this present David, the civilized king of an uncivilized people, fill up the outline of his royal prototype. And it is to be remarked, that is after his repentance David was chastised by God for the guilt of his former transgression, by means of a most wicked son, so this kin, also met his punishment, though infinitely milder, by a certain pretended monk and bishop. This man I often saw afterwards at Byland, and heard of his most audacious acts, as well as his merited misfortunes. Such things ought not to be passed over in silence, that posterity may learn how He who resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble, was illustrated by this individual.

Chapter 24: Of bishop Wimund, his life unbecoming a bishop, and how he was deprived of his sight <to index>

[1] This person was born in England, of the meanest origin and after acquiring the first elements of literature, not having wherewith to support himself at school, he undertook, as he had some know]edge of the art of writing, for a maintenance the office of scribe to certain monks. After this, he received the tonsure at Furness, and professed the monastic life; when he had obtained access to a sufficient number of books, with adequate leisure, and assisted with three admirable requisites -- an ardent temper, a retentive memory, and competent eloquence -- he advanced so rapidly that the highest expectations were formed of him. After a time, being dispatched with his brethren to the Isle of Man, he so pleased the barbarous natives with the sweetness of his address, and openness of his countenance, being also of a tall and athletic make, that they requested him to become their bishop, and obtained their desire.

[2] He now became inflated with success, and began to conceive great designs. Not content with the dignity of his episcopal office, he next anticipated in his mind how he might accomplish great and wonderful things; for he possessed a haughty speaking mouth with the proudest heart. At last, having collected a band of needy and desperate men, and not fearing the judgment of truth, he feigned himself to be the son of the earl of Moray and that he was deprived of the inheritance of his fathers by the king of Scotland. He affirmed that it was his intention not merely to assert his rights, but to avenge his wrongs, that he wished them to be partakers both of his dangers and of his fortunes; and though the matter might be attended with some labor and peril, still much glory and great advantage were attached to it. All the people being incited, and having taken an oath to him, he began his mad career throughout the adjacent islands; and became, like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord, forgetting that his episcopal office required of him to be, with Peter, a fisher of men. Everyday he was joined by troops of adherents, among whom he was conspicuous above all by the head and shoulders; and, like some mighty commander, he inflamed their desires. He then made a descent on the provinces of Scotland, wasting all before him with rapine and slaughter; but whenever the royal army was dispatched against him, he eluded the whole warlike preparation, either by retreating to distant forests, or taking to the sea; and when the troops had retired, he again issued from his hiding-places to ravage the provinces.

[3] But, while he was thus successful in everything, and had become an object of terror even to the king, a certain bishop -- a man of singular simplicity -- repressed his audacity for a time. When this bishop was threatened with extermination by war, if he did not pay him tribute, he replied, "God's will be done; but from my example no one bishop shall ever become tributary to another." Whereupon spiriting up his people, superior only in faith, for in other respects he was greatly inferior, he met him as he was furiously advancing, and himself striking the first blow in the battle, by way of animating his party, he threw a small hatchet, and, by God's assistance, he felled his enemy to the earth, as he was marching in the van. Gladdened at this event, the people rushed desperately against the marauders, and killing vast numbers of them, compelled their ferocious leader shamefully to fly.

[4] Wimund himself used afterwards, with much pleasantry, boastingly to relate among his friends, that God alone was able to vanquish him by the faith of a simple bishop. This circumstance I learnt from a person who had been one of his soldiers, and had fled with those who had made their escape. Recovering his forces, however, he ravaged the islands and provinces of Scotland, as he had done before. The king was, therefore, compelled to soothe the plunderer, adopting the wise counsel of acting by stratagem against a proud and crafty foe; for this was a case in which strength was of no avail. Therefore, yielding a certain province to him, together with the monastery of Furness, he suspended his incursions for a while; but whilst he was proudly proceeding through his subject province, surrounded by his army, like a king, and severe to a degree against the very monastery where he had been a monk, some of the people, who were unable to endure either his power or his insolence, with the consent of the nobles, laid a snare for him. Obtaining a favorable opportunity, when he was following slowly, and almost unattended, a large party which he bad sent forward to procure entertainment, they took and bound him, and as both eyes were wicked, deprived him of both; and, providing against all future excess, they made him an eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of Scotland, not for that of Heaven. Afterwards he came to us at Byland, and quietly continued there many years till his death. But he is reported even there to have said, that had he only the eye of a sparrow his enemies should have little occasion to rejoice at what they had done to him.

Chapter 25: Of Malcolm the most Christian king of the Scots <to index>

[1] Malcolm, the elder of his grandsons, while yet a boy, succeeded to David, king of the Scots, above mentioned. Rivaling his venerable grandsire in many of his virtues, and nobly surpassing him in others, he shone like a heavenly star in the midst of a barbarous and perverse generation. For, prevented by God by the blessing of goodness, that from his youth he should imbibe the fervor of celestial love, he so excelled throughout his whole life in immaculate chastity, humility, innocence, and an unsullied conscience, as well as equal sweetness and gravity of manners, that among seculars, whom he resembled only in habit, he appeared a monk, and among his subjects an angel upon earth. Such things were wonderful indeed in a king, but more especially in the king of so uncivilized a nation; nevertheless, by God's directing hand, he so governed all his actions that, so far from being an object of contempt to the barbarians on account of his virtues, he was rather one of admiration and regard; while, by his royal authority and severity, he was a terror to the rebellious and the wicked. Still there were some persons who, ripe for fresh commotions, either thought to attack him, or else to withhold his dues, But God, evidently working with him, either so depressed or subdued them, that all from that time feared to molest a man befriended by the Almighty.

[2] Neither, again, was there wanting, on his approach to manhood, a set of people sent against him by the devil, who, regardless of the loss of their own chastity, were anxious to inflame his desire for sensual gratification, by unholy attempts and vicious insinuations. But he who was already desirous of following the Lamb whithersoever He went, had so deeply imbibed the spirit of unblemished purity, and knew from the secret instructions of God, not of man, that this treasure was to be guardedly kept in frail flesh as in an earthen vessel, at first treated with contempt the lewd persuasions of his associates, or such as he looked up to as instructors; but, on their persisting, he so checked them authoritatively, both by words and countenance, that from that time none of them dared to suggest such things.

[3] The enemy, thus foiled in this respect invidiously proceeded further, and laid a more subtle stratagem for this child of God. He instructed his mother to administer the secret poison, under the cover of maternal affection, and not merely to ensnare him by blandishments, but even to compel him, by her authority; she reminded him that he was not a monk, but a monarch, and suggested to him that female embraces were highly becoming his age and person. Constrained rather than overcome by the entreaties of his mother, that he might not distress her, he yielded a seeming compliance. Joyously attending on her son when he had retired to bed, she placed by his unresisting side a beautiful and noble virgin. When left alone by the departure of his attendants, and more inflamed by the love of charity than inordinate desire, he immediately arose, and relinquishing the royal couch the whole night to the maiden, slept on the floor, covered only with a cloak. Being found in this situation next morning by the chamberlains, this -- corroborated by the testimony of the damsel herself -- established the purity of both of them. He prevented his mother from ever again presuming on a similar attempt by the authority of his determined constancy, however disposed she might be either to reproach or allure. Let the advocates for miracles say what they please, apportioning merit according to the wonder, and bestowing the title of sanctity only on the evidence of miracles; for my part, I openly prefer the miracle of so youthful a king's chastity thus attacked, and thus impregnable, not only to the restoring of sight to the blind, but even to the raising of the dead.

Chapter 26: Of the appointment of Hugh, bishop of Durham, and the restoration of William of York, and his death <to index>

[1] But to return a while from Scotland. William de Sancta Barbara, bishop of Durham, a pious man, being dead, Hugh, treasurer of the church of York, was elected to the see, on account of his noble birth -- for he was related to king Stephen -- although he was strongly opposed by the venerable Henry, archbishop of York, to whom pertained the consecration of the bishop of Durham, both on account of the uncanonical age of the elect, as well as the lightness of his character. In consequence of this, the chief of the electors, together with the elect, proceeded to the apostolical see, as well on account of the election as the consecration. The archbishop also sent his proxy to oppose the election, and prevent the consecration. But the venerable Eugenius, who had been the archbishop's fellow-student at Clairvaux, having recently quitted the world, they found Anastasius presiding at Rome. Three very memorable personages indeed, and most friendly to each other in this life, dying about that time, were in death separated only by a trifling interval of time, that is to say, Eugenius, the Roman pontiff, Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, and Henry, archbishop of York; of whom, Eugenius and Bernard first departing, Henry quickly followed.

[2] The death of the two former being proclaimed, while the third was yet surviving, William, formerly archbishop of York, now resident at Winchester, conceiving a hope of his restoration, went hastily to Rome, not arraigning the decision against him, but humbly craving pity; for the first of these prelates had deposed him, the second had been accessory thereto, and the third had succeeded him. And behold, an authentic account arriving from England of the demise of the archbishop of York, greatly assisted his very humble petition. The bishop of Durham elect, who had arrived first, being solemnly consecrated by the sovereign pontiff, departed while the fortune of the latecomer was yet undecided. At length, however, he also experienced the clemency of the apostolical kindness, the rigor of his former sentence being reversed; for the pope and cardinals pitied his grey hairs; and Gregory, a cardinal in high esteem, a most eloquent and intriguing man, and of a truly Roman spirit, took a very active part in his behalf. Wherefore, being completely reinstated, and honored with the pall, which, until that time, he could never obtain, he returned to Winchester on Easter-eve, and there having solemnized Easter, he hastened, after the octaves, to his own city. But Robert, dean of the church of York, and Osbert, the archdeacon, met him without the city, with no pacific intentions, and for the purpose of repelling him from his wished-for see, boldly propounded certain articles against him. Proceeding onward, however, he was received by the clergy and people with solemn procession and great applause. His adversaries then went hastily to Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, at that time legate in England, and made use of his favor and countenance. However, not long after the octaves of Easter, while ruling his recovered church with moderate discipline, being, on account of his natural affability, obnoxious to no one, he was seized shortly after Pentecost with a fever, and hurried from this life, to the inexpressible grief of the clergy, as well as the laity, at the loss of their most amiable pastor.

[3] From his unexpected death, it was generally believed that this event was occasioned by poison; for, dreadful to relate, they assert that even from the sacred chalice, he drank with the draught of life a deadly potion, drugged by some of his adversaries, or one attached to their party. This, however, was merely the opinion of certain persons, who malignantly dispersed it abroad as the genuine truth. On the prevalence of such a rumor, in process of time, I deemed it necessary solemnly to inquire of a distinguished and aged man, a monk of Rievaulx, now sickly, and on the verge of death, who at that time was a canon at York, and an associate of the archbishop in question, but he constantly affirmed that this was a most atrocious falsehood, founded on the notion of certain persons, for that, when this circumstance is said to have been attempted he was present at the archbishop's side, and that no ill-disposed person could possibly elude the vigilance of his faithful attendants for the perpetration of such an outrage. He added, moreover, that the report was false which stated that the archbishop refused to take an antidote at the suggestion of his friends, when the malice of his enemies was suspected to have attempted his life; and to confirm this supposition or pretext, they relate that he said that he would not superadd a human to a celestial antidote. Indeed, as he was both a wise man, and instructed by divine authority not to tempt God, he cannot be supposed to have spoken and acted in this manner. In addition to this, I have heard Symphorianus, his domestic chaplain, who had been long in his service, and his devoted attendant in his sickness, declare that he did take the antidote at the instance of his friends, as a wise man might be supposed to do. From the same person, too, I have learnt that his surrounding friends were chiefly led to the idea that he had drank something poisonous, from his teeth, which had before been white, becoming black in his last agony; but this is ridiculed by the physicians, because the teeth of a dying person always assume that tinge. Moreover, the death of the archbishop of York being discovered, Robert, the dean, and Osbert, the archdeacon, by the assistance and aid of the archbishop .of Canterbury, the pope's legate, elected Roger, his archdeacon, to the cathedral church of York; and, by means of great influence and terror, induced the chapter of York to give their consent; but of this I shall speak more fully in its place.

Chapter 27: Of the Green Children <to index>

[1] Nor does it seem right to pass over an unheard-of prodigy, which, as is well known, took place in England during the reign of king Stephen. Though it is asserted by many, yet I have long been in doubt concerning the matter, and deemed it ridiculous to give credit to a circumstance supported on no rational foundation, or at least one of a very mysterious character; yet, at length I was so overwhelmed by the weight of so many and such competent witnesses, that I have been compelled to believe, and wonder over a matter, which I was unable to comprehend, or unravel, by any powers of intellect.

[2] In East Anglia there is a village, distant, as it is said, four or five miles from the noble monastery of the blessed king and martyr, Edmund; near this place are seen some very ancient cavities, called "Wolfpittes," that is, in English, "Pits for wolves," and which give their name to the adjacent village. During harvest, while the reapers were employed in gathering in the produce of the fields, two children, a boy and a girl, completely green in their persons, and clad in garments of a strange color, and unknown materials, emerged from these excavations. While wandering through the fields in astonishment, they were seized by the reapers, and conducted to the village, and many persons coming to see so novel a sight, they were kept some days without food. But, when they were nearly exhausted with hunger, and yet could relish no species of support which was offered to them, it happened, that some beans were brought in from the field, which they immediately seized with avidity, and examined the stalk for the pulse, but not finding it in the hollow of the stalk, they wept bitterly. Upon this, one of the bystanders, taking the beans from the pods, offered them to the children, who seized them directly, and ate them with pleasure. By this food they were supported for many months, until they learnt the use of bread.

[3] At length, by degrees, they changed their original color, through the natural effect of our food, and became like ourselves, and also learnt our language. It seemed fitting to certain, discreet persons that they should receive the sacrament of baptism, which was administered accordingly. The boy, who appeared to be the younger, surviving his baptism but a little time, died prematurely; his sister, however, continued in good health, and differed not in the least from the women of our own country. Afterwards, as it is reported, she was married at Lynne, and was living a few years since, at least, so they say.

[4] Moreover, after they had acquired our language, on being asked who and whence they were, they are said to have replied, "We are inhabitants of the land of St. Martin, who is regarded with peculiar veneration in the country which gave us birth." Being further asked where that land was, and how they came thence hither, they answered, "We are ignorant of both those circumstances; we only remember this, that on a certain day, when we were feeding our father's flocks in the fields, we heard a great sound, such as we are now accustomed to hear at St. Edmund's, when the bells are chiming; and whilst listening to the sound in admiration, we became on a sudden, as it were, entranced, and found ourselves among you in the fields where you were reaping." Being questioned whether in that land they believed in Christ, or whether the sun arose, they replied that the country was Christian, and possessed churches; but said they, "The sun does not rise upon our countrymen; our land is little cheered by its beams; we are contented with that twilight, which, among you, precedes the sun-rise, or follows the sunset. Moreover, a certain luminous country is seen, not far distant from ours, and divided from it by a very considerable river." These, and many other matters, too numerous to particularize, they are said to have recounted to curious inquirers. Let every one say as he pleases, and reason on such matters according to his abilities; I feel no regret at having recorded an event so prodigious and miraculous.

Chapter 28: Of certain prodigies <to index>

[1] Some other wonderful and astonishing occurrences have happened in our times, of which I shall mention a few. I call things of this nature wonderful, not merely on account of their rarity, but because some latent meaning is attached to them. On splitting a vast rock, with wedges, in a certain quarry, there appeared two dogs, but, without any spiracle whatever, filling up the cavity of the rock which contained them. They seemed of that species which are called harriers, but of fierce countenance, disagreeable smell, and without hair. They report that one of them. soon died; but that the other, having a most ravenous appetite, was for many days fondled by Henry, bishop of Winchester.

[2] Again, it is related, that in another quarry, while they were digging very deep for materials for building, there was found a beautiful double stone, that is, a stone composed of two stones, joined with some very adhesive matter. Being shown, by the wondering workmen, to the bishop, who was at hand, it was ordered to be split, that its mystery (if any) might be developed. In the cavity, a little reptile, called a toad, having a small golden chain around its neck, was discovered. When the bystanders were lost in amazement at such an unusual occurrence, the bishop ordered the stone to be closed again, thrown into the quarry, and covered up with rubbish for ever.

[3] In the province of the Deiri, also, not far from the place of my nativity, an extraordinary event occurred, which I have known from my childhood. There is a village, some miles distant from the Eastern Ocean, near which those famous waters, commonly called Gipse, spring from the ground at various sources (not constantly, indeed, but every alternate year), and, forming a considerable current, glide over the low lands into the sea: it is a good sign when these streams are dried up, for their flowing is said unquestionably to portend the disaster of a future scarcity. A certain rustic belonging to the village, going to see his friend, who resided in the neighboring hamlet, was returning, a little intoxicated, late at night; when, behold, he heard, as it were, the voice of singing and reveling on an adjacent hillock, which I have often seen, and which is distant from the village only a few furlongs. Wondering who could be thus disturbing the silence of midnight with noisy mirth, he was anxious to investigate the matter more closely; and perceiving in the side of the hill an open door, he approached, and, looking in, he beheld a house, spacious and lighted up, filled with men and women, who were seated, as it were, at a solemn banquet. One of the attendants, perceiving him standing at the door, offered him a cup: accepting it, he wisely forbore to drink; but, pouring out the contents, and retaining the vessel, he quickly departed. A tumult arose among the company, on account of the stolen cup, and the guests pursued him; but he escaped by the fleetness of his steed, and reached the village with his extraordinary prize. It was a vessel of an unknown material, unusual color, and strange form: it was offered as a great present to Henry the elder, king of England and then handed over to the queen's brother, David, king of Scotland, and deposited for many years among the treasures of his kingdom; and, a few years since, as we have learnt from authentic relation, it was given up by William, king of the Scots, to Henry II, on his desiring to see it.

[4] These and similar matters would appear beyond belief, were they not proved to have taken place by credible witnesses. But if the magicians (as it is written) were able by Egyptian incantations, and some secret cooperation of evil angels, to turn rods into serpents, and water into blood, and to produce newly-formed frogs, yet (as saith Augustine) we do not call these magicians the actual creators either of serpents or frogs, as husbandmen are not the makers of their harvests; for it is one thing to form and produce a creature from the farthest and remotest link in the chain of causes -- which He who does is God the sole Creator -- and another from means and powers furnished by Him to superinduce a second operation, that at such a time, or in such a manner, what is created shall have such an effect, which not only evil angels, but also evil men, are able to do. If, I say, by the permission of God, evil angels had this power, by means of magicians, it is not wonderful if they were able, by some power of angelic nature (more especially when allowed by a Superior Power), to make those exhibitions in question, partly by illusion and magic (as in the case of the nocturnal revel on the hill), partly in reality (as of the dogs, or the toad with the golden chain, or the cup), by which men may be held in blind amazement; and evil angels, when permitted, readily do those things, whereby men may be more dangerously deceived. Indeed, the nature of those green children, who sprang from the earth, is too abstruse for the weakness of our abilities to fathom.

Chapter 29: Of the exploits of Henry II in England, during his dukedom <to index>

[1] To return, however, to the series of an historical narrative. Henry, the son of Matilda, late empress, by the illustrious earl of Anjou, having received, as I before observed, the belt of knighthood from his mother's uncle, the king of Scotland, re-embarked and came to his father, and for the future continued in his service, and nobly imitated, in his disposition, his prudence and fortitude, as well as eagerly emulated his military glory. After some years, however, his father yielding to fate, he received the whole of his paternal inheritance -- that is, the counties of Anjou and Maine, as well as the duchy of Normandy, the unoccupied inheritance of his mother; for as far as the kingdom of England, which equally pertained to his mother by right, was concerned, it was still usurped by king Stephen, although negligently and feebly governed, as has been before remarked. Thus succeeding his father, and in a short time equaling and even surpassing him, he showed himself active and industrious on all sides, insomuch that he was already formidable to those persons who were envious of his brilliant outset; and, when everything was now tranquil in his foreign dominions, disdaining longer to be defrauded of the kingdom of England, which pertained to him by manifest right, he bent his mind to this arduous and perilous undertaking. Apprehensive, however, that, after his departure, some attack should be made on Normandy by the king of France (in whose affinity king Stephen exulted, for the sister of the former had been long since married to Eustace, the son of the latter), he deemed it necessary carefully to fortify his frontiers by garrisons properly disposed. Hence it happened that he led but an inconsiderable army with him into England, conceiving that he should ill consult the defense of his foreign territories, of which he had now quiet possession, should he withdraw his troops, and that necessary support would not fail him in England. Even should this not be the case, yet certainties were not to be sacrificed to uncertainties. Moreover, it is reported that not more than a hundred and forty knights and three thousand foot soldiers accompanied him into England. His arrival becoming known, such as had all along favored his mother, eagerly flocked to him.

[2] His forces by this means being vastly increased, he laid siege to the castle of Malmesbury, which was garrisoned by king Stephen. The king, immediately collecting his adherents, with his son Eustace, a most courageous youth, flew hastily to the spot, and challenged the enemy to the conflict; but he, remaining in his camp, and wisely declining for a time the decision of a battle, in consequence of the insufficiency of his numbers, afforded the eager enemy no opportunity for engaging. Whereupon the king, unable to attack the adversary with advantage, and deeming it unsafe longer to remain in sight of the enemy's camp, retreated without effecting his purpose, and the castle fell into the hands of the besieger. Henry, in this manner, daily increased in the number of his forces, and in the good wishes of his partisans. The nobles of the kingdom, who had formerly taken the opposite side, now gradually revolted to him; insomuch that, by the augmentation of his power and the brilliancy of his successes, the fame of the duke (for so he was called) obscured the kingly title of his opponent.

[3] He next proceeded with his army, properly arrayed, to Stamford, which being quickly besieged and taken, he obtained the fortress, after a few days, and ejected the king's troops; but when he heard that Ipswich, which had joined his party, was besieged by the king, in order that he might raise the siege by the defeat of the enemy, he hastened with his army into the province of the East Angles; but receiving tidings, after a little while, of the surrender of the place, he turned aside, and attacked Nottingham, which is seated on the river Trent. Having taken and plundered the town, he retreated, declining the useless labor of assaulting the castle, which, from its situation, appeared impregnable; next, turning to other affairs, he prospered in everything, as though accompanied by the favor of God.

Chapter 30: Of the treaty between king Stephen and prince Henry <to index>

[1] While this dispute between the king and the duke was protracted with doubtful issue, Eustace, the son of Stephen, a most illustrious youth, died prematurely, by the will of God, affording, by his death, an admirable opportunity for laying the basis of a reconciliation between the princes. For, as long as he survived, the parties could never join, and unite in peace, as well on account of his youthful impetuosity, as from certain lofty pretensions, arising from his affinity with the king of France. Both these obstacles to an agreement were thus removed by the death of one person, as it is believed, by the favor of God, who entertained thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, for England, which was torn and exhausted with intestine evils; and men, pacifically inclined, anxiously turned their thoughts to persuade and accomplish a reconciliation -- for the father, being agonized beyond measure at the death of a son, his destined successor, relaxed in his warlike preparations, and listened with more than usual patience to the language of peace. The duke, too, regarding the counsels of the wise, who spoke upon the preference of an honorable and firm compact to dubious chances; a solemn and salutary conference was effected between them. By the mediation of their friends, piously and prudently providing for the public good, a peace was cautiously made, and firmly established between them.

[2] It was decreed, that, for the future, Stephen should reign solely in England, with the dignity and honor of a legitimate sovereign, and that Henry should succeed him in the kingdom, as his lawful heir. Each prince, adopting this mode of accommodation, as useful and honorable, and all hostile acts hitherto committed, as well as all crimes, being buried in eternal oblivion, they rushed into each other's embraces, while the bystanders burst into tears of joy. The king, adopting the duke as his son, solemnly declared him his rightful successor; and the duke honored the king as his father and sovereign in the presence of all. William, too, the king's younger son, at the command of his father, did homage to the duke, and the duke made satisfaction to him by a solemn treaty. These matters having taken place by the favor of God, the king received Wand, and England received peace. For during many years, having been distinguished only by the empty name of king, he appeared at this time to assume the substantial enjoyment of such a title, and, as it were, then first to reign; because, he then first rightfully put on the robe of a legitimate prince, having wiped out the stain of his tyrannical usurpation. The duke, continuing some time in England after the solemnization of this pacific arrangement, prepared to embark, and the king, with his son William, and many of the nobility, joyously attended him on his departure. While this young prince, William, as was his usual custom, was galloping his horse in the sight of his father, it happened that by a fall of the animal his rider was violently dashed upon the ground. Unable to rise, for he had fractured his leg, he was the cause of poignant grief to his parent, and the whole party. He was removed to Canterbury, that he might be cured there; but the king, shocked at the untoward accident, gave his commands and benediction to the duke, and dismissed him; who, after a prosperous voyage, joyfully returned to his own country, about the beginning of summer.

Chapter 31: Of the divorce of the king of France from his wife, and of her marriage with the future king of England <to index>

[1] About the same time a divorce took place between Louis, king of France, and Eleanor, his queen, certain bishops and nobles asserting their consanguinity, under the solemn testimony of an oath. This princess, who was the only daughter of the duke of Aquitaine, previous to the before-mentioned expedition to Jerusalem, had been married to the king of France, and, by her union, had joined the very extensive duchy of Aquitaine to the kingdom of France. She had, at first, so completely bewitched the young man's affections, by the beauty of her person, that when, on the eve of setting out on that famous crusade, he felt himself so strongly attached to his youthful bride, he resolved not to leave her behind, but to take her with him to the Holy War. Many nobles, following his example, also took their wives with them; who, unable to exist without female attendants, introduced a multitude of women into those Christian camps, which ought to be chaste, but which became a scandal to our army, as it has been shown above. When the king had returned home, together with his wife, branded with the ignominy of not having accomplished his design, their former affection began, by degrees, to grow cold; and causes of dissension arose between them. The queen was highly offended at the behavior of the king, and asserted that she had married a monk, and not a monarch. It is also said, that during her union with the king of France, she aspired to a marriage with the duke of Normandy, as more congenial to her feelings; and that, in consequence, she had wished for, and procured a divorce. Wherefore, the dissension increasing, and she, as it is said, becoming extremely urgent, and he making no resistance, the bond of conjugal union between them was dissolved by the power of ecclesiastical law.

[2] At length, legally freed from her husband, and enabled to marry whom she pleased, she accomplished her most anxiously-desired match, leaving her two daughters with their father. Afterwards, by their father's paternal appointment, they were united to Henry, and Theobald, the sons of the illustrious earl Theobald. The queen and the duke of Normandy, having met at an appointed place, were then united by the conjugal tie, which was solemnized not very splendidly, in proportion to their rank, but with guarded prudence, lest any pompous preparation for their nuptials should allow any obstacle to arise. Soon afterwards, the duchy of Aquitaine, which extends from the borders of Anjou and Brittany to the Pyrenees, which separate France from Spain, gradually withdrawing itself from the power of France, yielded to the dominion of the duke of Normandy, in right of his wife. The French indeed, pined with envy, but were unable to arrest the duke's progress.

Chapter 32: Of the council at London, and the death of king Stephen <to index>

[1] During this time king Stephen, making a progress through England with royal pomp, and exhibiting himself as a new monarch, was received and regarded by all with becoming respect, and those illegal fortresses, the receptacles of the abandoned, and the dens of thieves, were consumed at his presence, and melted like wax before the fire. Arriving, however, in the county of York, he found one Philip de Colville in a state of rebellion; relying on the strength of his fortress, the courage of his party, and his abundant supplies of food and arms. The king, however, commanded him either to burn his fortress at Drax, or to surrender it to be burnt; and, summoning his forces from the neighboring provinces, laid siege to that stronghold, and bravely reduced it to subjection within a short time, though it was nearly inaccessible from the barriers interposed by rivers, woods, and lakes.

[2] It was now harvest time, and the king, having completed his designs in the city of York, and the adjacent county, was returning to the southern provinces, about the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, intending to hold a council at London with the prelates and nobles, both on account of the concerns of the kingdom, and the vacancy of the see of York. The dignitaries, therefore, of the church aforesaid, with the abbots and priors of the subject province, attended on being summoned; and having fixed upon Roger, the archdeacon of Canterbury, with the consent of the king, they formally demanded him from his archbishop, by whose successful intrigues the whole business of his election had been managed. When they had easily obtained him from the archbishop, who was sufficiently inclined, though he appeared reluctantly to yield to their entreaties, they added a further request, which was, that he would consecrate him, not as archbishop of Canterbury, but as legate of the holy see. This also being as readily complied with, he was consecrated in the church of St. Peter, at Westminster. On the breaking up of the council, the archbishop of York hastened to his cathedral, and, after the solemnity of his admission (having provided for emergencies), he went to Rome, in person, to obtain the pall.

[3] The king, who was then residing in Kent, was taken ill subsequently to the council; and his malady increasing, he died after a few days, in the month of October, in the nineteenth year of his reign, and was buried at Faversham, in the monastery which he himself had founded some years before. The tidings of his death soon reached the duke of Normandy, who at that time was laying siege with his army to a town which had revolted. When advised by his friends to raise the siege, and to embark for England with all possible speed, lest, on account of his delay, his old opponents should plot some mischief against him; he replied (reposing perfect confidence in the justice of his pretensions) that they durst not make the attempt to do so; and, though his friends were extremely urgent with him, yet would he not abandon the siege, till he had completed his purpose against the castle, during which time England anxiously awaited him, and no disturbance in the meanwhile arose in any of his dominions. But here let my first Book terminate, that the second may commence with the reign of king Henry II.


Return to Index | Book One | Book Two | Book Three | Book Four | Book Five | Introduction


The Church Historians of England, volume IV, part II; translated by Joseph Stevenson (London: Seeley's, 1861). For ease of readability and reference, I have altered the original paragraph divisions and added the paragraph numbers; spellings have been modernized. I have not retained Stevenson's footnotes. I believe this translation is now in the public domain. The electronic form of this presentation is )1999 by Scott McLetchie and may not be reproduced for any commercial purposes whatsoever. It may be reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

Select Bibliography

The latest complete edition of William's history is still that found in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I. Edited by Richard Howlett. Rolls Series no. 82. London, 1884-9. Books 1-4 of William's history appear in volume 1, book 5 in volume 2.

A new edition began to appear in 1988: William of Newburgh. The History of English Affairs. Edited and with a new translation by P. G. Walsh & M. J. Kennedy. Warminster, Wiltshire: Aris, 1988-. To the best of my knowledge, only volume one, containing book one of the history, has so far appeared.

A good starting point for information on William of Newburgh (as well as other medieval English historians) is Gransden, Antonia. Historical Writing in England, volume 1. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974.

Nancy Partner examines William of Newburgh's work, along with that of Henry of Huntingdon and Richard of Devizes in: Partner, Nancy F. Serious Entertainments: The Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.

Scanned by Scott Mcletchie

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) Paul Halsall, October 24, 2000
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