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The Chronicle of "Benedict of Peterborough": The Death of King Henry II, 1189

And the conference having ended thus, Philip, the king of France, withdrawing thence took La Ferte Bernard and then, one after another, Montfort, Maletable, Beaumont and Ballon, where he stayed for a period of three days after its capture. And then, coming to Le Mans on the Lord’s day, pretending to move on Tours, the next Monday, when the king of England and his men were seen to be safely away from the end of the advance of the king of France, Philip placed his army to make an assault on the city. Stephen of Tours, the seneschal of Anjou, on seeing this put fire to the suburb. Truly at once the flame, growing immensely and leaping the walls, set the city on fire. The French, seeing this, came to a certain stone bridge, where Geoffrey de Bruillon and many with him on the side of the king of England ran to meet them, desiring to destroy the bridge; where a large struggle occurred; and a great many men on each side were slain by the sword in this struggle. In it however that Geoffrey was captured and wounded in the leg, and many others from the army of the king of England were captured, and still others, losing control, turned in flight, wishing to find refuge in the city. But the French entered the city. The king of England, seeing this, despairing for himself and going against his promise, fled with seventy knights. Truly he had promised the citizens of that city that he would not withdraw from them, because his father was buried there and because he had been born there and loved that city more than all others. The king of France pursued him for three miles; and if the stream through which the French had crossed had not been immensely high, they would have chased the other fleeing men with such great speed that, as it is said publicly, all would have been captured. Also, many Welshmen were killed in this fight.

However, the king of England came with few of his men to Chinon, and there withdrew into the fortress. Truly those who remained of the royal household shut themselves up in the tower of Le Mans. And at once the king of France besieged the tower; and then he attacked it with his engineers and machines, until finally, after three days, it was given over to him with thirty knights and sixty foot-soldiers.

Withdrawing thence he took Montdoubleau through the surrender of the castle and the manor. Truly the viscount of Châteaudun, the occasion of this subversion, or rather the primary cause, an armed man, set an ambush for Geoffrey, count of Vendôme, who was unarmed; and the viscount wounded him so gravely that at first he despaired of his life; but he recovered fully through the grace of God. However the king of France took this personally, because the aforementioned viscount was obligated to the king of France to hurt or oppress none of the king’s men in coming or going during the siege of Le Mans.

Departing from there the castle of Trou was returned to the king, with Roches L’Evêque, Montoire, Chartre, Château du Loire, and the castle of Chaumont, the castle of Amboise and the castle of Rochecorbon. Finally in the following week after the feast of the Nativity of St John [the Baptist], on the sixth day of the week, that is the morrow of the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul, he came to Tours.

On the next Sunday, Count Philip of Flanders, Archbishop William of Rheims and Duke Hugh of Burgundy approached the king of England, who was at Saumur, more by their will than by the royal will, for the purpose of making a settlement between [the kings]. Truly the king of France had proclaimed to them before they began their journey that he would prepare to make an assault on the city from the castle of St Martin, into which he had withdrawn across the river Loire.

On the next Monday, around the third hour, the city was captured by an assault from the bank of the Loire on account of the very small amount of water, ladders having been put against the walls, and in the assault eight knights and one hundred foot-soldiers were captured. Oh misery! On the one hand the Poitevins laid plots against their lord, the king of England; on the other hand the Bretons gave themselves up to the king of France, and they obtained from him letters patent which said that he would in no way make an agreement with the king of England unless the Bretons were released in peace. Truly the king of England, in dire straits, made peace with Philip, king of France, in this way:

"Henry, king of England, has submitted himself in every way to the counsel and will of Philip, king of France, so that whatever the king of France may provide and judge, the king of England will accomplish entirely and without contradiction. Truly then the aforementioned king of England again rendered homage to the king of France because, as we have said above, he had surrendered his lands to his lord the king of France; and the king of France returned his homage to him at the beginning of this settlement. Next it is provided by the king of France that his sister Alais, whom the king of England has in his custody, be returned and given into the custody of one of five men whom Count Richard shall choose. In addition the king of France has provided that it be guaranteed on the oath of the men of the land that his sister be given over to Count Richard upon his return from Jerusalem; and that Count Richard will have the fealty of the men of the lands of his father on each side of the Channel. And no baron or knight who left the king of England in this war and came over to Count Richard will return to the king, unless he does so in the last month before the departure of the king for Jerusalem. The limit of this journey will be in the middle of Lent; thus the aforementioned kings and Count Richard of Poitou will go at that time to Vézelay. And all townspeople of the domainal villages of the king of England in the entire land of France shall be undisturbed in their rightful customs and shall not be impleaded for any matter, unless they transgress by a felony. And the king of England shall give to the king of France 20,000 marks of silver. And all the barons of the king of England will swear that if the king of England shall not wish to maintain these terms, that they will hold with the king of France and Count Richard, and they will help them as far as they are able against the king of England. And the king of France and Count Richard will hold in their hands the city of Le Mans and the castle of Château du Loire and the castle of Trou; or if the king of England shall prefer, the king of France and Count Richard shall hold the castle of Gisors, the castle of Pacy, and the castle of Nonancourt, until at last everything is done which has been devised above by the king of France."

However, Henry, king of England, in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ 1189, died in the month of July, the day before the nones [July 6], in the octave of the apostles Peter and Paul, in the 19th lunation, on the fifth day of the week, at Chinon. And he was buried at Fontevrault, in the abbey of the nuns who serving God there.

On the day following his death, when he was being carried to burial, clothed in royal robes, wearing a crown of gold upon his head and wearing gloves on his hands and a gold ring on his finger, a scepter in his hand and gold shoes and spurs on his feet, girded with sword, face uncovered. When this was announced to his son Count Richard, he came quickly to meet him. And that one having arrived, at once blood began to flow from the nostrils of the dead king, as if his spirit was indignant at Richard’s arrival. Then the aforementioned count, mourning and wailing, proceeded with the body of his father all the way to Fontevrault, and there it was buried.


The Chronicle of "Benedict of Peterborough": The Death of Henry II, 1189

©1994, translated by Scott McLetchie. Permission granted for non-commercial educational use. Specifically allowed are copies for course packets. For any other printed use (including use by university presses), contact Scott McLetchie. Do not duplicate this etext file on other sites.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, August 1998
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