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FTER the death of his father, William surnamed Rufus obtained the supreme power. Before celebrating his father’s funeral, swifter than all men’s expectations he went from Normandy to England and made Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury partner in all his counsels, in whose faith and probity he had great hopes. And he asked him to deal with the chief nobles of the realm so that, in accordance with his father’s testament, he would be made king as soon as possible, and at the same time he himself promised great rewards to those lords. And to the English (although in those days very few enjoyed any power), whom he saw to have been wounded by his father’s injuries and so especially wished to reconcile, he promised he would give them better laws than his father had done, and would restore their erstwhile rights and liberty. Lanfranc, who already admired the young man’s character, strove with all carefulness and zeal, now exhorting, now promising, to gain the people’s good will. For he saw many inclining to the view that the elder brother Robert, a battle-tested man with a courageous and liberal mind, should be made king, since many feared Rufus’ nature, which seemed to presage that he would turn out to be a bad prince. But after by his authority, which was great among all people, and by his energetic enthusiasm Lanfranc had appealed to the nobles, promising great gifts, they thronged to a parliament at Westminster, where after a long debate they made William Rufus, the second of that name, king, and on September 27 of the year of our salvation 1084, the twenty-second after the coming of the Normans. Thus having gained the throne and rejoicing that his fortune matched his hopes, to gratify the people Rufus went to Winchester, and there, finding a great treasure, he distributed largesse, freed all captives from their chains and imprisonment, and attempted to inspire the men’s loyalty by every manner of kindness. Lanfranc’s care and diligence did much to increase the king’s popularity. For even then he had begun to sense that Rufus had a nature that was ruthless and inclined to savagery, which his ensuing life revealed. And so with wonderful diligence he strove to deter the young man from vices. And the king, having thus reconciled his subjects’ minds to himself, that passed Christmas at London amidst a great variety of entertainments and much magnificence.
2. Meanwhile Robert, who at the time of William’s death had been in Germany, learning of his father’s demise, straightway returned to Normandy and was acclaimed as duke by all his nobility, to the great joy of the people. And as he frequently brooded how unseemly was that his younger brother Rufus should possess the throne of England, it entered his mind to attack his brother by force of arms. His father Robert had cheated Robert of the kingdom of England, partly because he had not forgotten Robert’s impiety and rebellion against himself, and partly fearing lest, if he obtained it, the easy-going nature with which he was endowed might render the English (whom he himself had harmed) more prone to revolt. And so he thought affairs would be placed on a safer basis if they were entrusted to Rufus, whose harshness of manners and cruelty of nature he knew full well. Furthermore, it provoked the young man’s bold mind to undertake this attempt he was considering, that a large number of Norman and English nobles fled to Normandy to escape England’s present government. And his uncle Bishop Odo of Bayeux egged him on, using letters and messengers daily to fill Robert’s ears with arguments why he should declare war on his brother, from whom he too was estranged. This man, who had his uses, had long been most dear to his brother William, who had relied on his help for a number of years. But when he came to realize that the king preferred Lanfranc to himself, and was making him a partner in all his counsels. Angered, he began to send away money secretly (he had amassed a great sum), and then, pretending he was going to Rome, he chose many companions for this journey, although in truth he was bound elsewhere to work some mischief against the king. For this reason he was deservedly held in great suspicion by his king and thrown in prison, where he remained until William died. But after his death, he came over to England with Rufus, and was given the County of Kent so that he would be more bound to his nephew by this benefice. But some say he had been given this earldom previously by his brother William. But a little afterwards he was branded with the mark of treason. For there, when he saw Lanfranc (whom he hated worst of all men, thinking it had been by his doing that he himself had been dragged off to prison), given preferment by the king, he began to conspire against Rufus.
3. And so, when many accomplices had been recruited, he wrote a letter to Duke Robert of Normandy advising him he should prepare for war and come over to England as soon as possible to regain his kingdom, indicating that he himself now had forces ready which would be at his service when he arrived. The duke had already thought about waging this war, and it appeared to him that he had he ability to conduct it with success. Therefore, delighted with this news that there was need for readiness, he immediately began to make his preparations. And because he lacked the money to subsidize his expedition, the pawned part of Normandy to his brother Henry, who had inherited much of his father’s wealth, and then he wrote back to Odo, telling him to expect him any day. Meanwhile Odo, who was not unaware that things greatly depend on speed, went to the region of Rochester and urged his companions to make raids in all directions: some of these were moved by greed, others by wrath and rashness. He himself first entered the city of Rochester and fortified its castle with a strong garrison. Then he made his way though Kent, ruining royal manors and landholdings, together with villages and the possessions of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Every partner to the conspiracy did the same. For Bishop Geoffrey of Exeter, marching from Bristol, took Bath within a single hour, leaving nothing intact that could be wasted with steel and fire. Roger Montgomery did the same damage to Cambridgeshire, as did Hugh to Northumbria. And Bishop William of Durham (who was the king’s private secretary), Bernard of Newmarket, Roger Lacey, and Ralph Mortimer, all of them Frenchmen or Normans, and Earl Roger of Shropshire, joined forces and assembled a great army invaded Wales and filled everything with slaughter, arson, and plunder, killing or capturing a great number of men. Then, heading to the Severn, they besieged Worcester, burning its suburban structures at their first assault. But the townsmen, although frightened by the sudden disturbance, shut their gates and offered a bold resistance, having removed their goods along with their wives and children to the castle, and each and every man defended the city from their towers and ramparts. Bishop Vulstan was present, beloved to one and all for the integrity of his life, and the townsmen urged him to retire to the castle lest he be taken, if some graver danger should threaten. Although they relied on this man’s most pious prayers, they thought it needful for the common good that their bishop remain safe. But Vulstan was undeterred by the wishes of his flock, although he eventually did enter the castle. After this the townsmen, seeing their enemies wandering about the countryside, allured by booty, and maintaining the siege more carelessly than they should, they conceived a good hope and adjudged the time was right for a sally, if only God would help them (and He always helps those who do well). Therefore, having chosen a band of the stoutest young men and having readied their arms, they consulted Vulstan and asked for his permission to launch the attack, as if he were their general. And the pious prelate responded, filled with divine inspiration, “Go, my sons, go with confidence. Trusting in divine aid, defend your nation. Banish all fear, and with might and main banish your enemies far away. For this very day, with God your general, you will make great trial of your virtue, for the sake both of our city and the realm. You will do so with no difficulty, and you will be safe. But I beg only this, refrain from slaughter.” When he had said these things, the gates were suddenly thrown open and each man individually burst against the enemies. Then the English youth, remembering the injuries they had so often suffered at Norman hands, took the lead in the assault, like so many madmen, and did not only put the enemy to rout, but cruelly slaughtered them, who fell everywhere. And behold, at the same time the wrath of God came down on the Normans all the harder. For a little earlier Vulstan had cursed them, when he had admonished them to desist from wasting the fields and they had refused. They say that by divine will such a plague suddenly came over them that some afflicted by that contagion lost their eyesight, others were so weakened that they lay outstretched, and yet others were so stupefied that, not knowing where they were going, they wandered into the weapons of their enemies. And meanwhile the English made no halt in their killing. More than five thousand men were killed or captured, and the rest escaped with difficulty behind the walls of neighboring towns. And so Worcester, set almost on the border of England and Wales and watered by the Severn to the west, was freed of its siege.
4. While almost all England was shaken by these tumults, Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury, who was the chief governor of the commonwealth, thinking that in no wise should he yield to those men’s audacity, convened the king’s friends and told them it was their duty to provide, give aid, and provide defense, lest their sovereign receive harm. And when he saw they were prepared to lend a hand for their nation’s safety, he urged that Rufus go forth against his enemy as soon as he could. So the king disposed his fleet along the seaboard to fend off his brother Robert, and with a large army he marched into Kent, where the rebellion had had its beginning, and attacked the first castle he came to, near the village of Tunbridge, and without any difficulty compelled Gilbert, its governor, to surrender, having yielded up the castle. Then he pursued Odo, and attacked the fortress called Horncastle, since he had wrongly heard that the bishop held this, when in fact a little he had retired to the castle of Pevensey. He immediately took and leveled this castle, and then laid siege to Pevensey, where Odo was. He had abundantly stocked this place with arms and provisions, and so it was not easily captured. And yet Rufus stubbornly clung to his siege, eager to get his hands on Odo, the head of the conspiracy. And so the fiftieth day of the siege had dawned when it was reported that his brother Robert had landed in the port of Antony, and, having landed his men, would be at hand any day now bringing help to his allies. At this point writers differ in their accounts. Some write that Robert did not come to aid his supporters, but sent ahead a part of his army which was defeated by the royal fleet. Others say the king had sent ambassadors to his brother at the port, to moderate his anger with smooth words (for he knew full well his brother’s easygoing nature), and to tell him these things: that he was particularly eager to regain his brother’s good graces, and therefore was ready to come to any terms and to act as Robert’s viceroy rather than as king; that he only heeded and attended upon Robert, as being the elder by birth and by far his superior in power and wisdom; and therefore he begged that such a very noble prince would permit him, his brother, to manage the kingdom of England; that as Robert’s vassal he was prepared to pay an annual tribute of three thousand marks (a mark is an English coin that has the value of three gold ducats). And so they say that Robert, gulled by these wheedling words and promises, went back to Normandy, his business unfinished. In these things, which are recorded with uncertainty, every reader is free to believe what he will. But it seems to me to be closer to the truth that Robert came to England and that, learning of his allies’ defeat and bereft of counsel, he was obliged to pledge a truce for several months. But however the matter was settled, the king was no slower in persevering with the siege until Odo ran out of provisions and was obliged to surrender. The king granted him his life, since he was a bishop and his uncle, and he betook himself to Robert, who gave him all Normandy to administer. Freed from his present difficulty and danger by the help and zeal of two bishops, Lanfranc and Vulstan, the king cruelly visited punishment on the other partners in the conspiracy. Bishop William of Durham survived, who created no little trouble for the northern parts of the island and then, hearing of the slaughter of his fellow conspirators, shut himself up inside the city of Durham, sufficiently garrisoned for a short time, and Rufus, arriving by forced marches, encircled it with a siege. But after the townsmen had when this for a while, in the end they were wearied and treated so that William would be granted immunity and they would surrender. He was banished, together with his followers. And yet two years later he was summoned back to his erstwhile honor and wonderfully strove to work his way into the king’s good graces. But when he could in no wise free himself of suspicion although he tried to purge himself, he died of chagrin. Rufus was encouraged by his success to adopt a policy of liberality towards those of his subjects who had strenuously fought on his behalf, and bestowed the goods of the proscribed either on his soldiers or on those subjects who had perservered in their loyalty towards himself.
5. Now it was the third year of Rufus’ reign, a year marked by the death of Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury, who passed away in his nineteenth year in office. He was a man learned in both divine and secular literature, who produced a careful edition of both Testaments, no less diligent than scholarly. He also wrote a very useful tract in which he collected and refuted the errors of Berengarius. Likewise, he energetically devoted himself to the increase of religion both at home and abroad, as Abbot of Caen and then as Archbishop of Canterbury. In the transaction if his affairs no man was ever more chaste in his counsel, more pious in his dealing, no more careful at all times for the welfare of his commonwealth. And so he deserved wonderfully well of his kingdom and kings, as if he were the common father of his country, and for his prudence and pious mind, for which he was most famed among all men, and he served as a protection both for the storm-tossed Normans and English. As much as he could, he always tried to moderate the harshness of William I. He cherished the English with remarkable charity, and likewise with his prayers, promises, and rewards he urged them to remain in their allegiance and loyalty. He curbed Rufus’ wild nature, his rage and fury, as became more evident afterwards, and very diligently regulated him in his youth with his reason, counsel and precepts. And with equal zeal he reconciled the minds of the English to him. And this was an especially salubrious thing. For he would have surely died at the hands of the conspirators I have just mentioned, unless it was Lanfranc who, with the help of Vulstan’s prayers, averted this evil. And yet Lanfranc was not without his critics. He was blamed for exerting himself too hard to procure Rufus’ selection as king, although he was not unaware of the man’s perverse nature. Likewise the was responsible for the deprivation of Vulstan’s episcopal dignity, although I would say this should not be attributed to mortal man, but rather to a divine plan, since by this event Vulstan’s integrity became far better known to all men, so that in all his life nothing was more to his credit than was that slander, since he was restored to that honor almost before he was despoiled of it. I come back to Lanfranc. The repair of Christ Church at Canterbury was also his doing, and many landholdings were restored to the college of monks there. Two hospitals were built not far from the city, that is, two houses of hospitality for the lodging of the poor and of pilgrims. And the monastery of St. Albans had a share in this work of piety, founded by this same archbishop.
6. After the death of Lanfranc, Rufus, just as if he had broken all the shackles of law, utility and duty, rushed headlong into every form of license, and, disregarding the claims of honor in comparison with those of self-interest, from the outset seems to have kept before his eyes that old Hebrew saying, everything obeys money, sincehe chose to make profit and prey out of things both honest and dishonest, human and divine. And he was so far from thinking that anyone should replace the dead Lanfranc, that for four years in a row he offered the incomes of the Archbishopric of Canterbury to the highest bidder. He did the same whenever any monastery chanced to have lost its abbot, so much so that, prisoner of the greed for possession, he allowed their incomes to be put up at public auction. Some priests lodged a complaint with Pope Urban II. But Urban, troubled at home by the seditions of Normans squabbling over the rule of Apulia, only wrote a letter chiding Rufus and reminding him of a good prince’s duty, and this advice he held in scorn. And so it came about that all religion was weakened, and holy goods were plundered. But among these things one of Rufus’ deeds was memorable, which I do not regret narrating so that each and every reader may understand that no man is evil all the time. For when a certain monastery was vacant, two monks were always demanding, always grasping (for at the time honors lay open for rascals such as these), and for this reason, being hell-bent for money, they came to an agreement that whichever of them was placed in charge of the monastery would help the other. Having formed this plan, they went to the king and vied in offering him bribes to gain the position. In the interim the king caught sight of another monk, a man of good character, who chanced to have come along with the two rivals as their companion. He summoned him and asked him what he would give to be made abbot. He replied he would give nothing, since from the beginning he had devoted himself to this life on the terms that he would disdain riches and honors, so as to live a holy life and worship God more chastely. To this the king replied, “And so you are worthy of ruling your monastery,” and commanded this to be done immediately, with those two rivals being ignominiously shown the door. Here I wished to memorialize a thing surely not deserving of oblivion, so it can be understood that among men inflamed by avarice Queen Interest has the power to turn black into white, as they say, that is, to transform the the forbidden into the customary. For indeed William Rufus, inflamed by greed, snatched at the incomes of holy landholdings, which gave him a bad reputation among all men, since he seemed to be committing a crime which would throw open the window for impiety. But but by gradual usage it came about that what in the beginning had been thought to be empty of all right, piety and religion, afterwards was accepted by custom as being more lawful and pious, so that it was transformed from an injury into right and law. For the kings who followed, following the example of Rufus, were accustomed to accept a year’s income from the vacant bishoprics and monasteries founded by their ancestors, just as if in this way the temporary use of goods originally given to God were being rightfully returning to the donor, as long as men existed who could take them back for this temporary possession. Then this custom became so sanctioned that even nowadays it is permitted kings to garner some income from vacant monasteries. For the reasoning has been accepted that, as often as they are vacant, by agreement a certain sum is owed the king as its founder, and he for his part shall grant the monks the power of electing their own ruler. By the same law it is likewise permissible for kings to receive the income of vacant sees, and to confiscate the land rents due for six months or even a whole year, or to demand them from those men to whom these priestly incomes are granted, just as during the period of their vacancy the provincial primate has jurisdiction over such sees, and whatever profit accrues from them is his. But allow me to return to my subject.
7. Now that the period of the truce had expired, Rufus, enriched by church money and by it made bolder, decided to wage war on his brother to avenge the injuries he had suffered. Therefore, in this ill-disposed mood, he went to Normandy and took Saint Valery and some castles, wasted fields, and burned houses. But then, when greater battles impended and Robert was ready to fight to ward off injury, by the intervention of friends a peace was made between the brothers on the conditions that the castles which had been stormed should belong to the king, that each should give the other landholdings and towns, the one in England, the other in France, which would be pledges of trust and brotherly love, and that the surviving brother should be heir to the other. And both swore to this pact. Other writers report that the castles taken by the king were returned to the duke as a condition of peace, I think we can take this for granted. Meanwhile their younger brother Henry, thinking that as a result of this quarrel between his brothers Normandy was available as prey, assembled an army and quickly occupied the town on the promontory of St. Michel, a place very well defended by nature, and standing on the ocean opposite the Norman coast that touches Normandy. In this he way he too could win a prize. And when the king discovered this, he, together with the duke, marched to storm the town, and in many chaotic battles, not without loss of men and beasts of burden, he failed to climb the mountain. Finally, placing camps around the foot of the mountain, he besieged it for more than forty days but in the end, that business unfinished, he was compelled by a shortage of supplies to depart. Afterwards Henry, setting aside his arms of his own will, returned to his brothers’ goodwill and concord. All the annals do not mention this enterprise of Henry directed against this brothers. I myself would say that Henry never moved against his brother Robert or, if he did so, this was at the instigation of Rufus, whom he loved dearly, in order to create more trouble for Robert: caught up in his, he could not easily attempt any rebellion. Rufus, settling his business with his brothers, who had been thus reconciled, promptly returned to England accompanied by his brother Robert, and hastened towards Scotland. For meanwhile King Malcolm of Scots, relying on this fraternal discord, had made inroads into Northumbria and come away with a great deal of plunder of all kinds. And after he learned he had earned hatred in the place of peace and concord, and that William was coming against him, he voluntarily asked for and obtained peace. As usual, writers differ about this. Some have a different account than I have given, saying that Rufus prepared great land and sea forces against the Scottish king, but, after the fleet had set sail, a sudden storm arose and nearly all the ships were sunk, and that land army attacking Scotland was also afflicted by many woes and retreated. And at that time Duke Robert, acting on behalf of the king and with the help and counsel of Edgar, a Norman soldier who was an exile at the time and had served as a mercenary for the Scots, arranged a peace with Malcolm, who was stationed at his borders under arms, awaiting the coming of the English, and that in accordance with that treaty no few places he had possessed in the time of William I were restored to the Scots king. Having accomplished these things, the king stopped at Carlisle for some days on his return. Delighted by the location of the place, he decided to restore that place, sacked about two hundred years previously by the Dacians, as most firm bastion against the Scots for the protection of the western part of the island. And so he first fortified the city with walls and a castle built at a convenient place, then ornamented it with churches and private homes. And since it lacked inhabitants, he stocked it with a colony of southern Englishman. At this place, I think, a great and memorable deed of King Malcolm is not to be passed over in silence, which posterity praised to the skies.
8. Malcolm was an easygoing man in his friendships, distinguished in war, mild and liberal toward all men, but he was unable by these virtues to avoid domestic hatred which arose from envy (which is wont to attach to the powerful, just as pity does to the unfortunate). So some young Scotsmen conspired against their king, and each accomplice kept an eager eye out for a time and place where he could kill the king by steel or poison with no commotion. While they schemed such things in secret, they nevertheless shared it with so many that it became revealed and so did not escape Malcolm’s attention. He was not aroused by anger, nor was he eager to avenge the transgression, he did not immediately command the guilty parties to be punished, but, being endowed with a great mind, while at the hunt he purposefully led the leader of the plot (as far as I know, his name is not set down by anyone), a fierce fellow, into a deep woods, apart from the others and with their horses dismissed. And he is supposed to have spoken as follows: “We both are about equal in arms and strength, and neither of us can hope for help from our friends. So come, take your weapons, as befits a brave man, and fight now against the man you and the rest of your conspirators have basely decided to murder by deceit. If you kill me, your victory will earn you praise. But if you die, the honor of the victor will ennoble the vanquished’s death.” Saying these words, he drew his sword and attacked the man. But he, partly guilt-stricken over his crime, and partly terrified by the king’s great-mindedness, suddenly fell at this feat asking that this not be held against him or his companions, which Malcolm cheerfully granted. Take this deed is an example of Malcolm’s fortitude, there is another, full of temperance. From the beginning, it was a custom or law among the Scots that any could have several wives, in proportion to is wealth, for the nobles to possess commoners’ wives in common, and for the lord of a place to debauch a virginal bride before her husband could sleep with her. The first two of these points were abolished by the Christian religion as soon as the Scots embraced it. But this third endured much longer, until Malcolm, at the behest of his wife Margaret, abolished for being the basest custom in human memory. He established a custom that on her marriage a virgin should give a gold coin to the lord of the place, and this is observed even nowadays.
9. In these same days Robert, who had remained with his brother William for the sake of feigned rather than genuine affection, returned to Normandy. It is record that immediately after his departure, on October 16, a great wind arose, especially at London, and blew down many homes, and many cottages in the countryside, and the spire at Winchelcombe monastery was hit by lightning and collapsed. And now it stuck in the popular mind that these were omens of the daily-worsening condition of Rufus’ rule. Indeed, since he did not improve, I believe it was the will of God that this man be instructed by some reversal and recalled to himself. And, since prosperity had made him more insolent, God visited him with ill health so that, destitute of human help, he would seek divine help, and, in comparison with that, would henceforth scorn wealth gathered in evil ways, learning to govern justly and uprightly, measuring everything according to equity. Therefore he was afflicted with disease, and when he perceived the physicians were of no help, he began to pray, beg for divine aid, and only promise all men that he would put his life on a better footing. And because he understood that he was particularly blamed for enhancing his treasure by the spoils of priests, he thought this was the first wound to be healed. So he appointed Abbot Anselm of Bac to the archbishopric of Canterbury, which had gone without a prelate for four years. He also arranged for some monasteries which had long been vacant to have their rulers. But this harsh prince did not exercise this piety with a sincere mind, as became clear afterwards. For as soon as he was freed of his fever and began to thrive, he grew forgetful of the divine favor and was swept away to his habitual preoccupation with money-grubbing. At that time, upon the death of Bishop Remigius, the see of Lincoln came into his net, and, delighted by this prize, he went back to his pilling and polling, and with amazing zeal he began to demand money and from his subjects, even to pay for vain things. All things were weakened, the heavens rang with the outcries of the wretched, the earth shuddered at his crimes, when God on high, hearing the grown of the people and taking pity on its misfortune, very timely visited Rufus with a wholesome disease. Suddenly seized by this, to atone for his sins he gave his permission for Robert Chancellor of Lincoln to be consecrated bishop. Likewise he undertook to change his way of life and reinstate the old laws annulled by his father. This thing have the people, shattered by so many miseries, some hope for regaining their liberty and erstwhile dignity, and they set aside a little of their fear. But this hope was in vain, since Rufus was so far from persisting in his goodness (which was feigned) that, after regaining his strength, he greatly regretted making Robert Bishop of London for free. And so he purposely arranged for him to be haled into court, on a charge that certain landholdings and the city of Lincoln itself were possessed by him illegally, as they were the property of the Archbishop of York. And he could not clear himself of this charge before paying a fee of five thousand pounds (a pound is a little more than four pieces of gold). He fined many a noble for the slightest transgression of the law, and Anselm among the foremost, obtaining money from him for a tax once imposed, although it was agreed that Lanfranc had paid this, since he was sorry he had helped him with gratuitous generosity. And thus the prince, daily more afire weith greed, was much harsher to his subjects than to his enemies. For no man was denounced to him who was not forthwith condemned. Rewards were established for tattle-tales, if they could catch a man by any means, so that all men were stripped of their entire fortunes. Likewise agent were appointed who immediately battened on the goods of deceased bishops, nobles and burghers as if they had been proscribed, and all of these were in future to transfer the revenues of vacant bishoprics and monasteries into the fisc. But, so they might not even have the remedy of removing from the island elsewhere, since, as Cicero says, things we hear are less serious than what we see, he published an edict forbidding any man to depart England without his permission. Hence some writers suspect that this is the origin of that custom or law of forbidding a man to leave the kingdom, which is called the law ne exeas de regno, which is still employed as needed, for we readily imitate examples, if they are profitable. At that time Rufus conquered the Welsh in a great battle at Brecknock, where their governor, whom they hailed as king, pitched camp and fought the king. It went hard for him, and he died.
10. At this same time Malcome came to the king to transact business, and stayed at Glocester, a town watered by the river Severn. And he, being boorish, not only refused to speak with his Scottish friend, but even to see him, whom he greatly disdained. Taking this in bad part, as was only reasonable, Malcolm went back to Scotland and, hastily preparing an army, invaded Northumbria, and cruelly devastated the land as far as Alnwich. There he was ambushed by the royal forces under the command of Duke Robert of Northumbria and was killed together with his eldest son Edward, the rest of the Scots either cut down or put to flight. Malcolm’s body was buried at the village of Tynemouth. His wife Margaret, a most holy woman who then chanced to be ailing, was stricken with a twofold sorrow when she learned of the death of her husband and son, and is said to have taken the Eucharist and then prayed for death, and a little later she departed this life. They say that she was canonized for the sanctity of her life. After the death of Malcolm, the Scots made his brother Donald III king, who within a few days was deposed by Duncan, Malcolm’s bastard son, with the help of William of Rufus, at whose court he had stayed as a hostage while a lad. But he too was soon removed by the people, who then became divided, some supporting Donald as king, some Duncan. But the majority favored the young man, whom they took back as king on the condition that he would have no English or Norman soldiers. For since he a little earlier had gained the throne thanks to Rufus and had sworn fealty to him, he especially doted on Englishmen and Normans, and this displeased the Scots. But by no scheme or striving could he avoid his fate. For not long thereafter he died by a conspiracy of his Scottish subjects, and Donald was again substituted in his place. That man reigned for a short while. For Malcolm’s son Edgar, with his surviving brothers Alexander and David, fled to King Rufus, and were soon restored to their paternal kingship by the king, just as Donald was dethroned by him. In those days there were persistent great rains in England, creating immense floods. So great a cold followed that the rivers froze over and could support crossing carts.
11. But while Scottish affairs were being settled, Duke Robert of Normandy, constantly tormented over the royal honor snatched from him, by means of ambassadors accused his brother of perjury for not observing the conditions of their peace. Rufus, vehemently indignant about this, suddenly sailed over to Normandy with large forces, being minded so to try the fortune of war against his brother that he would face this peril once and for all rather than always being on his guard or being constantly vexed by this nuisance. But, his wrath soothed in a single moment, he did not immediately resort to arms, but, having made one or two brief forays in the countryside, he entered into colloquy with his brother. Then, after a long dispute, at the behest of their friends, they referred the gist of all their quarrels to certain grave men who would act as arbiters. They heard the case and judged for the duke, declaring that the king should be fined for breaking the peace with his inroads, contrary to his recent earlier agreement. The king, hearing their verdict, promptly went up in a rage and refused to stand by their judgment. And so with angry spirits they both abandoned the conference and took up arms. The king stormed the castle of Brienne. With the help of King Philippe Robert attacked Rufus’ holdings in Normandy deeded him by the treaty, as I have related above, and at the first assault took by storm Argentan, capturing its governor, Roger of Poitiers, with eight hundred men. Next, with equal good fortune, he occupied the castle of Ommoy. Then the king, seeing he had need of greater forces for the war hanging over his head, ordered about 20,000 men to be enlisted in England and sent over to him in Normandy. When all this host had gathered at an appointed time at the ships riding at anchor off Hastings, behold, a royal agent appeared and instructed the officers to tell the host that their king was eager to spare them their labors, and had given instructions that whoever paid ten shillings could go home. A goodly portion preferred to so rather than entrust themselves to the perils of sailing. For the greedy prince had decided to fight his enemy with gold rather than steel, trusting that under the pretext of this war he could exact enough money from his subjects to buy a peace and to slake his lust for possession as well. But on the other hand, he failed to see that he would disgrace himself, if he were to place wealth before martial glory and a peace purchased by theft before war. And so, when both battle-lines stood ready for the fight, but Philippe had been bought off and was not helping, all the energy went out of the war. For Robert, thus deprived of Philippe’s help, of necessity was obliged to seek and obtain peace from his brother, albeit unwillingly.
12. This thing done in accordance with his wishes, Rufus returned to England, and immediately encountered a more serious war. For the Welsh had heard of the brother’s renewed discord, and in their customary way took up arms for thievery, and breaking into bordering territories set villages and buildings afire, drove off cattle, either captured or cut down Normans and Englishmen alike, and leveled towns. When these things were reported to the king, he hastened to support his subjects and protect their lands from devastation, and by forced marches he unexpectedly attacked the enemy with an army. But the Welshmen did not only withstand his onslaught, but beat him back with no small losses. And so the king, who had now marched for three days, deferred to fortune for the present, and departed to London to prepare a stronger army. After his departure the elated Welshmen besieged Montgomery Castle, the strongest in Wales, which, although energetically defended for a few days by its royal garrison, they began to down, and in the end they captured it, devoid of its walls, and cruelly slaughtered all within. But meanwhile the king was impeded by domestic treachery, and so, thinking this needed to be placed before the present war, he left for Northumbria where the authors of this new conspiracy had taken uparms against him. For Earl Robert of Northumbria was demanding a profit and reward for his service at the time when, under his leadership, King Malcolm had been killed in ambush. And because these were forthcoming more slowly than he liked, he was sufficiently annoyed that when the king summoned him by a letter, he flatly refused to go, and once more entered into secret consultations about dethroning him. But it chanced that this conspiracy had come to light, and the king put down some of its accomplices, caught wholly unawares. He pursued Roger, who he feared because of a guilty conscience for his deeds. He had retired with his wife and children inside the castle today called Bamburg, which the king promptly besieged. And since this place seemed impregnable for its natural defenses and manmade fortification, Rufus decided to enclose it round about with platforms, so all men would be prevented from going in or coming out. Then Robert, having no reliance in his own circumstances or in the loyalty of his fathers, when he saw the platforms being built, fled in the still of the night. But the royal soldiers pursued and he was compelled to head for Tynemouth, where he shut himself inside of St. Oswin the Martyr. He was quickly dragged out by violence and brought captive to the king. The rest who were in the castle put up a stiff resistance, and to terrorize them the more the king ordered Robert to be brought before the castle gate, and by an edict threatened to put out his eyes on the spot if the castle were not surrendered forthwith. Seeing this, its inmates feared equally for themselves and their earl and in the end surrendered. Of these, part were exiled, part mutilated by having their ears lopped or one of their eyes put out to serve as an example to others, and then sent home. Finishing this business, without delay Rufus turned his powers against the Welsh, who were raging without limit, and marched on Wales with the power of his forces at the first possible moment. When he saw that the enemy was offering no opportunity for a battle, but hiding themselves in their forests, he began to waste the nearby fields and assayed all those difficult places in an attempt to come to grips with the enemy. The Welsh, however, flocked to their mountains and forests, and for the moment they were sufficiently prepared and organized that they suddenly burst upon the royal army, now here, now there, and wounded or killed many men. And so it came about that the king, eager to get his revenge, pursued the enemy with more enthusiasm than care through mountains and marshes, suffering more losses than he inflicted. Finally, when he had lost many men and horses, and seen that he had no hope of accomplishing anything, he suspended the war and broke off the undertaking, not without damage to his reputation.
13. At that time the name of the Normans was famous throughout Italy, because led by Duke Guiscard they had control of Apulia. And so, when after Roger’s death the brothers Roger and Bohemund feuded about their paternal dukedom and other things and had troubled all Italy, and the Emperor Henry had daily helped this commotion increase, Pope Urban II, seeing that for this reason his throne would never be safe, after holding a synod at Placentia for the correction of priests’ evil morals, went to France. And there he commenced to promote something of prime importance for Christendom. For he was mindful of the servitude with which the city of Jerusalem, called the Holy Land, was being oppressed by the Saracens as he had learned in particular from a certain French hermit named Peter, a native of Amiens. In earlier years this man had gone to Jerusalem and been told by Bishop Simeon of Jerusalem all the sufferings which our men suffered at the hands of the idolaters. For this good shepherd, whose greatest concern was for his flock, appointed an assembly of bishops and princes to be held at the city of Clermont in Auvergne, formerly called Gergobia. There they came on the appointed day, in large numbers. The Pope delivered a very brilliant oration in which he decreed a holy war and taught that this was to be placed before all other things. He so kindled the ardor the princes of France and other Christian leaders for the recovery of Jerusalem, so long occupied by the Saracens, that in 1094 A. D. about 300,000 men volunteered for service. The designated leaders were the three brothers Godfrey, Eustace and Baldwin of Boulogne, men famed for their high spirits and wisdom, and their comrades in all fortunes of war and peace were Raymond of Toulouse, Hugh le Grand, the brother of King Philippe of France, Duke Robert of Normandy, Duke Robert of Flanders, Count Stephen of Orleans, and two holy leaders, Bishop Hugh of Le Puy and Peter the Hermit. these, making a way for this Christian people, prayed in just the same way as once did Moses and Aaron, who, by praying to God, had helped the Hebrews returning to Judea out of Egypt, so that it would happily accomplish this thing fortified by help both divine and human. Therefore Duke Robert, who lacked the sinews of war (I mean money) was compelled quickly to borrow 10,000 pounds from his brother Rufus for his expenses in the war, offering to pawn Normandy to him. Rufus found this thing most welcome, for two reasons. First, that under the pretext of brotherly love he gained an occasion for commanding his subjects to give money, and also that he would be freed of the domestic nuisance his brother daily inflicted on him. He was unmoved by the example of other sovereigns who had decided to risk not only their money, but also their lives for Christendom. He was untouched by the piety which inspired so many thousands of men and so many excellent leaders to vow themselves to go to war for religion’s sake, nor was he occupied by any thought of gaining honor. Rather, blinded by avarice, he least of all men thought of exerting himself for this thing, referring all things to his advantage (if what he acquired by theft can be called his advantage), which is ever the concern for the man who possesses, and the misfortune for those from whom his possessions come. Assuredly Rufus had long ago fixed his mind on the pursuit of avarice, and had nothing else from which this pursuit was unable to divert him. And so he imposed a nearly intolerable tax and extracted a huge sum of money from the people. What of the fact that he strove by every possible means to extract all the more, because the cause of a holy war had an honorable appearance, and he adjudged his most disgraceful enterprise could be more honorably cloaked by its name? And so, when some bishops and monks complained of the burden of this tax, and affirmed they could not play, although they had converted their sacred plate into money, he is said to have replied, “Don’t you have gold and silver containers full of dead men’s bones?” by which he this impious prince meant that the reliquaries containing the remains of saints ought to be transformed into money, so that property both human and divine could be made his prey, and he alone could possess what had been amassed what many previous generations of men had gathered together. Thus Rufus evidently regarded the kingdom of England as a source of plunder, not an object for concern. Having gathered an enormous sum of money, he sailed over to Normandy. There he struck a peace with Robert and, giving him 10,000 pounds, assumed his rule over Normandy, to possess it until the money had been given back. Then he went straight back to England. Robert with a choice band of the sturdiest young men, followed the other captains who wore the cross, and his celebrated virtue was very often useful for our side in the sieges of Antioch and Jerusalem.
14. After these things, the king, mindful of the reversal he had suffered at the hands of the Welsh two years previously, decided to devote himself wholeheartedly to this war once more. And so he presently increased his old army by the addition of a new one, doubling his forces. Building castles at the Welsh border, he conceived the idea for a new strategy by which he could finally subdue these fierce fellows. Meanwhile the Welsh, who were by no means unaware of their enemy’s increased forces, trusting more in the difficulty of their terrain than in their arms, were scattered through the forests in their habitual way, and were setting ambushes at opportune places. When this was reported to Rufus, he led out his army, stationed armed companies here and there, and constructed towers. But he was no more daring than before in making an attempt on their trackless places, where he had received his defeat, thinking he might compel these hateful adversaries to surrender if he blocked all the roads in Wales. But this strategy did more to exhaust the royal soldiers than to trouble the Welsh, for they roamed the forests and mocked the Norman and the English. So once more he went away with his business unfinished. But a little afterwards, furious that he was being oppressed by his own subjects, he decided forthwith to beat down the entire Welsh nation by war, and especially to attack the island of Anglesey, their place of refuge. He assigned the task of prosecuting this war to Earl Hugh of Shropshire and Earl Hugh of Chester, skilled fighting men. They immediately departed and gained the island at their first arrival. For this land, so abundant in cattle yet unable to feed men, was ungarrisoned. And they used a cruelty nearly unheard of in all human memory. For they variously mutilated men by gouging out eyes, cutting off noses, lopping off arms or hands, and castration. And likewise they raped women everywhere. It is remembered that by God’s will the power of speech was restored to a certain priest after his eye was put out and his tongue removed. A fleet out of Ireland (or, as others opine, out of Normandy), coming to aid the islanders, put in to shore and landed fighting men. Confronting these, Earl Hugh of Shropshire died, having been hit by an arrow. Nothing else noteworth was accomplished there. The second Hugh, marching into Wales, savagely wearied its inhabitants with a lengthy war and subdued them.
15. Free of wars, the king next turned his attention to the construction of public works. For he surrounded the Tower of London with new walls, and built a basilica at Westminster with wonderful elegance. For, although it was large, he decided to increase it. This is the hall in which for many days each year judgments are conducted, and a court is convened, thronged with litigants. But this is the reward of evil men, that their good deeds are either tainted by crime or taken in bad part. Both of these things befell Rufus. For while he was intent on things of this kind, he imposed a new tax, so that a common report spread that he had undertaken these works so that he had would have a fair excuse for plundering once more. At that time Rufus went over to Normandy to inspect the conditions of his affairs there. They say that, after his departure, a fountain of blood bubbled up for three days at Abingdon, and the sky was seen to glow. And when the king came back it was suddenly reported that the ancient city of Autun, once called Augusta, which Constantine Caesar renamed after himself as Constantia, was being besieged by the French. Undeterred by this rumor, he went flying to the coast with few followers, boarded a ship, and set sail. A southerly was blowing at the time, and the sea was very rough, so that the sailors warned him that it was unsafe to risk a voyage. To this the king said, “Cast off, for I’ve rarely heard of a king lost at sea.” And so he set sail and the wind suddenly changed, as if by divine intervention. The sea calmed and he landed at Normandy with such speed that he got long before any report of his coming arrived. His enemies were terrified by the king’s sudden appearance and immediately broke off the siege, taking to their heels far and wide. He followed and savagely harried them. The man responsible for this upheaval was captured, his name was Elias. And when he was mocked by Rufus, who was like a man beside himself, he is said to have said boldly, “You chanced to capture me, king. If I were free, I’d make you understand that I’m not to be taken lightly.” The king immediately let him loose, saying, “Go your way and do your worst.” Thus Elias was freed from custody and, as far as is known, did nothing against the king thereafter. Some write, however, that he did not fall into the king’s power, but that he made his escape. And Rufus, elated by this victory, upon his return to England, thinking everything to be safe abroad, ran riot at home and seemed not unwilling to bring his kingdom to rack and ruin. But meanwhile Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, the one man who was watchful for the common welfare, incredibly lamenting his nation’s lot, dared admonish his sovereign that he should finally keep his hands from other men’s goods: he should remember that the special duty of a king is to preserve, protect and defend the goods of his realm and the fortunes of his subjects. But Rufus was so far from heeding Anselm warning him of his duty that he vented all his spleen on him. For, seizing on an opportunity to show his anger, he mulcted him of a great fine. But afterwards, dealing more gently, he remitted this, asking Anselm only that he be no impediment, but rather to act in every way to serve his advantage. And when the right reverend man shrank from this, as being unjust, and boldly refused to do it, Rufus first stripped him of all his goods, then exiled him. This most innocent man suffered this with patience and went to Rome, where he was given a kind reception by Pope Paschal II, and he gave the pontiff a detailed account of the very unhappy condition of England. Meanwhile Rufus, daily pricked more by the goads of avarice, when he saw that after the banishment of Anselm there was no man in the realm who dared mutter against his deeds, as if acting anew, turned his mind once more to the amassing of much money. And, since now he had tasted and found that Christ’s bread is nutritious and delicious for kings (as that oracle of James has it), then he particularly desired to reap the ripe crops of the clergy’s landholdings. And so his tax-collectors demanded a great sum for the redemption of nine (or, as some would have it, twelve) monasteries which lacked their rulers, and likewise the sees of Winchester and Salisbury and the archbishopric of Canterbury. To this grievous and common bane on religion another, worse one was added. For The life of priests who lacked rulers and supervisors grew much more lax. And so no remedy might be applied to this disease, the king permitted no synod of bishops to be held. It is not known whether this was so they could not conspire against him, or so they would not issue a public condemnation. In their habitual way, the common people believed that at this time God wished to warn the prince of his impending death by prodigies, so he might mend his morals. For a few days before he dreamt that the veins of his arms burst so that he bled. And likewise they say that a certain monk dreamt he saw the king chewing on an image of Christ hanging from the cross, and gnawing at His legs, and then that Christ Himself kicked him to the ground. And as soon as this was related to him he guffawed, for it took death to moderate his depraved character, since death alone cures the vices of men’s minds. at length, at the prompting of his doom, Rufus went out a-hunting in that woods commonly called the New Forest, and while he was at the hunt he was pierced by a arrow shot by a certain Frenchman named Walter Tyrell, who aimed too carelessly at his quarry (or who aimed very carefully at his king), and with a single groan, saying no words, he gave up the ghost and fell off his horse. Walter made his escape, since nobody pursued him. His body was put on a cart and carried to Winchester, and there it was buried in the church of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
16. When Rufus’ death became common knowledge, joy erupted everywhere, so much so that the people, as if freed from a prison and unshackled, their liberty renewed, thronged to the churches and hastened to perform the vows they had previously made for their freedom, as if the day which was the king’s last had given birth to the nation’s enduring salvation. From this princes in particular should learn a lesson for living their lives. For can anything worse befall a man than always to have a bad reputation while alive, and for his name to be reviled forever after his death? Such an ending had this sovereign, for whom nothing was more characteristic than to neglect religion, steal other men’s goods, and generally hound and weaken his subjects, and furthermore, a man to whom nothing meant less than the performance of a king’s duties, which are to place the advantage of his people ahead of his own, to love good men especially, and to hate the bad, punishing the one kind and rewarding the other. All these evils, which prevented Rufus from being an upright man, sprang from the single fountainhead of avarice, since on the other side of the ledger he was not lacking in virtues which could have stood to his credit. He was skilled at war, patient under hardship, good at managing his business, very punctual about keeping his word, both diligent and lucky in war, and, at the beginning of his reign, very liberal. But, as I just said, avarice alone partly converted these virtues into vices, and partly befouled them. He died on August 3 in the year of human salvation 1100. He is said to have been a little below average in height, with red hair, whence he got his nickname. He was a little paunchy, and had some blotches in his eyes. He had trouble with stammering, especially when his anger welled up, and a body very sturdy for bearing all inconveniences. Since he disdained marriage, he had no sons. In those days there were excellent men, Bishop Remigius of Lincoln, famed for his sanctity and learning. He transferred the episcopal see from the town of Dorchester, seven miles from Oxford, to Lincoln, where it was not yet established, although such had been decreed in the London synod held by William I. And Henry, although he had once sinned, since when he was Abbot of the monastery at Rheims and had seen that everything as for sale, purchased the bishopric of Norwich. But the rest of his life he had lived most virtuously, since he was so repentant that for the sake of atoning his sins he went to Rome and voluntarily abdicated the office, giving his insignia of office into the hands of Pope Urban II. But since every blot of sin had been washed away, the Pope soon bade him resume the office he had resigned. And after his return home he moved his episcopal see from the town of Thetford to Norwich, a city both populous and busy with its trade. And there he founded a monastery of Benedictine monks, most excellent for their learning and piety, who sang hymns to God night and day and were entirely self-sufficient with all the things needful for their life, so they would not be callede a drain on the income of the bishopric. And he bestowed the church at Thetford on Cluniac monks. Likewise John, a Welsh bishop, a Frenchman, arranged for the monastery at Bath to be added to his see at Wells, since it was almost failing due to the neglect of its Abbots, enhancing its revenues so its monks could have a living. And so in the year of human salvation 1105 the city of Bath was honored by the acquisition of the see of Wells. And by the doing of Robert, bishop of that diocese, the see of Coventry was annexed to that of Chester. Vulstan, that most holy man I have abundantly mentioned already, died at this time. Anselm continued to flourish in his learning and sanctity. Pope Paschal had written to the king, vehemently chastising him and warning him to change his manner of life and henceforth agree to deserve better of religion, and in particular that he should resume his dealings with Anselm. So he, hearing of Rufus’ unhappy ending while on the way back to England, heard this news with great sorrow and humbly prayed to God to forgive his transgressions against Himself. This display of piety, I believe, was dear to God’s heart, for immediately thereafter Rufus’ brother Henry recalled the good prelate from exile, and held him in especial honor.
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