The History of The Kings of England 20

William of Malmesbury

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William, however, as soon as his age permitted, receiving the badge of knighthood from the king of France, inspirited the inhabitants to hope for quiet. The sower of dissension was one Guy, a Burgundian on his father’s side, and grandson to Richard the Second by his daughter. William and Guy had been children together, and at that time were equally approaching to manhood. Mutual intercourse had produced an intimacy between them which had ripened into friendship. Moreover, thinking, as they were related, that he ought to deny him nothing, he had given him the castles of Briony and Vernon. The Burgundian, unmindful of this, estranged himself from the earl, feigning sufficient cause of offence to colour his conduct. It would be tedious, and useless, to relate what actions were performed on either side, what castles were taken; for his perfidy had found abettors in Nigel, viscount of Coutances, Ralph, viscount of Bayeux, and Haimo Dentatus, grandfather of Robert, who was the occupier of many estates in England in our time. With these persons, this most daring plunderer, allured by vain expectation of succeeding to the earldom, was devastating the whole of Normandy. A sense of duty, however, compelled the guardian-king to succour the desperate circumstances of his ward. Remembering, therefore, the kindness of his father, and that he had, by his influence, exalted him to the kingdom, he rushed on the revolters at Walesdun. Many thousands of them were there slain; many drowned in the river Orne, by its rapidity, while, being hard-pressed, they spurred their horses to ford the current. Guy, escaping with difficulty, betook himself to Briony; but was driven thence by William, and unable to endure this disgrace, he retired, of his own accord, to Burgundy, his native soil. Here too his unquiet spirit found no rest; for being expelled thence by his brother, William, earl of that province, against whom he had conceived designs, it appears not what fate befell him. Nigel and Ralph were admitted to fealty: Haimo fell in the field of battle; after having become celebrated by his remarkable daring for having unhorsed the king himself; in consequence of which he was despatched by the surrounding guards, and, in admiration of his valour, honourably buried at the king’s command. King Henry received a compensation for this favour, when the Norman lord actively assisted him against Geoffrey Martel at Herle-Mill, which is a fortress in the country of Anjou. For William had now attained his manly vigour; an object of dread even to his elders, and though alone, a match for numbers. Unattended he would rush on danger; and when unaccompanied, or with only a few followers, dart into the thickest ranks of the enemy. By this expedition he gained the reputation of admirable bravery, as well as the sincerest regard of the king; so that, with parental affection, he would often admonish him not to hold life in contempt by encountering danger so precipitately; a life, which was the ornament of the French, the safeguard of the Normans, and an example to both.

At that time Geoffrey was earl of Anjou, who had boastingly taken the surname of Martel, as he seemed, by a certain kind of good fortune, to beat down all his opponents. Finally, he had made captive, in open battle, his liege lord, the earl of Poitou; and, loading him with chains, had compelled him to dishonourable terms of peace; namely, that he should yield up Bourdeaux and the neighbouring cities, and pay an annual tribute for the rest. But he, as it is thought, through the injuries of his confinement and want of food, was, after three days, released from eternal ignominy by a timely death. Martel then, that his effrontery might be complete, married the stepmother of the deceased; taking his brothers under his protection until they should be capable of governing the principality. Next entering the territories of Theobald, earl of Blois, he laid siege to the city of Tours; and while he was hastening to the succour of his subjects, made him participate in their afflictions; for being taken, and shut up in prison, he ceded the city from himself and his heirs for ever. Who shall dare cry shame on this man’s cowardice, who, for the enjoyment of a little longer life, defrauded his successors for ever of the dominion of so great a city? for although we are too apt to be severe judges of others, yet we must know, that we should consult our own safety, if we were ever to be placed in similar circumstances. In this manner Martel, insolent from the accession of so much power, obtained possession of the castle of Alenijon, even from the earl of Normandy; its inhabitants being faithlessly disposed. Irritated at this outrage, William retaliated, and invested Danfrunt, which at that time belonged to the earl of Anjou. Geoffrey, immediately, excited by the complaints of the besieged, hastily rushed forward with a countless force. Hearing of his approach, William sends Roger Montgomery and William Fitz-Osberne to reconnoitre. They, from the activity of youth, proceeding many miles in a short time, espied Martel on horseback, and apprized him of the dauntless boldness of their lord. Martel immediately began to rage, to threaten mightily what he would do; and said that he would come thither the next day, and show to the world at large how much an Angevin could excel a Norman in battle: at the same time, with unparalleled insolence, describing the colour of his horse, and the devices on the arms he meant to use. The Norman nobles, with equal vanity, relating the same of William, return and stimulate their party to the conflict. I have described these things minutely, for the purpose of displaying the arrogance of Martel. On this occasion, however, he manifested none of his usual magnanimity, for he retreated without coming to battle; on hearing which, the inhabitants of Alenson surrendered, covenanting for personal safety; and, afterwards, those of Danfrunt also, listed under the more fortunate standard.

In succeeding years William, earl of Arches, his illegitimate uncle, who had always been faithless and fluctuating from his first entrance on the duchy, rebelled against him; for, even during the siege of Danfrunt, he had unexpectedly stolen away, and had communicated to many persons the secrets of his soul. In consequence of this, William had committed the keeping of his castle to some men, whom he had erroneously deemed faithful; but the earl, with his usual skill in deception, had seduced even these people to his party, by giving them many things, and promising them more. Thus possessed of the fortress, he declared war against his lord. William, with his customary alacrity, contrary to the advice of his friends, laid siege to Arches, declaring publicly, that the miscreants would not dare attempt any thing, if they came into his sight. Nor was his assertion false: for more than three hundred soldiers, who had gone out to plunder and forage, the instant they beheld him, though almost unattended, fled back into their fortifications. Being inclined to settle this business without bloodshed, he fortified a castle in front of Arches, and turned to matters of hostile operation which required deeper attention, because he was aware that the king of France, who had already become adverse to him from some unknown cause, was hastening to the succour of the besieged. He here gave an instance of very laudable forbearance; for though he certainly appeared to live the juster cause, yet he was reluctant to engage with that person, to whom he was bound both by oath and by obligation. He left some of his nobility, however, to repress the impetuosity of the king; who, falling into an ambush laid by their contrivance, had most deservedly to lament Isembard, earl of Ponthieu, who was killed in his sight, and Hugh Bardulf, who was taken prisoner. Not long after, in consequence of his miscarriage, retiring to his beloved France, the earl of Arches, wasted with hunger, and worn to a skeleton, consented to surrender, and was preserved, life and limb, an example of clemency, and a proof of perseverance. During the interval of this siege, the people of the fortress called Moulin, becoming disaffected, at the instigation of one Walter, went over to the king’s side. An active party of soldiers was placed there, under the command of Guy, brother of the earl of Poitou, who diligently attended for some time to his military duties: but on hearing the report of the victory at Arches, he stole away into France, and contributed, by these means, considerably to the glory of the duke.

King Henry, however, did not give indulgence to inactivity; but, muttering that his armies had been a laughingstock to William, immediately collected all his forces, and, dividing them into two bodies, he over-ran the whole of Normandy. He himself headed all the military power which came from that part of Celtic Gaul which lies between the rivers Garonne and Seine; and gave his brother Odo the command over such as came from that part of Belgic Gaul which is situated between the Rhine and the Seine. In like manner William divided his army, with all the skill he possessed; approaching by degrees the camp of the king, which was pitched in the country of Briony, in such a manner, as neither to come to close engagement, nor yet suffer the province to be devastated in his presence. His generals were Robert, earl of Aux; Hugo de Gournay, Hugo de Montfort, and William Crispin, who opposed Odo at a town called Mortemar. Nor did he, relying on the numerous army which lie commanded, at all delay coming to action; yet making only slight resistance at the beginning, and afterwards being unable to withstand the attack of the Normans, he retreated, and was himself the first to fly. And here, while Guy, earl of Ponthieu, was anxiously endeavouring to revenge his brother, he was made captive, and felt, together with many others surpassing in affluence and rank, the weight of that hand which was so fatal to his family. When William was informed of this success by messengers, he took care that it should be proclaimed in the dead of night, near the king’s tent. On hearing which he retired, after some days spent in Normandy, into France; and, soon after, ambassadors passing between them, it was concluded, by treaty, that the king’s partisans should be set at liberty, and that the earl should become legally possessed of all that had been, or should hereafter be, taken from Martel.

It would be both tedious and useless, to relate their perpetual contentions, or how William always came off conqueror. What shall we say besides, when, magnanimously despising the custom of modern times, he never condescended to attack him suddenly, or without acquainting him of the day. Moreover, I pass by the circumstance of king Henry’s again violating his friendship; his entering Normandy, and proceeding through the district of Hiesmes to the river Dive, boasting that the sea was the sole obstacle to his farther progress. But William now perceiving himself reduced to extremities by the king’s perfidy, at length brandished the arms of conscious valour, and worsted the royal forces which were beyond the river — for part of them, hearing of his arrival, had passed over some little time before — with such entire loss, that henceforth France had no such object of dread as that of irritating the ferocity of the Normans. The death of Henry soon following, and, shortly after, that of Martel, put an end to these broils. The dying king delegated the care of his son Philip, at that time extremely young, to Baldwin earl of Flanders. He was a man equally celebrated for fidelity and wisdom; in the full possession of bodily strength, and also ennobled by a marriage with the king’s sister. His daughter, Matilda, a woman who was a singular mirror of prudence in our time, and the perfection of virtue, had been already married to William. Hence it arose, that being mediator between his ward, and his son-in-law, Baldwin restrained, by his wholesome counsels, the feuds of the chiefs, and of the people.

But since the mention of Martel has so often presented itself, I shall briefly trace the genealogy of the earls of Anjou, as far as the knowledge of my informant reaches. Fulk the elder, presiding over that county for many years, until he became advanced in years, performed many great and prudent actions. There is only one thing for which I have heard him branded: for, having induced Herbert earl of Maine to come to Saintes, under the promise of yielding him that city, he caused him, in the midst of their conversation, to be surrounded by his attendants, and compelled him to submit to his own conditions: in other respects he was a man of irreproachable integrity. In his latter days, he ceded his principality to Geoffrey his son so often mentioned. Geoffrey conducted himself with excessive barbarity to the inhabitants, and with equal haughtiness even to the person who had conferred this honour upon him: on which, being ordered by his father to lay down the government and ensigns of authority, he was arrogant enough to take up arms against him. The blood of the old man, though grown cold and languid, yet boiled with indignation; and in the course of a few days, by adopting wiser counsels, he so brought down the proud spirit of his son, that after carrying his saddle on his back for some miles, he cast himself with his burden at his father’s feet. He, fired once more with his ancient courage, rising up and spurning the prostrate youth with his foot, exclaimed, “You are conquered at last ! you are conquered !” repeating his words several times. The suppliant had still spirit enough to make this admirable reply, “I am conquered by you alone, because you are my father; by others I am utterly invincible.” With this speech his irritated mind was mollified, and having consoled the mortification of his son by paternal affection, he restored him to the principality, with admonitions to conduct himself more wisely: telling him that the prosperity and tranquillity of the people were creditable to him abroad, as well as advantageous at home. In the same year the old man, having discharged all secular concerns, made provision-’for his soul, by proceeding to Jerusalem; where compelling two servants by an oath to do whatever he commanded, he was by them publicly dragged naked, in the sight of the Turks, to the holy sepulchre. One of them had twisted a withe about his neck, the other with a rod scourged his bare back, whilst he cried out, “Lord, receive the wretched Fulk, thy perfidious, thy runagate; regard my repentant soul, O Lord Jesus Christ.” At this time he obtained not his request; but, peacefully returning home, he died some few years after. The precipitate boldness of his son Geoffrey has been amply displayed in my preceding Mstory. He dying, bequeathed to Geoffrey, his sister’s son, his inheritance, but his worldly industry he could not leave him. For being a youth of simple manners, and more accustomed to pray in church, than to handle arms, he excited the contempt of the people of that country, who knew not how to live in quiet. In consequence, the whole district becoming exposed to plunderers, Fulk, his brother, of his own accord, seized on the duchy. Fulk was called Rhechin, from his perpetual growling at the simplicity of his brother, whom he finally despoiled of his dignity, and kept in continual custody. He had a wife, who, being enticed by the desire of enjoying a higher title, deserted him and married Philip king of France; who so desperately loved her, regardless of the adage, “Majesty and love But ill accord, nor share the self-same seat,” that he patiently suffered himself to be completely governed by her, though he was at the same time desirous of ruling over every other person. Lastly, for several years, merely through regard for her, he suffered himself to be pointed at like an idiot, and to be excommunicated from the whole Christian world. The sons of Fulk were Geoffrey and Fulk. Geoffrey obtaining the hereditary surname of Martel, ennobled it by his exertions: for he procured such peace and tranquillity in those parts, as no one ever had seen, or will see in future. On this account being killed by the treachery of his people, he forfeited the credit of his consummate worth. Fulk succeeding to the government, is yet living; of whom as I shall perhaps have occasion to speak in the times of king Henry, I will now proceed to relate what remains concerning William.

When, after much labour, he had quelled all civil dissension, he meditated an exploit of greater fame, and determined to recover those countries anciently attached to Normandy, though now disunited by long custom. I allude to the counties of Maine and Brittany; of which Mans, long since burnt by Martel and deprived of its sovereign Hugo, had lately experienced some little respite under Herbert the son of Hugo; who, with a view to greater security against the earl of Anjou, had submitted, and sworn fidelity to William: besides, he had solicited his daughter in marriage, and had been betrothed to her, though he died by disease ere she was marriageable. He left William his heir, adjuring his subjects to admit no other; telling them, they might have, if they chose, a mild and honourable lord; but, should they not, a most determined assertor of his right. On his decease, the inhabitants of Maine rather inclined to Walter of Mantes, who had married Hugo’s sister: but at length, being brought to their senses by many heavy losses, they acknowledged William. This was the time, when Harold was unwillingly carried to Normandy by an unpropitious gale; whom, as is before mentioned, William took with him in his expedition to Brittany, to make proof of his prowess, and, at the same time, with the deeper design of showing to him his military equipment, that he might perceive how far preferable was the Norman sword to the English battle-axe. Alan, at that time, earl of Brittany, flourishing in youth, and of transcendent strength, had overcome his uncle Eudo, and performed many famous actions; and so far from fearing William, had even voluntarily irritated him. But he, laying claim to Brittany as his hereditary territory, because Charles had given it with his daughter, Gisla, to Rollo, shortly acted in such wise, that Alan came suppliantly to him, and surrendered himself and his possessions. And since I shall have but little to say of Brittany hereafter, I will here briefly insert an extraordinary occurrence, which happened about that time in the city of Nantes.

There were in that city two clerks, who though not yet of legal age, had obtained the priesthood from the bishop of that place, more by entreaty than desert: the pitiable death of one of whom, at length taught the survivor, how near they had before been to the brink of hell. As to the knowledge of literature, they were so instructed, that they wanted little of perfection. From their earliest infancy, they had in such wise vied in offices of friendship, that according to the expression of the comic writer, “To serve each other they would not only stir hand and foot, but even risk the loss of life itself” Wherefore, one day, when they found their minds more than usually free from outward cares, they spoke their sentiments, in a secret place, to the following effect: “That for many years they had given their attention sometimes to literature, and sometimes to secular cares; nor had they satisfied their minds, which had been occupied rather in wrong than proper pursuits; that in the meanwhile, the bitter day was insensibly approaching, which would burst the bond of union which was indissoluble while life remained: wherefore they should provide in time, that the friendship which united them while living should accompany him who died first to the place of the dead.” They agreed, therefore, that whichever should first depart, should certainly appear to the survivor, either waking or sleeping, if possible within thirty days, to inform him, that, according to the Platonic tenet, death does not extinguish the spirit, but sends it back again, as it were from prison, to God its author. If this did not take place, then they must yield to the sect of the Epicureans, who hold, that the soul, liberated from the body, vanishes into air, or mingles with the wind. Mutually plighting their faith, they repeated this oath in their daily conversation. A short time elapsed, and behold a violent death suddenly deprived one of them of life. The other remained, and seriously revolving the promise of his friend, and constantly expecting his presence, during thirty days, found his hopes disappointed. At the expiration of this time, when, despairing of seeing him, he had occupied his leisure in other business, the deceased, with that pale countenance which dying persons assume, suddenly stood before him, when awake, and busied on some matter. The dead first addressing the living man, who was silent: “Do you know me ?” said he; “I do,” replied the other; “nor am I so much disturbed at your unusual presence, as I wonder at your prolonged absence.” But when he had accounted for the tardiness of his appearance; “At length,” said he, “at length, having overcome every impediment, I am present; which presence, if you please, my friend, will be advantageous to you, but to me totally unprofitable; for I am doomed, by a sentence which has been pronounced and approved, to eternal punishment.” When the living man promised to give all his property to monasteries, and to the poor, and to spend days and nights in fasting and prayer, for the release of the defunct; he replied, “What I have said is fixed; for the judgements of God, by which I am plunged in the sulphurous whirlpool of hell, are without repentance. There I shall be tossed for my crimes, as long as the pole whirls round the stars, or ocean beats the shores. The rigour of this irreversible sentence remains for ever, devising lasting and innumerable kinds of punishment: now, therefore, let the whole world seek for availing remedies ! And that you may experience some little of my numberless pains, behold,” said he, stretching out his hand, dripping with a corrupted ulcer, “one of the very smallest of them; does it appear trifling to you ?” When the other replied, that it did appear so; he bent his fingers into the palm, and threw three drops of the purulent matter upon him; two of which touching his temples, and one his forehead, penetrated the skin and flesh, as if with a burning cautery, and made holes of the size of a nut. When his friend acknowledged the acuteness of the pain, by the cry he uttered, “This,” said the dead man, “will be a strong proof to you, as long as you live, of my pains; and, unless you neglect it, a singular token for your salvation. Wherefore, while you have the power; while indignation is suspended over your head; while God’s lingering mercy waits for you; change your habit, change your disposition; become a monk at Rennes, in the monastery of St, Melanius.” When the living man was unwilling to agree to these words, the other, sternly glancing at him, “If you doubt, wretched man,” said he, “turn and read these letters;” and with these words, he stretched out his hand, inscribed with black characters, in which, Satan, and all the company of infernals sent their thanks, from hell, to the whole ecclesiastical body; as well for denying themselves no single pleasure, as for sending, through neglect of their preaching, so many of their subject souls to hell, as no former age had ever witnessed. With these words the speaker vanished; and the hearer distributing his whole property to the church and to the poor, went to the monastery; admonishing all, who heard or saw him, of his sudden conversion, and extraordinary interview, so that they exclaimed, “It is the right hand of the Almighty that has done this.” I feel no regret at having inserted this for the benefit of my readers: now I shall return to William. For since I have briefly, but I hope not uselessly, gone over the transactions in which he was engaged, when only earl of Normandy, for thirty years, the order of time now requires a new series of relation; that I may, as far as my inquiries have discovered, detect fallacy, and declare the truth relating to his regal government.

When king Edward had yielded to fate, England, fluctuating with doubtful favour, was uncertain to which ruler she should commit herself: to Harold, William, or Edgar: for the king had recommended him also to the nobility, as nearest to the sovereignty in point of birth; concealing his better judgement from the tenderness of his disposition. Wherefore, as I have said above, the English were distracted in their choice, although all of them openly wished well to Harold. He, indeed, once dignified with the diadem, thought nothing of the covenant between himself and William: he said, that he was absolved from his oath, because his daughter, to whom he had been betrothed, had died before she was marriageable. For this man, though possessing numberless good qualities, is reported to have been careless about abstaining from perfidy, so that he could, by any device, elude the reasonings of men on this matter. Moreover, supposing that the threats of William would never be put into execution, because he was occupied in wars with neighbouring princes, he had, with his subjects, given full indulgence to security. For indeed, had he not heard that the king of Norway was approaching, he would neither have condescended to collect troops, nor to array them. William, in the meantime, began mildly to address him by messengers;’ to expostulate on the broken covenant; to mingle threats with entreaties; and to warn him, that ere a year expired, he would claim his due by the sword, and that he would come to that place, where Harold supposed he had firmer footing than himself. Harold again rejoined what I have related, concerning the nuptials of his daughter, and added, that he had been precipitate on the subject of the kingdom, in having confirmed to him by oath another’s right, without the universal consent and edict of the general meeting, and of the people: again, that a rash oath ought to be broken; for if the oath, or vow, which a maiden, under her father’s roof, made concerning her person, without the knowledge of her parents, was adjudged invalid; how much more invalid must that oath be, which he had made concerning the whole kingdom, when under the king’s authority, compelled by the necessity of the time, and without the knowledge of the nation. Besides it was an unjust request, to ask him to resign a government which he had assumed by the universal kindness of his fellow subjects, and which would neither be agreeable to the people, nor safe for the military.

In this way, confounded either by true, or plausible, arguments, the messengers returned without success. The earl, however, made every necessary preparation for war during the whole of that year; retained his own soldiers with increased pay, and invited those of others: ordered his ranks and battalions in such wise, that the soldiers should be tall and stout; that the commanders and standard-bearers, in addition to their military science, should be looked up to for their wisdom and age; insomuch, that each of them, whether seen in the field or elsewhere, might be taken for a prince, rather than a leader. The bishops and abbots of those days vied so much in religion, and the nobility in princely liberality, that it is wonderful, within a period of less than sixty years, how either order should have become so unfruitful in goodness, as to take up a confederate war against justice: the former, through desire of ecclesiastical promotion, embracing wrong in preference to right and equity; and the latter, casting off shame, and seeking every occasion for begging money as for their daily pay. But at that time the prudence of William, seconded by the providence of God, already anticipated the invasion of England; and that no rashness might stain his just cause, he sent to the pope, formerly Anselm, bishop of Lucca, who had assumed the name of Alexander, alleging the justice of the war which he meditated with all the eloquence he was master of Harold omitted to do this, either because he was proud by nature, or else distrusted his cause; or because he feared that his messengers would be obstructed by William and his partisans, who beset every port. The pope, duly examining the pretensions of both parties, delivered a standard to William, as an auspicious presage of the kingdom: on receiving which, he summoned an assembly of his nobles, at Lillebourne, for the purpose of ascertaining their sentiments on this attempt. And when he had confirmed, by splendid promises, all who approved his design, he appointed them to prepare shipping, in proportion to the extent of their possessions. Thus they departed at that time; and, in the month of August, re-assembled in a body at St. Vallery, for so that port is called by its new name. Collecting, therefore, ships from every quarter, they awaited le propitious gale which was to carry them to their destination. When this delayed blowing for several days, the common soldiers, as is generally the case, began to mutter in their tents, “that the man must be mad, who wished to subjugate a foreign country; that God opposed him, who withheld the wind; that his father purposed a similar attempt, and was in like manner frustrated; that it was the fate of that family to aspire to things beyond their reach, and find God for their adversary.” In consequence of these things, which were enough to enervate the force of the brave, being publicly noised abroad, the duke held a council with his chiefs, and ordered the body of St. Vallery to be brought forth, and to be exposed to the open air, for the purpose of imploring a wind. No delay now interposed, but the wisted-for gale filled their sails. A joyful clamour then arising, summoned every one to the ships. The earl himself first launching from the continent into the deep, awaited the rest, at anchor, nearly in mid-channel. All then assembled round the crimson sail of the admiral’s ship; and, having first dined, they arrived, after a favourable passage, at Hastings. As he disembarked he slipped down, but turned the accident to his advantage; a soldier who stood near calling out to him, “you hold England, my lord, its future king.” He then restrained his whole army from plundering; warning them, that they should now abstain from what must hereafter be their own; and for fifteen successive days he remained so perfectly quiet, that he seemed to think of nothing less than of war.

In the meantime Harold returned from the battle with the Norwegians; happy, in his own estimation, at having conquered; but not so in mine, as he had secured the victory by parricide. When the news of the Norman’s arrival reached him, reeking as he was from battle, he proceeded to Hastings, though accompanied by very few forces. No doubt the fates urged him on, as he neither summoned his troops, nor, had lie been willing to do so, would he have found many ready to obey his call; so hostile were all to him, as I have before observed, from his having appropriated the northern spoils entirely to himself. He sent out some persons, however, to reconnoitre the number and strength of the enemy: these, being taken within the camp, William ordered to be led amongst the tents, and, after feasting them plentifully, to be sent back uninjured to their lord. On their return, Harold inquired what news they brought: when, after relating at full, the noble confidence of the general, they gravely added, that almost all his army had the appearance of priests, as they had the whole face, with both lips, shaven. For the English leave the upper lip unshorn, suffering the hair continually to increase; which Julius Caesar, in his treatise on the Gallic War, affirms to have been a national custom with the ancient inhabitants of Britain. The king smiled at the simplicity of the relaters, observing, with a pleasant laugh, that they were not priests, but soldiers, strong in arms, and invincible in spirit. His brother. Girth, a youth, on the verge of manhood, and of knowledge and valour surpassing his years, caught up his words: “Since,” said he, “you extol so much the valour of the Norman, I think it ill-advised for you, who are his inferior in strength and desert, to contend with him. Nor can you deny being bound to him, by oath, either willingly, or by compulsion. Wherefore you will act wisely, if, yourself withdrawing from this pressing emergency, you allow us to try the issue of a battle. We, who are free from all obligation, shall justly draw the sword in defence of our country. It is to be apprehended, if you engage, that you will be either subjected to flight or to death: whereas, if we only fight, your cause will be safe at all events: for you will be able both to rally the fugitives, and to avenge the dead.”

William of Malmesbury

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29 January, 2015
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